Nuclear options

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IS IT realistic to suggest that a ­Labour-led “hung” House of Commons, with a strong Scottish and Welsh Nationalist presence, could agree to dismantle the Trident nuclear missiles on the Clyde after May’s general election?

I thought Andrew Whitaker strove for balance in his article on this (Perspective, 18 February) but spoiled it at the end with a reference to the SNP’s “contradictory” policy on membership of Nato. 

It is possible to have a non-nuclear defence policy while being a member of the alliance as is demonstrated by a number of countries throughout Europe such as Sweden and Denmark. These countries can inform and moderate policy within Nato while, of course, leaving themselves open to the charge of sheltering behind a nuclear umbrella. That is fair enough because it is reasonable to participate in a broad coalition of interests on the basis of having a strong non-nuclear national defence policy. Each democracy has the right to adopt its own stance.

The question, however, is how long will it take to achieve that outcome. What will be the attitude of Britain’s allies to the prospect? How will workers at Faslane and elsewhere in the defence industries react? That is where I think Mr Whitaker is on much stronger ground.

It is by no means certain that the majority of Labour’s post-election intake will be anti-Trident. Although First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has suggested that SNP opposition to the weapons ­system is non-negotiable, it will be interesting to see power politics plays out in the post-election discussions.

A secure job, a decent wage and pension, and more powers for Holyrood may well take precedence over a Trident policy only achievable in the much longer term.

Bob Taylor

Shiel Court

Glenrothes, Fife

ON THE day that Business Secretary Dr Cable proposes a post-general election rainbow coalition of Labour, SNP and Liberal MPs – an event that would affect all of our lives for at least the next five years – what does The Scotsman put on its front page (18 February)? An ­alleged epidemic of fat children in P1 classes!

This sort of misreading of national priorities makes the (undoubtedly) best daily newspaper in Scotland, and its readers, look… well, stupid. Of course there is an epidemic of obesity if you redefine “normal” as hyperactive, evangelistic matchstick men and women.

David Fiddimore

Calton Road, Edinburgh

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