Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Losing the plot

The latest comments by the Labour leader on Trident look like the sort of fudge which we’ve seen far too often from Labour on a range of issues.  Half-baked would seem to be an inadequate description of the suggestion that we should build a new generation of submarines which are specifically designed to launch nuclear missiles and then not arm them with nuclear weapons.  Insofar as there is any point at all to Trident, it is that it has the capacity to remain hidden at sea and exact revenge for a nuclear attack by posthumously wiping out a few cities somewhere.  As a means of delivering conventional explosives, it would be a hopelessly over-engineered and expensive approach, and all done, apparently, to keep people employed in the shipyards where the submarines would be built and the docks where they would be based - and to keep a few trade unions on side.
Labour have form on coming up with compromise and fudge designed first and foremost to maintain some sort of precarious party unity (as anyone familiar with the history of Welsh devolution will be only too aware).  But this suggestion takes that to a new height.  I can think of lots of ways of spending the £100billion which would produce more jobs and deliver more useful outputs.
Another example of the way in which Labour is losing the plot on Trident was the comment by the sacked shadow minister Michael Dugher, reported in the same story, that “We tried unilateralism before.  It ended in electoral disaster then.  There is no evidence to suggest that it won't end in disaster again.”  I’m sure that he is entirely sincere in his belief that nuclear weapons are essential to Labour’s electoral prospects, but the thing that struck me was the complete absence of any attempt to put forward any reason for possessing such weapons other than electoral success for Labour. 
Both his comments and those of Corbyn go to the heart of the problem that Labour faces.  It no longer has any raison d’être, in the eyes of most of its own MPs, than to win elections at all costs.  Corbyn started out with a different view – slowly but surely, he’s being brought back into line.

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