The Scottish Labour party has voted overwhelmingly to oppose the renewal of the UK's Trident nuclear weapons programme.
Party delegates gathered at the annual Scottish Labour conference in Perth voted with a huge majority of 70% to oppose the planned renewal of the weapons, which has been reported to cost as much as £167 billion.
Although defence policy is reserved by Westminster and overall Labour policy on Trident is decided by the UK party, a strong message will be sent by the Scottish party, along with the SNP, opposing the weapons which are based at Faslane in the west of Scotland.
The vote went against the wishes of party leader Kezia Dugdale, who believes the best way to get rid of Trident is to achieve it diplomatically with countries across the world. However, shortly before the vote, she told BuzzFeed News the position of the Scottish Labour conference would be honoured, even if it went against her personal opinion.
"Everyone in the Labour party is against nuclear weapons, we just disagree about the best way to do it," said the Scottish Labour leader. "What’s really important to me is to create healthy democratic space for Labour members to put forward what they think, which is what’s happening today.
"Whatever is decided, that’s the position of the Scottish Labour party conference, and of course it should be respected."
Asked whether she would now change her view to match her party's and argue against the renewal of Trident, she said: "I’ll always say I’m a multilaterist, I don’t think people would accept me switching my own personal position over the consequence of the vote."
Non-renewal, now the official position of the Scottish Labour party, may be featured in the Holyrood election manifesto next year and will be the basis of the Scottish party's submission in the UK party's defence policy-shaping process.
Stephen Low of the Glasgow Southside constituency Labour party, who opened the debate on Trident on Sunday, said the result of the vote was "a significant step" in changing UK Labour's position on Trident.
"Every journey begins with a single step," said Low. "It’s a significant step, and we’re delighted, but this is just the start of a process. Trident, as an issue, has more salience here than in most parts of the UK, by virtue of direct employment, and what you have is a formal endorsement by the Scottish membership of this issue."
Shadow Scotland secretary and Scottish Labour's only MP Ian Murray, who has spoken against the renewal of Trident in the past, said the party has spoken decisively and he will continue to argue in the shadow cabinet against the renewal of the weapons.
"My position has always been clear on this – I don’t think we should be renewing Trident, but I’m pleased the membership has been given the space to do this," said Murray.
"They’ve come to a conclusive decision. I’m pleased with the democracy of the party, and Kez is delighted she’s been able to give the membership a real say."
Jamie Ross is a Scotland reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Edinburgh.
Contact Jamie Ross at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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