Nicola Sturgeon faces revolt over Nato stance
TWO branches in Nicola Sturgeon’s constituency have put their names to a call to keep the party’s anti-Nato stance intact amid signs of grassroots opposition to the party leadership’s attempts to join the nuclear alliance.
Members in both the Southside Central and the Govan Kingston branch say they have signed an anti-Nato amendment that will be debated at conference next month.
Last week, Deputy First Minister Sturgeon joined fellow SNP ministers John Swinney and Alex Neil in backing a change in policy, which has been proposed by Westminster leader Angus Robertson.
Robertson has recommended party support for an independent Scotland joining Nato on condition that the new nation is allowed to remove the Trident nuclear deterrent from Scotland. However, ministers such as Sturgeon are now facing opposition from grassroots members who are making their opposition felt.
SNP trade unionist Bill Ramsay said Sturgeon had been put “in a very difficult position” by the planned reform as there was little enthusiasm for the reform within the party grassroots.
Of his own Southside Central branch, Ramsay said: “The branch has taken a position to support party policy [against Nato membership]. Southside central branch is one of the signatories.”
He added: “Nicola is in a very difficult position. I think the party collectively, and the SNP members individually, are in a position where, if it was left to them, they would not want to be in Nato.”
A SNP source at Govan Kingston also said that, at a recent meeting, only one member had supported change, with the rest all supporting the retention of current party policy. The two other branches in Sturgeon’s seat, Crossmyloof and Pollokshields, are also understood to be supportive of the anti-Nato position.
Robertson has argued the party needs to head into the independence referendum promising to remain in the alliance, to show Nato members in Europe that it is prepared to work within the alliance to ensure the region’s stability.
However, his opponents – who include a dozen SNP MSPs – argue that a commitment to enter Nato will make it more difficult for an independent Scotland to remove Trident from Faslane, as they would like.
Robertson is still expected to win the vote, with all senior SNP figures having supported it. Last week, Sturgeon said she supported the changes, arguing that Robertson “has put forward a well-argued case”.
Robertson insisted last night that a survey of SNP members had shown backing for the reform. He added: “This proposed policy update is aimed at ridding Scotland of Trident and being a good neighbour and ally. However, the resolution includes the key condition that Scotland must have an agreement about Trident removal to remain within Nato.”
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Sunday 19 May 2013
Temperature: 8 C to 12 C
Wind Speed: 25 mph
Wind direction: East
Temperature: 9 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 7 mph
Wind direction: North east