Labour in Scotland has passed a resolution against renewing the Trident weapons of mass destruction, Labour in Scotland is now officially against renewing Trident but its leader is in favour. Meanwhile UK Labour is officially in favour of renewing Trident but its leader is against. It’s perfectly straightforward, and another step backward in Labour’s attempts to make sense to the electorate of Scotland. Labour’s now got all the nuclear bases covered, yes, no and maybe. The party is as all over the place as a hedgehog that’s been playing on the M8, only with rather less integrity. Still, at least their heart is in the right place, splattered on the asphalt and being ground into the dirt.
There are still influential voices within the Scottish party who want to renew Trident. Jackie Baillie wants to spend billions on a weapons system that can blow up half the planet because of jobs, which is a bit like encouraging the hedgehog to cause a multiple collision on the M8 motorway because it gives the emergency services something to do, a hedgehog of mass destruction. Jackie’s not very clear on how many jobs depend on renewing Trident, this week it’s 13,000 but a wee while ago it was 11,000, although her erstwhile colleague Ian Davidson claimed it was 22,000. The MoD themselves say that only 520 civilian jobs depend directly on Trident, the others employed making us safe by threatening global destruction are service people who don’t live locally.
Let’s be kind and take Ian’s figure of 22,000 – which is clearly as inflated as Labour’s membership statistics in Scotland, or as the BBC’s estimation of John McTernan’s talents. Since it was reported recently that the cost of Trident renewal is likely to be in the order of £167 billion, that means that each one of these 22,000 fantasy jobs costs £7,591,000. If Jackie had proposed a motion to bung the entire population of her Dumbarton constituency a million per head instead, no one would be caring about the jobs, the country would save over £100 billion, there would be no weapons of genocidal mass destruction on the Clyde, and Jackie would pretty much guarantee her perpetual re-election by the grateful and well-heeled populace of her constituency who would never need to work on the minimum wage as security guards at Faslane ever again. It would be a win-win-win, at least for everyone except people who prefer numerate MSPs. But we shouldn’t complain too much. As things stand, Jackie’s probably going to lose her seat – unless she’s blagged herself a place on the list as it is rumoured that Magrit Curran has.
There is no moral defence of a weapon which is designed to evaporate cities. And anyone who claims that they support the renewal of Trident because they believe in multilateral disarmament doesn’t understand the meaning of the word disarm. You don’t disarm by buying more and bigger and bangier weapons. It’s a good thing that Labour in Scotland has – finally – come out against Trident, but the party’s position on the issue remains as confused as Magrit Curran and her belief that losing one of the party’s safest seats doesn’t mean that the public are sick of her and her sense of entitlement.
During the referendum campaign, Labour spent as much energy as is contained in your average Trident warhead informing the people of Scotland that if we got rid of Trident then we’d be cast out of NATO and would have no protection against maurading North Koreans or space aliens from Alpha Centauri. Apparently advanced extraterrestrial civilisations with technology thousands of years in advance of our own are going to be deterred by our nukes. It’s a bit like believing that a modern army with all its up to date weapons is going to be threatened by a teenager throwing a rock – a proposition which is only taken seriously by the Israeli Defence Forces and US Police Departments.
Still, it’s nice to know that Labour no longer believes that Scotland will be thrown out of NATO because we want to get rid of nukes, even though personally I’d prefer we were not NATO members. Yet another of Project Fear’s scare stories falls apart, and we learn that independence wouldn’t have been the cataclysm promised by Labour’s George Robertson – who has recently taken to voting alongside the Tories to strip the poor of tax credits because if there isn’t going to be a nuclear cataclysm he’ll make sure that the punters face a financial one instead.
It’s good that Labour in Scotland is now officially opposed to Trident renewal, because it shows that there is no doubt about what the Scottish consensus is. But it’s purely symbolic. The truth is of course that it makes no difference that Labour in Scotland is against Trident, just as it makes no difference that the SNP and the Scottish Government are against it. All it does is to reinforce the point that Scotland doesn’t get what Scotland votes for. 83% of Scotland’s MSPs are either opposed to Trident renewal or belong to parties which have passed motions against it. 96.6% of our Westminster MPs are either opposed to Trident renewal or belong to parties which have passed motions against it. That’s as strong a mandate as you’re going to get in a country which, despite Unionist protestations to the contrary, is not an SNP one party state.
It makes no difference though, because we do live in a one party state – we live in a Westminster establishment one party state. Scotland will get what the Tories we didn’t vote for tell us we’re getting. That’s what a No vote meant. A No vote meant we get no say on Trident. A No vote meant we get English Votes for English Laws and a majority of non-Scottish MPs on the Scottish Affairs Committee. A No vote meant nukes on the Clyde. A No vote meant Labour could continue to lie to the voters about what’s devolved and what’s not. But we’ve wised up, we know how to get rid of Trident from the Clyde – and it doesn’t involve voting for Jackie Baillie and her pals.
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