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4 May 2022

Letter of the Week: Nuclear Delusion

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By New Statesman

Nuclear delusion

Andrew Marr writes that the SNP’s anti-Trident stance could make winning an independence referendum “impossible” (Cover Story, 29 April). Yet he does not advance any arguments as to why Scotland or the UK needs Trident, nor why a pro-disarmament policy is a barrier to independence, beyond the unsubstantiated claims that the war in Ukraine has made British nukes “more relevant to much middle-ground opinion” and that their removal from Scotland would be “deeply resented by millions of voters” elsewhere in the UK.

Vladimir Putin’s assault on Ukraine has undoubtedly had far-reaching consequences on defence policy worldwide, but Marr has fallen for a familiar fallacy shared by the nuclear-armed states: our own nukes make the world safer; it is everyone else’s that are the problem.
Thomas Pitt, Oxford

I would not challenge Andrew Marr’s reading of public opinion, but I cannot see that heightened nuclear tensions should have any bearing on the principle of Scottish independence. An independent Scotland would, quite rightly, for moral and financial reasons, have no nuclear weapons. If the balloon ever did go up, the inhabitants of the country would perish whether part of the UK or not. No one would ever suggest Belgians would be safe from nuclear genocide if united with France, nor Canadians with the US. It is a totally false premise.
David Forbes, Glasgow

Usually I agree with Andrew Marr, but not at all with his analysis of the present position of Nicola Sturgeon. The war in Ukraine may have made Nato more popular across Europe, but it doesn’t follow that nuclear weapons sited next to Scotland’s biggest city have become more tolerable, creating a “dilemma” for Sturgeon. Nuclear weapons are a straightforward issue for Sturgeon. Hostility to them is, as Marr says, non-negotiable for the SNP.

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Marr suggests that an independence vote next year would be badly timed for the SNP. I wonder. In a succession of elections the SNP have proved far stronger than in 2014. The Yes vote in 2014 increased from 28 to 45 per cent in a few weeks. Now it would start at 45 per cent. There is no “dilemma”. Sturgeon will demand a referendum. If it is refused, support for Yes will rise in line with the level of frustration in Scotland.

Moreover, on present polling it is entirely possible that the result of a 2024 general election could mean that the UK becomes ungovernable without the support of the SNP. Now that would be a dilemma – for Labour and the Tories.
David McCarthy, Kinross, Fife

Pick your battles

Robert B Dear (Correspondence, 29 April) is right to point out that Russia overcame early defeats by Napoleon and Hitler, but these were wars of defence against invaders. When invading others the record is less good.

Russia was forced to withdraw from Afghanistan. When it invaded Finland the eventual victory was bought at great cost. The invading Red Army was also comprehensively defeated when the Polish were victorious at the Miracle on the Vistula (Battle of Warsaw) in 1920.
John Young, Usk, Monmouthshire

Ordinary people

I feel a little dismay at Jason Cowley’s dissing of the Labour Party and its sojourn in the English political wilderness (Editor’s Note, 8 April). The party does tie itself in knots with tedious regularity but its heart is in the right place and Keir Starmer has a sharp mind to get that point across. I don’t agree that Labour is an “outlier” in Europe – it is on the side of ordinary people, who are legitimately scandalised by “partygate” and, frankly, stunned by a Chancellor who cannot comprehend concerns about keeping the lights on.
Judith A Daniels, Cobholm, Norfolk

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This article appears in the 04 May 2022 issue of the New Statesman, Dictating the Future