Ahead of speaking at a fringe meeting on Trident replacement tonight at the Liberal Democrat party conference (see note below), CND General Secretary Kate Hudson has made the following statement.
A longer version can be read on her blog.
“As an anti-nuclear campaigner, I welcome the Trident Alternatives Review, led by Defence Minister Nick Harvey, and his refusal just to roll over in the face of Liam Fox’s antiquated adherence to the so-called ‘deterrent’ in all its cold war glory. What is not so great, and which no doubt irks most Lib Dem members as much as me, is that Nick Harvey’s Alternatives Review is not considering the Alternative of nuclear disarmament – only nuclear alternatives.
Recently I wrote to Nick Harvey to express my concern about the failure to consider the non-nuclear alternative. No doubt like many other correspondents on this issue, I received a serious and detailed reply from the Ministry of Defence. But the contents of the reply were disappointing. It confirmed the Coalition Agreement which stated that Britain would maintain a ‘minimum credible nuclear deterrent’ while stressing that Lib Dems could continue to make the case for alternatives. The emphasis is on reduction and multilateral initiatives.
In my opinion, this is an enormous missed opportunity and is out of synch not only with Lib Dem grass roots’ opinion, but with the majority of the British population whose concerns about levels of spending on Trident has led to consistent majority demand for the scrapping of Trident. Ironically though, it is not only out of step with opinion polls, but actually the government’s own strategy and analysis – although they are not willing to recognise the implications of that.
Nick Harvey and the Lib Dem leadership have gone half-way on Trident, but they owe it to their party – and the country – to go the whole way, to have the vision and leadership to advocate nuclear disarmament.
With the final decision on replacement coming up in 2016, there is no doubt Trident will be an issue in the next general election. Lib Dem policy on Trident will be crucial to the outcome, but if the Alternatives Review shapes Manifesto policy and means the Lib Dems go into the election with a pro-nuclear policy, that will be a bitter blow to peace and disarmament.
I, for one, hope that the Lib Dem election manifesto will boldly state its opposition to any nuclear replacement for Trident: the non-nuclear option must be in the Alternatives Review.”
1. For further information and interviews please contact CND’s Parliamentary Officer Ben Folley on 07968 420 858 or Kate Hudson on 07968 420859.
2. Kate Hudson will speak at a fringe meeting on Britain’s nuclear weapons at 8pm, Sunday 18th September, Room 4 of Jury’s Inn, Broad St, Birmingham. Speakers alongside her will be Steve Gilbert MP of the Lib Dems International Affairs Parliamentary Committee and Peter Burt of the Nuclear Information Service. The meeting has been organised by the Lib Dem members group Say No To Trident.