Election 2015 Scotland

Election 2015: Thousands attend anti-Trident rally in Glasgow

trident protest
Image caption Both the SNP and the Greens have said they will vote at Westminster to scrap Trident subs

Thousands of protesters have taken part in a rally in Glasgow, calling for Britain's Trident nuclear weapons programme to be scrapped.

The protest was organised by the Scrap Trident coalition, as the focus on the general election campaign trail in Scotland turned to nuclear weapons.

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon addressed the rally in George Square.

Patrick Harvie of the Scottish Greens and Labour election candidate Katy Clark also spoke.

A police estimate suggested about 2,500 people attended the rally, while organisers said the figure was closer to 4,000.

The Bairns Not Bombs demonstration is the first of three against the nuclear weapons in the run-up to the general election.

The Clyde-based submarines that carry Trident are due to reach the end of their operational lives within the next decade.

However, the UK government has yet to make a final decision on their replacement.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Nicola Sturgeon told the rally that Trident was "morally obscene" and "economically indefensible"
Image copyright PA
Image caption The UK government has yet to make a final decision on Trident's replacement

Ms Sturgeon told the rally: "One of the biggest decisions that MPs will take in the next parliament is whether to waste £100bn on renewing these morally obscene weapons.

"Broken down, that will be around £3bn a year, peaking at an eye-watering £4bn in the 2020s.

"We all know that Trident is morally unjustifiable, but at a time when the Westminster parties are all committed to forcing yet more austerity on us after the election, Trident is economically indefensible.

"Just think of what could be achieved with this money for the NHS, education or other public services - not just in Scotland, but across the UK."

'Nation of peace'

Scottish Greens co-convener Patrick Harvie told the crowd: "There's a wave of anger up and down Scotland and throughout these islands at the idea of cutting billions from the budget that support the most vulnerable people in society, while spending even more billions on a new generation of weapons of mass destruction.

"Your job over the coming weeks is to make sure people hear the alternative voice.

"You need to take the message out day after day, to friends, family, your colleagues, your neighbours, make sure they bring the issue of Trident to the top of the political agenda when they decide how they will cast their vote.

"Let's convince everybody in this country to vote no to Trident."

'Global agreement'

Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy argued that the SNP approach did not make sense.

He said: "We want a world free of nuclear weapons. We don't want them just out of one country and the way we do that is by negotiating with the French, the Russians, the Chinese, the Americans and all the other nuclear nations so we have a global agreement against nuclear weapons.

"I don't think it makes sense when India and Pakistan are facing off against a nuclear divide, when Iran is trying to get a nuclear bomb, when North Korea is trying to get a nuclear bomb, for us to give up unilaterally.

"Let's make the world free of nuclear weapons by negotiating them away together."

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said: "Liberal Democrats favour nuclear disarmament and want to do so together with other countries in multilateral talks.

"In government we delayed the renewal of the Trident submarines so alternatives could be investigated thoroughly.

"We now favour cutting the number of submarines from four to three. That will save money whilst maintaining our deterrence."

'Political tool'

Scottish Conservative deputy leader Jackson Carlaw said: "It's time to talk up Trident.

"Faslane employs tho‎usands of people in the west of Scotland.

"Those opposed to it would happily see these people out of a job without a second thought for the consequences.

"The SNP's faux opposition to it is purely a political tool to appeal to the left of its membership."

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