Tag Archives: nuclear weapons

Have party members come any closer to a common view on nuclear weapons?

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum  to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. 741  party members responded – thank you – and we’re publishing the full results.

Nuclear weapons have always been a tricky issue for Liberal Democrats. In Bournemouth last year, the vote on whether to renew Trident was knife-edge close. We’ve been fudging the issues for years and the day of reckoning approaches. The Bournemouth  debate resulted in a working group being set up to fully investigate the possibilities.  They outline five options in a consultation paper here.

The first 3 options provide for some sort of nuclear weapon. They are supported by 59.11% but only 23.62% support like for like replacement.

Continue with the successor programme to Trident  23.62%

Contingency posture (partial replacement) 25.37%

Airborne Deterrent 10.12%

The two options which don’t involve having nuclear weapons are supported by 40.89%

Virtual capability 9.31%

Zero option 31.58%

Does this mean that the divide is growing? We’ll have to wait till Spring Conference in York to find out.

Here are some of the comments people made:

Posted in LDV Members poll | Also tagged and | 9 Comments

The ethics surrounding the nuclear weapons debate

Members of the Nuclear Weapons Working Group are presenting their personal views as part of a wider consultation process into the party’s future policy on nuclear weapons. The full consultation paper can be found at www.libdems.org.uk/autumn-conference-16-policypapers and the consultation window runs until 28 October. Party members are invited to attend the consultation session at party conference in Brighton, to be held on Saturday 17 September at 1pm in the Balmoral Room of the Hilton.

The UK’s options for the successor to Trident are (boiled down to essentials):

  1. Same as now – nuclear-armed ballistic missile submarines, only new.
  2. Keep most or all of the kit but stop continuous nuclear armed submarine patrols, unless circumstances change.
  3. Shift from missiles in submarines to bombs dropped from aircraft.
  4. Don’t keep nuclear weapons but do keep the expertise and the radioactive materials needed to make them, just in case.
  5. No nuclear weapons. Unilateral disarmament. The zero option.

I have been invited to write about these options in the light of ethical and humanitarian concerns.

Nuclear weapons are not really weapons of war. They are beyond war. They are means of annihilating life as we know it on this planet. There are about 15,000 nuclear warheads in the world today, which in a full nuclear conflict could comfortably exterminate us all.

They are so destructive that their use in pursuit of a traditional victory is impossible. They are not made to be used, but to make threats with. 

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 8 Comments

The UK and the rapid deterioration in global security

Members of the Nuclear Weapons Working Group are presenting their personal views as part of a wider consultation process into the party’s future policy on nuclear weapons. The full consultation paper can be found at www.libdems.org.uk/autumn-conference-16-policypapers and the consultation window runs until 28 October. Party members are invited to attend the consultation session at party conference in Brighton, to be held on Saturday 17 September at 1pm in the Balmoral Room of the Hilton.

Trident

UK nuclear defence policy does not exist in isolation. As the Lib Dem’s Nuclear Weapons Working Group Consultation Paper makes clear, nuclear defence policy exists in the context of the UK’s broader policy on defence and foreign policy. Changes to Lib Dem nuclear weapons policy are best seen in the context of a changing defence and foreign policy environment.

From a UK perspective, the key recent shifts in the foreign and defence policy context include the continuing economic and military rise of China (and our Allies’ response to this), the adversarial turn in relations with Russia, and the rise of IS in the Middle East – together with its effects on Western Middle East policy, NATO and Turkey.

The most significant change in the foreign and security policy landscape for the UK concerns China and its relationship with the US. Up until 2013 China pursued what they called a ‘peaceful rise’ policy; rapid economic development avoiding involvements in conflict.

This changed with the new leader Xi Jinping, who, for example, announced the ‘String of Pearls’ policy, otherwise known as the ‘maritime silk road’.  This is a string of Chinese-controlled ports and associated inland infrastructure that dots the world’s trade routes, with economic investment closely followed by military investment; for example in Pakistan/Afghanistan, Djibouti/Ethiopia, and Sri Lanka.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 8 Comments

Lib Dems Trident decision – stick or twist

Members of the Nuclear Weapons Working Group are presenting their personal views as part of a wider consultation process into the party’s future policy on nuclear weapons. The full consultation paper can be found at www.libdems.org.uk/autumn-conference-16-policypapers and the consultation window runs until 28 October. Party members are invited to attend the consultation session at party conference in Brighton, to be held on Saturday 17 September at 1pm in the Balmoral Room of the Hilton.

 

It’s great to be able to speak with my own voice for a change. I’m more used to putting words in other people’s mouths. As Ming Campbell’s foreign affairs adviser, Charles Kennedy’s speechwriter, and then Nick Clegg’s policy chief, I played a small part in the Lib Dems evolving policy on nuclear weapons for over a decade.

When I joined the Ministry of Defence in 2009 as a politically restricted civil servant, I thought my involvement would end. No such luck! From my berth in the MOD, I found myself supporting Nick Harvey as he out-foxed the steely men with cold eyes to set up the Trident Alternatives Review. I wrote Danny Alexander’s speech launching the review, helping him frame the options so as to fulfil the Lib Dems’ pledge of ‘no like-for-like replacement’.

Now, as an ordinary party member, free from any encumbrance, I’m able to contribute in my own name, as part of the policy working group bringing a consultation paper on nuclear disarmament to conference in September.

Posted in Op-eds | 39 Comments

How nuclear weapons violate your rights

 

Most of us have an idea how nuclear bombs work; history has taught us just how destructive they are. However, the argument still persists that world peace can only be achieved when the most powerful nations have enough of them to guarantee upon each other, mutually assured destruction. At this present time, with the renewal of Trident firmly on the Government’s agenda, I feel now is a good time for people to express their views on the morality, legality, and practicality of utilizing nuclear weapons.

The after effects of detonating nuclear bombs are well documented. The fallout unleashed by current nuclear weapons would create an environment that is so radioactive that future generations of people will almost certainly be affected by it. This situation leads to a challenging question: If generations that had nothing to do with a war that was fought at a time prior to their birth, but suffer the effects of that war even after it has ended, then is that not a catastrophic infringement of article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, that states: ‘Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family’ (Un.org, 2016)? If you have to suffer radiation poisoning through no fault of your own, through actions that took place before you were born, then how can it be said your right to a healthy life is being protected?

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 38 Comments

Are you interested in working on party policy on nuclear weapons?

 

The Federal Policy Committee is searching for members with an interest and/or some relevant expertise in the issues around Trident and nuclear weapons to join a policy working group.

At Federal Conference in Bournemouth, Conference passed this amendment to the Trident motion:

1. Commission a Policy Working Group to develop policy on the future of Britain’s nuclear deterrent, if any, following a full consultation within the party.

Posted in Party policy and internal matters | Also tagged | 6 Comments

Entente Nucleaire?

We have had a lot of articles about Trident in the build up to conference. Now the motion has now passed with amendments, conference has commissioned a working group on what to do without Trident. The group has been asked to assess strategic threats; how best to promote non-proliferation and disarmament; the implications for Britain’s defence commitments to both NATO and our European alliances; and the scope and implications of other kinds of nuclear deterrent. Here is a proposal to consider.

In his article, George Cunningham argues that the international situation has changed enough that we should retain our nuclear capability after a broader re-evaluation of defence policy.

And George Potter writes that our stockpile is overshadowed as a deterrent by America’s NATO-wide umbrella, but enough of a threat to hostile nuclear powers to single the UK out as a target.

My sympathies are with the unilateralists. The reports and rumours I have read about outdated protocols, lax discipline, and the resulting almost-accidents are enough to make the blood run cold. The presence of nuclear weapons and their destructive force is a permanent risk to all of our lives. In an ideal world, we would use the scrap to plough our furrows. (In an ideal world, the radiation would make the crops super-big.)

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 12 Comments
Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarAndrew McCaig 21st Jan - 5:22pm
    Well, after hearing him I was hoping Jeremy Browne was no longer a member!
  • User AvatarSimon Horner 21st Jan - 5:17pm
    The writer of this article poses the crucial question for all of us living in Scotland. "Can we back an independent Scotland as a better...
  • User AvatarPaul Walter 21st Jan - 4:47pm
    Moderator's note: We do not publish "part two" or "continued" comments. There is a length limit in order to keep the debates fresh and stop...
  • User AvatarDavid Raw 21st Jan - 4:38pm
    Fair enough, Fiona - though you hear all sorts of funny things in Dundee. I don't think independence is a done deal - I do...
  • User AvatarCaron 21st Jan - 4:18pm
    When the public announce menu is made, yes.
  • User AvatarFiona 21st Jan - 4:01pm
    @David, you obviously didn't spend much time in Dundee during the referendum. The idea that Scotland could go fully socialist if independent was one of...