Friday, March 02, 2007

Arguments against Trident replacement

The following is a letter I sent this week to Swindon's two Labour MPs, Michael Wills and Anne Snelgrove. The arguments here had been collectively agreed at our January meeting.

I am writing to you as secretary of Swindon Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) and Stop the War Coalition. Our January meeting, that included very many constituents from both North Swindon and South Swindon, asked that I write to you in connection with the forthcoming vote in parliament over a replacement for Trident.

In particular we wish to remind you that in the 1980s Swindon Borough Council (before it became Thamesdown) voted that Swindon would be a nuclear free town after a long public debate, and we wish to know whether you will be following this policy and voting against new nuclear weapons.

Please could you advise us of your response to the following points?

Britain’s authority to campaign against other nations like Iran developing nuclear weapons is undermined if we argue that our state requires them for our own defence. If the UK needs them, how can we say Iran doesn’t need them?

The defence threats that Britain faces in the 21st Century are quite different from the Cold War period when Britain became a nuclear power. Nuclear weapons are completely ineffective for dealing with asymmetrical warfare threats, and divert money and effort away from more credible defence capability.

Other countries, such as the Ukraine, South Africa and Kazakhstan have renounced their nuclear weapons arsenals. Shouldn’t Britain be showing international leadership towards disarmament?

Other major G8 countries, such as Japan, Germany and Italy and Canada have no nuclear weapons, and have no plans to develop them. Why does the UK need weapons that these countries do not need?

The nuclear deterrent is not credible because the destruction that would be unleashed would be so unimaginable that no sane government would use it.

Any use of nuclear weapons against another nuclear power would be suicidal. Any use of nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear power would irrevocably damage Britain’s international standing and economy, and probably provoke terrorist responses that we could not defend against.

While the present government can be trusted not to use nuclear weapons, can we be sure that during the lifetime of these weapons there will never be an irresponsible government? If the far right were to win an election 10 or 15 years from now, would we wish to bequeath them nuclear weapons?

Trident replacement will cost £25 billion, with lifetime costs of £76 billion. This money could better be spent on improving the health service or education.

I look forward to your reply, and hope that we can count on you to vote against these weapons of genocide.

Yours faithfully

Andrew Newman
Secretary Swindon CND and Stop the War Coalition.

CND has called an emergency parliamentary lobby for Wednesday 14 March, as well as an emergency rally in Parliament Square from 6-8 pm on 14 March.
The government has announced that a debate on Trident replacement will take place in the House of Commons on Wednesday 14 March from 12:40 – 7:00 pm, with a vote coming immediately after the debate.
The debate and vote comes even though the government promised there would be a consultation on the issue. The government simply issued its White Paper and has thus far ignored all calls for debate.
What can you do?
1. Come to the emergency lobby in London on the 14th – It is essential you let your MP know that you oppose Trident replacement, and talking to her/him in person is the best way to get your point across. Contact your MP now to schedule an appointment either in London or at the local surgery.
2. Attend the emergency rally in Parliament Square on the 14th of March – Our presence in Parliament Square on the day of the debate and vote is vital to show the government the level of public opposition to Trident replacement. The rally will take place from 6-8 pm, but we also need to have a presence in the Square, with banners and placards, throughout the debate. Click here for a list of other anti-Trident events happening on vote day.
3. Encourage your MP to sign EDM 579 today – EDM 579 calls on the government to extend the period of consultation on Trident to allow all points of view to be heard. To date 142 MPs have signed this Early Day Motion. Click here to read the EDM and see if your MP has signed. If not, contact her/him today! Please let us know what your MP has to say on this issue – email or ring 0207 700 2393.
4. Plan an event in your community – If you can’t make it to London on 14th March for the emergency lobby and rally, please plan an event for that day in your community. Click here for a list of local and regional CND groups which may be able to help in your planning.
5. Write a letter to the newspaper – The letters to the editor page is one of the most widely-read pages of any newspaper. Please take a few minutes to write to the editor of the paper you read (local and/or national) explaining why MPs must reject the government’s plans for Trident replacement. Click here for letter writing tips, which include key facts on Trident replacement.
ALSO – Watch CND Chair Kate Hudson debate Defence Secretary Des Browne TONIGHT at 8pm on More 4. Excerpts from the debate will be shown on Channel 4 News at 7pm.

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