Jeremy Corbyn was elected as leader of the Labour Party to oppose the Conservatives’ relentless commitment to austerity. But until Labour changes its position on Trident, its opposition will always seem disingenuous.
‘Tier 1 nation’
On 27 June, for the second time in a week, Theresa May failed to confirm that the UK will remain a ‘tier 1’ military power. The term refers to “nations that have the full range of military capabilities, including nuclear arms”.
This hesitancy prompted shadow defence secretary Nia Griffith to proclaim Labour’s underlying support for Trident:
Very worrying that Prime Minister yet again refuses to confirm that she wants the UK to stay as a Tier 1 military power. I have been clear that this is a category that Labour wants us to be in https://t.co/UiE3miLviL
— Nia Griffith MP (@NiaGriffithMP) June 27, 2018
And she boasted on The Andrew Marr Show that Labour has consistently spent more than 2% of Britain’s GDP on defence:
— The Andrew Marr Show (@MarrShow) June 24, 2018
But despite her confidence, people aren’t convinced that this is the stance Labour should be taking:
This is terrible from a moral standpoint. You won't even win any votes with this rubbish so why are we doing it?
— Simon Vessey (@Simon_Vessey) June 27, 2018
And they would rather the money is spent elsewhere:
I'd much rather the money we currently spend on defence was spent on stuff like housing, health, education, transport, etc. We don't actually "need" a Tier 1 military, whereas people literally need homes and healthcare.
— Gareth Brading 🌹 (@gbrading) June 27, 2018
Others found the topsy-turvy situation baffling:
who would have thought it vote conservative get nuclear disarmament; Corbynite defence policy from @theresa_may
— indianpaddy (@indianpaddy) June 27, 2018
The ego of the British establishment
This seems a hell of a lot for something that SNP MP Mhairi Black branded as serving “no other purpose than to satisfy the ego of the British establishment”:
It represents a country looking back, glossy-eyed at its past status:
UK military spending is highest in Europe. Why? 'We' used to have an empire, now we don't our rulers want to continue to be players on the world stage by hitching us to America. This is great for them, but we get no benefit from it. Slash military budget = Rebuild welfare state
— Adam Johannes (@DrRoundglasses) June 27, 2018
Instead, the Labour Party should be looking to the future, attempting to address the colossal damage of nearly a decade of austerity:
Would rather money was spent on helping poor people rather than bombing the shit out of them Nia but you do you
— Jaap Sam the big dutch man (not dutch) (@JaapSam) June 27, 2018
Corbyn vs the Labour establishment
Labour’s commitment to Trident seems even more ridiculous given Jeremy Corbyn’s position on it. He has admitted he would never hit the gleaming red button. In fact, during the renewal debate, Corbyn stated:
It is now time to step up to the plate and move rapidly towards disarmament.
Therefore, Labour’s position reeks of a lack of sincerity:
This is a terrible position that will only cost Labour votes. No-one on the Right will believe it, while those of us on the Left find it really worrying.
— Richard Cardall (@Hum_Con) June 27, 2018
Corbyn became leader with a mandate to impart radical change, to leave the dull centrist policies of the past behind. But Labour backing Trident is achieving the opposite effect:
So much for any illusion that you're remotely anti-war. Militarists and social chauvinists, desperately clawing at whatever you can to retain Britain as a leading imperialist power.
Labour are an anti working class party.
— ☭ jrbml ☭ (@GlumBird) June 28, 2018
Labour cannot be anti-austerity and pro-Trident. The party must change its stance. Otherwise, it risks confusing voters and appeasing cruel Tory policies.
At the moment, Trident is acting as a deterrent against supporting the Labour Party.
– Contact your MP if you disagree with the Trident nuclear ‘deterrent’.
Since you're here ...
We know you don't need a lecture. You wouldn't be here if you didn't care.
Now, more than ever, we need your help to challenge the rightwing press and hold power to account. Please help us survive and thrive.