By Martin Kelly
Johann Lamont has been accused of preferring to spend billions on nuclear weapons instead of protecting Scotland’s most vulnerable.
The accusation was levelled at the Scottish Labour leader after her party issued a statement insisting that Labour in Scotland was now in favour of retaining the Trident nuclear weapons system and spending billions on a renewal programme.
Confirmation that Scottish Labour are now officially backing the WMDs follows almost a year of silence from Ms Lamont who has persistently refused to clarify her position on Trident since replacing Iain Gray as leader of the party north of the border.
Her party’s stance on Trident is a major climb-down for Ms Lamont who in 1999 publicly backed decommissioning of the nuclear weapons system. She later gave an interview to Holyrood magazine in which she claimed the campaign against nuclear weapons was one of the factors which first motivated her to get involved in politics.
The news, revealed by BBC Scotland’s Derek Bateman, was seized on by the SNP who accused Ms Lamont of putting nuclear weapons before key services including prescriptions, higher education, apprenticeships and the council tax freeze.
Commenting, SNP MSP Bill Kidd who is a Co-President of the Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament (PNND), said:
"After a year of silence, Labour in Scotland has confirmed it wants to retain these obscene weapons while slashing vital services that really matter to people.
"Johann Lamont's Cuts Commission is attacking universal benefits and her remarks about Scots living in a 'something for nothing country' while backing Trident shows just how out of touch Labour really is.
"Labour lost its way on social justice a long time ago but this commitment to spend billions on WMDs while wanting to cut vital services is a new low for a party that once prided itself on representing hard working people.
“The £163m that Scotland is currently paying towards Trident could be spent on 3,880 nurses, 4,527 teachers or a host of new schools and hospitals in our communities. This is even before we consider the extra £84 million a year that is proposed we spend on its replacement over the next 15 years.”
Scottish Labour now finds itself out of step with most Scots and the vast majority of Holyrood MSPs, as well as the churches, trade unions, and civic society who all oppose Trident nuclear weapons being based in Scotland.
Lamont’s support for nuclear weapons also exposes splits at the heart of Scottish Labour, with several MPs and MSPs publicly coming out against Trident. Last week front bench MSP Neil Findlay criticised plans to spend billions replacing the nuclear weapons system.
Lamont’s own deputy, Anas Sarwar MP, is another who has come out against Trident and his Westminster colleague Ian Davidson has also said Trident should be scrapped.
Mr Kidd added: "Ms Lamont is now in direct opposition to the politicians she is supposed to be in charge of - including her own MSP Neil Findlay and deputy leader Anas Sarwar and his MP colleague Ian Davidson.
“With this leadership shambles it is no wonder Labour members in Scotland are now looking at the merits of voting Yes in the independence referendum and have formed the 'Labour for independence group'.
“It is now clearer than ever that only the SNP stands for a fairer society and stronger Scotland and only a Yes vote for an independent Scotland in 2014 will see Trident removed from our waters."
[Newsnet notice - We have been informed by organisers that the planned demo at Pacific Quay, scheduled for November 15th, has been postponed. A new date will be announced in the near future.]