MP on Trident

Can you imagine any circumstances in which you would want Trident to be launched? If not, why on Earth renew it? For me, if Britain were a radioactive cinder, I would not want the last act of the British state to have been making another part of the World one too. I thought this a clever question, so went to Andy Sawford MP’s last surgery to put it: and he did not answer it. Though I enjoyed the conversation, and it appeared he did too, spending 35 minutes and charming me as well as talking endlessly, before he had to drive off to his next appointment.

I told him I would vote for him if he would vote against renewal. I had not realised he is a shadow junior minister, so has to support the Labour view, which is that we should preserve an independent nuclear “deterrent”- see question above. Do I want Mr Putin and Mr Xi and Jeb Bush to be the major nuclear weapons holders in the world? It gives us a “seat at the top table”. We could not spend the money on hospitals anyway, as we have a treaty obligation to NATO to make a certain proportion of GDP in military spending. I countered with the militarist argument against Trident: that it prevents us from spending on the troops we need. The mission in Helmand province was hopelessly undermanned. I agree the Baltic states need defended from Vladimir Vladimirovich.

He finds the Labour position arguable, and will vote for it. He is bound by collective responsibility. This means he has a voice within the party structures, as well as the national policy committee. His father was an MP and he grew up campaigning with CND; but though he cannot conceive of any British party leader letting Trident off, he wants to keep it.

Do I want to let Mr Pursglove in? Well, no. He is a horrible man. Mr Sawford explains that there are two broad groupings, and no-one could agree with everything they stand for, but he is with the main progressive party. Jonathan Hornett, the Green candidate, would bring schools back within a local authority system. The problem with that is that the systems have been crushed. They cannot just be set up so easily. He felt that schools needed a  respite from reorganisation, though he dislikes children or parents being referred to as “customers” or a school as a “business”. Education should be a collective endeavour.

I agree, yet this is the mirror image of my father’s complaint. Every decade from 1945-1979, the Labour party would make the country more socialist, and the Tories would “try to make it work” without reversing it. Now, the Tories will privatise more of education and health, and destroy other services, and Labour will not reverse their damage. I want the Green voice to be heard, in a national vote.

UKIP may take some Labour votes, I said. He agreed that some voters in Corby have- did he say “legitimate” or “understandable” concerns about immigration? It is important to be precise, because I took his implication of dislike of Trident too far, and he said “I didn’t say that”. I could come away with a feeling his heart was in the right place, but be deceived.

5 thoughts on “MP on Trident

  1. I can only agree with you, Clare, and I find Labour’s support for nuclear weapons disgusting. But then, I was equally disgusted when former CND Chair Joan Ruddock first became a Labour MP, supporting their multilaterist stance, and then was made a dame. That woman is nothing short of a hypocrite.

    Andy Sawford MP is merely parroting Des Browne – I think – who recently spoke of Aneurin Bevan stating that not having nuclear weapons; “”It would send a British Foreign Secretary naked into the debating chamber”, and claimed that Britain would not be seen as a “serious” country without a nuclear deterrent. These arguments are foolish and downright dangerous. If Labour is saying that the UK would not be taken seriously without nuclear weapons, then what message is that sending to other countries? It more or less validates the desire of other states to develop nuclear weapons. And the worst part of that is that there is evidence to back up their claims. The developed world more or less ignored India and Pakistan before they developed nuclear capability. Look at how today the west is falling over themselves to woo them.

    By the way, can we take it that Labour think that Japan, Germany, Norway, South Korea, and a host of other countries without nuclear capability are not “serious”? Incidentally, Norway is the most developed country in the world, the USA falls fifth, while the UK comes in at fourteenth.

    Having a say in the UN Security Council does not wash. The UK is in the “Big Five” but there are another 10 member states on the UN Security Council without nuclear weapons. Similarly, of the 26 member states of NATO, only 3 – the USA, the UK and France – have nuclear weapons.

    Probably the most facile statment I ever heard on the UK nuclear deterrent came from Geoff Hoon, when he was Defence Secretary, and argued that we needed nuclear weapons in the “war on terror”. It may have escaped Mr Hoon’s notice but the act which kicked off the war on terror, the 9/11 terrorist attacks, were perpetuated against the one nation with the world’s largest stockpiles of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons – and they were useless against that attack. Just as Trident was useless against the 7/7 bombings in London.

    Which is why you are correct that over-reliance upon a nuclear deterrent which can never be used, and missile technology is robbing the armed forces of the resources they need on the ground, in the air, and at sea. Who recalls the story of the army boots melting from their soles in Afghanistan? That was a shameful incident. But hey, I bought a pair or army boots around the same time – and the soles came away within six months.

    But there is a more important point here; you can’t win hearts and minds with nuclear weapons. I recall a very powerful recruiting ad in the 1990s. It had an African man among rubble raging, as seen through sunglasses, making angry gestures about what he wanted to do to those responsible. Then the sunglasses were removed and he camera panned into the man’s eyes, as if looking right into them, and he calmed down. It was a very powerful message that British troops go into many countries to help, sometimes in the most difficult situations. Let’s see Trident do that.

    And of course, there is the adverse effect at home, as you say. With education and health continually under threat, more and more people on the breadline, and other services continually under threat, what the hell is Labour thinking? The UK nuclear deterrent is supposedly to protect our freedom and way of life. Yet in my lifetime alone I have seen our freedoms drastically reduced and with entire communties destroyed and even families split up as some move elsewhere to find work, the way of life we once knew and loved is now gone forever. Instead we have a situation where Trident guards the food banks, and to steal the title of Peter Kennard’s evocative artwork from 1983, we are being “Defended to Death”.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well done, I’m glad people go see their MPs and give them a hard time. Maybe you made him think, but he’ll be too interested in his career in the Labour party to do anything about it. Exactly why we need other parties coming in, with people who enter politics because they are motivated for change.

    Liked by 1 person

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