Jeremy Corbyn has a truly humane and decent approach to international relations and that showed through this morning in his Defence and Foreign Policy address at Chatham House. With an emphasis on conflict prevention, conciliation and justice, he certainly outlined a vision of how Britain could behave differently in the world, and begin to make a real difference. But there are some areas which still require rethinking, for without further policy change taking place, a Labour-led Britain, trying to pursue a different role in the world, would eventually hit a brick wall. One is, of course, the question of nuclear weapons. It was good to hear Corbyn say that a Labour government would adopt a ‘no-first use’ nuclear policy – although how that will work when Trident is assigned to NATO which apparently imposes a first use policy, it’s hard to say. On being questioned about Trident replacement from the audience, Corbyn pointed out that it had been approved by parliament and that a Labour government would include it in a Strategic Defence Review. In other words, Labour retains its pro-Trident policy. That’s no surprise because we all know the issue has been ‘parked’ – off the agenda in the Labour Party – primarily due to opposition from a couple of trade unions. The Trident review that had been undertaken within the Labour Party has never seen the light of day.
CND 12th May 2017 read more »
Though the party’s manifesto has committed to Trident renewal, Corbyn, a lifelong unilateralist, has long refused to say whether he would use the UK’s arsenal (and, indeed, has said he would not). Shadow defence secretary Nia Griffith, who has said she would, was not invited to the event and did not contribute to drafting the speech (seeing it for the first time at 11pm last night). At her insistence, a manifesto section warning any prime minister to be “extremely cautious about ordering the use of weapons of mass destruction” was removed.
New Statesman 12th May 2017 read more »