I go to a very cold church hall in Muswell Hill after my attendance at Parliament for a debate on Trident. It was very well attended. The event was organised by Pax Christi – a Catholic Church grouping who, not surprisingly, believe that nuclear weapons are evil and immoral and that Britain should not replace Trident.
Trident is a submarine based nuclear system that is (supposedly) coming near to the end of its life – though there could be options for extending its life, making unnecessary any decision at this point in time.
T Blair is gung-ho to replace the system fully. Gordon Brown has already stated that Trident must be maintained. We (Lib Dems) have all been jumping up and down asking for a Parliamentary debate and vote – i.e. proper decision made by Parliament rather than secret stitch up between Blair & co.
The Liberal Democrats are currently debating the details of our policy on Trident – expect a motion to come to our spring conference in Harrogate. Lib Dem MPs had our first run around the subject on Monday with a presentation from our Defence Spokesperson, Nick Harvey. And it’s not an easy decision – unless you follow the purist moral route of pacifism.
What I would say at the outset of this debate is that the real issue for us all is – how do we best achieve peace? There appear to be basically two views. One is with nuclear weapons – so that no-one would dare take us on, and to give us a seat at the table to influence the reduction of such weapons throughout the world. And the other is that we should renounce our nuclear capability and set a lead in the world to influence others to give up their weapons and so on.
I have a relatively open mind at this moment in time, but some of my thoughts are:
I tend to believe that it is the extreme hideousness of the effect of nuclear weapons – with images of Hiroshima and Nagasaki – burned into my brain as a post war baby – that has meant that no-one in their sane minds would ever use such a weapon again.
I am clear that any talk of battlefield nuclear weapons is unacceptable. The idea that such weapons could be scaled to be useable is in itself disgusting.
I am unhappy about how independent such a weapon is of the USA – although the alternative argument is that at least with our own nuclear deterrent we have some answer to the might of the USA. Specious that one.
I am not sure how minimum ‘minimum’ can be.
I don’t believe that unilateral disarmament is the answer.
I do believe that there are evil people in the world who don’t march to the same drum as we do – and that human nature means that there will always be those who seek to do us harm.
I believe the threat has changed in the world since the cold war and that nuclear weapons can do nothing in terms of attacking Al Queda.
Are nuclear weapons because of their awesome power quite different to normal military weaponry? Is not the real answer to seeking a situation where nations feel they no longer need a nuclear capability? Would that not be better achieved if all the energy of the powers that be were put into sorting out the Middle East region – and yes, that means talking to Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the Palestinians.
But what about rogue states like North Korea?
And what about the £76 billion (nuclear deterrent cost) that could be spent on so many other much worthier causes?
So, all in all – I am not yet sure which way is the best to achieve peace. I look forward to learning more and understanding more – although I hope that the debate becomes not just about the technical – the costings of the various levels of nuclear arms we might have – but focuses only on achieving peace.