Jeremy Corbyn’s view on Trident is defensible - on strikes it isn't

The offer to his Labour critics of Trident without nuclear warheads is rather like offering a chocolate-free Mars bar

Sunday 17 January 2016 21:21 GMT
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Jeremy Corbyn would face a furious backlash from many of his own MPs to any proposal to work with the Lib Dems or change the voting system
Jeremy Corbyn would face a furious backlash from many of his own MPs to any proposal to work with the Lib Dems or change the voting system (PA)

Involving as it does Britain’s ability to defend itself and, under certain assumptions, its very survival, the future of the successor to the Trident nuclear weapon is understandably convulsing the Labour Party. In his calm, thoughtful way, Jeremy Corbyn spent much of the weekend trying to control this nuclear meltdown. It was not entirely successful. While no doubt well-meaning, the offer to his Labour critics of Trident without nuclear warheads is rather like offering a chocolate-free Mars bar.

And yet the more dangerous of Mr Corbyn’s suggestions were on more mundane economic issues. The proposal that companies not paying the living wage should suffer the consequences is fair; but preventing a large transnational from paying dividends to shareholders worldwide is utterly impractical. If the company really wanted to, it could find ways around it anyway; and, if Labour persisted, then it might simply abandon some part of its UK operations.

Many might well do so anyway if secondary industrialised action is legalised, meaning a company with no dispute could be plunged into chaos because of a strike elsewhere. It will do nothing to protect jobs and wages in the longer run because it will cripple investment and simply mean the export of jobs.

Trident replacement is expensive and difficult to justify in a world where our most immediate threats come not from Russia or North Korea but from Isis and al-Qaeda. Then again, in an unstable world there may still be a case for Trident, and Labour’s debate is not unhealthy. What would be unequivocally damaging to the economy would be unilaterally rearming the unions and attacking business. That would make Mr Corbyn, rightly, unelectable.

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