INRA & BBC News & BBC Sunday AM – 2006-11-30 23:21:48
UK Protesters Say Renewing Tridents Would Break International Law
LONDON (November 27, 2006) —Several hundred environmentalists and peace campaigners held demonstrations outside Britain’s Aldermaston Atomic Weapons Institute in southern England in protest against UK plans to replace their nuclear missiles.
The protest was against building works that has already started at Britain’s main nuclear warhead production site, which campaigners say already heralds a new generation of missiles, even though a formal decision has yet to be made.
Attending the demonstration, Greenpeace spokesman Ben Stewart said that the decision on replace the submarine-based Trident was “exactly the same as Tony Blair’s hypocrisy over the Iraq war and civil nuclear power.”
“First he makes the decision in secret. Then he demands a public debate,” Stewart said in reference to the prime minister’s pledge to allow MPs a vote on the government’s plans early next year.
Greenpeace has warned Blair, quoting legal opinion, that he threatened to breach the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is he goes ahead with plans to upgrade the country’s nuclear capability.
The first indications that new “special facilities” were to be built at the institute came as far back as June 2002, when press reports revealed that a Site Development Strategy Plan outlining new developments was due to be published.
The reports suggested that the plan involved not merely readiness to replace the Trident nuclear system, but also the possible development of new types of nuclear weapons.
Churches Unite to ‘End Trident’
(September 14, 2006) — A cross-country protest march against replacing the Trident nuclear weapon system has got under way.
Up to 100 campaigners, including senior church officials and peace campaigners, set off from Faslane Naval Base in Argyll and Bute on Thursday.
The military base is home to Trident, which is up for replacement or upgrade at a cost of billions of pounds. The marchers are undertaking an 85-mile walk to the Scottish Parliament so they can make their views known to MSPs.
At First Minister’s Questions on Thursday Jack McConnell came under fire over his views on nuclear weapons. The UK Government will decide whether to renew Trident in the coming months.
The SNP’s Holyrood leader Nicola Sturgeon called on Mr McConnell to declare where he stood on the issue and not to “hedge his bets”.
Churchmen, including Kirk moderator Rt Rev Alan McDonald, set out from the gates of the Trident submarine base on the Clyde.
Roman Catholic Archbishop Mario Conti and Cardinal Keith O’Brien will also take part in the march before it reaches the parliament on Tuesday. Mr McDonald has been criticised by some in the church, who said he does not speak for them on such a controversial issue.
The moderator, who has attended a number of demonstrations at Faslane over the years, said the statistics about Trident were “chilling”.
He said: “Each Trident submarine can carry the equivalent of 750 Hiroshima atom bombs. The potential for the indiscriminate destruction of countless men, women and children is almost beyond belief.
“For me, the issue of nuclear weapons is close to the heart of what it means to be a Christian today.”
Scottish CND co-ordinator John Ainslie added: “We are concerned that the government will announce later this year the plan to keep nuclear weapons in Scotland for another 40 years. We are marching to Scotland’s parliament to ask them to take a stand on behalf of the Scottish people to oppose these proposals.”
The march, which will be covering 15 miles each day, is set to pass through Glasgow on Saturday for a rally from Blythswood Square to George Square.
Trident Protesters Reach Holyrood
(September 19, 2006) — Anti-nuclear arms campaigners have arrived in Edinburgh at the completion of their 85-mile trek from the Navy’s Faslane submarine base on the Clyde.
The marchers, including leading churchmen, have called on the Scottish Parliament and Westminster to scrap Trident missiles and any replacement.
They left Faslane, the home of the UK’s fleet of submarines armed with nuclear warheads, five days ago, to head east. A rally was held, calling for an end the UK nuclear deterrent.
The UK Government will decide before the end of 2006 whether Britain will continue to have nuclear weapons and whether to build new submarines to replace Trident.
Parliamentary Minister Margaret Curran spoke to anti-Trident demonstrators outside Holyrood.
Ms Curran said the views would be passed on to Westminster where the UK Government has responsibility for defence decisions.
The Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the Right Reverend Alan McDonald, started out with the marchers.
He rejoined them in the capital, along with Roman Catholic Cardinal Keith O’Brien and the Episcopal Bishop of Edinburgh, the Right Reverend Brian Smith, and representatives from Islamic and Quaker communities.
Mr McDonald said “Since 1981 the Church of Scotland has said, time and again, that nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction are morally and theologically wrong.
“We know the decision will be taken in Westminster, but this parliament can speak for itself and is able to say whatever it likes. There would be huge moral authority and theological authority if this parliament was to say to ‘no’ Trident.”
‘Irrational and Absurd’
Cardinal O’Brien told protesters: “I hope by our presence here today and by the walk you have completed, we give voice to hope and remind all who will listen that if nuclear war is illogical, immoral and inconceivable, then investing billions of pounds in more nuclear weapons is iniquitous, irrational and absurd.”
Green MSP Chris Ballance said: “Greens, along with the majority of Scots, oppose Trident, oppose the renewal of Trident, and deplore the indiscriminate violence and carnage that nuclear weapons are designed to create.
“Nuclear weapons make us a terrorist target, create nuclear waste, are illegal and give this country a key role in maintaining one of the most immoral and brutal features of 21st Century politics.”
Trident Missile Costs ‘Immoral’
BBC World News
(September 28, 2006) — Spending billions of pounds on renewing the Trident nuclear weapon system would be immoral, according to the SNP.
The claim came in an SNP-led Holyrood debate on the renewal of Trident, an issue reserved to Westminster. It follows a march on the parliament last week by peace campaigners and church leaders.
However, Labour and Conservative MSPs believe Trident would play a valuable part in international talks to rid the world of nuclear weapons.
The SNP’s Roseanna Cunningham said that when maintenance costs were taken into account, the real cost of replacing Trident was £76bn rather than the £25bn which has been talked about.
She called for a national debate but resented Labour’s suggestion that it should be confined to Westminster.
Ms Cunningham said there was no moral justification for nuclear weapons, especially when Britain was trying to persuade other nations not to acquire them.
“If we are not using them, why do we continue to buy them? And if we continue to buy them and stockpile, why do we believe we can continue to tell others that they should not do the same?” she said. “When we brandish weapons whose only purpose is mass and indiscriminate slaughter, we give up all right to preach to others about the morality of the choices they might make.”
Labour’s Jackie Ballie said the SNP had not thought through how it was going to eradicate the world’s nuclear weapons and what it would do with the existing Trident submarine base at Faslane, where 7,000 people were employed.
“It is a staggering number of jobs. I’ve been accused in the past of using that as some kind of excuse for keeping nuclear weapons,” she said. “Far from it, those are the facts. It might be uncomfortable for the SNP but they are very real and must be addressed.”
Mike Rumbles from the Liberal Democrats criticised Chancellor Gordon Brown for pre-empting the debate on Trident.
Conservative Phil Gallie said he hoped there would be a vote at Westminster, where the final decision would be made, some time in the next two years.
The Green Party has expressed concern over any impact on workers at Faslane or Coulport.
Chris Ballance, the party’s spokesman on nuclear issues, said: “Government must engage with workers and trade unions now to plan for transferring the skills and experience of the workforce into other industries. We need to stop throwing tens of billions of pounds into a weapons system aimed at a threat which no longer exists.”
Socialist MSP Rosie Kane said: “This parliament needs to speak out. To say it is a reserved matter, a big boy did it and ran away, is no excuse. “If they had the will, they could speak up.”
© BBC MMVI
BBC Sunday AM
(October 29, 2006) — On Sunday 29 October, Huw Edwards interviewed John McDonnell MP.
HUW EDWARDS: What would a McDonnell leadership mean in policy terms, which after all is the most important thing. What will that be?
JOHN MCDONNELL I’m largely standing on the policies that have been agreed by Labour Party Conference and there’s majority support within our party. Things like we’re a party that’s in favour of peace not war.
So I voted against Iraq and I’d withdraw from Iraq. We’re in favour of public services, not privatisation.
So I’m opposed to what Gordon Brown has been doing in the NHS in terms of privatisation, so has the majority in the country I have to say….
I’m in favour of a decent environment. So I’m in favour of alternative energy sources. And I’m opposed to nuclear reactors. I’m opposed to spending 76 billion pounds on Trident.
I want that invested in our public services. It’s those sorts of issues. But I’m standing on the policies that Labour Party Conference has largely agreed. But also they’re policies that have majority support in the country as well by opinion poll after opinion poll.
HUW EDWARDS: I mean it may seem to some viewers that you’re saying forget New Labour, okay, forget all of that. It’s been a bit of a nightmare. We’re going back to old traditional Labour values.
JOHN MCDONNELL I, I don’t like this “Old Labour”, “New Labour”. I’m not New Labour, I’m not Old Labour. I’m Labour. I’m the mainstream of the Labour Party.
And I’ve been doing these meetings all round the country which has been great fun, listening to people again. And it is going back to listening.
All these techniques of advertising, wasting money, taking loans so you can spend all this money on advertising campaigns. I’m going back to listening to people, engaging people in politics.
And at, at the meetings I’ve been doing round the country you’ll hear as much laughter as you will applause where people are engaging in discussion and having fun and enthusiasm about politics again.
HUW EDWARDS: Let’s just pick up one or two specific things. On Iraq you’d pull out, regardless of the consequences? You’d just pull the troops out and let them get on with it?
JOHN MCDONNELL Of course not. The issue for us now is to recognise we’ve made a mistake in Iraq. I voted against it and I, a lot of us argued … that this was a, a wrong, a mistake.
What we should do now is accept we’ve made a mistake, go back to the United Nations and appeal to the rest of the world to help us in engaging in that withdrawal.
And that does mean tackling the other issues within the Middle East as well. It does mean looking at how we resolve the Palestinian, Israeli problem. We’ve got to restore our credibility as a peace maker in the world. I wanted Tony Blair’s legacy to be Northern Ireland. He’s done a fantastic job in bringing about peace. The tragedy is it’s going to be Iraq.
HUW EDWARDS: Could, could Gordon Brown not restore the Party’s reputation as a peace maker?
JOHN MCDONNELL This isn’t about personalities.
HUW EDWARDS: But could he? Do you think he could?
JOHN MCDONNELL Well I think it’s about saying what about, will there be any policy change? Gordon Brown has been the architect of New Labour’s policies in the same way as Tony Blair. And I think the Labour Party and the country want a radical break with New Labour.
They want us to have a new vision for the country which is based on … more equal society. Labour Party being a peaceful role in the world, playing a peaceful role. Investing in public services, not privatising them.
HUW EDWARDS: Renewing Trident as a nuclear defence system, would you do that?
JOHN MCDONNELL No. There’s been different estimates on the cost. Twenty six million’s what, billion is what the government’s saying. The newspaper said three weeks ago it’s up to seventy six billion pounds.
I think that’s a waste of resources on a weapon we’d never use and doesn’t, actually doesn’t defend us even.
NB: This transcript was typed from a recording and not copied from an original script. Because of the possibility of mis-hearing and the difficulty, in some cases, of identifying individual speakers, the BBC cannot vouch for its accuracy
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