25 Oct 2012

NATO membership proves divisive for SNP

The vote taken last week to overturn the Scottish National Party’s longstanding position on NATO has been met with anger by some rebel MSPs, resulting in several resignations adding to a bad week at the office for First Minister Alex Salmond.

Highland MSPs John Finnie and Jean Urquhart have resigned from the SNP over the result of the vote taken at the SNP Conference held last week (18-21 October) to end the party’s opposition to NATO.

The recently signed Edinburgh Agreement, which put an independence referendum firmly in sight, has seen Mr Salmond begin the long campaign to secure a ‘yes’ vote, one of his key objectives in this campaign being to allow an independent Scotland to join NATO in a bid to promote the party as eager to engage with a wider world and to reduce the perceived risk factors linked with independence.

This decision has been a tumultuous one, however, with many SNP members pointing out the hypocrisy of the decision to join NATO while arguing against the presence of the Trident nuclear deterrent on Scottish soil.

Indeed, the MOD has advised that the removal of Trident after Scotland joining NATO would be ‘unlikely’.

Mr Finnie said of his decision: “I cannot continue to belong to a party that quite rightly does not wish to hold nuclear weapons on its soil, but wants to join a first strike nuclear alliance.”

It seems the public opinion is one of the SNP trying to have its cake and eat it too. The vote at the SNP conference passed by just 30 votes, a small margin which Mr Salmond will be looking to transform before the referendum in 2014.