Conference agrees reduced nuclear deterrent by 322 votes to 228

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This morning’s debate on defence was heavily dominated by just one subject – whether or not Britain should continue to have a nuclear deterrent.

An amendment rejecting any renewal of Trident, which had no big name backers, came within 100 votes of defeating Danny Alexander’s motion. It was quite an achievement for the amendment’s proposer, George Potter, to get it at least to a counted vote.

The speech of the debate came from Glasgow’s Paul Coleshill who likened replacing Trident to a middle aged man buying a sports car as a mid life crisis – but one he could only use on 3 days a week. Our Nick Thornsby’s tweet about that was quoted on the BBC website where he was described a Liberal Democrat Voice journalist.

For the first hour of the 90 minute debate, chaired by Baroness Dee Doocey, the speeches and interventions were heavily in favour of Potter’s amendment. Towards the end, just as people were coming in to vote, they heard three speeches against it from. Certainly some representatives I spoke to were under the impression that the debate had been mostly against the amendment.

It is normally the case that speakers are called for and against a motion in proportion to the cards received. If, for example, the chair had 20 speakers’ cards, 16 in favour and 4 against, but only room for 10 speakers, they would call 8 in favour and 2 against, but they would space them as evenly as possible. It could, of course, be that more cards against the amendment were received during the debate, which would explain that curiosity. The Federal Conference Committee would do well just to look at how it was structured. It almost certainly would have not affected the outcome, but play must always be perceived to be fair.

The Trident vote brings to an end the Conference flashpoints which have all been won by the leadership bar the reference back on online porn. I have been on the losing side of every vote bar that one and the Housing Benefit motion but that’s democracy for you. You can’t imagine anything like such democracy at a Labour or Conservative event.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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