My parliamentary colleagues and other members of the Labour party urging a return to a policy of unilateral disarmament (Letters, 21 June) do so for laudable reasons, but they are mistaken. While pushing for faster and more meaningful progress towards Britain’s ultimate shared goal of a world free from nuclear weapons, Labour leader Ed Miliband has been clear from the outset that he will maintain Britain’s independent nuclear deterrent while other countries have a nuclear capability that could threaten the UK. That is the responsible choice taken by a future prime minister who understands that we cannot possibly know what the threats facing the country will be in 30 or 40 years’ time, the period that the imminent decision to replace the nation’s Vanguard submarines will affect.
Any government should constantly search for ways to deliver things as efficiently as possible, including this major submarine building programme that will sustain 13,000 cutting-edge manufacturing and engineering jobs across the country. But returning to the unilateralism of the 80s would risk weakening Britain’s future security and cause thousands of job losses. We should discuss how best Britain contributes to a goal of multilateral disarmament, but not at the price of distracting from the Labour movement’s vital job of holding this pernicious Conservative-led government to account for its manifest failures.
John Woodcock MP
Labour, Barrow and Furness
• Labour needs a divisive public debate about Trident renewal like a fish needs a bicycle. The British electorate won’t consider any party as a viable choice to form a government if their defence policy is aligned with that of CND. Labour learned that lesson the hard way when it advocated unilateralism in 1983 and 1987. We do not need to relearn it now.
Spurious inflated claims about the cost of Trident renewal, such as quoting the lifetime cost of a system that will be spread over four or five decades, rather than the annual cost, which is about that of running two small London borough councils, illustrates that opponents of nuclear deterrence are not interested in a rational evidence-based debate. I have no idea why any Labour figures would want to re-fight the internecine and damaging battles of the 50s and 80s with reheated unilateralist dogma, rather than come up with positive new policies on subjects the electorate won’t label as hard-left hobbyhorses.
• It was very encouraging that some Scottish MPs and MSPs signed the letter.The issue of Trident has already featured in a number of discussions relating to the 2014 independence referendum. Opinion polls have consistently shown there is a clear majority of people living in Scotland who are against Trident’s replacement and who feel the money could be better spent on decent things like health, education and jobs. I hope that the Labour party in Scotland will respond to this letter by throwing its collective weight behind this call for a debate.
Chair of Scottish CND
• The MPs’ letter states: “Many people would prioritise spending on health or …read more