Salmond embraces Nato in SNP's 'Clause 4 moment'

Alex Salmond celebrates after members vote to drop opposition to military alliance

Perth

A delighted Alex Salmond was celebrating last night after persuading his party to drop its opposition to Nato – a decision which has already been dubbed the SNP's "Clause 4 moment".

In an echo of Tony Blair's fight in the early 1990s to get the Labour Party to ditch Clause 4 of its constitution – which tied the party to the principle of wide-scale renationalisation – Mr Salmond faced a major internal battle to get the SNP to embrace Nato.

The SNP has opposed Scottish membership of Nato for the past three decades, a policy which has helped give it a reputation for being left wing and anti-nuclear. Mr Salmond was aware of the polarising image his party had become saddled with as a result of this policy, which is why he wanted it changed to a more moderate, centrist, Nato-friendly attitude well ahead of the referendum in 2014.

Yesterday, he got his wish as the annual SNP conference in Perth voted by 426 to 332 to adopt a policy committing an independent Scotland to continuing membership of Nato – but without any nuclear weapons in Scotland.

Mr Salmond did not speak in the debate but he made his feelings on the issue clear to delegates by putting his name to a series of pieces for Scottish newspapers, supporting the new, more moderate, policy approach.

Yesterday's Nato debate was always destined to be the most controversial of the conference and the 1,200-seat Royal Concert Hall was packed with supporters of both sides cheering and applauding their speakers.

The divisions within the party were also evident outside the hall. Colin Fox, a former MSP for the Scottish Socialist Party, was one of 100 anti-Nato demonstrators chanting "No to Nato" and handing out leaflets to the delegates.

Mr Fox agreed there were similarities between the SNP's decision to ditch its opposition to Nato and New Labour's scrapping of Clause 4. But he said: "We believe that embracing Nato will make the Scottish people less likely to support independence."

Inside the hall, the pro-Nato motion was proposed by SNP MP Angus Robertson, the party's defence spokesman. Mr Robertson said Scotland had to be a good neighbour and ally to the other countries in northern Europe that helped defend the continent.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Ashdown Group: Editor-in-chief - Financial Services - City, London

£60000 - £70000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Ashdown Group: Accountant - London - £48,000 - 12 month FTC

£40000 - £48000 per annum + bonus + benefits: Ashdown Group: International Acc...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power