Trident: It’s ideological Tory cuts that are putting Britain at risk

It isn't Ed Miliband 'fighting his own brother for the leadership' that will put Britain at risk, it's ideological Tory cuts


Whatever you think about the renewal of Trident, Labour are firmly committed to it. As the shadow defence secretary Vernon Coaker has unequivocally put it, ” We support renewal of Trident along with a renewed focus on multilateral disarmament”.

This is a long way from the Labour party of the early 1980s which was advocating unilateral disarmament.

And so the Conservative accusations today that Ed Miliband plans to scrap Trident in a deal with the SNP are plainly false. Or more accurately, they are a smear. It’s also a rather crude and personal one, focusing as it does (bizarrely) on Ed’s relationship with his brother David.

Labour should take heart from this. As the late Christopher Hitchens put it, “I always think it’s a sign of victory when they move on to ad hominem”.

Defence is a serious issue, but Tory claims of Labour ‘weakness’ display an astounding level of hypocrisy when the former have cut the military so severely in the past five years. Under current plans, by 2020 the Army will lose 20,000 soldiers, the Navy 6,000 personnel and the RAF 5,000. We are drastically winding down Britain’s defences based on the Tory mania for deficit reduction at any cost.

As the ex-US defence secretary Robert Gates put it last year:

“With the fairly substantial reductions in defence spending in Great Britain, what we’re finding is that it won’t have full spectrum capabilities and the ability to be a full partner as they have been in the past.”

Or closer to home, as the chief of the defence staff general Sir Nicholas Houghton put it in 2013:

“Unattended, our current course leads to a strategically incoherent force structure: exquisite equipment, but insufficient resources to man that equipment or train on it.

“This is what the Americans call the spectre of the hollow-force. We are not there yet; but across defence I would identify the Royal Navy as being perilously close to its critical mass in manpower terms.”

To be clear then: it isn’t Ed Miliband ‘fighting his own brother for the leadership’ that will put Britain at risk; it’s ideological Tory cuts.

James Bloodworth is the editor of Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.

25 Responses to “Trident: It’s ideological Tory cuts that are putting Britain at risk”

  1. Cole

    It’s obvious the Tories are getting desperate with these pathetic smears. They clearly expected to be ahead in the polls by now, but it ain’t happening. And it couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of people. Expect more of the same in the next few weeks as they fumble around incompetently.

  2. Tommo

    Fallon was right about Ed Milibands personality. Trust is an issue.

  3. Chris Kitcher

    Go on then dickhead explain yourself.

  4. robertcp

    Is Labour seriously supporting multi-lateral disarmament or any other type of disarmament? A rational defence policy would be to scrap Trident and spend the money on conventional forces.

  5. Leon Wolfeson

    No, not at all. The rational policy is to buy into America’s shield.

    This isn’t an issue of fiscal policy – remember, we’re deflating – but of defence policy.

  6. robertcp

    We are already members of NATO, which means that we are covered by America’s shield. I describe a defence policy and you tell me that this is an issue of defence policy!?

  7. Leon Wolfeson

    Er no. They’re not at all one and the same. Some NATO countries participate and others do not. It involves having American nuclear weapons stationed on your soil.

    (In fact, we did do it for smaller weapons until 1992)

    I remind you, NATO members are not *required* to react militarily, there are other sub-groupings and alliances *within* NATO which do require that in the case of certain kinds of attacks.

    And the second you started talking about spending, it’s fiscal policy.

  8. robertcp

    I was already aware that not all NATO members have American missiles on their soil. I am not sure what this has to do with my view that the UK would be be better off using its defence budget for conventional weapons rather than nuclear weapons. That would be my view whether we were reflating or deflating the economy.

  9. Leon Wolfeson

    It’s an economic view about spending, still.


    The rational defence policy is to defend your nation and not to leave it to others who have their own interests. Here endeth the lesson.


    You are not covered by the USA shield as they do not have a shield.

  12. Robert Robson

    Why is “ideological” now a political insult? Surely it’s good for a party to believe in something, even if not everyone agrees with it? In addition, it’s no more idological to support the small state than the large state.

    Maybe it’s just because you dislike conservative ideology – it’s fine to support social democratic ideology though.

  13. Robert Robson

    Charming. Remember though, the left’s moral high ground gives them the right to spew such needless insults. They’re all better people because they support higher state spending. They’re self-evidently better than us nasty and bitter conservatives because supporting less government intervention makes you an evil person who isn’t worth the left’s time debating with – so the petty insults are acceptable.

  14. Leon Wolfeson

    Blind ideology rather than an assessment of the facts is the problem.

  15. Leon Wolfeson

    You’re being a PC bigot, of course, talking about “the left” because of one person here, who is simply being rude.

    The answer is…he’s rude. You’re ranting, frankly. Your Conservatives have dramatically increased government intervention in any number of areas, and are quite happy to keep blaming the poor for, er, being poor – spending vast amounts of cash on punishment.

    Your austerity turns out to be expensive and anti-growth, just like every time it’s used anywhere. So! I’m quite happy to talk the contradictions in vulgar liberatarian’s arguments.

  16. robertcp

    The USA is a member of NATO and has nuclear weapons, which is what I meant. Leon referred to America’s shield.

  17. robertcp

    We seem to agree that Britain does not need its own nuclear weapons.

  18. Leon Wolfeson

    It needs nuclear *coverage*.

    Also, I’d like to get UNSC reform done before we unilaterally resign our permanent seat, under the current situation.

  19. robertcp

    Okay. We should buy into America’s shield.

  20. robertcp

    We also agree about coverage.

  21. robertcp

    Nuclear weapons were not much use when Argentina invaded British territory in 1982, while we invaded Iraq in 2003 when we thought that it might have weapons of mass destruction. I am not convinced that nuclear weapons are useful for our defence, which is why we should concentrate on conventional weapons and the armed forces.

  22. Leon Wolfeson

    They didn’t invade mainland Britain, or even any of the Islands near Britain, did they?
    So please.

    We agree on the shield issue, but I see the Falklands argument as irrelevant.

  23. robertcp

    You are entitled to your opinion.

  24. Leon Wolfeson

    Yes, my opinion is and remains the UK should be defended against Russia.

  25. robertcp

    I agree.

Leave a Reply