In his Labour leadership speech Jeremy Corbyn re-confirmed his opposition to renewing Trident and to nuclear weapons as a whole. Furthermore Corbyn has also ruled out ever using nuclear weapons if he was elected Prime Minister and has stated his desire for a nuclear free world. This position has been well known for a while and is by no means unique in the Labour Party or in the Commons. However is there any realistic chance the government should or could consider scrapping Trident?
The first role of any government is to protect its citizens. This means being ready to respond in times of trouble and to potential attacks. The chances of a nuclear attack remain low, but we do live in an unpredictable world and therefore the prospect can never totally be ruled out. Bearing this in mind it would appear irresponsible to strip Britain of its capacity to respond.
Britain is not the only country which has nuclear weapons. Numerous countries all over the world have nuclear weapons, some with differing aims to others. There also remain other countries and groups who are seeking to gain this ability. This highlights how the desire for a nuclear free world is out of our control. It is fanciful to believe that in the current environment, countries would be prepared to disarm and that a nuclear free world is a distinct possibility.
Politically this position would also be considered a liability. It is not a move which would be popular with either the press or the country and a political party would be punished if they adopted such a position. This is another consideration which makes it unlikely that any serious political party would push ahead with this stance and is a reason why Labour have refused to have this debate this week.
The ideal of a nuclear free world is a great ideal to have. Nuclear weapons are a barbaric creation and do not represent humanity in a positive light. The idea of a future without them would be great. However it is simply not realistic. The unpredictability of the world ensures many countries will never disarm and therefore Britain will not either. This is a case where realism trumps idealism and on that basis Trident and nuclear weapons are here to stay.
Article by Mike Hough
Photograph – The Telegraph