Another article on Sturgeon’s sell out over Trident.
Nicola Sturgeon has dropped demands that a minority Labour government must cancel a new Trident nuclear weapon in return for the Scottish National party’s backing at Westminster.
The SNP leader said that her party could comfortably vote for Labour policies on a case-by-case basis without a deal on Trident, after implying repeatedly in recent months that cancelling its £100bn replacement would be a critical issue for the party.
In a wide-ranging video interview with the Guardian, Sturgeon again played down the prospects of the SNP forging a formal coalition deal with Labour if, as the polls strongly suggest, her party overtakes Labour as Scotland’s largest party at Westminster by winning dozens of extra seats in May.
“It’s more likely to be an arrangement where we would support Labour on an issue-by-issue basis,” she said, in the first of a filmed series of leader’s interviews by the Guardian. “On that basis, there are many issues we could agree on which we would support but we would not vote for Trident.”
Asked explicitly if that meant the SNP could still back Labour policies without Ed Miliband promising to scrap Trident, she did not disagree, replying: “But we would not in any vote support the renewal of Trident and I can’t make that any clearer than I have already made it.”
Sturgeon also implied she now saw Trident as a stand-alone question after refusing to confirm it was a red-line issue in any future dealings with Labour. “We will never vote for the renewal of Trident; that’s a decision which will fall to be made in the next Westminster parliament. We will never vote for that,” she said, after being asked how deep that red line was.
In her maiden speech as new SNP leader last November, she won jubilant cheers from delegates at the party’s annual conference by explicitly linking support for Labour with Trident, stating “think how much more we could win for Scotland from a Westminster Labour government if they had to depend on SNP votes.
“[And] conference, hear me loud and clear when I say this: they’d have to think again about putting a new generation of Trident nuclear weapons on the river Clyde.”
Since then, Sturgeon has repeatedly linked support for Labour policies with cancelling Trident’s replacement, helping to bolster her standing among the SNP’s activist base, anti-nuclear campaigners and smaller left-wing parties.
Sturgeon said that if the SNP entered into a deal with a Labour government, offering its support on an issue-by-issue basis, the party would help create “a more effective government and a government that actually delivers some of the policies Labour supporters are probably crying out to hear a Labour leader argue for”.
With Miliband due to address a special one-day Scottish Labour conference on Saturday, he too is expected to take an ever firmer stance against the idea of a formal deal with the SNP if, as the polls suggest, he fails to win an overall majority.
Last week, Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor, hinted heavily during a visit to Edinburgh that Labour favoured a minority government.
Stating an SNP coalition “is not part of our plan, it’s not what we want,” Balls added: “The idea of coalition now at Westminster is pretty unpopular and the Lib Dems are really, really unpopular. So there’s no enthusiasm for this kind of discussion with the Liberal Democrats or the SNP; that’s why we’re fighting to get a majority.”
Labour officials say privately there is no prospect of Miliband agreeing any deal with the SNP that forces him to cancel Trident, or which boosts the SNP’s agenda to greatly increase Scotland’s economic autonomy. That would alienate its crucial and far larger English electorate.
Dropping Trident’s cancellation as a red-line issue and playing down a coalition deal would give a large group of SNP MPs much greater freedom to portray themselves as Scotland’s champions.
Sturgeon is hoping to make the SNP a centre-left force at Westminster, able to forge alliances with the Welsh nationalists Plaid Cymru and the English Green party, attacking Labour from the left.
Asked a series of questions from prominent Scots, including the comedian Rhona Cameron, cult novelist Irvine Welsh and pop group the Proclaimers, Sturgeon confirmed the SNP would never form a coalition with a minority Tory government or help it informally.
In a quick-fire round, Sturgeon – who is Scotland’s first female first minister and the first woman to lead the SNP – said she ironed her husband’s shirts. “It’s possibly the only domestic thing I really do,” she said.