This was I thought a very good quality debate that ranged widely across issues that impact on international security. The motion was moved by our foreign affairs spokesperson Ed Davey MP and summated by the very impressive Dr Julie Smith. Speakers raised concerns about role that Europe plays in our security and our role in Europe, the problems of an aggressive Russia, and the importance of energy security. But the two main themes were Trident and Afghanistan.
Given the prominence that the Lib Dem policy towards the renewal of Trident had during last year’s leadership election campaign it was inevitable that we would have to return to debating the issue. We did this today as the new security policy contains wording that both sides in this particular argument seem to have felt comfortable in signing up to. Our position is now:
“building on previous Liberal Democrat policy, including conference motion The Future of Britain’s Nuclear Deterrent (March 2007), that Britain should:….Fulfill its obligation under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to negotiate in good faith towards nuclear disarmament through:
i) A major reduction of its nuclear arsenal by approximately 50%, retaining no more than 100 warheads, with each Trident submarine carrying no more than 24 warheads when on deterrence patrol.
ii) Announcing its willingness to renounce the Trident system and any successor by agreement at the 2010 Non-Proliferation Treaty review
…..Place its nuclear deterrent under international inspection and work towards a joint negotiating position with France at the review conference.”
East of England European candidate Linda Jack proposed a separate vote on the wording relating to the British commitment to Afghanistan making the case that it was an intervention that had failed and that British troops should be withdrawn.
The most powerfully expressed defence of Britain’s role in Afghanistan came from Bob Russell MP who has visited the country several times. However, the argument that I most agreed with was from William Wallace who argued that because of the way Britain is connected with the rest of the world “Afghanistan is not distant” and that continuing our commitment to that country is “vital for Britain’s security”. So I was pleased that conference voted overwhelmingly to continue our support for British involvement in Afghanistan.
This content was originally posted on my old Process Guy blog.