SNP conference: Support for nuclear weapons ban

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THE SNP conference yesterday underlined the party’s opposition to nuclear weapons when it voted for an unequivocal ban on them to be included in the written constitution of an independent Scotland.

An amendment stating that the “housing, basing and possession” of such weapons should not be allowed in Scotland and should be included in its constitution was overwhelmingly supported by delegates.

The amendment suggests that the party would not tolerate any sort of post-independence fudge. Some defence experts have suggested that a deal would have to be struck with the UK Government so that nuclear weapons could remain in Scotland until a new home was found for them. The amendment was passed at the first SNP conference since the party’s controversial decision to reverse years of policy by declaring that an independent Scotland should join Nato.

Last year the SNP narrowly voted in favour of Nato membership, despite many in the party opposing such a move on the grounds that the defence organisation is a nuclear alliance.

The sea-change in SNP policy, led by the defence spokesman Angus Robertson, was not without cost. Two MSPs Jean Urquhart and John Finnie quit the party in protest.

In the event of a Yes vote, the SNP would demand that the UK’s submarine-based Trident nuclear weapons system would have to be removed from the Clyde.

Those in favour of a nuclear deterrent have argued that getting rid of Trident would put thousands of jobs at risk at Faslane.

The SNP has insisted that the jobs would remain after independence as Faslane would remain open as a military base.

The SNP believes that the party should devise its version of a written constitution, which could then be presented to a cross-party Constitutional Convention for approval.

Bruce Crawford, who convenes the Referendum Bill Committee at Holyrood, said: “Clearly it will be for a future Constitutional Convention to decide precisely what Scotland’s constitution should contain, but the message has gone out loudly and clearly from SNP Conference today: weapons of mass destruction should not be permitted.

“People in Scotland have had to put up with nuclear weapons on the Clyde for far too long.

“A Yes vote in next year’s referendum is the only way that we can ensure these weapons of mass destruction are removed from Scotland once and for all.”