Last night MPs took one of the important decisions we can take on whether to renew our continuous at sea deterrent otherwise known as Trident. I wanted to lay out the reasons why I voted against last night.
I voted against the motion last night because I could not, in all consciousness, vote to sanction a weapon of such cataclysmic destructive capability that they threaten not only the socio-economic order, the environment and the health of future generations but humanity itself.
But I also voted against in the interests of our international obligations and duties.
It is now forty-six years since the deal which became the cornerstone of our global efforts to rid the world of weapons of cataclysmic destruction was announced in the East Room of the White House. President Johnson said that that day - the 1st July 1968 - marked the day "when the world moves into the light of sanity".
Here Harold Wilson's Labour Government signed the Non Proliferation Treaty into law seeing it as self-evident that the international trust it fostered was the only future. Between non-nuclear states who promised not to acquire nuclear weapon capability and the nuclear states who promised to move towards disarmament.
But after decades of renewal and modification we were asked to extend our nuclear weapons power into the second half of this century. In other words moving towards permanent armament. And moving towards permanent armament means casting aside our international obligation to disarmament.
And those efforts on disarmament – after decades as the cornerstone of international policy - have unforgivably stalled and even our closest allies have vented their frustration; the last disarmament treaty conference couldn’t even find consensual final wording and the UK along with Canada and the US vetoed text which would have mandated the UN General Assembly to build a consensus on effective measures to move towards disarmament. Austria, speaking on behalf of over 100 nations said recently there is a “morality gap” at the heart of stalled efforts on disarmament by the major nuclear powers.
So even setting aside my objection in principle to nuclear weapons, I believe the open ended commitment which this renewal implies and the undiminished role nuclear weapons still play as a cornerstone of our defence means that this country is in deed if not in word acting against its longstanding commitment to rid the world of the inhumane power of nuclear weapons. That means there is a gap in trust at the heart of our foreign policy.
"On August 6, 1945, a single atomic bomb rendered Hiroshima a scorched plain and tens of thousands were burned in flames. By year’s end, 140,000 lives had been taken. Those who managed to survive, their lives grotesquely distorted, were left to suffer serious physical and emotional aftereffects compounded by discrimination and prejudice. Nuclear weapons are an absolute evil and ultimate inhumanity."
These are the words of the Mayor of Hiroshima. He goes on to call on everyone throughout the world to share the sincere message of their hibakusha, that “No one else should ever suffer as we have”.
And that is why I voted against the motion last night.