By Mark Gallagher
Scottish Labour Party activists opposed to nuclear weapons met in Glasgow on 31 May to discuss how to campaign against Trident renewal in the United Kingdom, both now and if there is a No vote in the Scottish independence referendum. The meeting was chaired by Chair of the Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (SCND) Arthur West, who said that while Scottish CND have now affiliated to Yes Scotland, “some of our members and supporters have other reasons for not making this choice and we respect that.”
Former Member of Parliament for Glasgow Maryhill Maria Fyfe, now a National Policy Forum (NPF) Representative for Scotland, said, “It is a priority that Scottish Labour also has a response to the assertions of the Scottish National Party (SNP) that independence is the only way to scrap Trident.” She also reminded the meeting unilateral disarmament was still the policy of Scottish Labour Party Conference. George McManus, NPF Representative for Yorkshire and Humberside, further highlighted how former Labour cabinet ministers such as John Prescott, Des Browne and Nick Brown have declared opposition to Trident replacement (as planned) on the basis of cost in an age of austerity, the emergence of new threats to which nuclear weapons are not a deterrent and the bad example such a decision sets to other countries.
Alan Cowan, SCND Executive Member and meeting organiser said, “Scottish Labour CND will be in contact with trade unions and the other National Policy Forum members representing Scotland. Most people in Scotland want to scrap Trident” and that “We will ensure that our Labour representatives are empowered to say No to Trident and No to Separation.” When it does come to the vote at the meeting of the NPF the importance of trade union support for amendments was also stressed by several activists as union abstention at previous meetings has meant support for this and other progressive issues has not been what it should be.
Writing in a personal capacity in the Morning Star on 16April, Jackson Cullinane, a political officer of Unite Scotland, stressed the importance of reminding trade unionists of Trident’s impact on cuts to services, wages and conditions, their job security and how it actually costs jobs in the defence sector. This was proven by such reports as a 2007 study conducted jointly by SCND and the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) which demonstrate whatever the referendum result urgent action is required to diversify the defence sector. The establishment of a Scottish Defence Diversification Agency which should engage with trade union representatives to make some concrete proposals for a transition to alternative but equivalently skilled and paid employment would be a good start.
The deadline for submissions to the current NPF process is the 13June and so far there have been no submissions in support of Trident and 21 CLPs have made submissions to the process on the issue. Eight other CLPs have promised to make submissions but those have not yet appeared on the Your Britain website (yourbritain.org.uk).
From Labour CND following Mark’s article:
With CLP submissions to Labour's National Policy Forum consultation now in, Trident has emerged as a key issue. Almost a third of all amendments submitted to the Britain's Global Role paper, which covers all aspects of international policy, were on Trident. Almost 50 CLPs have submitted an amendment on Trident and 90% of them want to see it scrapped.
With submissions overwhelmingly in favour of decommissioning Trident and carrying out the UK's historic nuclear disarmament commitment, it is time Labour delivered.
It is vital that CLP representatives on the NPF submit this issue and represent members by voting for decommissioning Trident and delivering disarmament.