In a motion passed by the Scottish Parliament last Thursday, the Scottish Executive pledges not to build any new nuclear power stations for the foreseeable future. All other parties were outraged when the Scottish Executive boycotted the discussion on nuclear issues in the morning, claiming it would be solely a Westminster Issue. The Scottish Green Party initiated the committee meeting about the building of potential new nuclear power stations in Scotland and how to deal with nuclear waste and transport. The renewal of Trident was also discussed.
At the decision time, the motion not to replace Trident got defeated, whereas the pledge against new nuclear power stations in Scotland succeeded. In this pledge the Scottish Executive states its position as opposed to further development of nuclear power stations whilst waste management issues remain unresolved.
Opposition to an extension of nuclear power and weapons was broad across all political parties and touched mainly on ethical and moral issues as well as debating the ability of the Scottish Parliament to make decisions on this matter.
Ms Sandra White, Scottish National Party MSP for Glasgow, focused on the issues of independence for Scotland and was heckled intensively by members of the Labour Party:
We should be honest about the fact that, [… ], we have no say in where weapons of mass destruction are deployed. […] Nuclear weapons are not just a British issue; they are an American issue. […] Roy Hattersley has written: ‘No one seriously imagined that the British bomb … could ever be used … without American assistance.’ It is time that we realise, that Trident is here to aid America in its aim of world domination. We are being used and Scottish people are suffering.
However, Lord James Douglas-Hamilton from the Conservatives pointed out Britain’s international obligation to the NATO and defended the replacement of Trident with the argument, that, as long as other countries would have nuclear weapons, Britain would need to have them, too.
Mike Rumbles stated for the Liberal Democrats:_
Given that we would never use the Trident missile system, why are we even contemplating replacing it? The use of Trident is not a practical, political or moral option in any circumstances and any Prime Minister who authorised its use would indeed be mad._
A spokesman for the Scottish Green Party highlighted the end of the cold war and declared the WMD as an unsuitable deterrent to present challenges such as terrorism and bird flu.
Patrick Harvie, Green Party MSP stated: Any attempt to retain Trident would be an upgrade also.
Rosie Kane from the Scottish Socialist Party was cheered on by the audience’s laughter and applause when she responded to the question about employment at Faslane: _
You don’t set up a firing squat just to give people a job._
She also made the connection to Iran trying to obtain and use nuclear enrichment facilities.
About 70 people, mainly peace and environmental activists, were watching the debate live on television in the ground floor debating chamber, whilst the actual discussion was held four floors above. The main chamber is still closed until the middle of May, due to a beam swinging loose from the ceiling at the start of march.
About 50 grass-roots activists, amongst them members of the Quakers, Scottish CND, Green Party, Church of Scotland, Nukewatch, Trident Ploughshare and the Peace and Justice Centre, were present to watch and lobby the parliament.