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Scottish Labour leadership candidates split over Trident

The candidates for leadership of the Scottish Labour party have clearly different views on Trident. Jim Murphy is an active supporter of the British nuclear weapons' programme. Neil Findlay and Katy Clark are both campaigners for nuclear disarmament.




Sarah Boyack has spoken against, but not voted against Trident replacement. Kezia Dugdale's statement appears to endorse the official UK Labour party line.



 Jim Murphy MP- candidate for leader of the Scottish Labour Party

Jim Murphy thinks that Britain can lead the world in nuclear disarmament by renewing Trident. In May 2011 he said:

“Maintaining the UK independent deterrent must be part our continuing to lead global multilateral disarmament efforts.”

He voted for Trident replacement in the House of Commons in March 2007. As Shadow Defence Secretary he actively promoted nuclear weapons and argued against disarmament campaigners within the party.

Speaking on Radio Scotland in March 2014, he dismissed the Labour Party’s anti-nuclear policy of the 1980s:

"We’re in favour of the UK retaining a nuclear capability.  We’re not a unilateralist party.  I mean, that happened in the ‘80s, that was a flirtation with surrealism.”   

He made it clear that Labour will reject any plan to get rid of Trident:

We’re not a unilateralist party and we’re not going to become a unilateralist party.” 

In 2011 he wrote an article for Labour Uncut supporting Trident. He argued that having nuclear weapons is a way for Britain to gain status around the world:

“our independent nuclear deterrent provides us with the ultimate insurance policy. It is one which both strengthens our national security and increases our international influence and ability to achieve long-term global security aims.”  

In a letter to a constituent in 2007 he has dismissed the idea that there are better ways to spend the billions allocated to Trident:

“There are others who say that we should not spend this money on nuclear weapons when we could invest in healthcare or in tackling climate change. It is a false choice to argue that the money would be better spent elsewhere.”

In July 2013 he made it clear that he supports not just Trident and Trident replacement, but the idea that there has to be one submarine on patrol at all times, ready to fire its missiles:

“Labour has always said that we are committed to the minimum credible independent nuclear deterrent, which we believe is best delivered through a Continuous At Sea Deterrent.” 

Jim Murphy is an active supporter of Israel, the one nuclear-armed state in the Middle East. He is a member and former Chair of Labour Friends of Israel.


Neil Findlay MSP - candidate for leader of the Scottish Labour Party

Neil Findlay is a member of the Cross Party Group on Nuclear Disarmament and has spoken against Trident at events organised by Scottish CND, including the Spring Walk for Peace in April 2013. 

In a message of support to the Scrap Trident coalition in 2013 he said:

"At a time of imposed austerity and when every community is suffering from job cuts, a wages freeze and attacks on their public services it makes no social, economic or moral sense to spend billions of pounds of scarce public money on weapons that have only one purpose the killing of human beings on a massive scale."

In an article for Labour CND, he said:

"An increasing number of polls show the public sees no future in nuclear weapons, and an even greater majority of Scots oppose Trident based at Faslane. Labour should move with popular public opinion. The trade unions, the churches, and civic society stand against nuclear weapons. This is the agenda Labour should also champion."



Sarah Boyack MSP - candidate for leader of the Scottish Labour Party

In the crucial vote on Trident replacement in the Scottish Parliament in June 2007 Sarah Boyack abstained. 5 other Labour MSPs voted to oppose Trident.

She later told the Edinburgh Evening News that she did not support Trident replacement. She said:

""We have reduced the number of nuclear warheads in Britain. I think we could go further." 

Katy Clark MP - candidate for deputy leader of the Scottish Labour Party

Katy Clark is an active supporter of Scottish CND. She has spoken at CND events and asked questions in the House of Commons about nuclear weapons.

She spoke and voted against Trident replacement in March 2007:

"I would vote against Trident's replacement wherever in the United Kingdom it was based, but the reality is that it is based in the west of Scotland and for many decades vast majorities of people in Scotland have made it clear that they oppose nuclear weapons being based in Scotland. I think that that is because they, perhaps more than people in any other part of Britain, are very aware of what those weapons represent. They are weapons of mass destruction that have been designed to target civilian communities and to maximise death and suffering."

In December 2013 she wrote in the Daily Record:

"Trident is a weapon of the past – of old politics and a world living in fear during the Cold War. That time has gone and our politicians need to catch up. I have never been convinced that there are sound defence or foreign policy reasons for nuclear weapons. The logic is that if Britain needs them, every country needs them. But the prospect of other countries gaining them is chilling. The more weapons there are, the more likely it is that something will go wrong and by accident or design, they will be used. The reality today is that we face other, more pressing security threats that Trident cannot deal with."


Kezia Dugdale - candidate for deputy leader of the Scottish Labour Party

Kezia Dugdale's website includes a statement on nuclear weapons. This fails to challenge the proposal to spend £100 billion on Trident replacement and her views are close to official UK Labour Party policy, which is to support Trident replacement.

"Kezia believes that decisions made on the future of Trident should be based on evidence (including cost considerations) rather than on political party interest – and whilst she welcomes the reduction in the number of missiles and warheads that took place after the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review, Kezia would like to see an end to nuclear weapons not just in Scotland, but globally.

"Removing nuclear weapons from Scotland would only cause them to be redeployed somewhere else in the UK or abroad, at doubtlessly considerable expense to the taxpayer. Instead, Kezia supports reciprocal international agreements where nuclear and other mass destruction weapons are removed on a permanent basis."

She ignores research by Scottish CND which indicates that removing nuclear weapons from Scotland would be likely to lead to disarmament.



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