Thursday, 21 July 2016

Owen Smith staggering hypocrisy in attacking Corbyn leadership credentials against the Tories‏

Labour leadership contender Owen Smith’s “furious” criticism of his leadership rival Jeremy Corbyn for, in his view,  letting the new Tory prime minister “off the hook“ at her  first prime minister’s question time  demonstrates staggering hypocrisy.(“Corbyn ‘not up to the job;” 21 July;

Two days before prime ministers’ questions, Theresa May led the Government-initiated debate to spend another £205,000,000,000 (£205 billion) on a new nuclear WMD programme. Owen Smith did not participate this debate to speak against Tory policy, but in media interviews before hand, he said he had abandoned his earlier “infantile” support for CND; had become a grown-up politician, and now backed this massive expenditure of taxpayers’ money on new WMDs; and hence he voted for Trident replacement.

Corbyn, meanwhile, spoke strongly against Trident and the Tory  mega-death nuclear WMD plans, and for multilateral nuclear disarmament.

During the debate, Smith’s Labour MP followers did speak up for Trident: Jamie Reed asserted: “I support every word of the motion before us in the name of the prime minister; John Woodcock, the MP for Barrow where Trident subs would be build, backed the Tories saying: “I will walk through the Aye Lobby tonight to vote in favour”; Toby Perkins said Labour Members should know …that backing Vanguard (“ie Trident) is in keeping with our internationalist principles.”

Meanwhile, Lisa Nandy, one of Owen Smith’s campaign three co-chairs, voted against Trident.

It is Mr Smith’s other backers who let Theresa May off the hook in her first appearance at the despatch box, when they could have made the  positive case for an innovative industrial investment policy and defence diversification agency to ensure all the trades union members of the wider Labour movement  retain their high skilled jobs as Trident is ditched; and they could have argued for reinvestment of a substantial part of the £205 now earmarked for Trident billion into schools, hospitals, sustainable new manufacturing, SureStart expansion and a host of other public services the voters want.

Instead they voted for Trident. And they claim Corbyn Is not a leader!


On Trident the political sands are shifting,’ Guardian letters, 16 January 2016;

The Guardian 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 [ie 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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