Voters won’t back scrapping Trident nuclear weapons, says Neil Kinnock

© Reuters
Former Labour leader Lord Kinnock has warned current party chief Jeremy Corbyn that the British public will never back the scrapping of the UK’s Trident nuclear deterrent.

The comments by Kinnock, who started out as a unilateralist but switched to back Trident in the 1980s, came after Scottish politicians voted strongly against the renewal of the nuclear submarine program in the Holyrood Parliament on Tuesday.

“What I do know is the British people will not vote for unilateral disarmament. And that reality has to be dealt with,” Kinnock told the Times.

The Scottish parliament’s vote against Trident – strongly backed by the Scottish Nationalist majority Edinburgh government – was also written off by Labour MP Phil Wilson, who is a member of the Defence Select Committee in the Westminster parliament.

“I think it’s wrong that those who are opposed to Trident want to take the moral high ground [and claim] that they are the only ones opposed to nuclear war and nuclear weapons,” Wilson told the Times.

“Unilateral disarmament is not a principle, it’s a tactic. What people have to realize is that you cannot dis-invent nuclear weapons.”

“This country will not accept unilateral nuclear disarmament. In the world we live in now, it would be wrong to decommission our nuclear deterrent.”

At the Scottish Labour conference on Sunday, a large majority – some 70 percent – of delegates voted to scrap the Trident system, with rank-and-file party members and most trade unions affiliated with the party supporting the move.

The delegates adopted a motion opposing Trident’s renewal, which described nuclear weapons as “a mortal threat to humanity’s survival” and “massively expensive.” They also stressed that renewal could provoke nuclear proliferation.

This result puts the Scottish party at loggerheads with most Labour MPs in Westminster, who have backed the renewal of the UK’s nuclear weapons program, but in line with Corbyn’s rank-and-file Labour supporters, who back his policy voiced during the leadership election of scrapping Britain’s nuclear deterrent.