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Sturgeon and Lamont clash over Trident

Scotland's Deputy First Minister clashed with the leader of the Scottish Labour Party in a televised debate on STV. One of the key areas of disagreement was Trident. Johann Lamont  was asked several times whether she supported Trident replacement and she failed to give a direct answer. She suggested that the SNP were just using opposition to nuclear weapons as a tactic to promote independence. Nicola Sturgeon responded by saying that she had joined CND before she joined the SNP.


Below is a transcript of the exchanges on Trident. The presenter was Rona Dougall.

RD – Is it the case that the only way to get rid of Trident from Scotland is to vote for an independent Scotland?

JL – I don’t agree with that. I think the issue about Trident is a much bigger issue. There are people right across the world who recognise the danger of nuclear weapons and seek a more peaceful world but it does seem to me to be a contradiction that on the one hand the SNP say they will get rid of Trident, however they fought tooth and nail with their own membership to ensure that Scotland would seek membership of NATO which of course is a nuclear club and everybody knows that. There seems to be a contradiction there.

RD – How can you get rid of Trident under Westminster rule?

JL – You would get rid of Trident when you win the political argument  ...  With respect there are many people .. we know this is a much bigger issue than political parties. There are people who want the world to be a safer place. How do we defend ourselves, how do we not create those sorts of risks. That is beyond party. I know there are people who will be supporting independence on the question of Trident but I also know that people right across the world want to work in cooperation to reduce nuclear weapons.

RD – do you yourself support the renewal of Trident?

JL – I have grave reservations about the renewal of Trident and I have said that in the past but what I recognise is that debate has to be won and we have to cooperate across the world in making the world a safer place.  It ought not to be a bargaining chip for a political position that the SNP have had for more than 40 years to take Scotland out of the United Kingdom.

NS –you’re either for or against nuclear weapons

JL - It’s not the issue of Trident that took you to believe that Scotland should be separate. It is an explanation and a justification now. These are two separate things.


NS – There is a majority of the Scottish Parliament for the scrapping of Trident. There is a majority at Westminster to spend £100 billion replacing Trident. Just let’s be absolutely clear, what side are you on?

JL – What I’ve said to you is it’s not about a bargaining chip

NS – Are you in favour of replacing Trident or not?

JL – What I say it that Trident should be negotiated away, it should not be used as a bargaining chip for your argument for separation.

NS – How can you negotiate it away, when your party leader is committed to spending £100 billion on Trident on the Clyde

JL – I think you’ll find that Ed Milliband is a man who is prepared to take tough decisions.

NS- the shadow defence secretary on his first outing went to Barrow to say that Labour was committed to the replacement of Trident

JL – I’m not going to take a lecture from you Nicola, about defence jobs and the importance of shipbuilding to this country

NS - are  you committed to the replacement of Trident?  ..

NS – hand on heart can you in all conscience say that replacing Trident at the cost of £100 billion at a time when so many of our children are reliant on food banks when we’ve got tens of thousands more children living in poverty, when disabled people are having benefits removed, do you really think replacing Trident is the right thing to do and if you don’t why on earth don’t you want the powers here in Scotland to get rid of it once and for all

JL – I would make the point to you that your own defence spokesperson has said not that that money would be spent on food banks but it would be spent on defence. Don’t pretend that scrapping Trident is going to present opportunities like those.  You would say it would be spent on defence. I am happy to be in a debate about how we make the world a safer place.

NS – the fact of the matter is £100 billion is going to be spent on nuclear weapons

JL – the fact of the matter is you have found an explanation, a justification again for something that you believed all of your life.

NS – I joined CND before I joined the SNP. I would like to see Trident missiles removed from the Clyde but we don’t have the power. You are prepared to leave Westminster with the power, knowing that both of the main parties are going to exercise that power to replace them at a cost of £100 billion. How in all conscience can you agree to that when so many of our people are living in poverty.

JL – Because you know that the money saved from Trident won’t be addressing questions of poverty., but your political choices, your economic choices are actually going to make life far more difficult for families and communities

 NS – We have established that if we vote No we might have another Tory government and we will have the replacement for Trident.

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