Jackie Baillie defends Trident renewal

Jackie Baillie spoke out in defence of the UK's nuclear deterrent as a new row erupted over Labour's position on Trident renewal.
Jackie Baillie. Picture: TSPLJackie Baillie. Picture: TSPL
Jackie Baillie. Picture: TSPL

The MSP for Dumbarton, where the Faslane naval base is located, told delegates at her party’s conference that Labour had a responsibility to the 11,300 workers who owe their jobs to nuclear weapons system.

Ms Baillie was one of three Labour MSPs to win a constituency seat at the last Scottish Parliament election, breaking with party policy in Scotland to support Trident. She was speaking in a personal capacity.

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“I want to inject a note of realism into the debate,” she said. “People expect maturity and responsibility from their politicians and parties about the choices we make.”

Meanwhile, it was reported that the shadow defence secretary “punched a wall” after a passage on Trident in his speech to conference was allegedly changed by a senior Labour spokesman without his knowledge.

Anti-nuclear campaigners condemned Clive Lewis after the shadow defence secretary restated the party’s support for Trident renewal – despite Jeremy Corbyn’s opposition.

Clive Lewis admitted he was “sceptical” about the programme to replace the ageing submarines carrying the nuclear deterrent but Labour’s policy was “clear”.

The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), whose vice-president is Mr Corbyn, said Mr Lewis’s comments would cause “huge disappointment” and meant the party had “abandoned” its review of defence policy.

MPs voted overwhelmingly earlier this year to renew the UK’s nuclear deterrent system and Mr Corbyn was angrily condemned by some of his own MPs for opposing Trident. Mr Lewis abstained on the vote, dismissing it as “parliamentary pantomime” designed simply to cause difficulties for Labour.

At the gathering in Liverpool both Mr Lewis and shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry stressed Labour’s commitment to multilateral nuclear disarmament.

But CND claimed the speech meant the party was now “supporting nuclear rearmament”.

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Media reported that 
Mr Lewis intended to go further in his speech, with a pledge not to unpick party policy, but a senior aide to Mr Corbyn advised him to remove the reference. Mr Lewis insisted there was no issue with the leadership, saying: “All speeches have amendments and changes.”