The Scottish National Party's conference is taking place this weekend, and it has proved to be quite significant. The big issue to be decided was the SNP's position on NATO, and I was very impressed with Friday's debate about it. The end result was quite close, and it was political drama of the highest order. The full debate is here, though it was rather spoilt at the beginning by the BBC's comments drowning out what Angus Robertson had to say. For those with less time, the report is here.
The resolution delegates were asked to vote in favour of was:
"On independence, Scotland will inherit its treaty obligations with NATO. An SNP government will maintain NATO membership subject to an agreement that Scotland will not host nuclear weapons and NATO continues to respect the right of members to only take part in UN-sanctioned operations."
Although this was amended (amendment B) to:
"On independence, Scotland will inherit its treaty obligations with NATO. An SNP government will maintain NATO membership subject to an agreement that Scotland will not host nuclear weapons and NATO takes all possible steps to bring about nuclear disarmament as required by the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty of which all its members are signatories, and further that NATO continues to respect the right of members to only take part in UN-sanctioned operations."
Two other amendments were rejected, as was a vote to remit the motion for further consideration. Sadly that's a device that Plaid Cymru have used rather too often for my liking in the past few years, and as events unfolded (I was watching it as it happened) I began to think it likely that the SNP would do the same. But I'm very pleased that they came to a firm decision ... though no-one could be quite as pleased, or relieved, as Angus Robertson was.
I think what the SNP have decided substantially answers the concerns I raised about NATO membership in this post in August. If I were nit-picking, the only problem I have with the resolution is that it might, in very rare circumstances, be right to make a military intervention that is not sanctioned by the UN; for example when there is widespread consensus that action needs to be taken, but one permanent member of the UN Security Council has exercised their veto.
That all took place on Friday, leaving Saturday free for hard-hitting, rousing speeches in the style we would expect from a televised party conference. Alex Salmond is a master of that art, and once again lived up to expectations. Enjoy.
A written version of the speech is here.