Last year Gordon Brown tantalised us with the possibility of reducing Trident-carrying subs from four to three. This was first trailed in the White Paper on Trident replacement in 2006, and then a possible cut was held out last year as a potential contribution towards global abolition. As you can imagine, CND’s view was ‘one down, three to go’, but we welcomed it as a good first step.
My understanding was that it would be part of the discussions and negotiations at the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Reveiw Conference in New York next month. That is where possible future cuts will be made, building on Obama and Medvedev’s new START Treaty. That would indicate that Britain was serious in its intention to play a leading role in the global disarmament process.
So why is it that Defence Minister Quentin Davies has told workers at Barrow shipyard, where the subs are likely to be built, that Labour will order four boats if it is re-elected? When and where was that decision made? Is the position now fixed on this, even before the outcome of the NPT Review Conference? On the other hand maybe this is just a piece of shameless electioneering, seeking to win votes in Barrow, even when future Trident numbers have not yet been agreed.
As reported by the Daily Telegraph, ‘The MoD confirmed Mr Davies’s remarks, but denied that the final decision about the new submarine numbers had been taken’. Isn’t there something a bit contradictory here? Let’s have some of this famous new transparency on this issue please.