Clegg Must Stand Firm on Scrapping Trident 23

For my taste there was much too much prepared soundbite and especially anecdote in last night’s Prime Ministerial candidates’ debate. I was feeling rotten with flu, which made concentration difficult, but found it pretty dull. The exclusion of the more challenging viewpoints of the SNP, Plaid Cymru and even UKIP made the ground of debate pretty boggy.

But I was of course very pleased with Nick Clegg’s performance, which was much more sparky than I had dared to hope. Having raised the Lib Dem profile as real contenders by winning this first debate, he does not have to win the other two.

The desperate spinning by New Labour and Tories after the event showed that they are now going to have to attack the Lib Dems, and will do so from the position of right wing populism. Alan Johnstone disgracefully was shouting over other post debate interviewees “What about Trident? Trident! Trident!”

It says much about the demise of the Labour Party that it is basing its desperate pleas for continued support on the “need” for a bankrupted country to mortgage its entire future to raise the colossal funding to be able independently to destroy over half the population of the world.

The very proposition is ludicrous. But the “independent” British nuclear deterrent – which may only be fired with US permission – is so much an article of Establishment faith, that they cannot conceive any politician could be voted for who did not wish to maintain and expand it.

All the signs last night, and from Lab-Con parties this morning (Michael Gove having just done it on Sky), are that Trident will be the focus of their attack on the Lib Dems in the next few days, leading up to the next leaders’ debate, which is of course conveniently for them on foreign policy.

Yet there is no sign that the electorate share their unquestioning desire for a massive submarine based nuclear annihilation system, and no evidence that Clegg’s stand on it yesterday damaged his popularity. Clegg should stick to his guns, to use an unfortunate metaphor. Personally I do not like either the policy or morality of his arguing that ditching Trident would free up money needed for Afghanistan, but if asked which is the more important issue, I would unhesitatingly say getting rid of Trident.

Clegg’s problem is that his policy is unclear. No like for like replacement of Trident is a good intention, but what it means is deliberately fudged in order to accommodate the Lib Dems’ crazed militarist wing led by bomber Ming. They will be pressing Clegg to prepare for the next debate by fleshing out ideas for an alternative nuclear deterrent, possibly shared with the French.

Clegg needs to avoid being pushed in that direction. His line on Cold War systems no longer being appropriate is a good one. He should go on the offensive. Cameron twice stated that China is the nuclear power against whom we now have to arm ourselves massively. Clegg should call Cameron out on wanting to start a new cold war against China.

Clegg should also point out, in response to the al-Qaida dirty bomb argument, that Trident is no defence against that scenario and Mutually Assured Destruction is in fact what a suicide bomber wants.

Take my word for it, Trident will be the main focus in the run up to the next debate and in the debate itself. Clegg should go on the offensive in the foreign policy debate, and attack the government for its support of dictatorships abroad, including Uzbekistan.

Clegg should also have a go over extraordinary rendition and torture, and the loss of the UK’s moral standing in the world – including the cover-up over the BAE corruption scandal. He has to get the debate onto his ground. The big two will be looking to steer it on to nuclear weapons and examples of EU excess.

But a good start, which left me still more comfortable with my decision to rejoin and campaign for the Lib Dems.

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23 thoughts on “Clegg Must Stand Firm on Scrapping Trident

  • Issy

    Wars are expensive. Is not our security guaranteed under Nato protocol anyway. Making the argument for better, more expensive killing machines void. We do’t have the money. Try balancing the books for once.

  • Chris Swan

    As an ex Naval officer it seems insane to me that so many of our politicians continue to pursue Trident. Clegg was completely right in describing it as an outdated cold war system.

    If we must have a nuclear deterrent (and I can see both sides of that argument) then why not go the cheap and cheerful route and have nuclear warheads for Tomahawk? That way we get to leverage our existing investment in patrol submarines and still have a sabre to rattle without burning £100m.

    Clegg seemed reluctant to endorse unilateral disarmament last night, but keen to kill Trident. This is the way that he could have his cake and eat it.

  • Stevie

    I could only manage to catch 20 mins of the spectacle last night as I had much more important things to do and found the overly prepared statements and anecdotes quite amusing and pathetic. A particular favourite was Camerons ‘I recently spoke with a black man’ when discussing the issue of immigration – squirm….

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Cameron spoke with ‘a black man’ – my God, shock-horror! And did the ‘black man’ speak back? In English, to boot? Thanks, Stevie, for passing-on this nugget, this insight into the archeologically colonial world-view of the Tory leader.

    Yes, maximum killing power is what the media wants to massage the public consciousness into believeing they need and want. It is telling that no mainstream politician believes he/ his party could survive in the election without persisting in this nuclear weapons psychosis. It is a great big lie! Ditch ’em all, I say! Every last one!

  • Common Purpose

    It was funny watching it.

    Cameron has the most to lose, and it really did show. He was more nervous than I’ve ever seen a politician.

    The Tories should be miles ahead and cruising home, in political circumstances such as this. The fact that they’re not points only to their demise as a force in British politics.

    This is what Mandy’s much discussed New Labour “project” was all about; the realignment of British politics to the exclusion of the Conservative party.

    And what nasty things they did to achieve it.

    Looks like it all worked though.

    But, to what useful purpose for those of us who despise authoritarianism?

  • anno

    A better preparation for future conflict than trident would have been for the superpowers to have not maddened and crazed the civilian populations of Iraq, Chechnya, Somalia, Palestine, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    Living in the peaceful Muslim streets of Birmingham, I am still shocked at the underlying anti-British refusal to comply with authority, that lives on rebelliously from the time of the British occupation of India.

    How can Trident protect us from the legacy of the vile, snobbish, racist unreasonableness of our pre-war ancestors? And how does continuing to shock and awe our fellow citizens of the world, while stealing their resources, continuing to cover up the unremitting brutality of Western power, continuing to glamourise our armed services and Royal patronage, help us to live at peace for the next 200 years?

    Radio 4’s Today programme had an officer from a unit that dismantles IEDs. He said that they were saving lives. A much better way to save lives would be for UK casualties to reach unacceptable proportions and bring the bastards back home where they belong. But that would be wog lives being saved, which this ignorant British race of murderers, still think cost nothing.

    Shame on Clegg for not taking an anti-war stand for the Liberal Party. Shame on Craig for joining a party which opposes the very principles which are the foundation of this blog. Shame on political compromise and party politics.

    Shame on a country that has given trillions to banks who are blackmailing the country to sell its assets at knock-down prices and engage in fanatical anti-Islam wars, while quibbling about a few shillings, to maintain a nuclear deterrent against other nuclear superpowers.

    Cameron’s policy is to sell everything that’s left in the UK cupboard. The nuclear establishments and national security establishments already belong to private Zionist companies. The reason for not building Trident is not the expense, but that it will be owned by those privatised companies who have hijacked this country to their own ends. It will not be a nuclear defence to protect UK interest. It will be a nuclear capability deployed by and for the benefit of the Zionists in whose custody it will belong.

  • Chav Dave

    “A weapon unused, is a useless weapon”

    Not really. I always carried knives before I got my pitbull.

    Never had to use’em, but I could go anywhere and everywhere totally relaxed and confident in my security.

  • anno

    Chav Dave

    If we had not had a government that had increased the divide between rich and poor, people might be safer in the UK.

    If we did not have an establishment that continues to exploit other countries by brute force, maybe we would be safer in the world.

  • Jake Turner

    I dislike nuclear weapons, but I believe the EU has a need for a nuclear deterrent of some sort so we don’t have to entirely depend on the US for security.

    The UK and France should pool resources – there’s no need for a duplicated capability there. Better still, all the EU nations could put money in together.

  • Vronsky

    Plausible (if dismal) scenario: Labour are the biggest single party in Holyrood after the next elections to the Scottish parliament. As usual, they form a coalition with their little helpers, the Lib Dems. Result: Trident is opposed by the Lib Dems in London, but supported by them in Scotland (where we actually have the fucking things). Cue much cognitive dissonance from Craig Murray?

  • falloch

    My Lib Dem MP is Alan Reid – constitutency Tridentland, aka Argyll and Bute. He says we need Trident because we need jobs. Something tells me we won’t be seeing Mr Clegg campaigning in Argyll and Bute before 6 May 🙂

    My favourite pro-Trident quote came from our Labour MSP Jackie Baillie a few years ago: ‘Putting morality aside, Trident means jobs.’ Nice backhanded description of your constituents as amoral dickheads who would do anything for a job.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    I guess the local politicians of Vichy France, Poland, Slovakia, etc. under the governance of Herr Hitler would’ve made a similar argument about the gas chambers.

  • Mark Golding - Children of Iraq

    “archeologically colonial world-view of the Tory leader.” – Brilliant Suhayl – spot on mate.

    A vote for Cameron’s Conservative Party IS a vote for pre-emptive war, nuclear proliferation, hegemony, loss of civil liberties, ethnic profiling, biometric databases, Internet restrictions, the demise of Palestine and Iran and more ‘war on terror.’

    Pro-Israeli organisations in Britain look set to see their influence increase if the Conservatives win the next election, a film scrutinising the activities of a powerful but little-known lobby warns today.

    At least half of the shadow cabinet are members of the Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI), according to a Dispatches programme being screened on Channel 4. The programme-makers describe the CFI as “beyond doubt the most well- connected and probably the best funded of all Westminster lobbying groups”.

    Inside Britain’s Israel Lobby claims that donations to the Conservative party “from all CFI members and their businesses add up to well over £10m over the last eight years”. CFI has disputed the figure and called the film “deeply flawed”.

    The programme also describes how David Cameron allegedly accepted a £15,000 donation from Poju Zabludowicz, a Finnish billionaire who chairs Bicom (the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre). Zabludowizc, the film reveals, has business interests in an illegal West Bank settlement. He also gave £50,000 to Conservative Central Office. Zabludowicz says his contributions “are a matter of public record”.

    William Hague allegedly accepted personal donations from CFI board members totalling tens of thousands of pounds after being appointed shadow foreign secretary. More than £30,000 from CFI supporters went to the campaign funds of members of Cameron’s team who were first elected in 2005, the film claims, using publicly available information.

    The programme-makers say that while this is legal, it is not well-known.

    Two years ago a controversial study by American academics Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer explored the influence of the Israel lobby over US foreign policy. But Britain’s pro-Israel organisations have been subjected to far less scrutiny.

    “The pro-Israel lobby … is the most powerful political lobby,” Michael Mates, a Conservative MP and privy councillor, told the film-makers. “There’s nothing to touch them.”

    Hague fell out with CFI after describing Israel’s 2006 attack on Lebanon ?” in retaliation for a Hezbollah raid ?” as “disproportionate” and allegedly faced threats to withdraw funding from Lord Kalms, a major Tory donor and CFI member, the film reports.

    Cameron later gave an undertaking not to use the word again, the programme claims. At a CFI dinner this June the party leader made no mention of the death toll in the Gaza war ?” 1,370 Palestinians and 13 Israelis. Instead he commended Israel because “it strives to protect innocent life”.

    Sir Richard Dalton, a former British diplomat who served as consul-general in Jerusalem and ambassador to Libya and Iran, said: “I don’t believe, and I don’t think anybody else believes these contributions come with no strings attached.”

    CFI has also flown over 30 Tory parliamentary candidates to Israel on free trips in the last three years.

    Dispatches describes how when the presenter Jonathan Dimbleby criticised a pro-Israel campaign against the BBC’s Middle East editor, Jeremy Bowen, Dimbleby was the subject of a complaint and, according to the programme, is now under investigation by the BBC. This point was denied in a statement later from the BBC’s press office: “Any suggestion that Jonathan Dimbleby is the subject of an investigation by the BBC is incorrect.”

    Bicom, like the party-affiliated groups, organises briefings and trips to Israel for journalists, including Guardian staff. It sought to dismiss the significance of Zabludowicz’s interest in a shopping mall in Ma’aleh Adumim, a settlement built on territory occupied in the 1967 war and which Israel would hope to retain.

    Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, has rebuffed demands by Barack Obama for a settlement freeze.

    “We are an independent organisation and we guard our reputation fiercely. We work with journalists to help them better understand the Middle East.

    “We show Israel, warts and all, from the left to the right and we have a strict policy that on every journalist trip we go to the Palestinian Authority to give journalists unfettered access to Palestinian voices.”

    Channel 4 dispatches

    Guardian November 2009

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Thanks, Mark.

    Yes, it’s interesting, many years ago, Jonathan Dimbleby wrote a good book based on his TV series entitled, ‘The Palestinians’. I think many people in the BBC know exactly what’s happening in Palestine but are effectively gagged for fear of the Zionist lobby.

  • tony_opmoc

    It was on but My Father-in-Law is a bit deaf. There was no real escape – except to go to bed so I did…

    I could still hear them talking nonsense…

    O.K. Clegg actually made some sense about the lunacy of the UK having nuclear weapons…

    But all I really wanted to do was to put all these twats on a rocket and send them into space….

    Then I thought no – they would then be spewing their bollocks from space too…

    Check out billy blog

    Billy (He’s Australian – and I’ve always got on well with Aussies cos they have the same sense of humour as Northern Twats like me) and Gordon Brown are one of a very few who understand economics.

    And that and picking his nose and chewing it is all that Gordon Brown is good at

    Which is more than the rest of the twats.


  • Seymour Butz

    I think you limeys should use your nukes on Israel. Get the Trident right off Tel Aviv and ka-Boom!!! Problem solved.

  • Stephen

    Thanks Craig, you write:

    “Personally I do not like either the policy or morality of his arguing that ditching Trident would free up money needed for Afghanistan”

    Indeed! It’s reasonable to assume, however, that he means it. If elected we can expect much of that £75bn to go to waging war against the people of Afghanistan. Perhaps now is a good time to abandon the party. Is it still to late to defect to Respect? They make no such argument.

    Best Wishes,


  • Suhayl Saadi

    Ah, Seymour, so any criticism of Israeli state policy must infer apocalyptic scenarios, eh? Not so. Quite the opposite, in fact. It is the unconditional support of aggressive Israeli policy that renders the most danger of conflagration.

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