Jeremy Corbyn and the future of Trident

Jeremy Corbyn and the future of Trident

From Kate Hudson’s Blog, 13th September 2015

We are delighted to congratulate Jeremy Corbyn on his resounding electoral victory as new leader of the Labour Party. Jeremy joined CND when he was 15 and has been active in the anti-nuclear movement ever since – both inside and outside parliament. In recent years he has been both vice-chair of CND and chair of the cross-party Parliamentary CND group. His commitment to opposing the replacement of Trident – due to be voted on early next year – is of crucial importance to securing the safety and security of future generations.

The debate on the future of Britain’s nuclear weapons will doubtless now take place within the Labour Party ahead of that vote. Although the leadership has supported Trident replacement since it was first raised in the 2006 White Paper, there are widely differing views on the subject within the party. Blair himself, who was prime minister when it was debated in March 2007, commented in his autobiography that there were good arguments for and against Trident replacement and that he had opted in favour for status reasons: hardly a compelling military and security argument. Other senior figures involved at that time now have rather different views from the simple pro-position taken at the time.

In fact, when the government motion – to start concept and design work for the replacement Trident subs – was put in March 2007, parliament saw a huge backbench rebellion of Labour MPs. 89 voted against their own government and 95 supported an amendment to delay a decision and four members of the government resigned their seats in order that they could vote against the government or abstain. Many others, reportedly, who were opposed to Trident replacement were persuaded to vote in favour on the basis that the final decision would come back to parliament so they would get a further chance to revisit the issue.

That decision – the ‘Main Gate’ decision on whether or not to build new nuclear weapons submarines – is expected to be put to parliament in early 2016. Under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership we anticipate that the suppression of real discussion and debate over Trident within the Labour Party will cease. It will stop being seen as a sign of being strong on defence – far too many military top brass think it should be scrapped for that argument to hold water; and scrapping Trident will stop being seen as a vote loser – over many years polls have systematically shown a majority of the population against Trident. Scrapping Trident would be a vote winner.

And for too long the Labour leadership has used the jobs argument as cover for its pro-nuclear position. ‘You can’t cancel Trident’, they’ve said, ‘because jobs will be lost’. There is now no basis for that argument. Jeremy’s plans for a Defence Diversification Agency will finally deal with one of the Labour Party’s chief failures – to provide a just transition away from the production of weapons of mass destruction to socially productive industries with high skilled jobs.

What has been lacking up until now has been the political vision and economic commitment at the top levels of Labour, both to making that happen and to assuring the workforce that this is a genuine and serious commitment. Jeremy Corbyn provides that vision and commitment. We wish Jeremy every success as he takes this crucial issue to the Labour Party. And we urge all parliamentarians to inform themselves as objectively and factually as possible about Trident and what its replacement would mean, for Britain and for the world.