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     Scottish CND      Magazine

A Week in Westminster:
John MCallion MP

In the week in which it was revealed that Britain had not ruled out the use of nuclear weapons against Iraq during the latest crisis, the question of nuclear deterrence was raised at Prime Minister’s questions.

However, the way in which it was raised speaks volumes about the current bipartisan consensus in support of nuclear deterrence at Westminster. Tory MP, Julian Lewis, merely used his question to poke fun at Tony Blair for his past membership of that “dodgy organisation” CND. This went down well on the Tory benches but was easily sidestepped by the Prime Minister who made it clear that “ our minimum deterrent will remain a necessary element of our security”.

There was scarcely an eyebrow raised on either side at this underlining of Britain’s determination to base its foreign and defence policies on the threat of using weapons of mass destruction. Indeed moments later the House united to condemn the barbaric and senseless murders of the 4 hostages in Chechnya. It would not occur to the vast majority of MPs that they themselves had potentially sanctioned the barbaric and senseless murder of many more innocent people by their embrace of nuclear weapons as an instrument of policy.

I am continually amazed by the almost casual way in which politicians fail to grasp the terrible implications of keeping Trident at the heart of foreign and defence policy. They laugh off any suggestion that Trident will ever be fired in anger. They dismiss opposition to Trident by detailing the jobs it supports in marginal constituencies around the country. They shut out from their imagination the horror of what will happen to innocent people in other countries if or when this country has to carry through its threatened use of these evil monsters.

Yet it is the supporters of Trident who are becoming increasingly overall isolated from world opinion. An Early Day Motion tabled by CND supporters in the House draws attention to the “moral urgency” of nuclear disarmament. It notes the tide of opinion around the world often led by generals and admirals, which is now calling for the elimination of nuclear weapons; it applauds the ruling of the International Court of Justice on the legality of the threat or use of nuclear weapons and most importantly it calls on the Government to support the establishment by the Conference on Disarmament of a body to deal with nuclear disarmament and the calling of an international conference on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.

As the motion makes clear, this is the new agenda which should be uniting both sides of the House rather than the old Cold War agenda of terror and mass destruction. As yet only a handful of MPs have supported EDM 82. CND supporters and decent human beings everywhere should be contacting their MPs to urge them to add their names.

Let’s have a new consensus for a nuclear free world in the new millennium!

Early Day Motion 24.11.98 David Chaytor MP

That this House congratulates the Government on the steps taken in the Strategic Defence Review towards the goal of mutual, balanced and verifiable reductions in nuclear weapons; welcomes the recent initiative by the Irish, Brazilian, South African, New Zealand, Swedish, Mexican and Slovenian governments, calling on the nuclear capable states to make a clear commitment to the 'speedy, final and total elimination of their nuclear weapons'; further notes that the statement criticises the proposition that nuclear weapons can be retained in perpetuity and never used - accidentally or by decision - as one that defies credibility; recognises that Her Majesty's Government and all honourable and Right honourable Members of this House are committed to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and its ultimate aim and objective - to rid the world of nuclear weapons; and calls on Her Majesty's Government to support the initiative of the Irish Government as an expression of its manifesto commitment to the goal of achieving the global elimination of nuclear weapons.

Scottish CND      Magazine