By Bob Duncan
The Labour party will fight the next UK general election with a manifesto commitment to keep nuclear weapons on the Clyde for another 50 years, according to a report the Independent.
The paper reports growing indications that not only will Ed Miliband’s party back the retention of Britain’s nuclear arsenal, but they will also join the Tories in supporting a £25 billion ‘like for like’ replacement for the current Trident system.
The party’s stance prior to Mr Miliband becoming leader was to support the full renewal of the Trident system.
Publicly Labour favour multi-lateral disarmament, which requires all other countries worldwide to remove their own nuclear weapons before Labour will remove them from the UK. However this scenario is highly unlikely to come about and in reality Labour’s stance means that nuclear weapons will continue to be based on the Clyde for the foreseeable future.
Many senior Labour MPs, including Scottish Labour MP Jim Murphy, are in broad agreement with the Conservative party over the nuclear weapon renewal. When in government in 2006, Labour took a decision to renew the Trident nuclear system.
However Ed Miliband’s party are holding off making any official statement until the result of a review by the Lib Dems is published by Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander.
Mr Alexander has already claimed that less expensive alternatives should be considered arguing that the UK can no longer afford the cost of a “like for like” replacement; his Lib Dem party is determined to make Trident a key issue in the 2015 UK general election.
The Tories’ support full Trident renewal and would be able to portray Labour as being ‘soft’ on national security if the Labour manifesto takes an approach similar to that of the Lib Dems.
The Independent quotes one Labour backbencher as saying: “The Lib Dems options may look superficially attractive to some influential people around the leadership. But they are a fallacy, an election tactic by a party that cannot win power on its own. The more people look at the 2006 decision [to renew Trident], the more it is seen as the right decision for the country.”
Another unnamed senior Labour source told the Independent: “Our final decision will be based on ensuring we have a credible deterrent, achieved in the most cost effective way and moving towards multilateral disarmament to reduce warheads and stockpiles. We are genuinely open-minded about how we achieve that.”
Commenting on the report that Labour will back a “like-for-like” replacement of the Trident nuclear weapons system, SNP Defence Spokesperson Angus Robertson MP said:
“The people and parliament of Scotland oppose a new generation of Trident nuclear weapons on the Clyde for another 50 years. It is clear that only a Yes vote in the independence referendum can get rid of Trident from Scotland, and ensure that the billions of pounds the Westminster parties want to waste on weapons of mass destruction can be invested instead in building a fair society and strong economy.”
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