Saturday, 27 December 2014

Trident and Murphy's law

A week ago Jim Murphy, the new Labour leader in Scotland recoursed to the old saw that he wants a world free of nuclear weapons, but is "not a unilateralist," in an interview with The Guardian Saturday review, (20 Dec.

This unhelpful contrast with a multilateralist, is a hang-over from Cold War politics, but as  Mr Murphy, despite protestations towards change, wants to hark back to the past, it is worth pointing out that since the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty ( NPT, drafted under a Labour government, who lobbied hard for its merits at the United Nations)was signed in 1968 requiring all signatories to negotiate nuclear disarmament in good faith and at an early date, not one British nuclear weapon or warhead has been negotiated away in any multilateral nuclear disarmament forum.

When Murphy was shadow defence secretary last year he strongly affirmed in an interview in the New Statesman Labour was going to retain and renew Trident nuclear WMDs. ("Jim Murphy: Labour is sticking with Trident," NS, 7 March 2013) (

A week on, and The Guardian front page on 27 December headlined:  

Labour set for a bloodbath in Scotland in general election, poll says

The article revealed that, based on an ICM Unlimited online interview sample of 1,004 Scottish adults aged 18 and over, that 43% want Trident scrapped and 37% want it retained. Mr Murphy should take good note.

Earlier this month at the  Vienna conference on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons, the British representative, Ambassador to Austria and the IAEA, Susan le Jeune  d'Allegeershecque   told delegates of over 150 countries - along with hundreds of representatives of civil society -  that :"We will work to create the conditions in which nuclear weapons are no longer needed. We will also maintain a minimum credible nuclear  deterrent for as long as it is  necessary".

The ambassador was representing the policy of the UK government.  That is identical with the position of Mr Murphy. From the Scottish referendum debate, it does not seem to be the view of most Scottish residents, or indeed, most people living in the UK, over Trident, as the new poll demonstrates.


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