David Blackburn

Politicking with the defence of the realm: advantage Labour

Politicking with the defence of the realm: advantage Labour
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Is Trident’s renewal (either a like-for-like replacement or an alternative) within the scope of the Strategic Defence Review or not? The Lib Dem conference voted to include an alternative in the SDR. But, apparently, the cash-strapped coalition seeks to defer any decision (which will take renewal out of the review entirely). Earlier today, Lib Dem defence minister Nick Harvey intimated that he preferred deferral. As the video below suggests, Harvey’s objective is overwhelmingly political and couched in the language of opposition, not government:

I don’t see this as a ‘hot potato’ for Labour. Cast in opportunism’s obvious garb, the Liberal Democrats are playing politics with national security and the Conservatives seem content to allow them to do so. Advantage Labour, and already Bob Ainsworth coolly patronises the government’s position as ‘immature’.

Liam Fox’s Whitehall struggle continues. He has a budget to defend, but he also realises the political danger inherent in delaying the decision. On Monday (£) he warned that ‘governments do not play fast and loose with national security’, and added that consultation had already taken place: there is no cheaper alternative to Trident. The decision to renew must be included in the defence review – if it is delayed due to cost so be it, at least the government would have taken considered action.