By Louise Haigh MP
Today MPs took one of the important decisions we can take on whether to renew our continuous at sea deterrent otherwise known as Trident. I have always been completely upfront, open and honest with local people which is why I wanted you to know the reasons why I voted against renewal tonight.
I believe the very existence of nuclear weapons – which have already been deployed to almost unthinkably inhumane consequences – pose an unconscionable risk to the security of our world.
The former Prime Minister who in pressing ahead with this vote called it “the ultimate insurance policy” is, in my view, misguided. The only insurance policy against the insanity of a world where the five recognised nuclear weapons states have enough arsenal to arm every country with 86 nuclear warheads each is the total elimination of the weapons themselves.
And it is some forty-six years since the deal which became the cornerstone of our global efforts to rid the world of weapons of cataclysmic destruction was announced in the East Room of the White House. The then President Johnson said that that day – the 1st July 1968 – marked the day “when the world moves into the light of sanity”.
Here Harold Wilson’s Labour Government signed the Non Proliferation Treaty into law seeing it as self-evident that the international trust it fostered was the only future. Between non-nuclear states who promised not to acquire nuclear weapon capability and the nuclear states who promised to move towards disarmament.
There is little doubt that after decades of limited success that trust has all but fractured. When the five recognised nuclear power states each maintain 98% of the world’s 15,000 warheads it is hardly surprising.
And efforts to disarm have, unforgivably, stalled and even our closest allies have vented their frustration; the UK along with Canada and the US vetoed text which would have mandated the UN General Assembly to build a consensus on effective measures to move towards disarmament. Negotiations which the International Court of Justice indicated should begin back in 1995 to rid the world of nuclear weapons have still not begun.
Statesmen and women before us recognised the utter centrality of global disarmament to peace and security. The decision tonight will renew our nuclear stockpile into the second half of this century – that move to an age of permanent armament is a betrayal of our responsibility to secure the world for future generations.
“On August 6, 1945, a single atomic bomb rendered Hiroshima a scorched plain and tens of thousands were burned in flames. By year’s end, 140,000 lives had been taken. Those who managed to survive, their lives grotesquely distorted, were left to suffer serious physical and emotional aftereffects compounded by discrimination and prejudice. Nuclear weapons are an absolute evil and ultimate inhumanity.”
These are the words of the Mayor of Hiroshima. He goes on to call on everyone throughout the world to share the sincere message of our hibakusha, that “No one else should ever suffer as we have,” and to act with us.
And that is why I voted against the motion tonight.