The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) welcomes the call from the House of Bishops of the Church of England for a proper debate on whether to replace and modernise the Trident nuclear weapons system.
As part of a much wider letter to its members for considering political choices for the upcoming UK general election, the church leaders make the following comment on Trident nuclear weapons:
The sheer scale of indiscriminate destructive power represented by nuclear weapons such as Trident was only justifiable, if at all, by appeal to the principle of mutually assured destruction. For many, including many Christians, that in itself was a deeply problematic argument, although there were also many who were prepared to live with the strategy because it appeared to secure peace and save lives. Shifts in the global strategic realities mean that the traditional arguments for nuclear deterrence need re-examining. The presence of such destructive capacity pulls against any international sense of shared community. But such is the talismanic power of nuclear weaponry that few politicians seem willing to trust the electorate with a real debate about the military capacity we need in the world of today.” (1)
NFLA fully agree with this statement on Trident and it calls on all our political parties and prospective Parliamentary candidates to consider the various issues related to the replacement and modernisation of Trident. They should also seek to raise these issues with the public in the forthcoming general election campaign.
Many church leaders from a large number of the Christian denominations, along with other faith communities like The Hindu Council, the Muslim Association of Britain, Pax Christi and ‘Religions for Peace’ have signed up to the influential ‘Rethink Trident’ statement. The NFLA is also a signatory to this statement, along with a number of trade unions, anti-austerity groups, Parliamentarians and prominent personalities from the arts and the media. (2)
The ‘Rethink Trident’ statement begins:
As Britain faces the deepest public spending cuts in living memory, the country can ill-afford to be spending in excess of £100bn on replacing Trident with a new generation of nuclear weapons. Britain’s security needs are not met by nuclear weapons which can do nothing to combat the threats posed by terrorism, climate change or cyber warfare. If countries like Britain justify their retention and replacement of nuclear weapons on the grounds of an uncertain future, it increases the likelihood that non-nuclear states will seek to use the same rationale to justify developing their own weapons systems.”
NFLA calls on the UK Government to consider the content of both statements as it prepares for the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference this May, and act not just on narrow strategic interests but on the economic, moral and legal issues around the continuing policy of retaining nuclear weapons. At a time of the most serious cuts in the history of local government, NFLA also argue that resources would be better used for protecting the vital services local Councils provide.
NFLA Chair Councillor Mark Hackett said:
I welcome the Church of England’s prominent statement on Trident and the need to improve the political culture in the UK. The replacement of the Trident nuclear weapons programme is one of the most important decisions that will be made by the next Government and the next Parliament. This ought to be one of the key issues of the forthcoming general election. I commend the Church, other Christian denominations and other faith communities, along with many trade unions, Parliamentarians and anti-austerity groups for trying to encourage a broader debate over Trident replacement. I now hope politicians of all political parties heed their words and hold an open and honest debate on this issue.”
For more information please contact Sean Morris, NFLA Secretary on 0161 234 3244.
Notes for editors:
(1) Church of England, ‘Who is My Neighbour? A Letter from the House of Bishops to the People and Parishes of the Church of England for the General Election 2015’, 17th February 2015,
(2) Rethink Trident statement, http://www.rethinktrident.org