‘The tide is turning on this £100bn Cold War relic,’ said CND’s General Secretary Kate Hudson. ‘And that’s no surprise when annual spending on our current nuclear weapons outstrips the annual funding gap facing the NHS. Repeated polls show a majority of the British public oppose Trident replacement and a massive 81% of parliamentary candidates surveyed said they would vote against Trident replacement if elected.’
As a survey of 500 parliamentary candidates across all major parties shows 81% (over four fifths) would vote against Trident replacement, candidates from across the political spectrum gathered together in a show of cross-party opposition to Trident replacement.
Candidates from Labour, Liberal Democrats, Greens, SNP and Plaid Cymru spoke in Westminster at the launch of CND’s Vote Out Trident manifesto, pledging to vote against £100bn for new nuclear weapons if elected.
Hudson continued: ‘Trident has now become a significant issue in this general election.There is widespread opposition across all parties and sometimes from candidates who are at odds with their party’s policy as it stands. So there are good prospects for a shift in the anti-Trident composition of the incoming Parliament.
‘While David Cameron is attempting to fear-monger over potential coalition negotiations and their impact on Trident replacement, the Conservatives are increasingly isolated on this issue – not only in Westminster but in the UK as a whole.
‘Every other major party has expressed openness to engaging with the question of whether Britain really needs to spend £100bn on a Cold War weapons system which senior military figures have described as “completely useless”.
‘Labour has said it would consider the case for a reduced nuclear weapons system. The Liberal Democrats oppose full replacement of the four submarines. And the SNP, Plaid Cymru and the Green Party all want to scrap the lot.
‘The public is mobilising to stop this madness. On Monday 13 April, anti-Trident demonstrators will descend on the Ministry of Defence for a street party and protest with musicians and speakers to demand an end to plans to squander over £100bn of our money on a monstrous and useless weapons system.’
Below are excerpts from statements from candidates.
Angus Robertson, SNP Westminster leader and candidate in Moray
It’s rare in the run up to an election to be sitting next to colleagues from Labour, Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru and the Greens. We’re sending a message that there are people across political parties with different views on different subjects but we share a drive to make sure we make the right decision on Trident in the next Parliament.
It will be one of the biggest decisions in the next Parliament on whether we’re going to spend £100 billion on something we can never use. Or spend it on something that’s significantly more productive and beneficial for society and peace and stability.
The next Parliament is going to be interesting because no one political party is likely to have a majority. It’s entirely possible it’ll come down to the SNP, Plaid and the Greens to hold the balance of power. Part of the influence and power we would exercise is to choose £100 billion more wisely.
There’s a growing trend of sabre rattling based on misleading assumptions and motivations.
They’re trying to engender a climate in which people are forced to conclude that the only options we have are spending more money on weapons we can never use.
Catherine West – Labour candidate in Hornsey and Wood Green
More than ever peaceful solutions to conflict are urgently needed.
Jeremy Corbyn MP and others have paved the way for those of us coming in to take a much more determined stance on this.
I think we’re in a unique position at the moment because there’s a lot more support for getting rid of Trident than people think.
We have chronic levels of inequality and people want us to address that. We’re at a real fork in the road. We can choose the way of the Tories and cuts, and starving our country of all the things it needs or we can choose a much more socially just way of proceeding.
This is an essential element of that. If we want to have green jobs, new homes and educate our children in proper schools, we actually have to make some brave decisions. Now more than ever people are crying out for a courageous government.
We must be really brave and do the right thing for the people we serve. I’m confident that we can win the argument together.
Jonathan Edwards – Plaid Cymru candidate in Carmarthen East and Dinefwr
The political class down here in Westminster are still stuck in an imperial mind-set that the UK is some sort of huge global power. Clearly anyone with half a rational brain will recognise that’s not the case. For us our focus is on developing Wales as a peaceful force in the world and clearly a nuclear deterrent has no role to play in that.
This would be the biggest spending decision we make in the next Parliament. The initial capital costs are around £30 billion, which are the same as the level of cuts that all the Westminster parties seem to be signed up to in the next Parliament.
The scale of cuts will be far more severe than anything we’ve seen in this Parliament. We know the impact this has had on our public services. For me therefore, there’s a clear decision in the next Parliament. You either invest that money in a new nuclear weapons system, and I would argue that is a waste of money, or you try to preserve your public services.
Kelly-Marie Blundell – Liberal Democrat candidate in Guildford
There has been no missile threat to Britain in the last 24 years. Warfare has become more insidious.
The way to tackle this is not a blanket and indiscriminate nuclear weapons system. This is why Trident must be on the agenda at this election. I stand in defiance of my party whip and party policy on this. Every argument to me on renewing Trident falls flat.
Even if Britain were subject to missile threats – and we’re not – but if we were, then Trident is woefully inadequate. It’s outdated and archaic.
Natalie Bennett – Green Party leader and candidate in Holborn & St. Pancras
I’ve been asked a great deal about defence recently. But I want to focus on security. If we got rid of nuclear weapons we’d be giving a powerful impetus for a ban on nuclear weapons around the world. It’s a huge task but we would be more secure without Trident.