Nato rebels don’t go far enough, says MSP as rifts deepen within SNP

Anti-Nato protestors outside SNP HQ. Photo: Neil Hanna/TSPL.
Anti-Nato protestors outside SNP HQ. Photo: Neil Hanna/TSPL.
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THE SNP leadership is facing another challenge to its controversial move to abandon the party’s long-standing opposition to the Nato military alliance.

A senior MSP has launched a fresh attempt to block SNP defence spokesman Angus Robertson’s attempt to change policy to a pro-Nato stance ahead of the independence referendum.

John Wilson is set to lodge a formal bid to oppose the move, urging the annual party conference this autumn to reject the leadership’s claim that an independent Scotland would automatically inherit membership of the alliance.

Mr Wilson’s move comes on top of a separate bid by seven other SNP MSPs who want to conference to retain the party’s traditional opposition to Nato on the grounds that it ultimately relies on nuclear weapons.

Last night Mr Wilson issued a stark warning about the domination of Nato by the USA and the prospect of being dragged into overseas military conflicts such as Afghanistan if an independent Scotland was automatically admitted to the alliance.

Mr Wilson is unhappy a separate rebel amendment backed by the seven MSPs talks about how “on independence, Scotland will inherit its membership of Nato” and wants a stronger-worded challenge to the resolution. His decision to lodge his own challenge to the leadership, ahead of the deadline to submit amendments today means there is likely to be a series of divisive votes at the SNP conference with even the Nato rebels disagreeing about opposition to the defence pact.

Mr Wilson said: “My main concern is the command structure of Nato is dominated by the US, which promotes a nuclear strike-first option. The bottom line is following independence Scotland should be able to negotiate whichever alliances and partnerships it wishes. The price of membership might be too high as automatically becoming members of Nato could commit Scottish troops to involvement in conflicts like Afghanistan.”

Mr Wilson’s amendment reads: “Following the establishment of the first Scottish government after the independence referendum, all existing security or military alliances created by the UK government, in particular membership of Nato, should not be binding on either the Scottish people or government without discussions being held.”

The row came as peace campaign group Trident Ploughshares demonstrated outside SNP headquarters in Edinburgh yesterday against the proposal to ditch the party’s opposition to Nato.

An SNP party spokesman said: “SNP members have the democratic opportunity to make their views on Nato membership clear at the annual Conference in October, where we expect to have an excellent debate to reaffirm the party’s strong anti-nuclear stance.”