In the first Leader’s Debate before the election Nick Clegg said he “simply [didn’t] understand” [see note 3] why the other party leaders wished to exclude the reconsideration of Trident from the upcoming Strategic Defence and Security Review. Last night he led the Lib Dems in voting down a Commons amendment which called for the policy he had advocated only a few weeks ago. [see note 4]
Kate Hudson, Chair of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, said “We really hope the Lib Dems will follow through with their opposition to the existing plans for Trident replacement. But yesterday’s vote is not an encouraging sign. Many voters lent their support to the Lib Dems exactly because they saw them as representing something different on issues such as Trident. The so-called ‘new politics’ really would be short lived if this vote reflects how they plan to behave in the coming years. Lib Dems need to prove they’re still serious about opposing the ruinously expensive plans to replace Trident. It would be a cruel irony if the Lib Dems oversee wide ranging and immediate cuts that they opposed during the election campaign but at the same time oppose even the re-consideration of Trident replacement.
“The Government say a value-for-money review of Trident will be carried out in the framework of the Strategic Defence and Security Review, but this is totally inadequate. Times have changed, with Obama and Medvedev making serious advances on disarmament. It would be absurd for all other items of military expenditure, from aircraft carriers to the size of the army to be reviewed, yet the fundamental question of the need for nuclear weapons omitted. We agreed with what Nick Clegg was saying back in April. We still do. The question is, does he?”
CND also welcomed the opportunity to feed in to George Osborne’s “wider public engagement” to consider public spending cuts. CND will be putting the case for the multi-billion pound savings that could be achieved through scrapping Trident, its replacement and the associated military spending required to maintain the continuous submarine patrols.
“I actually agree, strongly agree, and it’s something I’ve been calling for for years, that we should have a complete review about whether our military equipment is right for the job that we are asking our brave soldiers and brave servicemen and women to do. Because of course the world is changing and the threats to this country are changing with it. What I simply don’t understand is if we hold that review, as I think is going to be likely after the general election, whoever wins that election, both David Cameron and Gordon Brown want to rule out one of the biggest items of defence expenditure of all, which is the Trident nuclear missile system. This was a system that was designed at the height of the Cold War to flatten St Petersburg and Moscow. Is it really that important?”
but respectfully request that the Government include as part of its Strategic Defence and Security Review a full examination of the Trident nuclear missile system, and any possible replacement