January 2016

Setting the record straight on Trident

Letter in the Guardian, 16 January 2016

The Guardian again misrepresents Labour's current position on Trident. In 2014 the party conference endorsed the national policy forum consensus which stated: "Labour has said [past tense] that we are committed to a minimum, credible independent nuclear deterrent, delivered through a continuous at-sea deterrent. It would require a clear body of evidence for us to change this belief [i.e. the belief could be changed]... the process and debate leading up to the next strategic defence and security review in 2015 needs to be open, inclusive and transparent, examining all capabilities, including nuclear. It must also examine cost implications as well as strategic necessities... To this end [Labour] will have a continuing consultation, inviting submissions from all relevant stakeholders."

Kevan Jones and the entire defence team signed up to this, and it underpinned the manifesto. There was no vote on Trident at the 2015 conference. Instead, delegates explicitly decided not to discuss nuclear weapons at that time. So Jeremy Corbyn is implementing party policy in opening a debate. However, Ken Livingstone is also wrong to suggest that Trident can be taken in isolation, rather than being considered together with all other aspects of defence and security. This debate would be assisted by getting the facts right.

Ann Black

Member, Labour party national executive committee

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