Poll: Less than 1 in 10 party members support like-for-like Trident replacement

An opinion poll of over 500 Liberal Democrat party members carried out by YouGov for Greenpeace has found that 7% said they supported a like-for-like replacement of Trident.

The key question asked was:

As you may know, there is currently debate about whether or not the UK should replace its Trident nuclear weapons system. Current policy is to replace the Trident submarines with a new fleet of boats, and to replace the ballistic nuclear missiles they carry at a later date. Which of the following options would you favour most?

Replace Trident with a broadly comparable system: 7%
Replace Trident with a cheaper system: 32%
Not renew Trident and give up nuclear weapons altogether: 57%
Don’t know: 4%

Fieldwork: 10-14 September

The usual caveats about taking care over reading too much into individual polls apply, but the big margins between different answers suggest that even if the sampling was a little off the underlying findings are solid. The 57% looks on the high side compared to previous conference votes, but those have been with a clear steer from the party leadership against unilateralism and before the financial crisis hit.

The figures also suggest that the emerging coalition government compromise on Trident – put off any decision on replacement until after the next general election – may turn out to be one of the most popular parts of the coalition with party members.

A motion on Trident is set to be in Sunday’s emergency motions ballot being held at Liberal Democrat conference. If it comes out on top in the ballot, the motion would then be debated later in the week.

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This entry was posted in News and Polls.
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8 Comments

  • Liberal Neil 16th Sep '10 - 6:47pm

    I struggle to see any strong arguments for us retaining nuclear weapons other than those based on status.

    Trident, or alternatives, should be included in the defence review and judged against the same criteria as other defence expenditure.

    For my part I can’t see how nuclear weapons, which were essentially a reaction to the cold war, are an answer to the threats we currently face or are likely to.

  • Perhaps a “more flexible” system should have been an option along with a “cheaper” one. The RUSI study on this topic identified the possibility of producing a number of submarines capable of of being used conventionally and outfitted with nuclear weapons when necessary. This would enable us to maintain a level of nuclear capability at reduced cost, boost our conventional forces at the same time, and retain the capability to rapidly re constitute the nuclear force in case of changing strategic priorities.

  • John Stevens 16th Sep '10 - 7:12pm

    I do not think one needs to be a nuclear expert to see that the 57% referred to by Geoffrey Payne, brought together with Nick Boles takes the Party beyond critical mass.

  • paul barker 16th Sep '10 - 7:24pm

    The poll didnt include the other part of the Partys current position, serious negotiations on reducing Nuclear weapons. The US & Russia have already cut theirs by 60%, why cant we ?

  • @Paul Barker: We’ve reduced our own capability down to 160 actual warheads. Not included in our disarmament figure is the massive number of Nuclear weapons provided by the US to Britain to be used by our forces in case of war, none of which are employed any more. The US has 5 and a half thousand, and Russia over two and a half thousand strategic weapons, plus an unknown number of tactical weapons. France has just under 300.

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