Jim Sillars drops bombshell as he tells SNP to keep Trident and back Nato

THE SNP should scrap its opposition to keeping Trident on the Clyde in order to dampen opposition to independence, one of the party's foremost figures has declared.

In a fierce attack on the tactics of the party leadership, the former SNP deputy leader Jim Sillars says that the party needs to rethink policies which act as "roadblocks" to independence and focus on the bigger picture.

Among the SNP "sacred cows" which need revising, he also cites the party's policy to pull Scotland out of Nato and its wish for the country to become a full European Union member.

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Mr Sillars slams First Minister Alex Salmond's tactics in office, claiming he has placed the SNP "in an intellectual straitjacket of its own making".

He warns that if the party is to build a majority in favour of independence, it now needs to ditch those policies which "if adhered to in a dogmatic manner, will prevent the forging of a successful coalition".

The calls come in a new pamphlet released by Mr Sillars yesterday. A former ally of Mr Salmond, the pair fell out after the 1992 general election, and he has long been critical of the current Nationalist strategy of focusing first on running the devolved government.

Mr Sillars argues that policies which are used by the SNP's opponents to cut support for independence are, by definition, not worth defending.

Click here to read the pamphlet in full

On Trident, he admits his view will be seen as "heresy" within the party, but argues that the SNP should scrap its call for the deterrent to be removed from Scotland. He declares: "The retention for the UK of the Trident base, for a limited time, under lease, should not be an earth-shattering compromise to make for the sake of gaining a clearway to independence."

On Nato, he adds: "The SNP membership has to ask itself whether adherence to a policy forged in the depths of the Cold War is worth holding on to in a world that is now fundamentally different, if it arouses too much international opposition and thereby undermines the main objective of gaining votes for independence."

He also warns that if the SNP continues to support entry into the EU, it will become entangled in a legalistic argument about whether an independent Scotland would be allowed to join.

To avoid this, the SNP should support the entry of Scotland into the European Free Trade Association, he argues.

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And he adds that the SNP should further sidestep its opponents by agreeing to link a new Scottish pound with its English equivalent.

An SNP spokesman said: "We believe that an independent Scotland free of weapons of mass destruction, and with full powers as an EU member state, reflects the needs and priorities of the people of Scotland."

A Scottish Labour spokesman said: "This is further evidence of splits within the separatist movement."

SNP vs Sillars


SNP: An independent Scotland should be taken out of Nato, so long as the alliance remains based on a nuclear deterrent.

Jim Sillars: The SNP membership has to ask itself if a policy forged in the Cold War is worth holding on to in a world that is now fundamentally different.


SNP: Trident should be removed immediately from its base at Faslane on the Clyde. The need for a nuclear deterrent is outdated as well as morally wrong.

Jim Sillars: It is not realistic to expect the UK to shift its nuclear base in a short time. There would have to be a period during which it would establish an alternative location in England.

EU membership

SNP: An independent Scotland would automatically become a full member state of the European Union.

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Jim Sillars: No doubt the Unionists will conjure up from Spain or France a voice that will cry "No entry". No-one can win that debate until it is proved one way or the other by the reality of independence.


SNP: The party supports adoption of the euro post-independence but would hold a referendum.

Jim Sillars: Taking account of the tradable services and goods from Scotland to the UK, for some time after independence the Scottish central bank would have to align the Scots pound near to sterling. There would be no room for macho Scottishness on this.