Tonight, here at the House of Commons, there’ll be a vote urging the government to include Trident within the terms of its Strategic Defence Review (SDR). The Tory position is that it shouldn’t. That was the Labour government’s position too. The Lib Dems, on the other hand, have always held up their commitment to the inclusion of Trident in the review as evidence of their occupation of the moral high ground. Here’s Nick Harvey MP, now Minister of State for Defence, on his website; “It would be ridiculous not to consider Trident in the Defence Review”. Fairly straightforward, then, surely.
As it happens, by most standards it is. Most folk agree that Trident has no practical military purpose whatever these days and that the geopolitical benefits are at best highly questionable. It hardly seems unreasonable to argue that at least the arguments in favour of replacing this vastly expensive weapon system should at least be tested through inclusion in the review. What muddies the water, however, is that most Tories hate the idea that the French might have an edge on the UK in the nuclear stakes, while Labour has yet to fashion a coherent foreign and defence policy in opposition which takes fair account of the way the world is today. I hope to help change that latter position over time.
For the moment, perhaps for one night only, the Liberal Democrats have a chance to show that on this largest of moral issues they can indeed have the courage of their convictions. I hope they can, because their position until tonight has been right in philosophical and practical terms. Will they vote to test the arguments for, even to make the argument against, Trident replacement? Or, for fear of being scorched, will they run away and abstain? Let’s see.
In the meantime, if you think Trident replacement should be carefully examined like every other area of government expenditure, why not ring or email your MP and ask him/her to vote for that at 10 o clock? The House of Commons switchboard number is 02072193000.