On February 26th, the UK Green Party criticized the Labour Party over ‘provocative’ comments on nuclear weapons. When addressing the Royal United Services Institute, shadow defense Minister, John Healy, stated that the Labour Party’s stance on nuclear weapons was ‘non-negotiable’ and settled.
In response, co-leader of the Green Party Jonathan Bartley stated:
“We deeply regret Labor’s change of stance over nuclear weapons that do nothing to enhance our security and which no defense minister would ever be able to use”
As referenced by Mr. Bartley, the Labour Party’s stance seemed to have changed from previous years. Nuclear weapons have always been a divisive subject amongst the party. Whilst it is the party’s policy to maintain nuclear weapons, this was not always the case. Before losing a general election in 1987, the party ran on unilaterally getting rid of submarine nuclear warheads. However, the topic remained controversial within the party and the stance remained unclear ever since. For instance, Jeremy Corbyn, the previous Labour Party leader, is Vice-President of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) and had previously stated that as a Prime Minister, he would refuse the usage of these weapons.
Under the new leadership of Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour Party is taking a more serious tone. This new stance comes shortly after the United Nations Disarmament Agenda which Mr Healy stated as a top priority for the Labour Party.
The comments of wanting to lead efforts in disarmament and supporting the maintenance of nuclear weapons angered the green party. Jonathan Bartley stated:
“The language of making this policy ‘non-negotiable’ is highly provocative, coming shortly after a global process for multilateral, negotiated disarmament was agreed at the United Nations. It is precisely through negotiation that reductions in global nuclear weapons stockpiles have been achieved.”Jonathan Bartley – Green Party co-leader
The Green Party continued its criticism as the Labour Party qualified its commitment to NATO as unshakeable. The stance taken by the Labour Party on NATO and nuclear weapons was perceived by critics as a method to win back voters.
“Labour’s decision to wrap itself in the flag and act tough on nuclear weapons is cynically designed to win back voters who deserted the party in 2019. It does nothing to address the UK’s strategic security needs or to advance global disarmament.”Jonathan Bartley – Green Party co-leader
The 21st century is expected to bring about challenges never faced before. Issues unique to this century will demand humongous amounts of resources to tackle. Critics of nuclear weapons see these unusable deterrents as dangerous relics of the past.
The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), affiliated with the labour party via Jeremy Corbyn, also criticized the Labour Party for similar reasons. The CND’s general secretary, Kate Hudson, qualified the new stance as “being stuck in a 20th Century rut”. She characterized the Labour Party’s action as “pandering to an old agenda”.
Critics see climate change and cyber warfare as more urgent issues. The resources needed to maintain and update nuclear weapons are large. Against the new threats of the 21st century, many believe that nuclear weapons are useless. They simply become dangerous objects roaming the oceans in submarines.