Scottish Labour have made a significant break from its UK sister party today, with a resounding vote by members against the renewal of Trident nuclear missiles, and voting against the controversial Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
During its party conference in Perth, Scotland, members voted 70.3% against the renewal of Trident missiles in a bold step forward for Jeremy Corbyn and Scottish Labour.
Ian Murray, Shadow Scottish Secretary and Scotland’s only remaining Labour MP, has said the position will now feature as part of Scottish Labour’s 2016 election manifesto, as it passed with more than a 2/3 majority.
Corbyn faced criticism from his Shadow Defence Secretary Maria Eagle at the UK Labour party conference in September, following his comments he would never use nuclear missiles if he became Prime Minister. However, his party failed to support him in his aim, voting in favour of the renewal of Trident.
The resounding vote by Scottish Labour delegates puts the party on the same page as the Scottish Nationalist Party and the Scottish Green Party.
Scottish Green candidate for the 2016 Scottish Parliamentary election John Finnie MSP called on Scottish Labour to “work across party lines”.
He said: “Scotland’s political parties must do everything they can to stop the renewal of the atrocious weapons system, and the Scottish Greens look forward to working with our colleagues to make this happen.”
Both the Scottish and UK Conservative Party have strongly criticised Jeremy Corbyn and Scottish Labour, with Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson arguing Scottish Labour was putting its own “narrow political objectives” before the interests and security of workers and families.
A similarly resounding motion against TTIP was passed by delegates in Perth, with 82% of constituency party activists and 100% of trade union members voting against it.
Arguments against TTIP are in line with concerns from American citizens over the largely secret plans for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) – a similar arrangement, whereby corporations could sue governments should the latter harm their profits (called ISDS).
Trade unions are concerned over TTIP and TPP because of the possibility of jobs being moved abroad to where labour costs are cheaper.
Elaine Smith MSP, Convenor of the Campaign for Socialism, described the European-USA trade deal as “a massive corporate power grab and a real threat to democracy.”
Speaking with campaign group 38 Degrees in April, the SNP’s deputy leader Stewart Hosie stated he would want the TTIP to have protections for the NHS, Scottish Water and public services written into any agreement.
He added any deal allowing corporations to sue government would not receive SNP support.
“We would not support that…we want specific exclusions [for public and government bodies] on the face of the Bill, and in the absence we simply could not support it.”
Scottish Labour’s rejections of TTIP and Trident sets it at odds with its UK sister, but aligns it more closely with the general attitudes of the Scottish electorate.
With the SNP long being seen as the only main party in Scotland against both issues, Scottish Labour may now be pushing for a comeback in the Scottish Parliamentary elections next May.