An Irvine-based Labour ‘List’ MSP has been criticised for voting against a parliamentary motion that called for the “speediest safe withdrawal of nuclear weapons from Scotland”.
Opinion polls consistently show the people of Scotland are strongly opposed to nuclear weapons, but the UK Labour Party supports the Trident system, which is based on the Clyde, and has given its backing to ‘upgrading’ the nuclear strike capability, with a predicted cost to taxpayers of around £4bn a year by the mid-2020s.
West Scotland Labour MSP Margaret McDougall (pictured) and her party colleagues joined with the Tories and Liberal Democrats to vote against the SNP motion that supported “the aim of removing Trident within the first term of the Scottish Parliament following independence, and a constitutional ban on nuclear weapons in Scotland”. The motion also confirmed the Parliament’s “commitment to working with nuclear and non-nuclear states to create the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons; supports a global ban on nuclear weapons, and considers that the removal of Trident from Scotland would strengthen the case against renewal of the UK Government’s nuclear arsenal.”
SNP and Green MSPs voted for the motion, which was passed by 68 to 47, meaning the official position of the Scottish Parliament is now to work for the speedy and safe removal of nuclear weapons from Scotland.
However, the day following the debate on Trident, Mrs McDougall posed a question to SNP Finance Secretary John Swinney in which she argued taxation would rise in an independent Scotland.
Mr Swinney replied, “Taxes will not have to go up to pay for independence. What independence will do is give us the opportunity to change our spending priorities. One of the spending priorities that we will change concerns the ludicrous amount of money that, given yesterday’s vote, Mrs McDougall and her colleagues seem to be prepared to spend on weapons of mass destruction. They would spend vast amounts of money on those, rather than on tackling child poverty and the issues that I thought used to matter to the Labour Party in Scotland.”
As a follow-up question, local SNP MSP Kenneth Gibson asked, “Does the Cabinet Secretary agree that the only guaranteed way to see this Parliament gain full taxation powers is to vote YES in next month’s referendum?”
John Swinney responded, “Let us be absolutely clear: if people want to control their tax in Scotland, they have to vote for independence.”