Thursday, November 23, 2006

Say No to Unilateral Nuclear Rearmament!

So, today the Cabinet will be debating replacing Trident nuclear submarines, those worthless yet dangerous white elephants, with newer weapons of mass destruction. Since there are no conceivable circumstances in which any decent human being would ever sanction the use of weapons such as the nuclear missiles carried on Trident submarines there can be no justification for retaining our so-called “nuclear deterrent” (whom does it now deter I wonder, how does it do so and where is the evidence?) The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) have published an alternative white paper which sets out the case for not replacing Trident.

CND point out that the Government acknowledge that there is no current military threat to the United Kingdom. In September 2005, the then Defence Secretary John Reid suggested that a replacement for Trident would be necessary in case we face a nuclear enemy in the future. 5 Another former Defence Secretary, Malcolm Rifkind has recently described our nuclear weapons as an insurance policy for the future. But rather than providing insurance against an unspecifi ed future threat, replacing Trident will increase the danger of nuclear proliferation and will contribute to a new nuclear arms race. If the UK envisages at least another 50 years of British security being based on threatening other populations with mass destruction then we encourage other states to do the same and thus paradoxically we increase our security risk rather than decrease it.

The Government appear to want to retain nuclear weapons in order to cling on to the UK’s Walter Mitty Great Power status and our seat on the Security Council – thereby undermining any credibility which they have to argue against further nuclear proliferation. We need an alternative to the present approach.

UNISON has crystal clear policy of opposition to Trident. This is very much a trade union issue. It is not only that, as part of an international labour movement, our trade unions need to press our Government to honour its obligations under the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (to disarm rather than rearm) – we also need to spell out our opposition to such enormous wasteful expenditure when resources could, as Kate Hudson from CND told our Conference this summer, be so much better used developing our public services.

I hope that the trade unions will make our position clear in any “debate” about Trident. I was disappointed that, owing to the poor organisation of UNISON’s TUC delegation this year, we did not have a delegation meeting to discuss our abstention on a wishy washy statement from the General Council which may be used to blunt overwhelming union opposition to nuclear weapons. Trade unionists and Labour Party members in particular need to be lobbying MPs to oppose unilateral nuclear rearmament! You can also sign a petition to the Prime Minister opposing the replacement of Trident simply by clicking here!

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