LEADING independence campaigner Pat Kane has called the idea of Scotland seeking non-nuclear status within Nato "not a principled or honourable position".
But the musician and writer, a member of the advisory board of Yes Scotland and a former SNP member, claims the pro-independence camp would survive the shift in policy proposed by SNP defence spokesman Angus Robertson because everything would be up for grabs in an independence election two years after the referendum.
Mr Kane's comments come as the organisers of Saturday's SNP CND conference in Glasgow revealed the event has generated so much interest that similar events are now planned across the country ahead of the party's national conference in October.
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Bill Ramsay, SNP CND organiser, said Saturday's event was drawing great interest from ordinary party members, councillors and parliamentarians.
He added: "Unusually for a large mainstream party, the SNP still has in place a set of democratic structures which allows ordinary members a real say and a real voice.
"Probably because of this we are detecting a significant level of interest in the event due to take place on Saturday and we are already starting to think about organising similar events in other parts of the country to discuss what is not just a policy issue, but arguably an aspect of the party's very identity."
Mr Kane, former husband of Joan McAlpine MSP, an aide to Alex Salmond, was offering a personal view when he said: "I think there is a fundamental inconsistency between the SNP's identity as an anti-nuclear party, and membership of a military alliance which has, as one of its founding tenets, first-use of a nuclear deterrent.
"The argument from the SNP leadership is that Nato is a smorgasbord of options – you can decide not to participate in collective missions, you can refuse to have nuclear missiles on your soil, and still be regarded as a 'full' member. I don't think this is a principled or honourable position."
He said that a new nation which currently has nuclear weapons on its soil renouncing these weapons would offer "one chance to signal to the world our constructive, progressive, peace-oriented credentials".
But he added: "If SNP party members vote for Nato membership, I think it will surprise active supporters of independence outwith the party, but I don't think it will necessarily alienate them.
"The independence movement is big enough to accept that one element of it [the SNP] has a distinct policy platform, which will or won't become government policy after a post-independence Scottish general election in 2016."
Stressing that he was offering his own views, not those of Yes Scotland, he said: "I think the centre of gravity in Scottish policy is on the centre-left, so I'm looking forward to the arrival of Labour voters for independence, LibDem voters for independence, and other non-party-aligned organisations and individuals.
"Even within that range of supporters, we will have significant policy differences, and Nato membership may be one of them. But the idea that the proper horizon for life in Scotland should be an independent state is something that –if you're in the Yes campaign – you fundamentally agree on."
He added: "Despite the political misjudgment of the leadership over Nato membership, the removal of Trident still distinguishes the SNP from all the other mainstream Scottish parties, Greens and SSP excepted.
"But the independence movement is broader and deeper than the SNP. I urge SNP members to reject the Robertson motion, but I am watching from the outside, alongside others who share the party's essential principle of independence for Scotland."