Thursday, September 16, 2010

SNP no longer so strident over Trident

More internal party problems for Alex Salmond?
The First Minister agreed to include the retention of the Faslane naval base on the Clyde in a cross-party submission to the Government’s strategic defence review (SDR).

The four Trident nuclear submarines based there are specifically cited in the latest version of the document as one of the reasons the Ministry of Defence (MoD) should not shut the facility.

Salmond had left them out from a draft version of the dossier, which aims to persuade the MoD that defence spending north of the Border must be maintained despite severe cutbacks.

But opposition parties made clear they found this omission unacceptable because of Faslane and Trident’s contribution to the UK’s defence and the 11,000 jobs they support in Scotland.
Again, in the spirit of pragmatism, he's risked upsetting the SNP's grassroots:
However, he faces a furious reaction from his party’s rank and file, who are fervently opposed to nuclear weapons and the renewal of Trident. Many are already unhappy Mr Salmond has shelved his plans for an independence referendum.

He has previously threatened to use his devolved powers to prevent the transport of nuclear material to and from Faslane and in March this year joined a march in Edinburgh calling for Trident to be scrapped.
However, on a practical level, what would be the point of Faslane in an independent Scotland if Trident were not to be kept on ideological grounds? Or, as Alan Cochrane quotes an unnamed journalist:
"What is the point of having the Barbie house, if Barbie and Ken can't live in it?"

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