A new campaign has been launched to scrap the planned renewal of Britain’s Trident nuclear weapons system in the hope of forcing a Labour-led government to drop its support for the move.
Nicola Sturgeon, leader of the Scottish National Party; Leanne Wood of Plaid Cymru and Natalie Bennett, leader of the Greens, have joined celebrities in backing an online petition designed to show the strength of public opposition to the UK’s nuclear arsenal.
The “Time to Move On” campaign is being co-ordinated by Compass, a left of centre pressure group. It will target voters who oppose nuclear weapons in principle but believe they offer an effective deterrent. The organisers argue that keeping the weapons is less likely to protect the UK than make it a target in a world where terrorism rather than the Cold War is the main threat.
Damon Albarn, the musician, who has signed the petition, said: “We know that power is no longer linked to might, that’s ok. Wouldn’t the money saved by an end to Trident be better spent investing in our spirit, our health, our arts and education - and ultimately our happiness?”
The author Irvine Welsh said: "I believe that our joint aim should be to make these islands the home of a batch of healthy, vibrant democracies, instead of a chess piece in the saddo G7/militaristic ‘sphere of influence’ games of the power brokers. Let’s get rid of Trident”.
Ms Sturgeon said: "I believe that we can be successful in achieving cancellation of Trident renewal in the next House of Commons, by electing progressive MPs. SNP MPs will call for the £100bn planned to be wasted on a new generation of useless and immoral Trident nuclear weapons to be spent on health, education and childcare.”
Others signing the petition include: Young Fathers, Mercury prizewinners; Professor Peter Higgs, 2014 Nobel prize for physics; Vivienne Westwood, designer and activist; Frankie Boyle, comedian; Massive Attack (3D and Daddy G); Sir Michael Atiyah, ex-president of the Royal Society; Marina Cantacuzino, founder of The Forgiveness Project; Jonathon Porritt, Forum for the Future; Kamila Shamsie, writer; Lindsey Coulson, actress; Noam Chomsky, linguist and activist.
Trident could become a major issue if the election results in a minority Labour government backed by the SNP, which would demand the system be scrapped. Ed Miliband has insisted he would reject the SNP demand and, with some Labour MPs likely to oppose Trident renewal, might have to rely on Tory votes to secure its approval.
Yesterday the Labour leader suggested that his party would spend more on defence than the Tories. He told the Chatham House think tank: “I am not going to sacrifice the defence of our country on an ideological commitment to a significantly smaller state.”
Helena Kennedy, the Labour peer and QC, said: “The election looms and with it the chance to do something amazing - the chance to create a parliament that recognises that the world has moved on and to show that the British people have moved on from the expensive and useless dependence on Trident missiles.”
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