Toryism

MPs support Trident; Labour Leadership strife continues

At the start of the week, MPs voted on Trident renewal and it (as anything in politics) caused much heated debate. But what exactly is Trident and why does it matter?

Well, Trident (since 1969) is a British submarine carrying nuclear weapons and has always been on patrol, gliding silently beneath the waves, somewhere in the world’s oceans. The aim of Trident is to deter any nuclear attack on the UK because, even if the nation’s conventional defence capabilities were destroyed (you know, the army, guns, grenades, that sorta thing), the silent submarine would still be able to launch a catastrophic retaliatory strike on the aggressor, a concept known as mutually assured destruction.

The submarines carry up to eight Trident missiles. Each can be fitted with a number of warheads, which can be directed at different targets. Each of the four submarines carries a sealed “letter of last resort” in the prime minister’s hand, containing instructions to follow if the UK has been devastated by a nuclear strike and the government annihilated.

But seriously, how likely is this to happen? Given the last time the world faced near nuclear oblivion.  Bear in mind, each Trident warhead is eight times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped in Hiroshima.

During the debate in the House of Commons on Monday, MPs voted on the motion put forward by PM Theresa May:

  • The government’s assessment that the UK’s “independent minimum credible nuclear deterrent” based on continuous at-sea deployment will remain essential to the UK’s security;
  • The decision to take the necessary steps required to maintain the current posture by replacing the Vanguard Class submarines;
  • The importance of the replacement programme to the UK’s defence industrial base and in supporting thousands of highly skilled engineering jobs;
  • Government commitment to reduce its overall nuclear weapon stockpile by the mid-2020s and press for “key steps towards multilateral disarmament”.

You can watch the full debate below:

In case you can’t be bothered to watch the 2 hour video, here’s a brief summary of the arguments for and against Trident renewal:

Arguments in favour of Trident renewal:

  • The UK faces an uncertain “future threat environment” – Andrea Berger, Royal United Services Institute.
  • In an uncertain future and the resurgence of aggressive Russian policies, the UK needs to ensure it is taking decisions now which mean that in future decades we have options available for defence and deterrence.
  • Maintenance – work on a replacement could not be delayed because the submarines alone could take up to 17 years to develop.
  • Threats from rogue states and terrorist groups could emerge at any time and a minimum nuclear deterrent is needed to help counter them.
  • The nuclear defence industry is also a major employer. Some estimates suggest that up to 15,000 jobs may be lost.

Arguments against Trident renewal:

  • The UK should never be a country that is willing to threaten or use nuclear weapons against an adversary, even in the most extreme circumstances, especially when the cost to life would be unfathomable.
  • The UK should not be spending possibly £40bn on a programme that is designed for uncertainty and indeed that an “uncertain future threat environment” may mean no threats arise and so £40bn would have been spent unnecessarily.
  • No legitimate purpose: their use would be illegal under almost every conceivable circumstance, as huge numbers of civilian casualties would be unavoidable. That is why the International Court of Justice ruled in 1996 the threat or use of nuclear weapons would be contrary to the rules of international law.
  • The Government’s National Security Strategy identifies international terrorism, cyber-attacks and natural hazards as greater threats than nuclear war.

At the end of the debates, MPs were given the opportunity to cast their vote. The motion was supported by 472 votes to 117, approving the manufacture of four replacement submarines at a current estimated cost of £31bn.

To see how your MP voted, click here.

This week, May chaired her first cabinet meeting in which she stated she wants her government to be ‘defined by social reform, not brexit’. Erm, that might be a tiny bit hard Mrs May, considering your Brexit minister has predicted it could take up to the end of your premiership for Britain to eventually leave the EU.

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May (C) holds her first Cabinet Meeting at Downing Street, in London July 19, 2016. © Dan Kitwood

Prime Minister Theresa May chairs her first Cabinet meeting on 19th July 2016

It seems there will be no escaping brexit as the team tasked with triggering Article 50 will be situated at No. 9 Downing St, right next Mrs May’s new residence.

May opened the meeting by warning her ministers the “decisions we take around this table affect people’s day-to-day lives and we must do the right thing, take the right decisions for the future of this country.”

She added: “We have the challenge of Brexit, and Brexit does mean Brexit, and we’re going to make a success of it. It will be the responsibility of everyone sitting around the Cabinet table to make Brexit work for Britain.

“Brexit does mean brexit” – the slogan to define May’s premiership?

“And it will also be their duty to deliver success on behalf of everyone in the UK, not just the privileged few. That is why social justice will be at the heart of my government. So, we will not allow the country to be defined by Brexit, but instead build the education, skills and social mobility to allow everyone to prosper from the opportunities of leaving the EU.”

The Eagle has crashed

As the leadership strife in the Labour Party continues, things were made tiny bit simpler when Angela Eagle decided to step down, leaving Owen Smith and Jeremy Corbyn to go head to head.

As you’ll recall, last week Owen Smith launched his leadership campaign; this week it was the turn of current Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn. At least there were plenty of journo’s to ask him questions. Sorry Eagle.

As party members, supporters and MPs continue to debacle over who is best suited to leading the party, many will be focused on the policies of the two candidates as well as their appeal-potential, particularly within those heartlands who voted brexit just last month.

Let’s take a look at the two candidates and what they have to offer:

Owen Smith

  • Proposal for a British New Deal, which would be a £200bn investment plan to renew our country. Investing in tackling our housing crisis, modernising our transport networks, as well as investing in people through areas like Sure Start and social care.
  • Commitment to an ethical foreign policy with a War Powers Act. This would allow Parliament to properly scrutinise the Government of the day.
  • Smith was elected as an MP in 2010 and most recently served as Shadow Work and Pensions secretary

Jeremy Corbyn

  • Elected as Labour leader last summer with the largest mandate of any Labour leader with over 60% share of the vote.
  • Turned back the Tories cruel tax credit cuts that would have meant millions of families this year being over £1,000 worse off. And turned back £4 billion of cuts to disabled people – at a time when the government billions in cuts to big business and the super-rich.
  • Jeremy’s vision is built around an economy that delivers for everyone, in every part of the country. That takes a Labour government making decisions in that leaves no one behind, and no community behind.

For more information on the Labour leadership and the two candidates, visit the Labour website.

So what’d you think? Should the Labour Party continue its leadership under Corbyn or does the party need (another) new direction?

 

Useful Sources:

Trident Renewal – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-13442735

CNDUK, No To Trident – http://www.cnduk.org/campaigns/no-to-trident

MPs support Trident renewal –  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-36830923

 

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Cameron Returns (Again…)

Okay, so last week, i wrote a post on Cameron’s early return from his holidays amidst the crisis in Iraq. This week Cameron returned from his holiday in Cornwall following the beheading of American journalist, James Foley.

His return did not last long however, as he stayed a short while to coordinate  with his fellow ministers in the manhunt for the jihadi who’s accent resembles the English accent. There is footage of the “brutal and barbaric act” in which you can see the violent act being committed but for obvious reasons, i will not be putting the video up.

In response to the death of Mr Foley, David Cameron said he was “deeply shocked” – this still didn’t sway him to recall Parliament, stating it is “not on the cards” despite growing pressure from many MPs, both in his party as well as within the opposition. It seems the PM is determined to not let anything ruin his holiday. Even increasing threats from extremists. And let’s not forget the thousands of people dying in Iraq and Gaza. But hey, if a holiday is more important…

Cameron posted this picture on Twitter “Stunning images of #MyWales proudly being shared ahead of @NATOWales. Here’s mine of Porth Oer, Llyn Peninsula.”

Cameron did say though that he was prepared to consider “even tougher” laws to counter terrorism. Erm, not that i’m Prime Minister or anything (not yet anyway), but surely there are more pressing issues than just brushing this horrific act aside? He did take the time to “condemn the barbaric and brutal at that has taken place, and let’s be clear what this act is – it is an act of murder, and murder without any justification.”

“We have not identified the individual responsible, but from what we have seen it looks increasingly likely that it is a British citizen.

This is deeply shocking but we do know that far too many British citizens have travelled to Syria to take part in this extremism and violence. And what we must do is redouble all our efforts to stop people from going.”

Clearly this statement isn’t enough, as proven by former  Liberal Democrat leader, Sir Menzies Campbell, commenting that the conflict in Iraq was so serious that Parliament should have been recalled “weeks ago”. Sir Campbell is not alone in his thinking – Conservative MP, Bob Stewart, said “If we are talking about putting military forces on the ground, even for training purposes, then I don’t think there is any choice but to recall Parliament.”

Does Cameron’s lack of duty make him look weak? Probably, but in the run up to next year’s general election, things in Westminster always slow down, especially in government. Cameron and Miliband are both focusing on retaining as well as gaining voter support, however, with national and international crises such as those presented to us on a daily basis, wouldn’t it be better to gain support by showing your duty as a leader?

And it seems good ol’ Dave isn’t the only one having fun in the sun as it seems President Barack Obama is also on holiday in the exclusive Martha’s Vineyard on the East Coast of America. Easy for them to just jet off into the sunset and forget all the troubles that face us all daily. -Sigh-

Then i started thinking. Of course we all deserve a holiday, it’s a given especially in a job and even in education. But in a job so important as being the leader of a country, when do you say ‘i need to serve my country’ and sacrifice your own personal needs? As an aspiring politician myself, i would rather do my duty and do my utmost best to protect my country rather than just be downright selfish. Do i think Cameron and Obama are being selfish? Yes i do. Okay, i know I’ve just been biased but you were thinking it too. I say this because after returning for a few hours, Mr Cameron jetted off back to Cornwall whilst efforts continued to identify the British terrorist who beheaded the American journalist.

It seems like Dave is just letting everyone else do the work while he takes a break. It’s absurd! (Sorry, biased again)

So let’s hear from you. Do you think leaders such as David Cameron and Barack Obama should be on holiday knowing that there are current crises occurring which need their undivided attention? Isn’t it their responsibility to know when they are needed and do the ‘right’ thing and sacrifice their personal wants for the country’s needs? Should they not have known that this is a disadvantage of the job when they campaigned for the position?

Let me know your thoughts by dropping a comment in that pretty box below!

Baroness Warsi resigns as Foreign Minister

Baroness Warsi resigns as Foreign Office minister due to Britain’s “morally indefensible” stance on Gaza

Earlier this week (Tuesday 5th Aug), Baroness Warsi handed in her resignation to PM David Cameron following Britain’s “morally indefensible” stance on the conflict in Gaza.

In her resignation letter to the prime minister, Warsi stated Britain’s support for the Israeli military action against innocent Palestinians which has resulted in many deaths is “morally indefensible, is not in Britain’s national interest and will have a long term detrimental impact on our reputation”. This resignation makes Baroness Warsi the first minister to resign ‘on principle‘ since the formation of the coalition government in 2010.

On principle – Because of or in order to demonstrate one’s adherence to a particular belief

But why resign? In her letter, she comments “I must be able to live with myself for the decisions I took or the decisions I supported. By staying in government at this time I do not feel that I can be sure of that.” Her decision to resign has been supported by Labour and other backbench Conservative MPs who have called on Mr Cameron to review government policy on Gaza as well as Britain’s relationship with Israel. However, this is quite tricky for the party as a whole as they have traditionally always had close ties with the Israeli government. Methinks it’s safe to say it’s looking like a catch 22 situation – this is what happens when you have pragmatism and tradition as your core principles *sigh*

The Tory peer’s reasons for handing in her resignation also stems from wanting those responsible for the war crimes to be held to account but believes the UK government would not support this process. In an interview with Huffpost UK, she said ” As the minister for the International Criminal Court (ICC), I’ve spent the last two and a half years helping to promote, support and fund the ICC. I felt I could not reconcile this with our continued pressure on the Palestinian leadership not to turn to the ICC to seek justice.”

Warsi’s resignation letter

Boris Johnson supported (somewhat supported anyway) Baroness Warsi’s resignation, stating on his LBC show that he had “great respect” for her and hoped she would be back soon. However, fellow colleague, George Osborne has deemed the resignation as a  “disappointing and frankly unnecessary decision”  It looks like there are divides within the Tory party over the situation in Gaza, but we saw that coming didn’t we?

So what now for the Baroness? Well, there’s no doubt she has achieved much in her career, namely being the first female Muslim cabinet minister. In this respect, it is sad to see her go, but on the plus side, she’ll now have the freedom to speak on the issue of Gaza and her first mission is to encourage the government to stop exporting arms to Israel.

“It appals me that the British government continues to allow the sale of weapons to a country, Israel, that has killed almost 2,000 people, including hundreds of kids, in the past four weeks alone. The arms exports to Israel must stop.”

Despite voicing out many times on the conflict in the Middle East, here’s hoping that her distance from the cabinet might knock Mr Cameron into realisation. Whilst on holiday. Living it up in Portugal.

 

Policies v Presentation?

Last Friday (25th July), opposition leader, Ed Miliband, held a Labour party conference ahead of next year’s general election. One of the topics discussed was people’s position on him being prime minister.

If you’re a regular viewer of Prime Minister’s Question Time, you will know that David Cameron is never too shy to attack Mr Miliband on his leadership abilities. When Ed decided to confront this issue at his conference, he stated “big ideas and principles are more important than image and Labour had the right policies on dealing with “the cost of living crisis”.

My question is: Does presentation REALLY take priority over policies? It has been evident in the past with previous PM’s such as Tony Blair, who gained a massive landslide in the 1997 general election and Gordon Brown who had less charisma and lost the 2010 general election to Cameron. But should this take sole priority in today’s politics? Shouldn’t we be more concerned about our housing crisis or the lack of employment opportunities for young people and the long-term unemployed alike?

Even a former Tory cabinet minister has cautioned  Mr Cameron and his fellow  Tories to stop taunting Ed Miliband, arguing if he [David Cameron] fails to treat Mr Miliband with respect, the party could lose respect from their own voters. But this ‘lack of respect’ goes further than the Tories – even internal Labour party members and supporters have mentioned their lack of confidence in the Labour leader. Many within the party fear that the constant negativity from the  conservatives could deplete their chances of becoming the governing party.

The debate over the two P’s (Policies v Presentation) caused me to wonder why the election of Ed Miliband as party leader in the first place? I mean, if i’m being biased here, i always preferred his brother David as party leader. But then i asked myself, aren’t i favouring presentation over policy? You see, David Miliband is charismatic, better looking and a better speaker. But would he have introduced policies right for Britain? Being biased, undoubtedly. How can i be so sure i hear you ask? Well,  i can’t, but i hold on to some sort of hope. Just stay with me here. The point i’m trying to make is that maybe we’re so consumed by image, which goes beyond politics itself, that we fail to acknowledge what’s important; their policies and beliefs that will influence everything we do as a nation.

Another issue which was raised in the Labour conference was political transparency and involvement. What do i mean? Well, in simple words, public involvement in PMQs which takes place every Wednesday in Westminster. Ed Miliband believes it would “let the public into our politics” and “change our political culture”.

Of course a political maniac like me, it’s fab news, but how easy would it be to introduce? There has also been some debate amongst voters who say the public PMQ should not only be held in London, creating concern in terms of accessibility. Would this make our government more transparent and accountable? Who knows, but it isn’t a bad idea Ed.

So if you haven’t learnt anything, take this: What do you desire from the leader of your country? Their charismatic persona or a person who can do the job regardless of their personality? I know what i’d prefer, but hey! as a wise tutor once told me, let’s not exploit your vulnerability…