Lib Dems to continue quest for multilateral disarmament after amendment to get rid of nuclear weapons falls

Another conference, another debate on nuclear weapons. The anti nuclear weapons side has won once, in 1986, so the odds weren’t good. What would happen today, though, given that it was the first ever vote under OMOV.

Well, the party was clearly bringing out its big hitter so both sides. Conference darling Alistair Carmichael for the party working group position and Conference darling Julian Huppert for the anemdnemnt.

The working group was set up in Bournemouth in 2015 to look at the issues around nuclear weapons and drew up a paper which recommended keeping a nuclear deterrent and working for multilateral disarmament. An amendment recommended getting rid of nuclear weapons and spending the money strengthening our conventional weapons which, its movers argued, were actually what was needed to counter the global threats we face.

After a generally good-natured debate, Conference voted by 244 to 429 to reject the amendment.

Here’s a flavour of the debate:

Our weekly Observations of an Ex Pat writer Tom Arms wanted the motion to go much further:

And when the red light came on, he endeared himself to Conference.

New Federal Policy Committee Member Christine Cheng gave a very thoughtful speech in which she said that now was not the time to leave the nuclear weapons club.

Alistair Carmichael’s intervention was significant:

And the word of Conference?

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

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6 Comments

  • Eddie Sammon 18th Mar '17 - 9:24pm

    People like Kim Jong-un make me afraid to get rid of nukes, but we have to take the risk. We need to study how we can defeat a nuclear power in a war. If Nato and others mobilised completely we could do it. Arguably we need to expand Nato and rely on that for defence instead. Include democracies like South Korea, Japan and Australia.

  • Tony Greaves 19th Mar '17 - 12:32pm

    So are we still lumbered with the ridiculous policy of paying the earth for a submarine that will sail on Mondays and Tuesdays but not on Thursdays and Fridays? And all with a weapon that no sane person would ever use? How very very sad.

  • On balance, this is probably the right decision for now.

    Like virtually everyone, and I include those from other political parties, I’d love to live in a world free from nuclear weapons. However, I don’t think this is one of those situations where we simply offer to go first, and hope for the best. This is something we need to work towards, and reducing our arsenal is only part of that. We need to do the old Tony Blair hearts and minds thing, in the UK and beyond.

    Speaking of Tony, we should be fair and give him credit for his role in reducing the amount of nuclear weapons kicking about, and the progress made by many other politicians whose names I never knew, never mind forgot.

    The huge cost of the weapons cannot be ignored, and we should continue to explore how the money could be spent better. We then need to work to persuade the British public of this, and do it in a meaningful and compelling way. The tactic of some to shout that nuclear weapons are immoral is not any more effective than shouting that not having nuclear weapons is irresponsible. In fact, both sides simply pat themselves on the back, cause division, and gets us no-where.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 19th Mar '17 - 8:18pm

    I had a feeling either I was to be a tad disappointed over disarmament or faith schools.

    It turned out to not be on disarmament.

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