New Scottish Labour leadership need to address the Trident question

In a time of austerity should nuclear weapons be seen as a necessary public expenditure? TOMMY KANE says Scottish Labour needs to re-evaluate its position.


A few weeks back the Sunday Herald reported on the current stand-off between Israel and Iran. The spectre of nuclear conflict in the Middle East is a scenario too horrific to contemplate and highlights once again the lunacy of nuclear weapons. For us in the UK, and for those with a material interest in the Scottish Labour Party leadership, the hostility between Israel and Iran, cloaked behind a nuclear threat, brings into sharp focus again debates over the future of Britain’s nuclear capability.

Shortly before his tragic death in 2005, Robin Cook said, “nuclear weapons now have no relevance to Britain’s defences in the modern world.” When we consider producing the new submarines will cost an eye-watering £25billion alone, and that the whole project could exceed £100 billion over its lifetime, Cook’s words seem more salient than ever.

Supporting Trident’s replacement just as the British People are facing an onslaught on their public services, welfare state, jobs and living standards will understandably be a hard sell. Rightly, people will ask how we can afford these weapons of mass destruction when it’s proposed that 710,000 public sector jobs will be cut by 2017.
There are other questions that are not just financial. Obligations under the Non Proliferation Treaty need to be met. How countries need to protect themselves has changed; for instance how will nuclear weapons protect Britain from terrorists and threats like dirty bombs? And of course we have the age old question of how does the threat of mutually assured destruction actually make the world safer.

Another question over who controls the UK’s nuclear capability is also, to say the least, unclear. Robin Cook, of course, former Foreign Secretary was well placed to adjudicate. He wrote in 2005 how “all levels of the Trident system depend on US co-operation. The missiles are not even owned by us, but are leased from the Pentagon in an arrangement that Denis Healey once dubbed ‘rent a rocket’”. We really must ask, as a society and as a movement whether this is something we are comfortable with.

Currently, the Tory-led government has confirmed that despite the crisis in the country’s finances, it will be ploughing ahead with Trident replacement. But if the Tories are making a mistake, it is clear that Labour, and Scottish Labour in particular, needs to evaluate its position and debate Trident. An increasing number of polls show the public sees no future in nuclear weapons, and an even greater majority of Scots oppose Trident being based at Faslane.

And we know the same goes for many Scottish Labour members. Many Labour MPs voted against Trident in March 2007 and many would vote against it today.

Labour pursuing Trident in Westminster has given the SNP an easy ride. Labour has watched as many natural allies have sat down with the SNP to discuss working together on an issue that should be Labour’s own.

In reality Labour risks standing still whilst public opinion increasingly moves against Trident. In Scotland this is happening faster than anywhere else. The trade unions, the church, and civil society stand against nuclear weapons. This is the agenda Scottish Labour must also champion, and provide direction for the party across the UK. With just a few days to go before the close of the leadership election it’s important that whoever becomes the leader and deputy leader give a clear indication of where they stand on this vital practical and ethical policy area.

Tommy Kane is a parliamentary officer to a  Scottish Labour MSP and a party activist.

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57 thoughts on “New Scottish Labour leadership need to address the Trident question

  1. I always thought that the “Independent” in Independent Nuclear Deterrent was…well… a lie.

    America’s weapons of mass destruction paid for by the UK so that they can have a seat at the top table, where almost invariably they do what America tells them to do and dumped in Scotland just in case there’s a problem.

    Good article. Agreed on all points (unusually for me and Labour Hame!).

  2. Good piece. There is a related point here – and an interesting question about how the new Scottish Labour leader is going to engage with reserved issues.

  3. I was based at Faslane twice in the sixties, I was against Nukes then ( I had a rucksack with a CND logo which I used at week-ends, I was never stopped using it ) and am against them now. Its not just the immorality of using them but the real danger of an accident near our biggest city. The problems for Labour are:-
    1/Too many Scottish labour figures have a history of backing them and attacking the SNP on the ludicrous jobs front.Remember the “Cowel will be a desert” claims.
    2/Even if a future Scottish Labour leader wanted to ditch them, they have no leverage to do so and hence would empower the SNP if they tried.
    3/The UK Labour leadership would be crucified by the Tories and a large part of the MEDIA if they advocated dumping them. Labours present leadership do not have an aura of courage on any subject.

  4. Just read the responses compiled by Scottish CND to Labour Leadership hopefuls on the Trident question. How depressing. Johann Lamont does not even bother to reply. Ken McIntosh thinks we should keep Trident AND abide by the NPT (like a terrorist organisation committing to decommissioning of weapons and simultaneously ordering rocket launchers). I had a naive hope that Scottish labour would, in the aftermath of the election last year, wake up to the modern world. How sad.

    1. John Swinney is a very talented ptloiician,but he was not succesful as leader of the SNP.However,the loss of seats in 203 was due to a failure to work the reigional list votes.The party won three extra first past the post seats(North Aberdeen,Dundee East and Ochils).Those victories layed the foundations for further advances by FPP seats in 2007 and of course the SNP learned the lesson of the importance of working hard to gain seats on the regional list.I partly agree with Barbarian,butnot entirely.When the SNP has disapointing results,different views about how to move forward emerge.I was an SNP member and attended all annual conferences around the time of John Swinneys leadership.While there were disagreements about the way to go,I saw little evidence that the SNP were in danger of disintegrating.I viewed the dabate as essential and healthy,as I did in 1979 following an electoral disaster for the SNP.I also believe that the contribution of Alec Neil,John Swinney and many otheres was invaluable and helped to prepare the SNP for success on the 2007 election.While Alec Salmond is a very gifted ptloiician,I do not regard him as the strap that holds the SNP together.The party has many formidable ptloiicians who could be succesful personal preference is Mike Russell.To get back on topic,the SNP has a rich vein of gifted ptloiicians who could be succesful leaders.In contrast labour appears to have very few people with leadership potential within its 37 MSP;s at Hollyrood.I might be wrong,perhaps there are some outstanding individuals within that group.I just cant see it just now.Appointing a leader who is not an MSP,highlights my point.Labour suffered from the fact that many voters did not recognise Ian Gray.I do wonder whether many people know Tom Harris? If not,the combination of choosing a leader who is not an MSP,and who is not widely recognised by the public,would seem to be a very bad idea.

  5. To be honest I’m not against Trident for world peace, hippie reasons, just on purely pragmatic reasons. What I’ve always argued, if we remain apart of NATO and we can safely say that the USA and France are probably our two closest allies, we would be at no greater risk of attack if we got rid of our Nukes whilst we kept them.

    I’ve just realised, thanks to Cameron, we can no longer claim we’re close allies with France… this may screw up our argument.

    1. We aren’t sure how America feels about it yet, Tom.

      But they probably want us on the Security Council Permanent Membership (for which nuclear weapons are necessary) because they can more or less count on us voting with them if they tell us to.

  6. Labours Scottish bretheren would do well to heed the growing distaste of nukes now being exhibited by the majority in this country.

    The fallacy that this weapon is defensive in any respect is a popular myth mostly spread by those now living many hundreds of miles away from their location.

    Its time Labour stood squarely behind the Scottish Government and demanded the immediate removal of these expensive phallic symbols.

    1. Have the Scottish Government demanded the immediate removal of nuclear weapons? I’m astonished to hear that. Can you point to where they’ve done so please?

      1. Even Patrick Harvie’s original motion (S3M-169: “…calls on the UK Government not to go ahead at this time …”), let alone the Lib Dem amended variant which passed, is indeed well short of a demand for “immediate removal”. All the same, removal would be the ultimate consequence of Harvie’s wish being granted by Westminster.

  7. Well said, Tommy Kane.

    Our so-called nuclear deterrent is in fact the opposite. It makes us a target and is the only reason that anybody in the world would attack Scotland. Because these are functionally a US protection and Scotland basically fulfils the purpose of a huge US aircraft carrier the notion that the US would countenace having the biggest nuclear arms dump in the world (like the one we have)providing the same sort of target anywhere near a US city is absurd.
    Let us imagine that the US provokes Israel into a nuclear attack on Iran(on the cards)and China and/or Russia come in on Iran’s side (also on the cards – and, to digress, Nostrdamus talks of the crescent and the bear at war with the eagle) who’ll be first to be vaporised? Why ,the people that live along the Clyde. That’s me, folks, and most of you.
    If anything has contributed to the ongoing destruction of Labour in Scotland it is the failure to remain true to its anti nuclear antecedents and of course its supine collaboration with US imperialism (which Trident is part of).
    I see nothing in the three Scottish leadership candidates that would suggest they even have this issue on their radars

    Here’s a question.
    Would any Labour figure insisting on the removal of Trident from Scotland get to lead Scottish Labour?
    Would London allow it? That’s the real question.

    The SNP is not just presently beating Labour in Scotland. It is starting to replace Labour in Scotland and I would be willing to bet that the vast majority of decent Labour members in Scotland (and they are mostly very decent members)agree with every word I have just written.

  8. The present Scottish Government under the limitations of the devolved
    settlement do not have the power to remove Trident or nuclear weapons.
    I thought everybody knew that.

  9. Dave

    Yet another union benefit is that under the current devolution arrangements Scotland can ban air guns but cannot do anything about Trident.

    On that like everything else Labour would rather have Westminster make all these decisions for us rather than Scots in Scotland.

  10. We should not be too hasty in our condemnation of the Trident missiles being stationed near Glasgow. It is Labour’s duty to stand up for those thousands who would lose their jobs if our nuclear deterrent were to be scrapped. We must also think of the economic benefits foreign tourists and day-trippers from Glasgow have brought to the Faslane area.
    A deterrent can only be effective if a potential attacker is aware of our readiness to actually use it, and we haven’t used it yet. The unanswered question is whether Westminster or Holyrood should decide on when the missiles are to be launched.

    1. In a reply in The Commons the then Labour defence secretary Jeff Hoon replied that there were 936 jobs directly associated with Trident with another 300 indirectly.

      These numbers, while no one wants to see more people out of work, are nowhere near the job losses that have occurred with the military cut backs that Scotland has suffered recently.

      These cuts are directed from Westminster, but the elephant in the room for Labour in Scotland is that Labours preferred position is that Westminster must have full control of all defence matters. Is it any wonder with no worthwhile opposition in Westminster it is Scottish bases that are axed.

      Yet another union benefit that we keep being told we get from being dominated by torys in Westminster.

    2. I am astonished that anyone would think that a yard holding nuclear submarines would be a tourist attraction.

      Maybe we should market it better with say a card that you get stamped for each visit. After 10 visits you get to glow in the dark free.

  11. A good article and a topic which is close to Scots hearts. It would appear that our candidates are avoiding a sensitive issue, but that may change after the decision is made.

    1. before the iamnfesto launch, and what people expected/assumed.There was a general assumption all round that the SNP would commit to a further two year freeze, hence why Labour thought they were being so clever in matching it, so when the iamnfesto showed a five year freeze, it took people by surprise, and that felt like the moment that the campaign took an almighty shunt towards the SNP.However, I don’t think it was necessarily to outdo Labour (although it would be a bit strange for a political party to try to put out a worse iamnfesto than their opponents). There was that palaver with Labour using FOI to try to find out the advice the SNP had been given on LIT, which pretty much spoiled things for those of us who wanted LIT and didn’t really care if it would mean getting taxed a bit more than under Council Tax, since it’s a fairer tax based on income rather than some arbitrary banding. With their childish actions (and their constant use of FOI requests for petty little things is quite reminiscent of the boy in class who puts his hand up every five minutes to clype on someone), Labour made sure replacing Council Tax would be kicked not the long grass. The freeze was only ever meant to be in place until a replacement for Council Tax was found, so with no LIT in the iamnfesto, it stands to reason they extended the freeze instead. Again, this is an assumption and perhaps the SNP already had no intention of putting LIT in the iamnfesto (they may have looked at the advice given and decided it wouldn’t work), but either way, if Labour had any sense, they would have waited to see if LIT was in the iamnfesto before trying to rubbish it. It’s pretty basic common sense really you don’t attack your opponent’s position before they’ve laid it out. Of course, Iain Gray has given no reason for people to think he has any common sense Incidentally, all iamnfesto pledges can be described as bribes if they’re giving something to the electorate. You could say Labour bribed the Scottish voters in 1997 by offering them a referendum on devolution. You could say Labour bribed low-paid workers by offering them a minimum wage. You could say Labour bribed people with a pledge to reform the House of Lords (although that particular one would be better described as duped ). Alternatively, we could choose to rise above using loaded terms needlessly.

    2. NW not matter which way you spin the totble there is no Union dividend coming Scotland’s way nor has there ever been and there is no argument to support Scotland’s remaining in this dominant menageWhat you’re not being told by our woefully pliant UK main stream media and the BBC, is that the UK as you know it, is devoid of inspiration and lacks the wheels of industry to stop it going down the tubes. It’s clear that Scotland cannot afford to stay part of it, even if it did not also feel, to most Scots that the time was fast approaching to become responsible for our own future and who would stop a country that wanted to take the fullest responsibility for its own revenue and expenditure.If truth be told, England would probably fare much better by dissolution of the Union. The whole UK political machine is so democratically corrupt a new system, so radically needed would be forced out. Life in Great Britain is changing and it’s irrevocable.So the totble may spin but the die is cast for Scotland’s future. It looks bright and we will wish for England and Wales and Northern Ireland to have nothing but the best for their futures, both as friends and good neighbours.

  12. “Labour, and Scottish Labour in particular needs to evaluate its position and debate Trident”. This is an untenable position for Labour. There is no proposal to have a separate or even devolved Labour Party for Scotland, and “Scottish Labour in particular” must follow the Party position and show solidarity with the leader, Ed Milliband.

  13. With all due respect to Nigel Ranter I would refer him to the STUC report on Trident and the Clyde bases.
    I continue to be surprised at the volume of “Tory” responses and excuses deployed on this blog

    It points out (confirmed by Parliamentary answer) that less than 1000 persons at the Clyde bases are involved in the Nuclear part of the base and many of them are navy personnel. There are very few other jobs in the Scottish economy dependent on the nuclear component as most of the high value stuff is done elsewhere and the vast majority (over 80%) of the workforce at the bases are employed in the conventional navy base which is probably the best deep water port in the country and would remain so.
    If it is of any interest to anyone here the SNP policy is to retain the base as its major Scottish base in the event of independence and deploy in it the same sort of navy presence as Norway presently supports.
    The STUC report points out firmly that the money expended on this programme would employ many thousands more peope were it deployed in other more constructive activity and further points out that the nuclear arms programme has no progressive benefit whatsover to the economy as it is just money continuously wasted in a programme that will never be used.

    And there is absolutely no reason for the world’s number one target being situated 23 miles from Scotland’s largest city except that Scotland had no choice and the US and London wouldn’t have it within several hundred miles of their people.

    1. I’m sure that the reason for choosing Faslane to base the UK’s Polaris nuclear subs in the 60’s was to really annoy Scottish nationalists and nothing to do with the deep water facilities, the quick and easy access to the North Atlantic or the Norwegian Sea.

      As for being a target, I’m not sure that it would have a higher status than London or Washington in an exchange of nuclear weapons, as I would presume that any terrorist or hostile country would realise that a strike at Faslane base itself would not eradicate the UK’s nuclear deterrent, as it would at that time be several hundred miles out at sea.

      Some of the US Trident submarines are based at Kings Bay, Georgia, 35 miles from Jacksonville, Florida, which has a population of 821,000.

      There are plenty of good reasons not to replace Trident – even strategic and military ones – but the argument is considerably weakened when hyperbole such as that is used instead of facts.

      I’m sure next will come the line “Westminster only wants it to keep its seat at the top table of the UN”…. which as anyone will realise is daft, because in order for the UK to lose its status as a permanent member of the Security Council, a resolution of that council will need to be passed, and the Uk has a right of veto. So the UK can only be removed if the UK wishes it. There have been much discussion on reform of membership of the Security Council, but a lack of support amongst some permanent members has prevented it.

      1. I suppose you have seen a top secret report from the former USSR or the present day Russia, or maybe even China that the Clyde would never be attacked.

        If I were a military planner the Faslane base would be on the top of my list, along with every other military facility.

        Why would you not want to eliminate the stockpiles, and the fact that there are other subs lying up there being serviced?

        Getting a wee bit irrational Mr Ruddy, to much time spent fire fighting on here.

        1. I never said the Clyde would never be attacked, I merely said it would not be the first thing to be attacked. My point is that the Soviet Union had more than enough capability to completely destroy not just Faslane, but every large city in Britain, plus every major airport and most major Government buildings.

          As a matter of fact, when the Soviet Union fell there were released many documents relating plans they had for the invasion/destruction of western Europe. At the same time Faslane would get a warhead dropped no it, one would have fallen just 11 miles away from me in the Angus Glens, on RAF Edzell, as well as another 25 miles away in Dundee. Faslane was not special – just one of many. Any idea that if Faslane wasnt there, Glasgow would be “safe” is laughable.

          Perhaps next time you would care to actually read my post, instead of thinking up witty insults?

  14. Well said mr Kane.

    This is another area where the SNP command much more respect, and so ‘Scottish’ Labour has to devolve into being Scottish, and have the freedom to make these descisions.
    Such is the paranioa of the London bosses, that they always throw their weight behind a London yes man for a Scottish Labour leader.
    Remember Cathy Jamieson was going to stand up to Brown, there was no way she wass getting the leadership.

    The majority of people in Scotland dont want nuclear, lets be clear about that.

    Get rid of Nukes, even if it means making London angry, but I dont think this will ever happen, which is another reason why the Independence support is growing and we are being seen as a party of outdated views.
    I have to concede that I also agree with the SNP not allowing London to build more nuclear power stations in Scotland, there is ample renweable energy in Scotland for our own use and to export to Europe aswell.

  15. The SNP have been saying “NO” to Trident for many a year. It is a pity, no a tragedy that Labour did not support that stance when in power because spending £100 billion of much need money in this way is simply pouring it all down the drain.

    1. Mac

      The UK might have even been able to afford aircraft for the big floating islands that are being built if they scrapped Trident.

    2. Lets keep things in persepctive and not bandy around very large, mainly substantiated figures for the lifetime cost of the project simply to scare people.

      After all, you would think it stupid if someone was to say “Lets not support the NHS because its going £6 trillion” neglecting to say thats the cost over 25 years in cash terms.

      And anyways, since most of that figure is in operational cost, it will actually be spent paying for people and things, so its not “down the drain”, its recycled into the economy. Thats not to say that you couldnt spend that money on something better, but its not totally wasted.

      1. Not totally wasted?

        How much of the estimated £100 billion price tag will be spent on paying for people and things?

        As most of the people and things would be needed on conventional submarines I would say that the total £100 billion would be totally wasted.

        What would the Scottish NHS look like if they had 8.4% of this money to spend on it. We know it would make little difference to the English NHS as the troys will finish the privatisation of the NHS down there.

        P.S. I must be getting old as I remember when Labour MPs were members of CND. Google if you want to see pictures of Brown and Blair with their CND badges on. When did that all change?

        1. No, you dont get my point. If you spend £100billion on Trident II, and most of it is spent on people and things, which would also be spend on those same people and things (albeit doing slightly different things), then of course its not totally wasted. This is the same argument used against the space program. Last time I checked they didnt stuff the Space Shuttle with dollar bills and tip them out of the airlock. The money gets used.

          The only wasted part of it would be the amount spent on the nuclear warheads, and that is actually a relatively small proprotion of the total.

  16. John Ruddy

    I concede your point about Kings Bay in Georgia which is of course the home base for the US submarine fleet and it also is responsible for the nuclear weapons supplied to the UK fleet.
    I am also aware that we have a proportion of our armed submarine fleet at sea at all times . But some of it is not and the storage silos are not and I think it pretty certain that the base would be the immediate and first target.

    What do you think of the SEPA position which is that such is the level of continuous contamination seeping frorm this facility into the Firth of Clyde that it would close it if it had the power to do so?

    1. Faslane would not be the first and immediate target! Destroying Faslane would not prevent an immediate retaliatory strike from a submarine on patrol in the North Atlantic.

      Known first strike targets of the Soviet Union in the 1980s included Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen (and their respective airports) due to the location of Government buildings in those cities. Other military bases (barracks and airbases) across Scotland were also on the list for an immediate and first strike.

      If Faslane didnt exist, then Scotland would have been obliterated immediately – it wouldnt take much. The then-Soviet Union had many thousands of warheads aimed at the west, and it would take only a couple of dozen (launched from a handful of SS-18s) to completely cover 95% of Scotlands population.

  17. Good article, but still no answer from Johann Lamont to where the “future” leader stands on Nuclear Weapons. Wannabe deputy, regional MSP Lewis Macdonald, answered and said the UK should keep Trident as a bargaining counter for disarmament and the issue should be dealt with at the UK Policy Forum. Forget about Westminster Tommy, you have your work cut out at Holyrood.
    I don’t which position is worst, Macdonald or Lamont?

  18. We need Trident like we need another 13 years of the tories

    If things don’t go well we may get both

    The job’s thing is not a runner- we need to spend money on jobs for the masses, not a few hundred people who work in nuclear weapons

  19. John Ruddy,
    so do you think we should have nuclear weapons ? Same question to messrs Lamont,Sarwar and Davidson.

    1. I’m pleased you think my view is as important as the leadership/deputy leadership contenders!

      I think that we should have a nuclear weapon capability, but I dont think we should have (or need) Trident or its replacement. I think that multi-lateral disarmament is the way to go, and it would be difficult to encourage that if we did not have something to give up in return.

      Since the aim of the nuclear weapon capability would be its use as a bargaining chip, then its design and cost should reflect that.

  20. Its up to London what happens with Trident, there is nothing we can say here in Scotland that will make a differance.
    If any party in power decided to base Trident near London then there would be an outcry, but the fact that its near Glasgow keeps it remote.
    At the end of the day, if we are a party of Union, then London will decide this one, it has nothing to do with the Scottish people

    1. Lets face it, even if the nuclear weapons were removed from Scottish soil tomorrow, any attack on these islands using nuclear weapons would damage large parts of the country, and kill hundred of thousands, if not millions of people – regardless of borders.

      The radiation and the fall-out isnt going to stop at Gretna and think “hang on, the SNP have always opposed nuclear weapons, left turn lets head for Ulster instead!” is it? And the Soviet missiles werent noted for their accuracy, either, were they? Do you think that an attack on say, Newcastle or Carlisle wouldnt have included some warheads falling on Scottish soil?

      1. Its funny John that was exactly the same argument that the torys used against Labour when the Labour party and CND were joined at the hip.

        Of course it was not Gretna they used in their argument, their argument was,

        The radiation and the fall-out isnt going to stop at the channel and think hang on, Labour have always opposed nuclear weapons, so we better give the UK a miss.

        I always found the concept that nuclear weapons could think quite strange, but that may be just me.

        1. My point is perhaps a different one. It is that they respect no boundaries, and that whatever the constitutional staus of Scotland, the Scottish people (and their representatives) should have a say in their use/deployment etc.

          Now I realise that they may not share my views, but I still think it important that they should have them taken account of, and declaring independence wont just make the problem go away as some seem to think.

          1. But John, declaring independence will move them out of Scotland, and will distance Scotland from the immediate pollution that they are causing.

            Getting them out of Scotland would appear to me to be the first priority. Is this view shared by most Scots? I do not know, but when polled most Scots are against any nuclear weapons.

        2. that a narrative is a story. I ecxept that sometimes it is truthful and sometimes it is not. That is what stories are.Is it not the case that there is no modern story left available to Labour? All their policy clothes have been usurped by the SNP. The SNP has also delivered, within a UK framework, what it can of social democracy. And they are right to do so. It is in the nature of the beast of the scottish electorate. We are almost exclusively, social democrats. Yeah, well.An aside. I stood outside a Primary School in Glasgow with my rosette on handing out SNP fliers to people that had already made up their minds. It was Nichola Sturgeons constituency, so you know the outcome. Anyway, there was a labour leafleter too and after a while, you get bored, we talked. His politics are mine. Mine are not his because we, the SNP, are evil. I believe in most of the things they do. They go into apoplectic fits when you think it might be delivered better through an independent Scotland.Why is that?It strikes me that good people like my fellow leafleter have lost the plot, perhaps a long time ago. Whilst he had had some political success both here and in Holland with a firebrand socialism, the idea that Scottish nationalism was (insert swerword of choice) the only thing he wished to destroy.I found that a bit sad. The socialists and the nationalists have genuinely common objectives with clearly different methods of delivering it.Anyway, find a narrative that works Kirsty Connell and you may be on to something. Or not, as the case may be.

        3. Thanks John, a really great, hneost post. It is interesting that Labour concerns are felt so widely and it’s not a number of local issues but a real national problem that you face.You seem to be saying that you need better MSPs in Parliament before you can challenge again and, linked to this, you never had a chance in 2011. Given that you can’t replace your current crop of MSPs until 2016, are you suggesting that Labour can’t win until 2018 (or whenever the next election is, I’m losing track!)You make an interesting point about the media too. Scottish political journalism does seem to be too high-level and chatty’, the deep-dive analysis does seem to be lacking and it would have been good to have seen academics, economists and journos discussing what the party policies really mean for Scotland without party candidates bickering each night instead. The main failure of this campaign for me, and Labour is as guilty as the SNP, is that we pretty much know how muhc money Scotland has for the next five years, we what what the priorities will be (NHS, free tuition, C Tax pledge) but we don’t know what that means at a microeconomic or even a macroeconomic level as we embark on this five year term.Modern day politicians gamble, and Salmond has had a big flutter here as it’s not at all clear the sums are going to add up. The problem is, as you point out, the media and the electorate let him do it.First things first though you can’t pick Lamont or Baillie as leader. Hugh Henry takes you the necessary next step if you ask me .

      2. Ah well Craig, given i often respond to cnmoemts top down and I was a bit out the loop yesterday, it might not be so bad! First thing to say is that I do genuinely think this is a big deal. We have a fairly pro-Indy cnmoemts section (which is fine) so I’m still holding my view despite the arguments the other way. Though I am of course, as always, mindful that I may just have the wrong end of the stick. I don’t really see how the oil comes into it to be honest, unless you’re suggesting rUK would want its currency linked to Scotland because how wealthy we would be. Which is fair, but I wasn’t really coming at it from that angle. My angle was more profound that David Cameron is entitled to be of the view that independence should mean the whole hog, no shared currency, irrespective of other considerations. It’s a simplistic view but not an unlikely one given how black and white the more right wing Tory view can often be. I also don’t think I’m even imagining an acrimonious arrangement but something perfectly normal from NZ/Aus dollar through Norwegian/Swedish kronor to US/Canada dollar. If Salmond is saying we’ll keep Sterling for two years then fine, if it’s 20 years then that’s a different kettle of fish. The strongest argument is the other way is that with so much cross-border trade, different currencies doesn’t help either side. Which, again, is perfectly fair. And another aspect that you’ve not considered Craig, one that I was really getting at given this is a Politics blog, is that Cameron could primarily make this statement simply because it might help win the No vote a few percent or, if I’m more correct than many commenters here, a lot more percent than that. He can always keep in his backpocket, after a Yes result, the offer of happily having Sterling on both sides. The currency question is surely the SNP’s weakest link though, this issue is just one (possibly small) part of that.

  21. John Ruddy,
    Thanks for your response and for your clarity.Would you consider the nuclear weapon capability to be a major benefit of union ?

    1. I dont really consider nuclear weapon capability to be a benefit, or a liability of the union. The question of nuclear weapons isnt dependent on the consitutional status of any particular part of these islands. As I’ve said elsewhere in this thread, its not going to go away if Scotland became independent.

      It is however a serious issue which needs debate, and it isnt helped by people on one side screaming about nuclear weapons being based near a large city (whereever they’re put, they’ll be near someone, we’re a small island) or on the other hyping up the number of jobs which will be lost (the numbers are releatively small, and while any job lost is regrettable, they can be replaced – we need to get the strategy right first).

      I dont think that a submarine based ICBM nuclear deterrent is relevant to our military needs, and probably hasnt been for 10 years, if not more.

  22. John Ruddy

    “and it isnt helped by people on one side screaming about nuclear weapons being based near a large city (whereever they’re put, they’ll be near someone, we’re a small island)”

    I am in total accord with your post apart from this peculiar bit which appears somewhat contradictory to the rest of it.
    Why do they have to be put anywhere in Scotland or,in fact, anywhere at all?

    1. Assuming we have nuclear weapons (and last time I checked, we did) they have to be somewhere. Some people on the nationalist side seem to think the fact they are based in Scotland is some kind of “unionist conspiracy”.

      My point is such histrionics do nothing to advance the argument to get rid of them, as do histrionics about the jobs lost do nothing to argue for their retention.

      I assume from your post that you agree there should be no mad nonsensical argument used for their retention, but its OK to talk rubbish if its on the side of their removal?

  23. Its the cost thats the problem, not where they are located… well that is a wee problem in itself, radiation is dangerous, accidents happen.

    This is one key issue that will loose Labour a lot of support in Scotland.

  24. I’ve always been epuzlzd by this term, narrative , when used by political parties. Political parties used to have, aims, goals or ambitions not narratives. If a party only has a narrative on view it’s just treading water in the hope that no-one else has anything better or they don’t really want to promote their true aim.The SNP has an aim, the independence of Scotland and the empowerment of its people and all else flows from that single aim. The problem for the Labour party is that it also has a single aim which is the continuation of the Union and the saving of the British Establishment from break-up. That’s a problem if you’re a party which was founded as a bulwark against the British Establishment.The Labour party now finds it very difficult to criticise the British State and Establishment beyond complaining about the way the Tories manage it because it’s very difficult to point out the faults in an institution that you are obsessed with saving. The Labour party has an aim but they can’t articulate it beyond independence bad, union good without giving the game away that they actually are the British Establishment so all they’ve got left is that odd word, narrative . Lamont, Harris and Macintosh just need to start asking what the purpose is. About everything. Is it Scottish Labour’s purpose to be the party of aspiration? Is it Scottish Labour’s purpose to defend the union? To defeat the SNP? To defend working people against the cuts? It’s easy to define the Labour party’s current purpose. It’s to defend the Union and defeat the SNP. The rest is just incidental and there’s a question which emerges from that purpose which no Labour supporter has ever been able to answer for me. Why is the Labour party in Scotland so unionist that it prefers Westminster Tory rule to independence for Scots and Scotland?

  25. Jeff,I can’t believe you are synaig that Milliband is a better communicator than Blair, so I assume you mean that Milliband is better at letting the party develop policy.I’m not sure I see any evidence of that at the moment and you also have to remember that, in contrast to an opposition, an executive simply does not have the luxury of letting its party make policy.Blair did however set a pretty clear framework for his modus operandi and I don’t think I was ever surprised by any decision he took.After a year in post you would think that Milliband would have staked a similar claim by now but I genuinely have no clue what his political centre of gravity is. I don’t think he does either which might be why the unions backed him for the leadership, believing him to be the most malleable candidate.Leadership is about finding that tricky balance between defining a direction of travel and then supporting your party to move that way. But it also requires huge trust on the part of the leader and the party.Blair eventually wanted to go in a direction the party didn’t and Brown couldn’t trust the party to move in the direction he wanted, at least in the way he wanted. Milliband is probably a bit hamstrung because after Blair and Brown there is a sense in Labour that the leader can’t fully trust the party and party can’t fully trust the leader.The problem is that prevarication only adds to this sense of mutual suspicion. Milliband has to find something similar to Blair’s Clause 4 moment and he needs to do it fast.

  26. Ah. Now. Confusion reigns. I hhguott Kate was referring just to the Scot Lib Dems.Recent Leadership Elections of all parties:Scot Lib Dems: Willie Rennie Unopposed, Tavish Scott beat Mike Rumbles in July 2008 and Nicol Stephen beat Mike Rumbles in June 2005Scot Labour: Iain Grey beat Andy Kerr & Cathie Jamieson in Sept 2008 and Wendy Alexander was elected unopposed in Sept 2007Scot Tories: Annabel Goldie was unopposed in Dec 2005Scot Greens: Harvie & Elanor were elected in Nov 08 dont know if they were opposedSNP Alex Salmond beat Roseanna Cunningham in Sept 2004.So, Willie Rennie is the most recent party leader chosen and was unopposed. Then the Green leadership (contest unknown), then Iain Gray (contested), then we have Wendy Alexander (uncontested), then Annabel Goldie (unopposed), then Nicol Stephen, then Alex Salmond.So Willie Rennie is the only Lib Dem appointment which followed the election of Iain Gray for Scot Labour. So either Kate was forgot about Iain Grays election or forgot that Tavish Scott beat Mike Rumbles because she wrote that An anointment, which the last two leadership “elections” have been is not correct. As far as I can tell. Unless it was a reference to the Greens. In which case I will shut up.I may be totally wrong here and wait to see if I am corrected.

  27. terrible article, the facts are we are still a powerful nation on the global level and nuclear weapons are an illustration of this power. We have to remain apart of NATO as well as the E.U rather than retreating to some regressive Cubist socialist state. The arms industry is a huge part of our economy and feeds into others… we cannot just clean our hands of it. the tragedy is with these wrong-headed socialists is they offer a dream, but with no content, or path. we need alternatives, we need to diversify we need new markets. new ideas, not this usual tub thumping crap, playing to the crowd in the most tragic way….populist nonsense T Kayne talks!

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