Thursday, 11 May 2017

Labour and Tory Trident pledges will cost the earth

The Conservative Party- supporting Daily Mail coverage described Labour ‘s draft  election manifesto as a blueprint taking Labour back to the1970s and included as one illustration Labour’s commitment to a nuclear weapons-free world.
Yet current Conservative defence secretary, Sir Michael Fallon has himself told Parliament in a debate on Trident renewal “we also share the vision of a world that is without nuclear weapons, achieved through multilateral disarmament.” (Hansard, 20 January 2015, column 105,, thus echoing  Labour’s 2017 Manifesto pledge.

Moreover, a few weeks after he confirmed this policy position to MPs, after a special meeting hosted in London, diplomats from the five nuclear weapons states permanently on the UN Security Council (The P5) - including the UK- issued a joint statement through the Foreign Office, which included the following very interesting agreement:

The P5 reaffirmed that a step-by-step approach to nuclear disarmament that promotes international stability, peace and undiminished and increased security for all remains the only realistic and practical route to achieving a world without nuclear weapons..”

At the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) preparatory committee (precom) Conference in Vienna this week, the delegation of Britain’s closest diplomatic ally, Ireland, reiterated in its working paper on gender, development, and nuclear weapons

“The NPT is not a charter for the indefinite retention of nuclear weapons...”
and added
"In 2010 the Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty (NPT) expressed 'its deep concern at the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and reaffirms the need for all States at all times to comply with applicable international law, including international humanitarian law'"

"Ireland is participating in the current UN mandated Multilateral Treaty Negotiations in New York on a new legal instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading to their total elimination. As a non-Nuclear Weapons State we believe that every opportunity to seek progress in nuclear disarmament must be seized. Our view is that the new Treaty will strengthen and reinforce the disarmament provisions of the NPT and we encourage all NPT State Parties and all Members of the United Nations to join us in these efforts. Equally, we trust that this Review Cycle and its outcome will also provide a stimulus for action. The NPT is not a charter for the indefinite retention of nuclear weapons, and the heightened regional and international tensions we are currently witnessing make the case for action on multilateral nuclear disarmament even more urgent than before."
The Conservative Government has refused to participate in these multilateral  negotiations at the UN.
According to the Conservative Party–supporting Daily Telegraph includes the following text:

"As a nuclear armed power, our country has a responsibility to fulfil our international obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. 

"Labour will lead multilateral efforts with international partners and the UN to create a nuclear free world."
(“Labour 'extremely cautious' about Trident and would only deploy troops as last resort, leaked manifesto draft states,” Daily Telegraph, 11 May 2017

Labour shadow Chancellor John McDonnell claimed after of details of the draft Labour manifesto became public that all Labour policies will be fully costed, and it will be clear where the money will come from.

I therefore challenge Labour's number crunchers to show by the time the manifesto is published next week, from where the £205,000,000,000  billion (£205 bn) will be raised to pay for the promised renewal of the Trident nuclear WMD system, covering its construction, maintenance, servicing and deployment. 

Critics of Labour spending commitments rightly ask how such costs will be met, but never ask about Trident costs, which dwarf all the other  financial spending pledges added together.

Labour's leadership  therefore need to spell out which investment in hospitals, social care, schools, transport, skills development, home insulation, prison and border guard programmes contained in the draft document will be dropped or curtailed to pay for this fantastically expensive  nuclear WMD missile system?


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