Lib Dems fear Trident Scorching

Tonight, here at the House of Commons, there’ll be a vote urging the government to include Trident within the terms of its Strategic Defence Review (SDR).  The Tory position is that it shouldn’t.  That was the Labour  government’s position too.  The Lib Dems, on the other hand, have always held up their commitment to the inclusion of Trident in the review as evidence of their occupation of the moral high ground.  Here’s Nick Harvey MP, now Minister of State for Defence, on his website; “It would be ridiculous not to consider Trident in the Defence Review”.  Fairly straightforward, then, surely.

As it happens, by most standards it is.   Most folk agree that Trident has no practical military purpose whatever these days and that the geopolitical benefits are at best highly questionable.  It hardly seems unreasonable to argue that at least the arguments in favour of replacing this vastly expensive weapon system should at least be tested through inclusion in the review.  What muddies the water, however, is that most Tories hate the idea that the French might have an edge on the UK in the nuclear stakes, while Labour has yet to fashion a coherent foreign and defence policy in opposition which takes fair account of the way the world is today.  I hope to help change that latter position over time.

For the moment, perhaps for one night only, the Liberal Democrats have a chance to show that on this largest of moral issues they can indeed have the courage of their convictions.  I hope they can, because their position until tonight has been right in philosophical and practical terms. Will they vote to test the arguments for, even to make the argument against, Trident replacement?  Or, for fear of being scorched, will they run away and abstain?  Let’s see.

In the meantime, if you think Trident replacement should be carefully examined like every other area of government expenditure, why not ring or email your MP and ask him/her to vote for that at 10 o clock?  The House of Commons switchboard number is 02072193000.


More on the Lib Dems, I’m afraid

The Tory MP for Lancaster and Wyre is quoted on the front page of today’s Scottish edition of the Sunday Times today as the Scottish spokesperson for the Conservatives. Under a Tory administration, he’d be the minister for Scotland. Nick Clegg’s proposition is that Lib Dem voters in Scotland are unconcerned whether he would support a Tory or Labour administration in a hung parliament. Can that really be true?

Am I the only person who doesn’t understand the Lib Dems?

I’ve just been lounging about reading the Guardian. The best bit of the Saturday Guardian, I think, is The Guide. And the best bit of The Guide is often  The Hard Sell, on p.3, which is a usually-hilarious take on a telly advert.  It’s been a funny old week, for me anyway, so I thought I could do with more hilarity than the bite-size chunk provided by David Stubbs on the Football League ad.  The obvious next port of call was therefore the big piece all about the vision of Nick Clegg. His ideas, I mean, not his eyesight.

I’m not going to attempt a line-by-line critique of the great man’s thoughts, I mean you’ve read this far and I’m kind of hoping you’ll read to the end.  I just thought I’d make a wider observation.  It’s that I don’t understand, I really don’t, why people would use their vote in a way which ensures they don’t know whether they’re helping a Labour or Conservative leader into power.

I don’t doubt the decency and sincerity of Lib Dem voters and enthusiasts. And I don’t deny that there are plenty of clever Lib Dems who can put together a coherent rationale for why they do their politics as they do.  Yet up here in Scotland, I don’t know a single Lib Dem who wants to see David Cameron as prime minister.  So why on earth would they want their leader to back the Tories in the (unlikely, I think) event that they do end up as the largest party in a hung parliament?

Actually, I think the answer might be that a lot of putative Lib Dem voters will vote Labour as an expression of their distaste for the Tories.  I also think that the other side of the coin is that a lot will also vote Tory as an expression of their distaste for Labour. So while most potential Lib-Dem voters will actually vote Lib Dem, a large number will make their own decision about who they’d prefer to see (or not see) as prime minister, rather than leaving it up to Nick C who seems to be saying he’ll abrogate his decision to simple arithmetic.

I have a bet on with a friend that there won’t be a hung parliament.  Actually, the the way the polls are going, I think Labour will indeed pull it off.  Helped by decisive Lib Dem sympathisers who will grit their teeth but vote against a Cameron government. We’ll see soon enough.