Tories plan to suppress Trident debate

This week defence secretary Philip Hammond stated the Trident Alternatives Review would not be made public, writes CND general secretary Kate Hudson.

This week defence secretary Philip Hammond stated the Trident Alternatives Review would not be made public, writes Kate Hudson, general secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND)

This gratuitous lack of transparency just seems bizarre and is a blow to the credibility of the government as a whole and the Liberal Democrats in particular. And it is also a blow to the prospects for a full and open debate about Britain’s real security needs.

The Lib Dems have been justifiably under fire following successive policy concessions made to the Tories as part of their bid to be in government. Yet on the question of Trident and its replacement, they have fought their corner – thanks primarily to the principles of the party grassroots.

At the Lib Dem Conference in 2010, defiant party activists, outraged at the omission of Trident from the then ongoing Strategic Defence and Security Review (pdf), tabled an emergency resolution. This won the ballot and resulted in a fiery hour on the floor with successive speakers arguing against the replacement of Britain’s nuclear weapon system.

Some argued against like-for-like replacement – which remains party policy – while others argued against Britain retaining a nuclear weapons system at all.

It was in this context that Nick Harvey’s Trident Alternatives Review, announced by Liam Fox in May, was lauded as a success for the junior partner in the coalition. Harvey, the Minister for the Armed Forces, was to hold the Tories’ insatiable appetite for Trident replacement to account and stimulate real debate with credible, evidence-based alternatives.

Just two months ago, at this year’s Lib Dem conference, Mr Harvey told a fringe meeting he was “absolutely convinced” the possibility of developing dual-use nuclear submarines was a “game-changer” for government plans. Even Ed Miliband told the Labour party conference the government had “done the right thing by commissioning a study looking at whether there are alternatives to the renewal of Trident”.

Now, in response to a question from Jeremy Corbyn, Philip Hammond has laid bare the significance of the review for the Tories:

“There are… no plans to publish either the report or the information it draws upon.”

This speaks volumes about the Conservatives’ openness to reasoned and transparent consultation over Trident replacement: it is virtually non-existent. Maybe that’s not surprising, but the really interesting issue is why. In my opinion it shows they’re scared of the debate – and that really isn’t surprising.

The majority of the population wants to see Trident scrapped; spending on Trident is a disaster for the public sector, including conventional defence; senior military figures describe it as useless; and the government itself has downgraded state-on-state nuclear attack to a tier two security threat.

When the decision on replacing Trident is due in 2016 and a general election will take place before that date, it is absolutely clear what the Tory strategy is: stifle the debate. That much at least is transparent.

See also:

We can still fight Trident: Here’s howDaniel Blaney, November 10th 2011

Scrapping Trident for the savings is a losing argument; CND need realistic oppositionAndrew Gibson, November 4th 2011

Memo to Westminster: UK “independent nuclear deterrent” not actually independentKate Hudson, May 27th 2011

Government ramps up Trident work despite coalition pledgeKate Hudson, February 18th 2011

Coalition needs to work out where it stands on TridentMarcus Roberts, August 4th 2010

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40 Responses to “Tories plan to suppress Trident debate”

  1. Andrew

    Excuse me, but WHY is Kate Hudson writing on Left Foot Forward?

    She an activist in the hardline Stalinist Communist Party of Britain, for a start. She’s the one who had the Iranian Ambassador over to a CND conference to justify his country’s nuclear programme. When he was heckled by Iranian democrats, they had them chucked out!

    The Labour Party is all about standing up against Stalinists and other extremists. They’re our enemies, and they despise democratic progressives like us.

    A very very poor piece and a really bad idea to have this woman writing here.

  2. David Grace

    As proposer of the emergency motion at the Liberal Democrat conference, I should add that it was passed unanimously and that both Shirley Williams and Minister Nick Harvey spoke in favour. I also point out that when the alternatives review was announced, Jim Murphy replied for Labour “Britain’s independent deterrent has been the cornerstone of our peace and security for over half a century, and our view is that, in today’s world, as long as there are other countries with such capability it is right that the UK retains an independent nuclear deterrent.” Outside parliament he added, “The Liberal Democrats are playing fast and loose with Britain’s defence”. When is the Labour Party going to have the courage and common sense to admit that Trident is (a) NOT independent but ties us to American foreign policy and (b) as a leading general said,”Dangerous, expensive and useless”.

  3. Sam Liu

    Astonishing. Defence sec has said "there are no plans to either publish or report" findings of Trident review: http://t.co/UDjwhPH2

  4. Andy Gritton

    Tories plan to suppress Trident debate: http://t.co/mw3WzLme writes @CNDuk's Kate Hudson

  5. Wjhcoventry

    Well as this is the last time the ‘Free-world’ will be willing to share this kind of high-tec programme with the British, we need to grab as much help as we can. The whole of Europe is depending on us getting every last bit of American support. Only then will the European deterrent be of the quality needed to ensure that the, so called, ‘Free-world’ will not be able to undermine the new order we are creating.

    Support Trident support Europe !

  6. Mr. Sensible

    This government’s problem is that it has kicked this issue in to the long grass for political purposes.

  7. NIS

    Kate Hudson of @CNDuk writes in @leftfootfwd on Philip Hammond's plans to keep the #Trident Alternatives Review secret: http://t.co/qL28uyjM

  8. Luke Massey

    Tories plan to suppress Trident debate: http://t.co/mw3WzLme writes @CNDuk's Kate Hudson

  9. Tony Ellis

    RT @leftfootfwd Tories plan to suppress Trident debate: http://t.co/PhYLB8HZ writes @CNDuk's Kate Hudson

  10. John Rentoul

    Tories plan "to suppress Trident debate" (transl: "continue policy with which I disagree") http://t.co/QU1aqxVp #ashamediwaseveramemberofcnd

  11. Robert Ryan

    Tories plan "to suppress Trident debate" (transl: "continue policy with which I disagree") http://t.co/QU1aqxVp #ashamediwaseveramemberofcnd

  12. Ben McCabe

    Tories plan "to suppress Trident debate" (transl: "continue policy with which I disagree") http://t.co/QU1aqxVp #ashamediwaseveramemberofcnd

  13. Peter Garbutt

    Tories plan "to suppress Trident debate" (transl: "continue policy with which I disagree") http://t.co/QU1aqxVp #ashamediwaseveramemberofcnd

  14. Newsbot9

    Fix the UNSC THEN discuss this. The discussion is premature.

  15. Newsbot9

    Exactly, can’t let the left into the centralists. You’re the person out of place here.

  16. Jamie

    Tories plan to suppress Trident debate http://t.co/IK4jqXpW

  17. PB

    If the Trident Alternatives Review is not published, the Conservatives will be unable to justify their position that replacing Trident is the only option for the future of the UK’s nuclear weapons. The whole purpose of the review was to test this claim and see how valid it was.

    Ed Miliband has given his backing to the Trident Alternatives Review, so he should stand up and say as Leader of the Opposition that the report should be published,

  18. Alex Braithwaite

    RT @leftfootfwd: Tories plan to suppress Trident debate http://t.co/ZZcPx7Mu

  19. Anne Schulthess

    Kate Hudson, Gen Sec of @CNDuk in @leftfootfwd: Tories plan to suppress Trident debate http://t.co/6duqnf8F

  20. Dominic Linley

    Tories plan to suppress Trident debate http://t.co/xId23GCY @YorkshireCND

  21. Dominic Linley

    Is this what democracy looks like?Review on alternatives to UK£100bn+investment in nuke weapons suppressed http://t.co/xId23GCY #occupyleeds

  22. James Clayton

    Tories plan to suppress Trident debate http://t.co/xId23GCY @YorkshireCND

  23. CND

    If you missed our @leftfootfwd blog yesterday, read "Tories plan to suppress Trident debate" http://t.co/E6ZcgNoa

  24. Shalom Activist

    If you missed our @leftfootfwd blog yesterday, read "Tories plan to suppress Trident debate" http://t.co/E6ZcgNoa

  25. Peter Harris

    If you missed our @leftfootfwd blog yesterday, read "Tories plan to suppress Trident debate" http://t.co/E6ZcgNoa

  26. Shalom Activist

    WHAT!?!? Philip Hammond stated Trident Alternatives Review won't be made public!!! What was point in it then? http://t.co/TncCoWa0

  27. Pucci D

    RT @CNDuk: If you missed our @leftfootfwd blog yesterday, read "Tories plan to suppress Trident debate" http://t.co/rsxAnnJ8 #fb

  28. Mike Hitchen

    RT @CNDuk: If you missed our @leftfootfwd blog yesterday, read "Tories plan to suppress Trident debate" http://t.co/rsxAnnJ8 #fb

  29. Jonathan Bartley

    RT @leftfootfwd: Tories plan to suppress Trident debate http://t.co/In2vC9sb

  30. David Pybus

    Kate Hudson of @CNDuk writes in @leftfootfwd on Philip Hammond's plans to keep the #Trident Alternatives Review secret: http://t.co/qL28uyjM

  31. blogsir

    http://t.co/cMPMDItL ::: Kate Hudson, CND: Tories plan to suppress Trident debate – 24th November 2011: http://t.co/BCQOGoff

  32. Pat Williams

    "Tories plan to suppress Trident debate" http://t.co/KDPWmF1J RT @CNDuk

  33. bridgetmck

    "Tories plan to suppress Trident debate" http://t.co/KDPWmF1J RT @CNDuk

  34. Phil Randal

    "Tories plan to suppress Trident debate" http://t.co/KDPWmF1J RT @CNDuk

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  36. Mariam O'Gorman

    RT @leftfootfwd: Tories plan to suppress #Trident debate http://t.co/EFMMsZar

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