Jeremy Corbyn and the emperor’s new clothes

The outgoing executive director of CentreForum, Nick Tyrone writes an interesting blog post about Jeremy Corbyn and the nuclear button issue:

The crucial moment of this year’s Labour conference came not via a speech or indeed anything that happened inside of the hall. It occurred in an interview Jeremy Corbyn gave to the BBC yesterday morning. When asked, if he were prime minister would he ever use nuclear weapons, he gave a straight answer: “No”.

It was so defining because as he said it, I could imagine it appearing on Tory leaflets already. If Britain is attacked, PM Corbyn will not protect you. If Jeremy Corbyn becomes prime minister, it will give every other nuclear power licence to attack the UK with impunity, should one of them choose to do so. All of that will be overblown and not exactly what Jeremy said. He said “No” to the question because as someone with an abhorrence to nuclear weapons, he can’t imagine ever using them, ever. But it has left a huge stick for the Tories to beat him with nonetheless.

The problem that Corbyn doesn’t seem to get is this: nuclear weapons aren’t really expected to ever be used by anyone – they are supposed to be a means of deterring others from using theirs. So thus, if you have nuclear weapons and then you say to the world, “Well, I have these things but I’m never going to use them, even if someone drops a bomb on Manchester” then they aren’t really a deterrent anymore. I get that Jeremy doesn’t want to renew Trident and so he thinks having said deterrent isn’t important anyhow, but there really, really is no point in having it if you are announcing to the world you’ll never use it.

I agree that probably, based on past history, Nick is right. Jeremy Corbyn has perhaps sealed his electoral fate with his nuclear button statement. But I hope that the British people are wiser than that.

I strongly support Jeremy Corbyn on this issue. It’s fair to say that if Jeremy Corbyn had been leader of the Labour party 30 years ago, his stance on nuclear weapons would have been identical to what it is today. I come from a very different background. I have been a very strong multi-lateralist and supporter of the nuclear deterrent in the past. I lived slap bang next to the Cruise missiles when they were at Greenham Common. I’ve been shown round one of the inside of Cruise missile bunkers by a nice lieutenant of the US Air force. (Bizarrely, it was at a US Air Force barbecue on the base. The public were invited. We were shown round the bunkers as a family with our little son in his buggy). I live right next door to the Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston. Many of my friends and party colleagues have worked or do work in the nuclear weapons industry. But I have now changed my mind.

The USSR is a distant memory occasionally referred to in schools by particularly conscientious history teachers. That power bloc had 40,000 nuclear warheads pointed at the “west” in the mid-1980s. Russia now has about 5,000, matched in number by the USA. It is just ridiculous that Britain still has nuclear weapons designed for the era of Brezhnev. Those Cruise missiles at Greenham went a long time ago, along with that nice US Air Force lieutenant we met. I walk my dog and jog just a few metres from the old Cruise missile bunkers, which are now overgrown with gorse bushes etc.

The situation we face now is a completely different one. We need to focus on the fragility of our public and private computer systems. An intelligent computer attack could paralyse this country, taking it back to the stone age, and leading to multiple deaths. We still face the terrible threat of catastrophic terrorist incidents. We need to focus on those threats. Trident can’t be pointed at a terrorist on the London Underground with a lethal rucksack or at some Chinese computer scientists in Beijing or at the makers of a “dirty bomb”. Trident was designed for one of the most powerful hegemonies known to man. It isn’t needed for dealing with rogue states.

Whether Trident costs £100 billion, or £1 billion, or somewhere in between, it needs to go now. The earlier we make the decision the better we can reskill and redirect the workforces involved in its current manufacture and maintenance.

It is just barking mad that this is even still a contentious issue. The terms “unilateralism” and “multilateralism” are now completely obsolete. We are into the era when keeping a nuclear deterrent is just mad.

That is why I applaud Jeremy Corbyn for quietly having the courage to say that he will not press the nuclear button. The Tories and their media chums can crow all they like. Sometimes, someone has to stand up, like the little boy in Hans Christian Anderson’s tale, and point out that the Emperor has no clothes.

The only problem being that, as far as I know, that little boy never got elected Prime Minister.

Ho-hum.

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist. He is one of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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56 Comments

  • “The situation we face now is a completely different one”

    Trident isn’t about the situation we face now, but about the situation we face in 10, 20, 30 or 40 years’ time. Neither you, nor I, nor anyone else can predict what will happen in the future that might mean the emergence of a nuclear-equipped hostile state.

    £2-3bn per annum is a bargain when you consider the alternative.

  • I agree…..What the media should, but won’t, ask Cameron/Fallon/Hammond is, “Would you authorise a ‘first strike’?”… If not, what’s the point. If the UK has already been ‘nuked’ the, so called, deterrent has failed and killing masses of men/women and children in revenge serves no purpose ….
    Although R.N. Missiles have multiple warheads there are not enough (based on one Sub on patrol) to deter the aggression of a major power Russia/China….Therefore, in either a ‘first strike’ or retaliation scenario, US co-operation would be needed so our “independence” is an illusion…

  • Indeed: pointing out how different the situation today is from that of thirty years ago only serves to highlight how different again it might be in thirty years’ time. In thirty years time we might be living in a new Cold War, with new power blocs — and before you say that’s impossible, who in 1913 could have predicted what power blocs would emerge in the 1940s?

    We are currently living in an era of peace and security unparalleled in world history. A reversion to the mean, sometime in the next half-century, seems fairly likely.

  • Peter Davies 5th Oct '15 - 3:36pm

    One prediction one can reasonably make for 30 years time is that all major nuclear powers will also have the ability to intercept ICBMs in the quantities that could be delivered by Trident or a straight replacement.

  • Peter Davies 5th Oct '15 - 3:42pm

    If Cameron were asked the same question, he would undoubtedly say yes. I wouldn’t believe him. Our deterrence depends on all our enemies having a higher opinion of his honesty and a lower opinion of his sanity than I have.

  • Thanks Paul for the sort of sane contribution that this episode requires.

  • Really, terrorism?

    Number of terrorism-related deaths in 2014 : 10,000.
    Number of road traffic related deaths in 2014: 1.2 million

  • Simon Shaw 5th Oct ’15 – 4:43pm ………………Corbyn, in just one word, has sealed the fate of the Labour Party in the 2020 General Election (unless he stands down or is removed before then)………………

    Far from being a ‘leftie’ traitor I gather the ‘Telegraph’ ran a poll about ‘button pushing’….
    82% of Telegraph readers supported Corbyn’s position

    .

  • Thank goodness for Simon Shaw telling it like it us. Up in the Lib Dem stronghold of Southport is Trident a burning issue Simon. Also what is the fate of the Lib Dems in 2020 as you know what awaits Labour. Just asking.

  • Peter Watson 5th Oct '15 - 5:10pm

    Would Tim Farron press the button?

  • I repeat Peter Watsons question. Would Tim Farron press the button. Maybe Simon shaw with his crystal ball has the answer.

  • Peter Watson 5th Oct '15 - 5:20pm

    In the same way that many (including Lib Dems) criticised Corbyn for not singing an anthem for a deity to save a monarch to reign over us when he believed in neither, many people (including Lib Dems) now criticise Corbyn for giving a straight answer instead of a dissembling “Yes, Minister” response.
    It’s a strange world when we demand that our politicians should be of the Blair/Cameron school of spin and absence of principle.

  • Yet another article giving a lot of energy pontificating about the disastrous leadership of Jeremy Corbyn. We have a policy as announced at conference. One thing’s for sure – Tim Farron won’t be saying that IF we have a policy to retain Trident in some form something nonsensical like `I won’t press the button`.

    Instead of spending energy on the whys and wherefores of Labour policy (which is what Labour want you to do) it’s time to attack them with all the avenues that are opening up.

    I sometimes think Lib Dems are too nice and wonder whether they actually WANT to fight Labour effectively or be subsumed into them by a kind of sociopathic osmosis.

    Even if you don’t use the `don’t press the button` story there are plenty of others.

  • Mark Wright really has his finger on the button on this one!

    I cannot say that I am desperately keen on nuclear weapons myself but I can see that Mark is absolutely right: to have nuclear weapons but insist they would not be used is the very worst option; it really is inviting trouble.

    The political problem with nuclear weapons is that the issue is tied up with the position of the UK in the world, particularly at the UN and with NATO. Moreover so long as the UK accepts some sort of role as a ‘world policeman’ it has to in some ways live up to the image. Having a nuclear weapon does this.

    No politician, other than possibly the PM, need give a yes or no answer here and now. The obvious response would be to keep options open and make a firm decision nearer such time that the question might become a reality or simply say that if it were the necessary thing to do it would be done.

  • David Allen 5th Oct '15 - 7:30pm

    For me, Mark Wright gets closest on this one. The only point I would add is that major wars generally come as a surprise to those who participate in starting them. History, with its misleading habit of explaining everything neatly, will kid you that a war like WW1 was in everybody’s plans for years ahead. It ain’t so. Sure, everybody speculated it might happen, but nobody really thought it would. WW3, I fear (no, actually I’m terrified), could well be just the same.

    Nevertheless, MAD (mutual assured destruction) could be the sanest thing to rely upon. As Wright says, owning nukes but promising not to fire them invites a pre-emptive strike and so is actively dangerous. Scrapping our nukes would be less bad than Corbyn’s policy, but doing that unilaterally passes up the chance of asking others to disarm (even partially) alongside us.

    MAD is, however, not sane if the PM acts like Andy Burnham, who enthused “you’ve gotta be prepared to use them!” on TV news, with a fiery gleam in his eyes. That is inviting the unplanned WW3.

    Roy Jenkins, back in 1983, was posed the Corbyn question. He replied to the effect that he would not rule out nuclear use, but he could not actually conceive of any circumstances under which he would approve the decision to fire. That is wisdom.

  • Could Labour end up (as some say it already has) with a Leader saying he wont use nukes & his Party with a Policy to keep Nukes? That is the issue in my book. Let us hope we don’t end up with a pro Nuke Leader & no to Nukes Policy! I’m anti all WMD BTW.

  • Paul Pettinger 5th Oct '15 - 8:02pm

    If a nuclear holocaust is a 1 in a 1,000 year event, then a child born today may have an 8.5% chance of one happening in their lifetime. If it’s a 1 in 10,000 year event, then they have a bit less than a 1% chance of it happening. At one point this summer, Jeremy Corbyn was 100 to 1 to be elected Labour leader. No one or no small group of leaders should have such power at their disposal. Russia may prove particularly resistant, but nuclear disarmament should be a foreign policy priority of our age.

    The old Liberal Party constitution was committed ‘to supporting and strengthening the United Nations, to working steadfastly for the eventual abolition of national armies and armaments’. They aren’t romantic or naive words, but ones of wisdom, formed in the shadow of World Wars. If we can mobilize for climate change then we should also for nuclear disarmament.

  • Peter Davies 5th Oct '15 - 8:24pm

    “Could Labour end up (as some say it already has) with a Leader saying he wont use nukes & his Party with a Policy to keep Nukes?” Given the recent changes in the balance of their membership, the policy is more likely to change than the leader. Mark is right that that would be a less dangerous position than their current one.

  • Yet again a debate based upon a misconception. The real question is could a U K prime minister push the button, and the answer is no. And please, not the operationally independent nonsense. As justification for the deterrent appears to be not knowing what the future holds, how do we know it won’t be a future where the UK is at odds with the U S. Could a UK PM press the button and fire against US? Not unless the US let it happen. In the meantime we continue to piss £3 billion a year up against the wall.

  • I agree with David Allen!

  • Well the point of a submarine-based weapons system is that it cannot be located and destroyed in a first strike, therefore giving the nation that carries them a second-strike (retaliatory) capacity. Which is why each sub carries launch protocols if their home nation is destroyed. Hence, MAD (you cannot destroy us without us destroying you in return).

    So outside of first-use, no British PM would ever “Press the button”. At least with the Trident system anyway. Are the Lib Dems calling for a replacement with land-based missiles?

    Anyway, that Corbyn, he’s a bit Marxist isn’t he? Much better to focus on him than Hunt who’s saying we should emulate a communist dictatorship…

  • Dave Orbison 6th Oct '15 - 9:32am

    Of course had Corbyn lied and said YES to this ‘insightful’ question many, including some on LDV who have criticised him for giving an honest answer, would be jumping up and down calling him a hypocrite. It really is a sad state of affairs when dishonesty is advocated as a necessary quality to become PM.
    The simple reality is that the button isn’t our PM’s to press. There are no circumstances where our PM would ‘go it alone’ as the aggressor or in defence. Our contribution to any resultant nuclear holocaust would be negligible by comparison to those of the USA/Russia/China. Corbyn is simply saying the money spent on nuclear arms (Trident or whatever generation) could be better spent in dealing with modern threats to our security and in improving the quality of life of citizens year after year. Most other countries manage in this way without being wiped out, so could why can’t we?

  • David Pollard 6th Oct '15 - 9:52am

    Corbyn should have refused to answer the question. He could have said that he would not use them first, but left open whether he would retaliate. See Sir Humphrey comment above.

  • David Pollard

    He should have said that even though he doesn’t believe it?

  • Malcolm Todd 6th Oct '15 - 10:31am

    Dave Orbison is quite right. Most of those now attacking Corbyn for a straight answer would have had just as much fun slating him for hypocrisy if he hadn’t answered as he did, given his known beliefs on nuclear disarmament. Instead, we have the bizarre claim by several posters above that saying “I wouldn’t use nuclear weapons” makes it more likely that we would be subject to nuclear attack than simply getting rid of the weapons would. To quote Mark Wright (though the argument is endorsed by several others):

    “If everything goes t1ts-up, saying we’ll never respond even if nuked is an invitation to other nuclear powers to nuke us and get us out of the game before we change our minds, which they wouldn’t bother doing if we had no nukes at all.”

    In other words, nuclear powers may not absolutely believe Corbyn’s categorical statement anyway because “we” might “change our minds”. Which means, if true, that the very uncertainty that the nuclear warriors here are demanding exists whatever Corbyn says. Which destroys the whole argument.

  • @Jayne Mansfield as I understand it, the decision to fire rests with the C in C which in the UK would ultimately be the PM.

    Regarding the mechanism of firing the missiles, it requires two people in the submarine to launch, following the coded signal to fire from the PM.

    I’m not sure what the policy is if First Strike takes out the government; I presume there is a chain of command down which that decision would flow.

  • From 2004…..The captains of Britain’s nuclear submarines had a wake up call today – when the BBC mysteriously went off air for 15 minutes. Secret orders to captains say orders to launch a strike are to be opened and acted upon only if the submarine cannot tune in to Radio 4’s Today programme for a given number of days…..

    The whole point of our, so called, ‘deterrent’ is that destroying London/Government doesn’t negate retaliation. It may be up to the officers and men of a submarine to decide….
    1) Britain has been destroyed as a coherent state by a nuclear attack your families are probably dead…Your orders say retaliate and kill as many enemy civilians as possible..WOULD YOU?
    2) Britain has been destroyed as a coherent state by a nuclear attack your families are probably dead…Your orders say don’t retaliate and kill as many enemy civilians as possible.. WOULD YOU?

  • Jayne Mansfield puts her finger on it. What should certainly happen in the infinitely unlikely scenario that the use of nuclear weapons might seem to be necessary is that the decision to use or not to use them should be taken by the cabinet. If the Prime Minister of the day is not in agreement with his cabinet on such a crucial matter he would clearly have to resign, so the hypothetical situation in which a Prime Minister might have to decide on his own initiative to press the button or not to press the button would not arise.

  • If the Prime Minister of the day is not in agreement with his cabinet on such a crucial matter he would clearly have to resign

    Given that the Prime Minister appoints the cabinet, she would not be the one to go in that situation.

  • lloyd harris 6th Oct '15 - 12:56pm

    What amazed me is that the release of weapons I believe requires co-operation with America, so it isn’t independent and they way they are triggered is a sealed letter from the prime minister held on board of the sub which is opened if Radio four goes off the air.
    It doesn’t make me feel safe. Personally whether we have nukes or not, our membership of NATO is what is saving us from nuclear disaster.

  • Dave Orbison, Malcom Todd:

    It would be almost as ridiculous for Corbyn or anyone else not actually in position to say ‘yes’ as well. perhaps your problem is that you cannot accept that there are situations where giving either a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer is wrong. I think you have been suckered by the ‘typical politician cannot give a straight answer’ meme.

    In a similar vein would you like a chancellor of the exchequer who faced with a direct question gives advance information that enables anyone with the money to make a free profit?

  • When a new PM is appointed one of their first tasks is to write a ‘letter of last resort’. It instructs the Trident commander what to do in the event that the UK and it’s government has been destroyed by a nuclear strike. Of course the contents of these letters have always remained secret. I strongly suspect what they contain is an instruction to commander to place himself under the command of the Americans. I certainly hope we have never elected someone mad enough to retaliate and kill tens of millions of people as an act of revenge. Not that it matters much. The decisive players in this scenario are the US, China and Russia. None of them would tolerate the existence of a state that demonstrated a willingness to use nuclear weapons in a first strike. By the time the Trident commander is deciding whether to follow his orders or not the enemy would have been vaporized. There is no conceivable set of circumstances in which the willingness or not of the British PM to use nuclear weapons makes one jot of difference to events.

    Trident has no military or strategic purpose. It is just a status symbol the opportunity costs of which weaken our security.

  • Malcolm Todd 6th Oct '15 - 1:18pm

    Martin

    This only makes sense if you accept the basic premise that it is right to have nuclear weapons and to preserve a state of uncertainty in the enemy’s mind as to whether you would use it. Corbyn’s position is clear: he does not believe we should ever use such weapons and therefore we shouldn’t have them. You may disagree with that position, but it is quite coherent.
    Now, Corbyn accepts that he may not be able to win his party over to his point of view and therefore would be unable to get rid of his weapons. However, he can still say that insofar as the ultimate decision rested with him he would not use them – in other words, he would act as if we had no nuclear weapons. In what way would this be different from actually having no nuclear weapons? Well, firstly in that the simple act of removing Corbyn himself as PM, whether by internal revolt in the Labour Party or defeat at a subsequent general election would have the immediate effect (given obvious assumptions about his replacement) of restoring the status quo ante with respect to Britain’s nuclear “deterrent” – rather different from a situation of needing to embark on a whole new process of procuring a nuclear fleet. Secondly, there would in practice remain an uncertainty – about whether Corbyn would stick his promise and indeed about whether the nuclear-armed British military would in extremis accept his decision or effectively take the decision out of his hands. Not a certainty, of course: but you only want uncertainty, don’t you?

    The only position from which this could be described as worse than actual unilateral nuclear disarmament is from a position of favouring actual unilateral nuclear disarmament.

    Certainly there are circumstances in which a responsible politician cannot give a straight answer. The above argument does not depend on a naive insistence on complete candour at all times. Can you refute this argument without recourse to calling anyone a “sucker” or drawing irrelevant parallels with the chancellor of the exchequer?

  • Martin 6th Oct ’15 – 1:02pm…….In a similar vein would you like a chancellor of the exchequer who faced with a direct question gives advance information that enables anyone with the money to make a free profit?…..

    For heaven’s sake…That exact thing happens at every budget speech; usually prefaced with, “From next April”……

  • Malcolm Todd 6th Oct '15 - 1:42pm

    Good point, expats.

  • Neil Sandison 6th Oct '15 - 2:09pm

    Relax folks I am just relieved that Jeremy Corbyn will as the leader of the party of protest never be in a position of power where he needs to make that decision .We should all count our blessings.

  • Peter Watson 6th Oct '15 - 3:07pm

    @Malcolm Todd “Secondly, there would in practice remain an uncertainty – about whether Corbyn would stick his promise”
    Indeed. Though it is funny how the usual suspects don’t believe a word that Corbyn says and don’t trust him, but are prepared to accept that on this one issue he is being truthful and should be trusted to be good to his word.

  • Neil Sandison 6th Oct ’15 – 2:09pm……Relax folks I am just relieved that Jeremy Corbyn will as the leader of the party of protest never be in a position of power where he needs to make that decision .We should all count our blessings……..

    With a Tory party trying to explain how cutting allowances for low paid ‘workers’ will make them ‘better off’ and enable them to “work like the Chinese”…How all our ills are down to immigrants, etc, etc….. 5 years is a long time….

    So never say never…

    However, if leading a party of 232 MPs is a ‘protest’ what would you call leading a party of 8? A ‘hobby’?

  • Malcom Todd:

    That is the peculiarity. At present Corbyn is openly defying his own party’s policy. He probably says that he is contributing to a ‘wider conversation’. I expect he will find that there will be a lot of ‘wider conversation’ throughout his leadership.

  • @Lloyd Harris “What amazed me is that the release of weapons I believe requires co-operation with America”

    No it doesn’t; this fallacy gets trotted out every time Trident is debated. The missiles (not the warheads, note) are part of a combined pool maintained by the US. Once the (British) warhead is fitted and the missile is installed in our submarines, they are under sole control of the British.

  • Dave Orbison 6th Oct '15 - 5:24pm

    Martin: “At present Corbyn is openly defying his own party’s policy”. (Well it’s not like that hasn’t happened elsewhere has it?) Blair stripped our any vestige of democracy within the Labour Party whilst Leader. Labour Party Conferences pre-Blair era whilst far being a model of democratic policy making but at least allow debate and input from constituency parties.
    Corbyn is looking to adopt one-member-one-vote to determine Labour Party policy. Surely this is a better leadership model than the authoritarian one used by Blair. Why should Corbyn feel constrained by decisions of a parliamentary elite? Is that how you would want the LibDems to operate? I think not. Perhaps the issue of nuclear arms is such a significant issue for the nation and one that isn’t tied to any political party dogma, that it would be better be decided by a referendum on the issue.

  • Malcolm Todd 6th Oct '15 - 5:26pm

    Martin – he’s disagreeing with his party’s current policy. That’s hardly a secret; nor is there any reason to describe it as “open defiance”. Is there any point in a leader who says “Whatever the party’s current policy happens to be is what I believe”?
    Anyway, I’m glad to see you’re not disagreeing with my argument on the issue at hand (internal politics of the Labour party being neither the subject of this thread nor of any great interest to me), so will leave it there.

  • @Simon Shaw
    “I may have misunderstood it, but I assumed it was actually a surprisingly good explanation of what deterrence is all about”

    Possibly, or it might just have been a very good satire of spending billions of pounds maintaining a weapons system that you can never use, never intend to use, and everybody knows you’re not going to use.

    Has anybody asked Tim Farron whether he’d press the button?

  • So, from some posters, it doesn’t matter what Corbyn says because, in the words of one poster, “Corbyn is never going to be PM”…

    Now use the same logic replacing “Corbyn” with “Farron”…..

  • David Allen 6th Oct '15 - 8:15pm

    Malcolm Todd,

    I like your logical style, but fear you may have fallen into the trap of presuming that a logic-based argument is an unanswerable one.

    You comment that although Corbyn has done his best to remove uncertainty, by committing not to press the button, nevertheless some uncertainty remains, because he might change his mind or be replaced. Uncertainty deters an aggressor, hence Corbyn will retain nuclear deterrence, QED.

    But – The opponent may be a semi-rational megalomaniac with a penchant for gambling and betting the farm: many past opponents fit that bill. Such an opponent might positively relish the risk of nuking Corbyn, then sneering at Corbyn for being too wimpish to retaliate. Admittedly, nothing can be guaranteed to deter a megalomaniac, but quiet resolve might stand a better chance.

    You say that “saying we’ll never respond even if nuked is an invitation to other nuclear powers to nuke us and get us out of the game before we change our minds” is a nonsense, because the phrase “change our minds” proves your contention that Corbyn retains the deterrent value of uncertainty. No it doesn’t: our opponent could “rationally” opt to take us out of the game before the next election removes Corbyn and brings back someone who might retaliate. Again, admittedly this looks pretty hypothetical all the while we have the US around to deter the same enemy. However, in principle and even in practice we ought not to ignore the contingency that the US also elect a pacifist, or turn against the UK.

    Ultimately, all this rigid logic fails because it can’t cope with the fluid uncertainty of the future. Unilateral disarmament is a gamble. It might pay off, big time, for example if it meant we got struck off the Russian “nuke this” list, or indeed if (whisper it) the nation subsequently putting a maniac in charge actually turned out to be the good old UK. Or, it might leave us fighting a horrible conventional war to keep out the aggressor which nukes could have deterred. There just isn’t any provably safe option. I’m sticking with my best guess – that unilateral disarmanent is, on balance safer than Corbynism (keeping the bomb while locking away its fire button).

    PS, nobody ever talks about the possibility that the UK might be the world’s nemesis, do they? Closet racism, I fear!

  • Neil Sandison 7th Oct '15 - 12:19pm

    EXPATS. Ed Milliband who I would put on the moderate left of centre spectrum usually got a shake of the head on the doorstep during the GE .Consider just how unlikely it will be for Citizen Corbyn and his new peoples protest party to gain or retain their existing MPS let alone take on any new ones. The space is there to fill the void Labour has abandoned and a Liberal Democrat revival has potential but it will be dependent on us holding our nerve and exploiting that liberal streak in British culture so evident in the refugee crisis.

  • Dave Orbison 7th Oct '15 - 6:33pm

    Neil Sandison “Citizen Corbyn” Really , grown-up politics? For the first time in a couple of weeks there was a tremendous outpouring of outrage on LDV from across the LDV spectrum. An almost united outcry at May’s speech re immigration. Not a jibe in there at Corbyn. A cause, a joint cause where Labour and LibDEms (and anyone else for that matter) could stand shoulder to shoulder and speak out against the Tory propaganda of hate and fear. This Neil, surely is a better approach that taking pot shots. I know there will be tensions at local level, but the big picture, what is relentlessly pumped out by the media will be one based on how Corbyn and Farron decide to ‘work with or against’ each other. Corbyn is getting lots of publicity (you may mock but I stand by the old adage about publicity) by comparison Farron is virtually invisible, For all sorts of reasons, standing shoulder to shoulder on as many issues as possible may be the right thing to do.

  • Richard Underhill 11th Jan '16 - 11:17am

    JC wrote an article in The Observer on 10/1/2016, he was on the Today Programme on 11/1/2016 and is getting lots of publicity from a wide variety of sources.
    Former Owenite Danny Finkelstein, now a Tory, wrote in The Times comparing JC with Michael Foot, who led Labour at the 1983 general election to a substantial defeat. The difference that DF draws is that Michael Foot’s politics were allegedly primarily parliamentarian while JC campaigns outside the Commons in the country at large. There may be something in this, but did Michael Foot ever address the Durham Miners? Did he say whether he intended to resign?
    Lord Finkelstein is partisan and omits from his analysis the hugely important changes that happened because of Gorbachev and because of Yeltsin. BBC TV’s “Alpha Male” Andrew Neil makes the same omission on the Daily Politics, Sunday Politics and This Week. Being narrowly focussed may leave him missing the big picture.
    The USA and Russia both have huge stocks of nuclear weapons compared with other nuclear weapon states. President Obama has negotiated to reduce them bilaterally with Russia and would be willing to do more, given enough time, willingness on both sides and attention to detail.
    When Michael Foot was Labour Leader part of the analysis on nuclear weapons was that the USSR was unwilling to negotiate on nuclear weapons. That was not the case when President Obama negotiated substantial reductions and demonstrated that multi-lateral negotiations were possible at that time. The world has changed.
    It is also the case that substantial deceases in the prices of oil and gas have substantially reduced the income of the Russian Federation, which could, and probably should, give Moscow an incentive to negotiate further reductions in expensive weapon systems.
    A thought-through policy on Trident would need to consider both submaries and weapon systems. Obsolescence and possible renewal may have different time frames.

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