Labour’s change on Trident renewal is in line with its multilateralist policy

Jeremy Corbyn speaks at a Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) event in central London, August 2015 [Image: Will Oliver/EPA].

Jeremy Corbyn speaks at a Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) event in central London, August 2015 [Image: Will Oliver/EPA].

Nobody should be too concerned about this apparent change of heart by the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn.

Trident renewal is going to happen, because we have a Conservative government and Tories love weapons.

As far as Labour is concerned, there’s a good argument for saying that’s okay – if the Tories have money for weapons they’re never going to use, then they can’t argue they don’t have the cash for more socially-responsible programmes.

You see, money spent on weapons is a drag on the economy. It isn’t invested in anything that can make a profit so it sits on the national balance sheet as a loss.

Those who argue that recent adventures in the Middle East have been highly profitable for western companies should bear in mind that those companies most likely fiddle their taxes – and the resentment that our military actions have created among the people of the countries we have invaded means we have created problems for ourselves in the future. Those problems will no doubt require us to spend even more money on weapons and ammunition that could be better used elsewhere if only our leaders weren’t so stupid.

The way to achieve disarmament is multilaterally – that is, we persuade other countries to disarm at the same time we do.

This is an arm of diplomacy that has been neglected for far too long but can achieve hugely satisfying (and cost-effective) results. Look at South Africa’s decision to disarm as part of a treaty involving around 30 other African nations.

We can certainly support Mr Corbyn on a policy in which, to paraphrase Churchill, more jaw-jaw leads to less war-war.

Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader and lifelong campaigner against nuclear weapons, has agreed to put to one side any attempt to reverse Labour’s support for renewing Trident in a bid to reduce tensions with unions and rebel MPs.

However, the leader also took the opportunity to pass a new policy through Labour’s national executive committee promising to “honour our international treaty obligations on nuclear disarmament”, something that he believes would be breached by the renewal of Trident.

[Clive Lewis, shadow defence secretary, said in his speech that] Labour would put multilateral disarmament at the forefront of its defence policy, committing to making headway on the international stage.

“We will make our longstanding multilateralism reality, not rhetoric,” he said. “We will be working with international organisations, including the UN general assembly first committee on disarmament and international security, within the spirit and the letter of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.”

Emily Thornberry, the shadow foreign secretary, told the BBC the party’s overarching defence review was continuing.

It is understood that the issue has been discussed with trade union leaders who fear that Labour’s position will endanger their members’ jobs.

But the pledge drew an angry response from the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, of which Corbyn is a vice-president and long-term supporter.

Source: Jeremy Corbyn steps back from damaging Trident row | UK news | The Guardian


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