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Speech in Scottish Parliament Christina McKelvie

14 June 2007

Christina McKelvie (Central Scotland) (SNP): I am delighted that my first speech in a debate is on an issue that has been close to my heart since the age of about 15.

During the recent elections, some Labour candidates argued that Scots should drop our principled objection to nuclear weapons. That is from the party that committed our armed forces to war on the pretence that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq that had to be found and destroyed. We were told, however, that we should tolerate weapons of mass destruction on the Clyde, because jobs depended on them.

The truth is out now. Jobs are going at Faslane, but the weapons of mass destruction are still there. The jobs have nothing to do with Trident. They are not dependent on it and, whether it stays or goes, they are at risk from UK Government decisions. In fact, the STUC and Scottish CND produced a joint report in March year that showed that renewing Trident would cost jobs. Just to be clear: if Trident is renewed, it will still cost jobs in Scotland.

We are told by the Labour Government in London that the running costs of son of Trident will be about the same as those of the current system. That is £2,000 every minute, £120,000 an hour, £3 million per day and more than £1 billion a year on top of the capital costs of £20 billion to buy the beasts in the first place—for a weapon that we are told will never be fired. It is like saying that everyone should carry a knife to avoid being attacked with a knife, or that we should all carry guns to make society safer.

Trident is economically inept, morally repugnant and spiritually bereft. The presence of those weapons in Scotland's waters is an insult to all of us who believe that peace is preserved by diplomacy before war and compassion before coercion. It is also an insult to all of us who believe in spending public money wisely.

I am not a pacifist, but I recognise the impotence, vanity and sheer waste in a weapon such as Trident. It cannot be a defensive weapon, but we are promised that it will never be used in aggression. What exactly is its purpose?

I would rather be a citizen of a nation that looks to persuade and co-operate than bully and cajole, and I would rather be such a citizen safe in the knowledge that my country was free of weapons of mass destruction.

Mutually assured destruction is not the only mad aspect of nuclear weapons. The very idea that London is considering renewing Trident falls into that category.

Defence may be reserved in the strict legal terms of the Scotland Act 1998, but morality, decency and common sense are not. We have a moral duty to oppose that which we see as a waste of national resources.

I support the motion in Patrick Harvie's name, I welcome the stand taken against nuclear weapons and I am pleased that it is the majority viewpoint of the Scottish people. We have the opportunity to make it clear that we believe that nuclear weapons have no place in Scotland, and we should take that opportunity and make Scotland's voice heard.