Around 100 joined an anti-Nato lobby outside the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) conference in Perth last Friday.
The lobby came as a decisive vote took place on the conference floor over whether an independent Scotland should remain a member of Nato.
A significant shift in SNP policy was narrowly voted through. That was the leadership’s controversial position—that an independent Scotland would remain a full Nato member, but would not host nuclear weapons and would get rid of Trident.
An amendment rejecting the leadership motion was defeated by 394 votes to 365. Anger at the decision has now led two SNP MSPs, John Finnie and Jean Urquhart, to quit the party.
A small number of SNP delegates, councillors and MSPs joined the anti-Nato lobby outside the conference. Anne McLaughlin, an SNP delegate, explained to Socialist Worker, “If this was a vote on whether or not we should get rid of Trident, the vote would be 100 percent to do so.
“Unfortunately some members have believed the leadership that being a Nato member doesn’t contradict this.”
Austin Sheridan, an SNP councillor, spoke to Socialist Worker just before the vote. “Clearly, if this policy passes, it’s a shift to the right—and one I don’t want to see,” he said. “Many members have done their utmost best to try and defend our anti-Nato policy.”
Another delegate, Drew McGowan, said, “We’re not the rebels. The leadership are the rebels—they’re the ones going against a 30 year SNP policy.
“At one time not so long ago we were the party that was leading in CND—but now I fear our party will be who CND protests against. This move is part of a neoliberal agenda.”
Sandra White, an SNP MSP, told Socialist Worker, “I am against joining Nato. It’s a nuclear alliance with a first strike policy. There’s not need to change the SNP’s opposition. If we join Nato, we won’t be able to get Trident removed. The position being argued doesn’t make sense.”
David Banks is a student who had come through on the bus from Edinburgh to join the lobby. He said, “If Scotland goes for independence, we need to see that it’s not just going to be more of the same. Nato has a bloody history of violence and occupation—we don’t want to be a part of it.”
The lively lobby chanted, “Ho Salmond, Ya Rocket—Get Us Out Of Nato’s Pocket”, and “No to Nato’s aggression—Please Vote NO in This Session”, as delegates made their way into the session to debate and vote.