THE Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament has moved to distance itself from the Scottish Labour leader after he pledged his support for the renewal of Trident.

Richard Leonard, who is a long-serving member of CND, was left squirming during Tuesday night’s televised debate when Nicola Sturgeon asked if he was the only person in the anti-nuclear campaign committed to spending hundreds of billions on developing new weapons of mass destruction.

Even though party members in Scotland voted to oppose Trident renewal at their conference back in 2015, the Scottish Labour’s manifesto contains the same commitment to renewing Trident nuclear weapons as the UK equivalent.

During the debate, the SNP leader said: “Richard, I just wanted to check something with you. You and I are both long-standing members of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.

“Do you think you’re the only member of CND that supports spending £200 billion on new Trident nuclear weapons?”

The flustered Labour chief replied: “Look, I am standing on a Labour party manifesto which contains a commitment to the renewal of Trident but we are also making it clear that we want to see a new international initiative around peace and disarmament. “ Sturgeon then asked: “How do you think it aids the purpose of nuclear disarmament to have a party proposing spending £200bn on a new nuclear weapon system?

“Don’t you think that money would be better spent on health and education and other public services?“ Leonard answered: “Well look, as you mentioned, I am a member of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and I want to see a world which is peaceful…”

“Just admit to me now,” interrupted Sturgeon, “that you know that’s a ridiculous position.”

Leonard responded: “But the international background we face is that Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump are both walking away from the intermediate weapons treaty which was signed by [Mikhail] Gorbachev and [Ronald] Regan back in 1987. We are seeing an international atmosphere of re-armament.”

“So, you think we should ratchet it up as well?” Sturgeon asked.

“No, no. So that’s why I think that it’s even more important that someone like Jeremy Corbyn who has put peace and disarmament at the centre of his international work is the prime minister of this country. To lead an international initiative on peace and disarmament.”

“So Jeremy Corbyn’s hoping to try to disarm by rearming the United Kingdom?” Sturgeon asked. “It doesn’t make any sense.”

READ MORE: Richard Leonard refuses to clarify Scottish Independence criteria

The CND told The National that they didn’t have any processes to expel members, but that it uncommon for supporters to also back rearmament.

In a statement, the CND said: “Membership of Scottish CND is voluntary.

“We assume that people join because they are committed to nuclear disarmament and fully understand we are campaigning against the renewal of the UK nuclear weapon system known as Trident.

“It is impossible to make any sense of a scenario in which a member then speaks in favour of the UK retaining its nuclear weapons.

“We have always understood that Richard Leonard has been a sincere opponent of nuclear weapons and it is regrettable if he has chosen to distance himself from this because of party political pressures.”


Leonard told The National: "I am committed to nuclear disarmament, and my position on this has not changed. At this election, the UK Labour manifesto includes the renewal of the Trident nuclear weapons system.

"It also includes a commitment to a new global disarmament initiative that no-one would be more qualified to lead as the UK’s Prime Minister than Jeremy Corbyn. I want to see a Scotland that is free of nuclear weapons, and a world that is free of nuclear weapons."

Stewart McDonald, the SNP’s Defence spokesperson, said Leonard’s CND card was “needlessly taking up space in his wallet”.

He added: “Rather than abiding by Scottish Labour’s very own conference motion opposing the renewal of Trident, Richard Leonard has instead fallen in line with his Westminster bosses to accept wasting billions of bounds on renewing weapons of mass destruction.”

Scottish Greens co-leader Lorna Slater added: “If Richard Leonard insists on representing a party that supports wasting extortionate sums of taxpayer money on this abomination, then he should resign his membership to the CND.

“He wants to continue to develop the most horrendous weapons of mass destruction that humanity has ever seen.”