‘Utterly useless’: Scottish Labour votes against Trident renewal
At the conference, about 70 percent of the delegates voted to scrap the Trident system with both rank and file party members and most trade unions affiliated with the party supporting this move.
The delegates adopted a motion opposing Trident renewal and describing nuclear weapons as “a mortal threat to humanity’s survival” and “massively expensive” as well as stressing that if the Trident program was renewed it could potentially provoke nuclear proliferation, British media reported.
The motion also emphasizes that the trident program should only be scrapped on the that new engineering and hi-tech jobs for the defense workers could be created as they could be made unemployed because of this decision.
This result puts the Scottish section of the party at loggerheads with the party leaders in Westminster that consistently back the renewal of the UK’s nuclear weapons program.
At the same time, this result could possibly boost Labour leader Jeremy Corbin’s efforts to force his party to abandon its support for the British nuclear deterrent system. The motion closely resembles Corbyn’s stance on the nuclear weapons issue and is regarded as an endorsement of his idea for the UK’s unilateral disarmament.
“Scottish Labour Party members have spoken. That will now feed into the wider UK Labor debate and review of defense policy,” a Corbyn’s spokesman said at the conference after the vote, as quoted by the BBC.
Real threats vs. Jobs
The voting was preceded by a heated discussion, which was opened by Stephen Low, from Unison and Glasgow Southside Constituency Labour Party, who claimed that the UK “did not need and cannot afford” Trident.
“Its [Trident’s] purpose is to detonate a nuclear warhead above a city, killing everyone in its radius. There are other facts about Trident, but that's the central one, and one we should never forget,” he said, as quoted by the British media.
"When it comes to the real threats to this country, things like terrorism, things like cyber-attacks, things like climate change, Trident is utterly, utterly useless,” he added stressing that the UK was not the target of such countries as Russia or China.
Most trade unions also expressed their support for the idea to abandon the Trident system with their representatives saying that it has no moral justification, while the money saved from this program could be used for social policy programs and against “crisis.”
However, delegates from some trade unions mostly representing defense workers fiercely opposed the idea of abandoning Trident. Gary Smith from GMB Scotland argued that ditching Trident would lead to a massive loss of jobs for defense industry workers with no alternative employment opportunities for them.
"We are told that the motion recognizes the importance of jobs, but the fact is that is utterly disingenuous. This debate is nonsense, and frankly it is an utter indulgence," he said, as quoted by the British media.
He also called the idea to abandon Trident “a motion which represents Alice in Wonderland politics and pie in the sky jobs.”
“Faslane is the biggest single-site employer in Scotland. More than a quarter of West Dunbartonshire's full-time workforce are employed there in good quality, well-paid jobs,” Jackie Baillie, a Labour member of the Scottish parliament, also said.
Tory: Vote is slap in the face
Additionally, the results of the Scottish Labour vote provoked criticism from the Conservatives. The UK defense secretary Michael Fallon claimed the voting “underlines the danger that the Labour leadership poses to our national security.”
“For sixty years, successive Labour and Conservative governments have been united on this issue. I appeal to moderate Labor MPs to back our decision to maintain a round the clock nuclear capability – the ultimate guarantee of Britain’s security,” he said as quoted by the Guardian.
Ruth Davidson, the Scottish Tory leader, called the vote “a slap in the face for the 70% of Scottish Labor supporters who say they support the retention of our Trident submarines in some form,” the Telegraph reports.
At the same time, the Scottish National party leader, Nicola Sturgeon, welcomed the results of the vote, although she stressed that it was just a symbolic move as the Trident issue remained the prerogative of the UK Labor Party.
Good news that @scottishlabour has voted against Trident renewal...but it will only make a difference if UK Lab MPs vote against it in HoC.— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) November 1, 2015
The final decision on replacing the UK’s four aging nuclear subs within the Trident program will be made in 2016 with the Conservatives supporting the renewal and Prime Minister David Cameron being a strong backer.
Earlier, it was reported that the cost of such a renewal will reach £167 billion ($256 billion), far exceeding initial expectations and putting additional pressure on the UK’s budget.