Scottish Labour goes to war over Trident

Trident has become a battleground for the party. Picture: Allan Milligan
Trident has become a battleground for the party. Picture: Allan Milligan
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A SENIOR Scottish Labour figure has warned that scrapping Trident would be a “massive blow” for jobs after candidates in the party’s leadership election backed the removal of nuclear submarines from the Clyde.

Former Labour frontbencher John Park, who worked in the Faslane dockyards where Trident is based, attacked what he said was the “rhetoric” of politicians in the leadership contest.

Mr Park – a former MSP who is now a senior figure in the UK trade union movement – issued the warning after Labour leadership contender Neil Findlay said he agreed with the SNP about the need to remove Trident.

Mr Findlay is standing against former Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy and former transport minister Sarah Boyack, who last night stated her opposition to the renewal of Trident.

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Ms Boyack said: “Spending billions on acquiring a new weapons system would be going in the wrong direction. I said as long ago as 2007 that I don’t think we should renew Trident and invest in a new system, and that remains my clear view.”

However, Mr Park warned candidates to “very careful about the language they use” over the removal of Trident, which the SNP has suggested could be part of any deal for its MPs to prop up a minority Labour government at Westminster in the event of a hung parliament after the 2015 election.

Mr Park claimed the closure of Trident sites and the loss of MoD contracts would lead to widespread jobs cuts, which he said were too specialist to be diversified into other sectors.

The intervention by Mr Park came after Mr Findlay said Labour in Scotland could shift to the left of the Westminster party.

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Mr Findlay’s campaign last night claimed the Lothian MSP was only narrowly behind leadership frontrunner Mr Murphy.

The campaign published estimated figures showing Mr Findlay is supported by 42 per cent of the party, compared to 48 per cent for Mr Murphy – who supports keeping Trident.

Unions affiliated to Labour such as Unite, the GMB and Ucatt, which represents workers at Faslane, have formally backed Mr Findlay’s campaign to succeeded Johann Lamont, who quit as Scottish Labour leader.

A spokesman for Mr Findlay’s campaign said: “This shows there is a real appetite for change. The more people see Neil and hear about his ideas, the more that gap is going to close.”

Mr Park, who backs Mr Murphy’s as leader, suggested that Mr Findlay’s stance on Trident represented a danger to Labour’s support as well as a risk to jobs.

He said: “There is a lot of rhetoric around Trident in all parties. We’ve heard it all before. It would be a massive blow for the community in and around Faslane if the naval base closed. It’s impossible to replace.”

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