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29 September 2015

How the Labour conference voted in favour of Trident renewal

A little-noticed paragraph in a foreign policy report committed the party to retaining the nuclear weapons system.

By George Eaton

Trident was long billed as one of the likely flashpoints of Labour conference. Jeremy Corbyn declared in advance that he would welcome a debate on the issue, which pits him against almost all of his shadow cabinet. But the opposition of trade unions (most of whom support Trident renewal) and MPs to the pro-disarmament motion helped keep it off the agenda. Just 0.16 per cent of trade union delegates and 7.1 per cent of Constituency Labour Party delegates voted in favour of debating the issue.

CND allies were dismayed by the decision (though some Corbyn supporters were relieved to avoid a likely defeat). But the conference in fact went further than merely not debating Trident. In a little-noticed vote yesterday, it endorsed full renewal. The Britain In The World policy report included a paragraph committing the party to supporting a continuous-at-sea-deterrent, which would entail the replacement of all four submarines. Labour First, the moderate “old right” group, noted in an email to supporters: “If the rules are applied properly, this issue should not be considered by conference again until three years have elapsed!”

But Corbyn insists he will fight on. In a message to last night’s CND fringe meeting, which he was unable to attend, he said that he is “As committed as ever to the non-renewal of Trident” and would do his “persuasive best” to win over colleagues. A free vote on the issue has long been mooted as an obvious solution. But expect Trident supporters to cite the conference vote in their favour. 

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