With his Trident stance Corbyn shows himself to be no fan of ‘new politics’

Few words stir the heart of the politically interested than ‘a new politics’, and quite right too, for who on earth wants the status quo?

But the utterer of that rather normative phrase is immediately pitched a political challenge, to keep on board those who are the bedrock of their support, while also delivering something challenging enough to be new.

Jeremy Corbyn is a man with far less personal ambition than he has integrity and honour, and that may be ‘new’ for a politician in the UK right now, but it is not enough to qualify as ‘new politics’.

To practice new politics, one must be willing to demolish vested interests and conservative-with-a-small-c clan loyalties. His approach to Trident renewal shows him more as an operator looking to square a circle and keep the establishment in his own party happy, rather than be disruptive and practise new politics.
I’m not referring to the actual position of Corbyn on Trident, with which I kind of agree, but rather the absurd notion he put forward almost as an addendum that the submarines could be built, but not have the warheads place on them.

An accusation often levelled against Labour leaders who were pupils of the old school of politics was that trade union interests outweighed the national interest. Len McCluskey, the combative trade union leader, has made clear his view that Trident should be renewed so that the workers who would get the job will be kept on. An example of new politics would be to fashion an outcome that represents more than billions of pounds being spent to keep a relatively tiny number of workers employed.

MIllions being spent on creating alternative, sustainable employment in the area and the rest focused on framing a more thoughtful defence policy, but such a scenario makes it hard to please the vested interests. Mr Corbyn made his choice, he chose the old politics.

* David Thorpe was the Liberal Democrat Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for East Ham in the 2015 General Election

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13 Comments

  • John Barrett 11th Feb '16 - 10:43am

    What next? Will the jobs argument be used to justify the manufacture of cluster bombs land-mines or weapons of torture?

    It cannot be beyond the wisdom of many to use the skills of those defence jobs and in the arms industry for something which be of more use to the country and long term sustainability of the planet.

    As someone who opposes Trident and who would not support any replacement, I appreciate that a long term plan to avoid as many job losses as possible is the way forward. Spending billions of pounds on a very expensive weapons system is not even the best way to secure future value for money and productive employment.

  • ……………….I’m not referring to the actual position of Corbyn on Trident, with which I kind of agree, but rather the absurd notion he put forward almost as an addendum that the submarines could be built, but not have the warheads place on them……….

    Is that much more absurd than a ‘replacement’ that does not have a deterrent at sea? The whole point of Trident is as a ‘post attack reprisal’….Not a lot of good if that ‘reprisal’ is neutralised in the ‘attack’…

  • I saw Nancy Soderberg, the former senior US diplomat, arguing on Newsnight (in the most relaxed manner possible) that from a practical / deterrent / assistance to the US in nuclear defence standpoint, that it didn’t matter one iota whether Britain keeps or discards Trident or its replacement. I thought that spoke volumes to the hyped up argument in this country!

  • This shows how UK politics is now screwed up. A Conservative party presiding over destruction of capitalism through extreme inequality, and the Labour Party infighting between Labour tories (blairities) and socialists/SDs.
    It is now unlikely that devolving power and political reform can ever be delivered through policies of a central government: there are few cases of this in the world of this happening, and it didn’t happen here in UK 2015 even though economic and political conditions begged for such policies laid out by the LD party.

    Today, grassroots movements from local groups/movements/parties such as the Green party, Plaid Cymru and SNP has more chance of succeeding as demanding reform or break-away as with the later.
    PC, SNP and its European party the EFA certainly wants to remain part of the EU and certainly doesn’t want isolation. Doesn’t that show the problem is with the UK and other countries that have EFA MEPs?

    The Liberal democrats should work alongside PC and SNP (and Greens) as all parties want to achieve a similar ultimate target and perhaps a split and then a later come together will be of real benefit to all, which will allow England to sort itself out and proposals put for a new reformed UK with a federal system with real devolved powers to its states.

  • Westminster spends around £48bn on defence with some of it hidden in other departmental budgets like education, health, home office, transport. Around 1/12 is contributed by Scotland through its share of taxation. If Scotland was independent Westminster would no longer get Scotland’s share of taxation. This would mean the whole defence budget would fall on the reduced tax base. Nothing in the present defence expenditure is of much use to Scotland as it has no use for JSF35B or blue water ships. To keep its present aspirations would be more expensive. Add in the whole Trident expenditure which is somewhere around £3bn-£4bn each year and Westminster would have to find a lot more to support its defence ambitions.

  • If Trident was that wonderful, the Germans, the Australians, the Belgians, The Danes, the Swedes, the Italians, the Brazilians et al et al would want one.

  • Denis Loretto 12th Feb '16 - 3:39pm

    The articles by Ian Jack in the Guardian over the last 2 days on the Trident issue are very informative. To my mind they demonstrate that the major contribution the UK can make at this stage is de-escalation. What with the likelihood of “transparent oceans” the one great argument for “continuous at sea” – its invulnerability – is highly questionable. Surely the end of the cold war at least justifies planning for aircraft delivery of the same missiles kept in secret variable locations. We would still be a nuclear power (and I do not see outright unilateralism as deliverable with the British electorate) with a place in any multilateral negotiations and to those who consider it vital it would “keep us important”.

    And it would save us a hell of a lot of money.

  • Nothing in the present defence expenditure is of much use to Scotland as it has no use for JSF35B or blue water ships.

    ? given the fuss kicked up in Scotland by the idea of closing the Clyde naval base – used by Trident, I suggest Scotland does have some use for the UK’s defense spending…

  • Laurence Cox 12th Feb '16 - 4:59pm

    @Bruce. Unless an independent Scotland also chooses to leave NATO, they will still need Eurofighter as a defence against Russian bombers approaching their shores; Type 23 frigates for anti-submarine defence and possibly Type 45 destroyers for air defence beyond the range of Eurofighter. As the most northerly country in the British Isles, defence in the Iceland-Scotland North Atlantic gap will fall to them. So much for not needing a blue-water navy.

  • NATO is a relic of the cold war, it should have been desolved at the same time the Warsaw pact was desolved.
    Russia is just finding its place in the world today, if this is a thorn in US territorial expansionism that may be the problem. Russia is certainly not an enemy of the EU. Its largest old company Rosneft is 30% owned by our BP, its steel company Evraz is quoted on the LSE. Russia has many trade agreements with the rest of Europe. Internally, Russia has distinct political parties with distinct choices for the voters and an elected president which can only take office with more than 50% of the vote (hence the 2nd round of voting if required). So stop the racism!

    NATO is a USA lead organisation which is at odds with an independent EU. The US president is elected by an electorial college and not on a proportional or >50% of electorate rule. It’s post 1945 history shows that the USA falls short of many of the safeguards which citizens of the EU enjoy.

    The EU needs better. An independent defense organisation accountable to the European parliament. To work with Russia and America on equal terms.

    The main threat to world peace today comes from IS/ISIL which the Syrians backed by Russia air are effectively pushing back. The EU could be helping to fight terrorism by backing the Kurds/PKK.

  • Simon Banks 26th Feb '16 - 6:27pm

    In reply to Ernest: there are plenty of examples of political reform delivered by a central government – for example, the First and subsequent Reform Bills in Britain and the enfranchisement of women; the creation of the Dual Monarchy with its Austrian/Hungarian balance in the Austrian empire; the use of the Supreme Court and Federal action to enfranchise Southern Blacks in the USA. Ernest is right, though, that serious devolution by a central government is very rare indeed. It usually happens (as in the German Bundesrepublik or post-Franco Spain) where central power has collapsed or been utterly discredited and is now being rebuilt. I believe the previous (non-“Liberal Democrat”) government of Japan aimed at serious devolution, but whether it was able to deliver, I don’t know.

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