Scottish Labour's opposition to Trident will not change UK party policy

Written by Liam Kirkaldy on 2 November 2015 in News

Shadow defence secretary Maria Eagle says Scottish Labour vote will not change UK Labour policy because defence is a reserved issue

Scottish Labour’s decision to oppose the renewal of Trident will not change UK Labour party policy, according to the shadow defence secretary.

Scottish Labour members yesterday passed a motion opposing the renewal of the UK’s nuclear weapons system.

But speaking on the World at One, Shadow Defence Secretary Maria Eagle said the vote would not change UK Labour policy because defence is a reserved issue.


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Eagle said: “I welcome the input of Scottish Labour and its conference into our internal debate. They’re one of many important voices that there are across the Labour movement about this issue.

“But let’s be very clear about what this does and doesn’t mean. This does not change our policy; defence isn’t a devolved matter so Labour party policy has to be set at a national party level, at a UK level.”

Meanwhile the Babcock Marine Clyde industrial shop stewards committee at Faslane and Coulport released a statement saying they were “mystified” as to why the issue of renewal was not debated at the party’s UK conference.

Eagle has been tasked by the UK Labour party to conduct a review into Trident renewal. She said: “There wasn’t a vote on it at our national conference in Brighton because delegates themselves decided not to debate it and they also decided that they would endorse our existing policy, which they did on the first day of conference.

“So our policy is quite clear: it’s as it was at the general election; it’s in favour of procuring the successor submarines – and remember, that’s what we’re talking about, we’re talking about building four submarines to carry the existing nuclear deterrent, that is what we’re debating here.”

Eagle added: “But let’s be very clear: what’s happened in Scotland over the weekend does not change UK Labour party’s policy. It’s a contribution to the debate that will feed into our review and it’s the review and our policy-making processes at a UK level that will decide what our policy is going to be for the next election.”

SNP MSP Bill Kidd described Labour’s position on Trident as “a shambolic, incoherent and chaotic mess”.

He said: “We welcome Scottish Labour’s conference vote opposing the renewal of Trident – but the truth is that unless they can convince their colleagues at Westminster to vote against renewal in the House of Commons, their decision will be utterly meaningless.

“We now have an absurd situation where the leader of Labour in Scotland supports the renewal of Trident but leads a party that opposes it – while the party’s UK leader is opposed to renewal but leads a party that supports it."

MSPs will debate Trident at Holyrood on Tuesday.

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