"Expensive, dangerous and useless" the words of a senior military witnesss to describe Trident when giving evidence to the working group a few years ago. One of the things that persuaded my good pal Jo Hayes to vote against the fudge that became party policy and for the minority report. As a "risky radical" party, all too often we fall at the final hurdle of the Daily Mail filter when deciding policy, this was one such time.
So imagine how thrilled I was last night at the AGM of Liberal International British Group (and if you are not a member why not?) to hear newly elected President, Simon Hughes call for LI to reassert our party policy to scrap Trident. He made it clear that the coalition agreement gave us as a party licence to argue for scrapping – so that's surely what we have to do. With over 70% of the population against renewal and a massive budget deficit, it is incredulous that all but those who stand to gain financially or politically by carrying on supporting this nonsense, should continue to prop up a dead duck.
I have to confess that I did make the case for removing the words "like for like" (remember this was LIBG so they don't have to support party policy word for word) but was met with short shrift – Simon having two objections, one that it was not 3 words but 1 (hyphenated apparently!) the second that our policy was not unilateralist. He did concede however that whilst my arguments were usually incredibly persuasive and cogent (well something like that ;-)) on this occasion they were........hmmmm – less so (surely not I hear you murmur).
Someone else who took a view diametrically opposed to mine made the point that the argument would be easier to make if it was clearly not a unilateralist one. I have to say, that makes a lot of sense if your objection to Trident is the cost and the uselessness of the system, however, since my objection is a moral one while I will support this campaign it will have to be from a unilateralists position. Never the less, I of course applaud Simon and trust this will be a campaign we can all get behind.
Update - "Liberal Democrats fought the election as a party committed to multilateral nuclear disarmament. Above all at this time of spending cuts and financial austerity, the like for like replacement of Trident is illogical and unaffordable. Rather than continuing Trident as before, Britain's public finances should be spent on other areas of our national defence and priority public services" quote from Simon Hughes today. GO SIMON!