Greens and nationalists edge towards co-operation over anti-nuclear agenda

By staff writers
25 Apr 2010

The Green Party have welcomed comments by Plaid Cymru and the Scottish National Party (SNP) over the importance of nuclear weapons as an election issue. Plaid MP Adam Price said that he hopes to see Green leader Caroline Lucas elected to Westminster to add another anti-nuclear voice.

The friendly comments from both sides suggest tentative moves towards greater co-operation, but the situation is complicated by the reality that Greens in Wales and Scotland are standing against Plaid and the SNP.

The Greens were quick to commend the two Celtic parties after they attacked the Liberal Democrats for their policy of replacing the Trident nuclear weapons system with a different set of nuclear arms, rather than ending the UK government's ownership of nuclear arms altogether.

Referring to recent polls, a Green spokesperson said, "Scrapping nuclear weapons is yet another policy where the Green Party is more closely in tune with the British electorate than Labour, the Tories or the LibDems”.

In the recent televised Leaders' Debates, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has come under attack from his Labour and Conservative opponents for refusing to support the renewal of Trident. He wants to replace it with a different, cheaper nuclear weapons system.

The Green Party pointed out that the “LibDems are not anti-nuclear, just anti-Trident”. The Greens, Plaid and the SNP have all objected to being excluded from the UK-wide Leaders' Debates.

But despite their support for the nationalists' remarks, the Greens criticised the SNP for the “disingenuous tactic” of saying that they offer Scottish voters the only “real alternative” to pro-nuclear parties. They pointed out that “the Scottish Green Party has always been opposed to nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction”. The Scottish Socialist Party is likely to make a similar point.

Plaid and the SNP have always been reluctant to recommend a vote for any particular party in England, for fear of being accused of interfering in English affairs when they criticise London-based parties for their involvement in Scotland or Wales. Most parties standing in England are standing throughout Britain and thus competing with Plaid and the SNP.

But Plaid MP Adam Price said on Friday (23 April), “I think it would be good if Caroline Lucas gets elected in Brighton. That would be a different voice.” Price was keen to stress that this was a “personal view” and that his party did not make recommendations to voters in England.

The Green Party have rarely had much success in Wales, possibly due to the similarity of their policies with those of Plaid. But the Scottish Green Party currently has two Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs). Between 2003 and 2007, there were a significant number of MSPs to the left of the SNP, including seven Greens and six Scottish Socialists.

The two Green Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) work closely with the Plaid Cymru and SNP MEPs. The Green block in the European Parliament is allied with the European Free Alliance, which brings together left-wing nationalist and regionalist parties.

[Ekk/1]

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