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ScrapTrident


Murphy, Findlay and Boyack talk Trident

 Interviewed by Sarah Smith on Scotland 2014, the three candidates for leadership of the Scottish Labour Party set out their positions on nuclear disarmament.  Sarah Boyack said that she opposed Trident replacement, but the decision was up to Ed Miliband. Jim Murphy argued for retaining Trident and Neil Findlay called for nuclear disarmament.

BBC Iplayer (from 29:20)

 

 

 

Sarah Smith asked the candidates if they would try to persuade the Labour Party to abandon the proposals to replace Trident. Sarah Boyack said "If it was my decision, I have always said that I don't think we should renew Trident." However, she went on to say that she was applying to be Scottish leader, whereas Trident  - "that's the job of for the UK Labour party leader Ed Miliband" 

Jim Murphy wants a world free of nuclear weapons, but doesn't want it to start here. He called for "multilateral negotiations where every country that is a nuclear power gets together and agrees to no nuclear weapons across the planet."  However, this approach has failed for the last half century. Murphy seems oblivious to the recent initiative where the non-nuclear nations of the world have come together and said that there must be action. The P5 nuclear states, on whom Murphy places his hope, all boycotted the first three of these international conferences. 

Murphy said "my view would be that it would be the wrong moment to unilaterally give up our nuclear deterrent". This is the traditional approach of the pro-nuclear establishment in London.  It was the reason given in 1979 for replacing Polaris with Trident and it was the underlying basis of the decision to go ahead with a replacement for Trident in 2007, even although the original justification for Trident, the Soviet Union, had disappeared. In practice, "not now", means "never".

Jim Murphy warned of the possibility of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons. But he made no mention of the risks from the one nuclear-armed state in the Middle East today - Israel. Perhaps this blind-spot is due to the fact that Murphy is a member, and former Chair, of Labour Friends of Israel.

In contrast, Neil Findlay presented a clear case for abolishing Trident. He said he couldn't justify spending billions on "weapons whose only purpose is to annihilate human beings", especially "when we have so many familiies in this country who can't feed their children and our National Health Service and social care service is crying out for investment." He accepted that defence was a reserved issue but added that the Scottish Labour Party should use its weight to try and influence what happens on a UK level.

Former Labour MP, Maria Fyfe, was in the audience and she said that a Yes vote in the referendum would have had no effect on nuclear disarmament and would not have made us any safer. However, detailed research by Scottish CND shows that a Yes vote would have had a major impact on nuclear weapons. It would have created a crisis for the Trident replacement programme and would have been likely to lead to there being no nuclear weapons in Britain. 

Transcript

Sarah Boyack:

If it was my decision, I have always said that I don’t think we should renew Trident. I think the last Labour government made huge strides and used our international diplomacy to reduce warheads across the world and I was deeply proud of that. I think we need to make sure that we invest in our conventional army, we need to invest in our conventional security. .. The job I am applying for is to be leader of the Scottish Labour Party. The issues about Trident are issues that we need to work through our UK manifesto and I obviously have a strong view on that, but that’s the job for the UK Labour party leader Ed Miliband and we all have a voice in that but my money is actually about making sure we get better conventional defence and making sure we have a progressive foreign policy.

Jim Murphy:

My view on Trident is that I want a world free of nuclear weapons. I want no country on the planet to have nuclear weapons. But my approach is this. You can’t un-invent the technology. I wish we could. I wish we could put it back in a box and that it had never been created, but that is not where we are. So what I want to do is to see meaningful negotiations, multilateral negotiations where every country that is a nuclear power gets together and agrees to no nuclear weapons across the planet.   On Trident, my view would be that it would be the wrong moment to unilaterally give up our nuclear deterrent at a time when North Korea is trying to acquire nuclear weapons and Iran is trying to acquire nuclear weapons, when Pakistan and India are facing off across a nuclear divide and when other nations are investing in a nuclear capability. I think to unilaterally give up our weapons at this time would be a mistake but I want a world free of them and it’s about negotiating them away.     

Neil Findlay:

I am a member of CND and I have always been against nuclear weapons and I think that at a time when we have so many families in this country who can’t feed their children and have to rely on food banks, when local government is in crisis because of underfunding and our National Health Service and our social care service is crying out for investment, for us to spend whatever sum, there’s many different sums thrown about, but say 65 billion pounds, on weapons that’s only purpose is to annihilate human beings. I just can’t morally say that I would support that. I just can’t do it. ... I fully accept that it is a reserved issue, but the Scottish Labour Party has a right to have a view on that and we should use our view and use our weight to try and influence what happens at a UK level and that decision will be made soon and I think I would be trying to ensure that we do not make that decision because the fantastic skills and technology applied to create those weapons could be used for so much better reasons and we could be employing more people, more productively for the benefit of humanity rather than something that threatens humanity.

Maria Fyfe:

I would like to ask what you make of the fact that if the SNP had won the referendum their proposal would have been to shift Trident out of the Clyde and that would have done nothing, it would not have reduced the international stock of nuclear weapons by one and we would not have been any safer and since they hope to win the next referendum, whenever that happens, how do you tackle that argument.

Neil Findlay:

It would not make me sleep any easier in bed at night with the thought that the nuclear submarines were sitting on the Mersey or the Thames or anywhere else. It doesn’t reduce the world’s stock of nuclear weapons by one missile, so moving them doesn’t matter. Actually, if we moved them over the border would the people of Dumfries and Galloway thank us for that. I just think that it’s a false argument to say that the world’s a safer place just because they sail out of our waters and sail a few hundred miles down the road.  

 

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