Commenting on the Trident debate in Parliament on Tuesday 20 January, CND General Secretary Kate Hudson said:
‘Yesterday’s debate on Trident replacement is a snapshot of the gulf between Westminster and the British public.
‘In a simple and non-partisan motion – That this house believes that Trident should not be renewed – without any binding decision being made, MPs were free to set out their views and vote.
‘The motion against Trident replacement was defeated by 364-37 – showing just how many MPs have refused to move on from the Cold War and are even prepared to sacrifice the NHS to maintain a nuclear arsenal. If it’s security they want, then it’s illusory, taking a heavy toll both in the UK, as public services are slashed, and abroad, as states around the world are given the incentive to develop their own nuclear weapons systems.
‘Over 250 MPs – including Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg – didn’t cast a vote. One undoubted result will be that those re-standing who failed to vote will find themselves under increasing pressure. They will find it harder to get re-elected as opposition to Trident grows ahead of the 2016 decision point.
‘Failing to vote can look indecisive, but perhaps there’s more to it than that. Miliband’s abstention from backing either the Government’s pro-Trident position or the anti-Trident motion may give him space for further manoeuvre on the issue following the election.
‘This wasn’t a binding motion, but MPs are elected to represent their constituents’ views: especially on a topic of such huge importance around the country – and one which concerns £100bn of taxpayers’ money. So we have a right to expect MPs’ informed engagement.
‘A particularly low point in the debate came when the Defence Secretary Michael Fallon refused to even acknowledge the total lifetime cost of Trident replacement, claiming: ‘It’s not possible to answer’.
‘Millions of people around the country oppose this £100bn monstrosity – and it’s not hard to see why when military figures say Trident’s useless, and when we look at just how transformative that money could be if spent on the NHS, job creation, renewable energy, housing and education.
‘Trident is set to be huge election issue: but if MPs fail to express their opinions on Trident replacement, they can expect to be punished at the ballot box in May.’