I know. The vote on Trident happened on Monday, and far too many Labour MPs supported its renewal.
Here’s one good reason why they were wrong, and we should question their decision. In whose name is it “responsible” that Trident should be renewed?
This Writer agrees with Tina Savage, who tweeted about the 140 Labour MPs who supported Trident: “The next time a
@UKLabour MP bangs on about cuts to their local area, ask them how they voted on #Trident.”
This, from Kapil Komireddi, is also true: “Looking at Trident vote, it’s clear: almost every Labour MP who abstained on the welfare bill in 2015 voted to burn £200 billion on Trident.”
For clarity, here’s a list of the 47 Labour MPs who voted against Trident renewal:
[The] argument, that renewing Trident is ‘responsible’, has been challenged by many, including Jeremy Corbyn. And the grounds on which he argues the case for nuclear disarmament speaks to this core issue in the nuclear debate.Speaking to The Guardian at the Tolpuddle festival in Dorset, Corbyn restated his longstanding commitment to unilateral nuclear disarmament, and his hope that the Labour party would get behind that position. He noted:
I recognise people are going to take some time to get into that position [unilateralism], but I ask them to look at the world as it is
The “world as it is” that Corbyn speaks of includes international laws, obligations and treaties. And there is a crucial treaty relating to nuclear deterrents, which Corbyn highlights in the justification of his anti-Trident position:
I will be voting against continuous at-sea deterrent, because it rules out any compliance with the nuclear non-proliferation treaty…I’ve been involved in peace transformation all of my life, and I think we’ve got an opportunity to show leadership in the world.
The Labour leader’s argument is that we have a responsibility to the United Nations, under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), to take measures to reduce our nuclear capacity. And that it would show “leadership” to do so.
The UK committed to the NPT at its birth. This treaty, ratified in 1970, aims to “prevent the spread of nuclear weapons” and bring about “complete disarmament” in those countries that already own them.
Therefore, as a signatory to the treaty, the UK should:
pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race
And what better moment than this to ‘negotiate’, when we have a key bargaining chip in our hands?
The UK could make a deal with the remaining nuclear powers to consign Trident to history if they agree to do the same with part of their arsenals. This could trigger a slowing of the arms ‘race’, and would have great symbolic weight as the UK is considered one of the major nuclear powers.
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