The way that the Labour Party’s spokesman on defence had his speech changed at the party‘s conference was reminiscent of the control freakery of the Blair years, albeit rather more publicly and considerably less competently. But it was the substance of the issue which interested me more.
As I understand it, the argument being put forward by a number of people in the Labour Party (including the - now ex - Defence Spokesperson) is that, although there are many in the party who are personally sceptical about Trident, the decision has been taken in the House of Commons. It is, therefore, too late to change it, so Labour should back it. It’s a line which might help to heal some of the divisions within the parliamentary Labour party, but as arguments go, it’s one of the weakest I’ve ever heard. On that basis, no party would ever be able to change any government policy on anything.It amounts to saying that, since we’ve spent this much on the project already, all that will be wasted if we abandon it, so we’d better finish the job and spend the rest of the money. The flaw in the line of argument is obvious; if it’s the wrong thing to do, then that amounts to throwing good money after bad. It makes sense if, and only if, it’s the right thing to be doing in the first place. It’s not much of an argument for spending huge sums of money on weapons of mass destruction which can never be used; indeed, it avoids even asking that question at all, treating it solely as a procedural matter.