Scotland’s political elite is in “direct confrontation” with ordinary workers over plans to scrap the Clyde-based Trident nuclear deterrent and jeopardise thousands of jobs, according to one of the country’s top union chiefs.
In a scathing attack, Gary Smith of the GMB branded SNP and Labour politicians “latte drinking poseurs” after Nicola Sturgeon joined Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn on a march against Trident in London at the weekend.
He has now called on Ms Sturgeon to debate the issue with workers who face losing their jobs in Scotland – including BAe staff in her own Glasgow constituency.
“We have the whole Scottish political elite now in direct confrontation with the organised working class,” he told the BBC’s Sunday Politics.
“This is student politics. This is an utterly indulgent debate. These are political poseurs who rather than talking about the real issues and taking up real concerns of working class communities in Scotland are happier on marches threatening to sack workers in Scotland.
“The workers who would go if Trident isn’t renewed aren’t just at the lower Clyde (Faslane) – it will be at Bae Systems and Rosyth too. We’ve got the perverse position where Labour politicians, rather than challenging the Nationalist position on jobs and employment in Scotland are marching to have Rosyth and BAe Systems on the Upper Clyde closed as well.”
MPs will vote on renewal of the ageing fleet of Trident submarines later this year. Renewal is likely to be endorsed, with most Tory MPs in favour, along with many Labour MPs. Official Labour policy is in favour of renewal but a defence review is being carried out by the party and may endorse Mr Corbyn’s opposition. The party in Scotland came out against Trident at its conference last year – despite leader Kezia Dugdale being in favour.
Labour’s Lothians MSP Neil Findlay, who has led the party’s anti-Trident stance in Scotland, said Mr Smith was entitled to defend his members’ position.
But he added: “Language like that is really unhelpful. This is a serious debate that’s taking place. He’s absolutely entitled to put across his views and I welcome that but many people involved in this debate have had decades of commitment to the trade union movement.”