AS MANY as 12 SNP MSPs are likely to join a campaign later this month to urge the party to retain its policy opposing Nato membership.
The campaign is to be launched at the Scottish Trades Union Congress at the end of August, with the influential trades union group also preparing to put its weight behind opposition to reform.
Westminster leader Angus Robertson outlined plans to overturn the party’s opposition to Nato membership earlier this summer, saying it was time for the SNP to reverse the policy so it could remain part of the nuclear alliance after independence.
Scotland should sign up, Robertson said, as long as Nato agreed that the new country should not play host to nuclear weapons and could opt out of wars not sanctioned by the UN.
However, the reform – due to be voted on at the SNP’s annual conference this autumn – has already roused growing opposition from among the party rank and file, which believes it sends out the wrong message about how Scotland, as a newly independent country, intends to start out.
Campaign insiders say more than ten MSPs have already agreed to sign up to the cause, though their identity is not yet being revealed. The SNP union group, one of the major affiliated groups, will now put its name to an amendment at the SNP conference urging that the existing policy should remain in place.
The anti-Nato campaign is likely to question why Scotland should join the alliance, given the lack of obvious external threats. It will also cite evidence from defence analysts who have warned that joining Nato would hamper the party’s long-standing demand that the Trident submarine base at Faslane is removed after independence.
SNP member and trade unionist Bill Ramsay said: “This is the first time the party has had any open debate on this issue for some years. We intend to flesh out our critique of why joining Nato will damage the Yes campaign and the referendum.”
The campaign will also insist Robertson’s motion is aired properly at the conference, saying the matter is of such fundamental importance that the debate must not be “rigged” by the leadership.