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Speech in Scottish Parliament Robin Harper

14 June 2007

Robin Harper (Lothians) (Green): I shall begin by addressing the point that Jackie Baillie made. I support the Faslane 365 campaign—I have not withdrawn my support for it—but I am concerned when any protest movement has unnecessary and avoidable collateral effects on communities. I am very glad that the campaigners withdrew from holding that inappropriate disco, and I hope that Jackie Baillie will continue to address the problems there. I have not heard anything to the contrary. If she wishes me to come along and help to mediate, I will be only too glad to do so. I have also been there to support members of the Scottish Green Party, including Patrick Harvie, in offering themselves for arrest at the base. Let that be absolutely clear.

Elaine Smith: Why is the motion not clearly anti-Trident? Why does it include the phrase "at this time"?

Robin Harper: I would argue that the motion is clearly anti-Trident. The important thing is that the proposal to replace Trident undermines the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, international agreements and international law. We have the opportunity to support those 33 courageous Labour MPs who stood up in the House of Commons and voted against their party in defence of international law. That is the tenor of the motion and what it is about. It gives the Scottish Parliament the opportunity to support those 33 MPs, to support international law and to support the notion that Trident should not be replaced.

Rhona Brankin: Will the member take an intervention?

Robin Harper: Certainly not from Rhona Brankin, given her inappropriate intervention on the matter of the rural affairs debate. I can tell members why we were not here. We wanted to speak and registered our interest to do so, but we were told that we would not get to speak, so we watched the entire debate in our offices.

Mike Rumbles: That is pathetic.

Robin Harper: It is not pathetic; it is what most members do most of the time when they are not engaged in debates in the chamber. That is enough of such Pontius Pilate Jesuitical nonsense.

The opening speakers did not say very much and avoided the tenor of the motion—the import of what we are talking about. Michael McMahon said that he would rather not be an accessory to the endeavour of the debate. I would rather not be a silent and willing accessory to the decision that was made in the House of Commons. This is the chance for the Scottish Parliament to register, on an international scale, its disagreement with that undermining of international law. The debate is not about the devolved settlement; it is about an international concern.

Murdo Fraser tried to take us into the general argument about whether we should have nuclear weapons at all. Yes, that could be debated in the Parliament, but it is not what we are debating today. The Conservatives know our position on that and we know theirs. He said that the debate is a self-indulgence; I say that saying we should not debate the issue in the chamber is a counsel of despair.

Replacing Trident is not a responsible action in the post-cold-war world. The argument that we need Trident as the ultimate defence is absolutely absurd—it is the ultimate bad example to set to the rest of the world. Scotland should become world renowned for its peaceful intentions and commitment to non-violence—the majority of the people of Scotland are committed in that respect—not as a country that aids and abets the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. We want the Scottish Parliament to be a Parliament that is opposed to the immoral, illegal and unnecessary replacement of Trident. We want it to be a Parliament of peace, non-violence and integrity, that has the wisdom to recognise the utter folly of pursuing a new nuclear weapons system.

I congratulate Christina McKelvie and Bill Kidd on their speeches, and I thank Malcolm Chisholm, in particular, for his magnificent speech, which deserves a round of applause.

I will finish with what underlies our feelings on the matter. I quote Bertrand Russell, speaking in 1961 for the 12 most senior scientists in the world:

"There lies before us, if we choose, continual progress in happiness, knowledge, and wisdom. Shall we, instead, choose death, because we cannot forget our quarrels?"

The Conservatives are always referring back to the cold war. Good Lord, that happened a long time ago.

"We appeal as human beings to human beings: Remember your humanity, and forget the rest. If you can do so, the way lies open to a new Paradise; if you cannot, there lies before you the risk of universal death."

I ask members please to support the Green party motion, preferably unamended, at 5 o'clock.