I attended a conference on Trident today organised by Labour Against the War, Labour Action for Peace and Labour CND. There were speakers from the LP to the trade union movement to single issue campaigns though all united in their opposition to Trident. I won't go through the speakers individually as many reiterated the same points instead I will give a broad brushstroke of the afternoon. Trident, is said to cost, £25billion. The truer figure is more like £70billion.
A public debate has been denied on Trident, the launching of the so-called consultation made in haste and now the vote in March. There was no debate at LP conference and no vote is "envisaged" to take place at the PLP (Parliamentary Labour Party) either. Debate is being stifled. Barry Camfield and Keith Sonnet from T&G and Unison spoke about the important role of the trade union movement in the opposition against Trident (though to be honest their speeches especially Sonnet's were muted, luke warm and piss-poor.......).
Kate Hudson (CND) and Jeremy Corbyn spoke about NPT (Non-Proliferation Treaty) and the double-standards and contradictions. Britain is a signatory to the NPT yet it aint stopping them from replacing Trident. For New Labour it is a case of semantics, Trident is a "deterrent" but in regards to other countries they don't like they are "weapons of mass destruction".
Countries like South Africa post-apartheid has got rid of its nukes and many other countries have done the same. Yet countries like India and Pakistan (who are not NPT signatories) have been ignored and Israel who kinda admits to having nukes but no spotlight is thrown on them. And there's Iran who is only charged with breach of the (voluntary) additional protocol of the NPT yet will probably be suffering air strikes in the next couple of months. But don't despair George Bush has announced that he has "evidence" that Iran is up to no good so another "dodgy dossier" is on its way....
One of the most interesting speakers was Roudabeh Shafie (Campaign Iran). She spoke about the military build up in the Gulf region by the Americans, that there is no evidence that fighters in Iraq have received support from Iran and the weaponry has been bought on the "black" market. But that hasn't stopped imperialist sabre rattling. There won't be the same ground attacks like Iraq but air strikes. Military and weapon installations will be taken out and many of those plants are concentrated near cities. The impact and devastation on human life will be immense and also the destruction to the environment. The irony is that work done to expose human rights abuses in Iran will be lost as people will rally behind the government if they are attacked.
Christine Shawcroft (Labour Against the War and NEC member) asked the question to Des Browne about where was this perceived terrorist threat and he replied that there wasn't one. BUT there may be one in the future!
The biggest threat to Britain and to the whole world is global warming. If the Antarctic ice cap starts to melt seriously sea levels could rise many metres and it could potentially flood cities by the sea. So... £70billion could be wisely spent on combatting global warming such as energy efficiency. Well, with the increase in sea levels the Trident submarine will have more ocean to steam around in...........And of course future generations will have a piece of expensive scrap metal as a deterrent.
The discussion also looked at ways to mobilise our discontent and anger such as the usual writng letters to MPs and passing resolutions at TU and LP meetings. Next week's demo was flagged up as well (so see you all there!) and much was made of what Greenpeace has done over nuclear power and whether there can be a similar legal challenge to the way New Labour has failed to consult properly over Trident.
There were other discussions over the politics of the Cold War, the history of the nuclear industry and other nuclear nasties like plutonium and depleted uranium.
Update: 53 musicians/bands are saying no to Trident replacement (press release from CND)