The big domestic political news last night was Nick Clegg’s announcement that the Lib Dems would oppose the renewal of the Trident nuclear deterrent, arguing “the world has changed, the facts have changed, you’ve got to change with them. So like-for-like replacement for Trident is just not right.”
As Nick himself has admitted, this is a reversal of the position he adopted in the leadership contest with Chris Huhne in late 2007. The Nick argued that dumping Trident would destroy the UK’s bargaining power in non-proliferation talks in 2010. Here’s the BBC news report:
Mr Clegg hit back that there was little point attending the next non-proliferation talks in 2010 if “we’ve already thrown all our cards away”. “We’ve got to bring the Trident deterrent down to the absolute minimum and use the remaining capability to act responsibly and multi-laterally, not only to disarm ourselves but the world too,” he said.
What has changed Nick’s mind in the last 18 months? Well, most obviously the world economy has tanked, with all political parties now having to review their spending priorities and work out what’s affordable at a time of ballooning national debt. So now Nick has asked former Lib Dem leader Ming Campbell to lead a review on how Britain could operate a scaled-down deterrent.
Ironically, of course, it was one of the rare public triumphs of Ming’s leadership to persuade the party’s 2007 spring conference to back his line that the number of Trident warheads should be cut by 50%, but a decision on replacing them delayed to 2014, following the 2010 non-proliferation talks.
There’s already been a good deal of comment on Nick’s decision on last night’s LDV thread, the vast majority of fully in favour of his announcement. But let’s put that to the LDV poll test, and ask: Do you agree with Nick Clegg’s decision to rule out a like-for-like replacement of Trident?
Over to you…