Labour cannot remain silent on Trident

By Tom King

Labour’s policy review, much needed after 13 years in Government and a drubbing in May 2010, was said to have started from a blank page and would review all our commitments across the board. All, it seems, except Trident.

There has been some positive movement, the Britain in the World policy document stated there will be a discussion about Trident –

but only once the Lib Dem alternatives review has been completed. The fact that Ed Miliband welcomed the review is in itself an important step in itself. But why should Labour let the Liberal Democrats lead this debate?

At a grassroots level, this discussion is already being had. While the National Policy Forum proposal for a debate at some point in the future was presented to conference, MPs, MSPs, AMs, councillors and activists packed out the CND fringe in Manchester.

Neil Findlay MSP said spending £100 billion on renewing Trident would be “economically incompetent” and Katy Clark MP a

nd Julie Morgan AM both agreed that nuclear disarmament would be an electorally popular policy for Labour.

With the Government now pledging to spend £350 million on the next stage of Trident renewal, whilst cutting benefits from the disabled and slashing vital public services, its clear just how little economic sense nuclear weapons make. It also demonstrates that the Tories are determined to plough ahead with renewing our nuclear arsenal, regardless of Lib Dem opposition.

Labour’s lack of response to the latest announcement is remarkable and, in Scotland, the SNP are already atta

cking Johann Lamont for failing to respond when Trident’s submarines are based in Faslane.

Lamont has previously stated her opposition to Trident; saying in 1999 that she would support a motion calling for the weapons system to be decommissioned. If the party is truly to renew under Ed’s leadership then, Lamont should, as leader of Scottish Labour, be able to restate her belief in nuclear disarmament and show she’s in touch with public opinion.

The party cannot remain silent on Trident.

When even Tony Blair now admits that Trident is of no use as a strategic deterrent and itssignificance is purely political, surely Ed can admit its time to ditch this cold war relic.

If the Labour leadership are serious when they talk of making tough econom
The ‘Promise of Britain’ is not to deliver a future for the next generation where security is based on mutually assured destruction, it is about providing a society in which everyone has a fair chance to get on. Ed Miliband must be frank and say, in the words of the former chief whip Nick Brown, “we don’t need Trident and we can’t afford it”.ic choices in the next Parliament, there’s no way they could then go on to spend £100 billion on weapons of mass destruction that could kill millions.Scrapping Trident will send a bold signal to the world that the nuclear age needs to be put behind us and, as Nick Brown advocates, would allow the next Labour government to deliver a tuition fee cut that would re-open the doors to higher education for ordinary working class young people.

Labour must reject Trident

By Michael Meacher MP

Hammond’s jumping the gun by pledging a £350m contract to signal the Tories’ embrace of a Trident replacement should be met by a resolute pronouncement from Labour that neither the arguments nor the figures stand up to any serious scrutiny. At the present time the biggest danger we face is the threat of terrorism on our mainland, and against that nuclear weapons are useless.

The only basic argument used by the government to justify the Trident replacement is that we may face at some point in the future either ‘rogue’ states or a re-emerging nuclear Russia or a nuclear-armed superpower such as China. There are three strong counter-arguments to that which profoundly undermine it plus a very strong opposing argument.

First, it is not, as everyone knows, an independent British deterrent. We depend on the Americans for warheads, fuse and firing systems, nuclear explosives, warhead casing, and missiles (‘rent a rocket’). We cannot fire missiles without US-supplied data and satellite navigation, so that if we ever needed to stand alone in a situation where we did not have US approval, we could not do so.

Second, we geta all this kit from the US at a high political price. The Americans offer it to us, not because they need us for the defence of the West, but because it makes us subservient to US foreign policy, as we see all too clearly over Iraq and Iran. I say that continuing that vassaldom for the next 30-40 years is an unconscionably high price to pay. Of course the proponents of Trident will say that it gives us political status, but to them I would say that we will get far more credit the day we cease being a US puppet.

Third, if on some creditworthy estimates the Trident replacement will cost the UK up to £100bn over the next 30 years, can that conceivably be the most apposite and efficient defence expenditure when it means that conventional forces are squeezed by continuing cuts to the point where, for example, essential equipment had to be denied to troops in Afghanistan?

In addition there is a very powerful counter-argument. One is: what have nuclear weapons ever achieved or are likely to achieve? None of our wars was ever won by them, and none of the enemies we fought was ever deterred by them. General Galtieri was not deterred from seizing the Falklands, though we had the nuclear bomb and he did not. The US had nuclear weapons, but that didn’t prevent their defeat in Vietnam. The French had nuclear weapons, but that didn’t stop their being ejected from Indo-China and Algeria. Israel has nuclear weapons, but that didn’t prevent their defeat by Hezbollah first in 2000 and then in 2006.


Labour’s Defence Policy Review and NPF

The Labour Shadow Defence Team has launched the Labour Party’s Defence Policy Review and is seeking submissions.

It is vital that members engage in and shape the debate particularly regarding the Labour Party’s current policy on the continued possession of nuclear weapons and engagement in foreign military interventions.

We must ensure the party commits to scrapping Trident and ending our role in destructive wars.

Labour CND has drafted two model responses for you to consider submitting both to the Defence Policy Review and to your National Policy Forum representatives.

You can do so both as an individual member and via your CLP.


The National Policy Forum Britain in the World Commission is meeting in mid-June so we suggest you do this immediately after the elections in May.

  • Please ensure you submit this to the Labour Shadow Defence Review by emailing and posting to Shadow Defence Secretary Jim Murphy at the House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA
  • You should also send it to your National Policy Forum representatives, via the MembersNet section of the Labour Party website –
  • Please tell us if you have made such a submission, on



Labour and Trident replacement

Labour will put greater importance on working with other nuclear weapon states to increase progress on nuclear reductions and disarmament towards the goal of global abolition.

Labour will encourage non-nuclear states to also keep up their pressure for nuclear disarmament as required by the Nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty.

Labour will back a global nuclear weapons convention with the ultimate aim of the total elimination of nuclear weapons.

Labour will make a clear commitment to scrap Trident and all plans for Trident replacement.

Supporting arguments:

The Labour Party needs to change its policy on Trident and its replacement.

Trident or its replacement does not address our real threats. Even the Coalition Government has confirmed that the UK does not face a nuclear weapon threat from another state, according to their National Security Strategy published in 2011. The possession of Trident does not increase our security. It is not a means of defence, it is means of attack. As such it could prove a magnet for attack in a conflict situation.

Trident or its replacement is a green light to nuclear weapons proliferation. It sends the wrong message at a point when the US and Russia are taking further disarmament steps. It is through honouring our nuclear disarmament commitment that we can achieve a nuclear weapons free world.

Trident replacement is unaffordable. Constructing and maintaining Trident’s replacement will cost over £100billion over its lifetime to 2060. In the shorter term the maintaining the existing Trident system and constructing the Trident replacement will cost us £55billion over the next 15 years.

Trident replacement is unpopular. There is clear and consistent polling evidence that shows the public is opposed to Trident replacement. Even amongst the defence community, many do not favour a costly nuclear weapon system in the face of other public spending cuts.

Labour and a new foreign policy

Labour will adopt a foreign policy that rejects military interventionism and nuclear aggression.

Labour will reject the principle that UK forces should operate anywhere in the world. Their only purpose should be for the defence of these islands.

Labour will support peaceful negotiations and dialogue through the UN and its member states, in conflict situations.

Labour will immediately withdraw troops from Afghanistan and advocate global disarmament, including a Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone in the Middle East and the scrapping of Trident here in the UK.

Supporting arguments:

Ed Miliband stated in his first speech as leader that ‘This generation wants to change our foreign policy so that it’s always based on values, not just alliances.’

The UK’s alliances, notably with the US and NATO or other Western powers, have led the country into numerous military strikes and wars in recent years, particularly Iraq and Afghanistan, under the justification of ‘liberal interventionism. This policy has damaged our international standing and lacks public support in the UK.

These interventions have been selective, seizing on certain internal conflicts and perceived threats, whilst ignoring others.

These interventions have left thousands dead and injured, harming rather than helping the people who live there and leaving behind countries that are neither stable nor safe.

These interventions have only been for the benefit of multi-national corporations and Western powers seeking to gain access to natural resources and infrastructure contracts.

Any justification for these wars has been seen to be lies to disguise the real intention of extending Western strategic control and interests.

The UK’s Cold War-era alliance, NATO, has expanded its sphere of influence by encouraging former Warsaw Pact countries to join and engaging in ‘out of area’ operations. Given the Warsaw Pact was dissolved twenty years ago, serious questions remain unanswered as to the role of NATO.

A progressive, socialist foreign policy requires resources and skills to be committed to reducing poverty and improving living standards rather than supporting military action and the instability and misery it causes.