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In July and August 2016, Frank McManus of Todmorden wrote the following to the Halifax Courier and the Yorkshire Post
We need MPs who won’t play with fire
I note that both Calderdale MPs voted to continue wasting precious resources on the baleful Trident project, embracing the ‘deterrence’ fallacy!
If ever Mrs May is about to press the button, any deterrence has failed and she might as well not bother. The alternative would outdo Genghis Khan and Isil in mass-murdering destructiveness, for the missiles are 50 times more lethal than the 1945 A-bombs that wiped out Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The fallout would destroy life on a continental scale, being genocidal itself without needing retaliation to yield ‘mutual assured destruction’ which Reagan and Gorbachev rightly shrank from a M.A.D.
Instead of flirting with the illegal mass suicide which Trident risks, parliament needs to focus on how the world can best decommission the damn devices. The 1980s Bishop of Ely said the final blasphemy would be to blow the world up, so we need to elect MPs who won’t play with fire next time round.
Dear Christian CND,
I am forwarding the reply I received from my MP, Tim Farron, (Westmorland and Lonsdale and Lib Dem Leader) about the Trident vote. I saw him at his surgery in Kendal on 15th July and handed him a short letter emphasising the moral issue,together with the Trident Briefing from the NCPO.
I had a good and lively discussion with Tim but the outcome is disappointing.
In peace, Anne Brown
Sent: 15/07/2016 18:29:09 GMT Daylight Time
Mrs. Anne Brown
15 July 2016
Thank you very much for having taken the time to attend my advice surgery at Morrisons Café today in order to discuss the forthcoming motion on the renewal of the Trident nuclear weapon system. I understand that you feel very passionately about this as a member of Christian CND and Pax Christi and fearful of these weapons which could devastate human and other life across the planet. I am very sorry that you had to wait a little while to see me. As l explained
The Amendment we would be likely to table as a party is very general and would be about whether or not to maintain a continuous at sea deterrent,
which we would vote against.
I, like you, want to see a nuclear free world. The Liberal Democrats are committed to the global elimination of nuclear weapons and to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which anticipates nuclear powers reducing their arsenals as well as non-nuclear powers not developing nuclear weapons.
In relation specifically to Trident, the Liberal Democrats have made it crystal clear that we are opposed to a like-for-like replacement and believe that it cannot be justified in terms of cost or security. We have long been opponents of this and argued passionately against its early renewal in 2006.
I am of the firm opinion that we should step down the nuclear ladder and end the continuous 24 hours a day, 365 days a year at-sea patrolling that Trident currently provides. This system is outdated and was designed to meet an old-fashioned, cold war threat that no longer exists today.
The cost of a like-for-like replacement would also cost the taxpayer in excess of £25bn, a staggering price given the Government’s tightening of its austerity programme.
When in Coalition Government, we commissioned the Trident Alternatives Review, which reported that ending 24-hour patrols and procuring fewer submarines would both make savings and continue to keep the UK safe. This review, published in 2013, is the most thorough review of nuclear systems and postures ever made public.
During the Liberal Democrat party conference in September, we passed a policy motion that made it absolutely clear that I and my Liberal Democrat colleagues will vote against the like-for-like renewal of the Trident programme when it comes before the House of Commons.
It is anticipated that this vote will take place in the coming year and we will push hard to ensure that the Government fulfils its commitment to bring the vote before Parliament. Given the significant impact on national security, it is fundamental that all parties are consulted on this matter through a binding parliamentary vote. Under no circumstances should the Tory government be allowed to wave through the decision.
Whilst the policy motion at September’s conference committed the Liberal Democrats to the rejection of a like-for-like replacement, importantly it did not endorse immediate unilateral disarmament. What cannot be ignored is the uncertain international climate that we currently find ourselves in, including the ongoing unpredictability of Russia’s Vladimir Putin. Because of this, we decided that as a party we need to give full consideration to the implications of disarmament.
It established a Policy Working Group that over the next year will develop policy on the future of the UK’s nuclear deterrent, following a full consultation within the party. This will allow a full assessment of the potential strategic threats to the UK, as well as allowing the party to take into account things such as the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR), which we stated in our manifesto should inform future defence spending decisions.
I am proud that the Liberal Democrats are committed to the global elimination of nuclear weapons. However, we are fully committed to meeting our national and international obligations in security and defence and this is why we are strong supporters of the NATO target to spend 2% of our GDP on defence spending. We will not allow Britain’s safety to be jeopardised in any way.
With best wishes
TIM FARRON MP