Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Trident........will there be consensus at conference?

I had this post ready to go last Friday but as a new kid on the FPC block I wasn't entirely clear what I am and am not allowed to say about the meeting, so to avoid being sent to the naughty corner I waited to get some advice. Although I have to say, I had thought I had been elected as a representative, which to my understanding means my accountability is to party members. Anyway, I am a bit clearer now so here it is.
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What a day yesterday was.......starting with a trip to Holywood (that's Holywood Northern Ireland) stuck at the airport because of the wrong sort of wind at Heathrow and finishing with the FPC and Trident......
The majority view of the Trident working party, as expressed by Ming as potential party policy, is now to be the position debated at conference. Before going to the meeting I received an email from a pal expressing the view that what was vitally important was that as a party we found a consensus. I agree, but unfortunately the nuclear issue is not an easy one to compromise on. If you have deeply held beliefs, for example that murder is wrong, its difficult to see how you could reach a compromise or consensus position with someone who thinks it is right. And for me, even if I were able to consider a compromise, the compromise on offer is frankly wet. To make a decision not to make a decision, to argue that nuclear weapons are wrong and should never be used and then say but we'll keep half of them doesn't for me hold water as a coherent argument and plays into the hands of those who accuse us of sitting on the fence. The majority motion was sold as a motion which would enable conference to reach a consensus and was the "responsible" response. For me this was code for branding the minority report/motion as "irresponsible", although there was a lot of appreciation that it was soundly and intelligently argued. The debate was good natured and thoughtful, but the outcome was certainly for me a foregone conclusion. With our party leader having already stated our likely position it was unlikely that the minority report, however well argued, would win the day. So now we can have a debate in the pages of LDN, on the blogs and ultimately in Harrogate. What I hope will not happen is that the leadership will use emotional blackmail to bounce conference into a decision. It is vitally important for the credibility of the party and more importantly for the future of the planet, that we have an open and honest debate. And in my view, if we do decide not to decide we are failing the electorate who will be denied a real choice. Whilst around 25% in polls are against replacing Trident it was interesting to note on Any Questions last week that well over half the audience were against replacement, the tide is turning, lets catch it or face the consequences of being drowned in the undertow.For those of you who share my view please sign Colin Ross's petition to Ming.

1 comment:

readingliberal said...

Spot on Linda. There is a history of overzealous arguing of leadership positions on defence, as those older than me will remember from Alliance days.

As for the position drafted, well, it seems to be an argument in favour of being half pregnant.