17 October 2015: Corbyn gets something right

I wasn’t planning to do a blog today. Don’t want to become obsessed (and there’s housework to do…). But this is so unusual that it needs to be recorded: the leader of my political party has done something sensible. Jeremy Corbyn has accepted an invitation to become vice-president of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. It doesn’t mean anything – he was already vice-chair. But it is symbolically important, and symbolism matters in politics. Look at what happened when he failed to sing the national anthem.

Corbyn will be panned by most of the British media. That’s what they do to anyone who is even mildly left-of-centre (and Corbyn is not mild in any sense of the word). The media destroyed Neil Kinnock, despite his success in bringing Labour back from the extreme left and making it a plausible contender for power. Kinnock made Labour pro-European – which is why I joined, having previously been SDP. He also abandoned unilateral disarmament. I have always supported unilateral nuclear disarmament. (OK, fair to ask why I supported the SDP in that case. Answer; I thought that UK membership of the European Community was a more important issue than nuclear disarmament.) But the case for British nuclear weapons was stronger in the 1980s, when the Cold War was still happening, than it is now.

Today, many voices on the right are against the Trident ‘upgrade’ (newspeak for massive expansion). Henry Kissinger has said that nuclear weapons are past their sell-by date. It’s even more uncomfortable for me to agree with Kissinger than it is to congratulate Corbyn, but he is right. Trident should be abandoned, and the £100 billion cost spent instead on more valuable things, including a substantial increase in conventional defence spending.

Corbyn wants to change Labour policy on Trident. He failed to do so at party conference this year. So he should commit himself to trying to persuade the party he leads to change policy on this important issue. He should put it to a vote at next year’s party conference. If he fails to change policy, he should resign.

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