Clegg: Lib Dems won’t replace Trident

From The Guardian:

The Liberal Democrats today become the first mainstream party to declare they will not renew Britain’s Trident nuclear deterrent system with an equivalent modernised system, as parliament agreed in 2007. Nick Clegg, the Lib Dem leader, told the Guardian he was making the move because of the rapidly deteriorating public finances and because the case for such a powerful nuclear deterrent in the post-cold war world was “a complete fiction”.

Figures in the cabinet and the shadow cabinet have been privately pressing for their parties to renounce a replacement for Trident, but have not been able to persuade their leaders. This means Clegg is the first big figure to argue openly against a full-scale Trident replacement.

Clegg said: “New leadership in Russia, new leadership obviously in the White House and a wider geostrategic appreciation means that a cold war missile system designed to penetrate Soviet defences and land in Moscow and St Petersburg at any time, in any weather, from any location anywhere round the planet, is not our foremost security challenge now. We have got to be grown-up and honest about it.

“Given that we need to ask ourselves big questions about what our priorities are, we have arrived at the view that a like-for-like Trident replacement is not the right thing to do.”

Until now the Lib Dems have called for a 50% cut in nuclear warheads, but left open the possibility that in the next parliament they would support like-for-like replacement for Trident when it needs to be renewed in 2024. …

Clegg said his new position represented a radical change. “I have grappled with this, because it is not where I started in my leadership. But 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.”

Full story HERE. Discuss…

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  • Sound and sensible move.

  • great news and just the sort of bold leadership we need. When the facts change so should we – vindication of those who argued this way during conference and the last leadership election.

  • Herbert Brown 16th Jun '09 - 11:35pm

    Much as I agree with this new policy, I can’t help wondering whether there’s still any pretence that policy is decided democratically rather being dictated by the leader.

  • Andrew Duffield 16th Jun '09 - 11:43pm

    On the other hand, if it WAS affordable…?

  • “We cannot lecture countries like Iran on nuclear weapons, whilst continuing to develop our own.”

    We can as long as it’s run by a nutter who wants to wipe Israel on the map. Let us be blunt – we can be more trusted with nuclear weapons than Iran can.

  • “We can as long as it’s run by a nutter who wants to wipe Israel on the map. Let us be blunt – we can be more trusted with nuclear weapons than Iran can.”

    Mutually Assured Destruction is just as MAD.

  • To pick up on Bernard’s point the BBC website says:
    “The UK still needed a deterrent, he [Clegg] told the BBC, but a “like for like” replacement was out of the question.”

  • Paul Griffiths 17th Jun '09 - 1:28pm

    Herbert Brown: Leaders tend to lead. It’s what we elect them to do. But it will still have to go through Conference. Compare and contrast with the other mainstream parties.

  • Herbert Brown 17th Jun '09 - 1:44pm


    I realise it will have to be rubber-stamped by conference – though I don’t see any mention even of that formality in the report above – but that’s hardly the same as democratic policy-making.

  • Nigel Ashton 17th Jun '09 - 2:10pm

    I’m delighted with this change of policy by the leadership.

  • Mike Falchikov 17th Jun '09 - 5:04pm

    Excellent news. Glad to see Nick h as been converted to scrapping Trident. I don’t necessarily agree with those who want to bring all the troops back, but scrapping Trident means funds will be released to make sure he Army is properly
    armed and properly protected – we owe them that much. Tories seem to be wavering on this as well – e.g.David Davies last night. So we may end up with Labour the only party supporting Trident and ID cards. What a turn-round!

  • Martin Land 17th Jun '09 - 7:01pm

    Britain still needs some sort of a deterrent – how about threatening any aggressor nation with the prospect of allowing Brown & Darling to run their economy?

  • Sorry to spoil the party, but isn’t this worse than the last fudge?

    Isn’t Nick saying we have decided what we don’t want (trident), but the BBC reports him saying “The UK still needed a deterrent” butwe haven’t decided what we do want (another cheaper system) and so he’s asking Ming Campbell to look at it. Then he says it would be “an unhappy event” if Ming Campbell concludes there is a cheaper option.

    The Discussion paper that backed up the last fudgy Trident motion said that they had looked at all the other options and Trident came out as most cost effective, saying the Government White Paper’s costing of the options were a fair assessment.

    So this new direction won’t please the banners – we keep the bomb but develop some kind of Trident Lite or Trident Cheap that we have already said doesn’t exist.

    Does that mean Nick expects Ming to come back and say ‘sorry mate, can’t do it cheaper’.

    Does that mean the ‘unhappy event’ clause comes into effect? Is Nick Clegg now announcing we are unilateralists now?

    Looks like we have refudged a fudge to me.

  • We should be giving it up multilaterally as per the NPT, not simply unilaterally.

  • The recession isn’t relevant – every government has a duty to defend its citizens and if a British nuclear deterrent were really needed we would have to afford it.

    But it isn’t needed. And it isn’t independent (thank goodness – only a maniac would launch against US disapproval).

    I guess the Party has been terrifed of losing votes as Labour once did – but the world has moved on and many voters will realise that. What’s important is to use the money saved on our poor bloody conventional forces who are bound to be needed in the future (and I don’t mean for an Iraq style fiasco). And let’s stop subsidising dodgy arms manufacturers with public money – we shouldn’t mind buying American when their equipment is the best as it often is.

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