Sunday, February 11, 2007

Loos Muze Exclusive......Bruce Kent on Lib Dems and Trident

"The Lib Dems are seen as a kind of third force in the politics of this country.People look to them for independent action and judgement.The Trident decision calls for moral courage and conviction based on knowledge. It is not a moment for perching uneasily on the fence."

Last week Bruce Kent addressed a packed audience in Bedford on the subject of Trident. Anti Trident local MP Patrick Hall also spoke, and I was invited to outline the Lib Dem position - embarrassing or what?! Anyway, I asked Bruce if he would write something for me addressing our position in particular. That article follows with grateful thanks to Bruce:

The proposal coming from our Labour Government that we should spend spend something like £25 000 000 000 on yet another generation of nuclear weapons is bad news for this country and for the rest of the world. For this country because nuclear weapons give us only the illusion not the reality of security.For Britain to plan for nuclear weapons until at least the middle of this century is an open invitation to other countries to claim also that their security needs the same..It gives a green light to nuclear proliferation with all the risks that that entails. Those risks include the massive dangers of accident or human miscalculation. We do not hear enough about the many times during the last forty years when we have come to the brink of disaster as much by accident as by design. Of course the massive sum of money involved dwarfs all those real social needs which are today starved of funds. Hospital, schools, pension funds and public transport could be vastly improved if such sums were more wisely spent.To renew Trident is also a disaster for the rest of the world. It turns the world away from planning actively for the nuclear abolition negotiations, which the International Court of Justice said in 1996 that we had a legal obligation to pursue and bring to a successful conclusion,.This was to be done' in good faith'. There is nothing of good faith in planning for another generation of nuclear weapons and at the same time failing to start abolition negotiations. A draft treaty is already on the table at the UN. What is lacking is political will.The Lib Dems have a major opportunity if they have the courage to take it. It would be great if they came up with a unanimous NO to yet more nuclear weapons and an equally clear YES to urgent abolition negotiations. Even Henry Kissinger and friends are now on the abolition trail. Yet here in this country, driven by a mixture of nationalism and illusion about genuine security, it is by too many assumed that not having nuclear weapons is a sign of weakness.However I suspect that the Lib Dem management has by this time gone so far down the road of expediency that a collective NO is now perhaps too much to hope for. If given it would bring in disillusioned voters by the bucket full. The next best call would be for a delay on any decision .There is no need to make one now. We are all being forced onto the Blair timetable. A decision on renewal can and should be deferred until 2010, after the next review conference of the nuclear non -proliferation treaty. At least by then we will see if abolition negotiations have made any progress. By that time too there will have been some chance of a genuine debate within this country. So far there has not been one. Lib Dem M.P.s should, if they have not already done so, at once to sign early day motion 579 which calls for delay. Already it is clear that in Scotland those urging another generation of British nuclear weapons are going to suffer seriously in the spring elections for the Edinburgh Parliament.In our forthcoming local elections there will be many who well understand that money spent on these new weapons of mass destruction cannot be spent as well on pressing local needs. 'Make Poverty History ' was the great call of two years ago. Money spent on a new Trident is a denial of all that was then promised.The Lib Dems are in a good position to take an independent line.The claim that another generation of nuclear weapons will act as an insurance policy against distant threats is not a difficult one to rubbish. A nuclear arsenal does nothing to meet the threats that we face now in a very different world.. It simply perpetuates old threats. Today's real threats range from terrorism to global warming.It does nothing to build peace.Real peace cannot be constructed on nuclear terror. The White Paper does not even promise that a new system will be built in this country. Much better that the skills of our ship builders be turned towards nationally funded hospital ships or commercial deep sea drilling platforms. Some money saved by not taking the replacement route must be spent on alternative employment schemes. The Lib Dems are seen as a kind of third force in the politics of this country.People look to them for independent action and judgement.The Trident decision calls for moral courage and conviction based on knowledge. It is not a moment for perching uneasily on the fence.

Bruce Kent
9 2 07


Anonymous said...

Looks like Bruce Kent agrees with the FPC motion - not to take a final decision until well into the next decade!!!

Linda Jack said...

Er.............don't think so! But he thinks doing that is better than the current Labour position as no doubt we all do, whether we are pro or anti the FPC motion!