Lib Dems challenged from all sides on Trident replacement

By staff writers
May 4, 2010

The people of Wales need to know where the Liberal Democrats really stand on nuclear weapons, says a Plaid Cymru candidate who is challenging them to "come clean".

The Welsh nationalist party's Wrecsam (Wrexham) candidate Arfon Jones says that the Lib Dems are being "ambiguous" about Trident replacement and the so-called British independent nuclear deterrent - which anti-nuke critics say is not British, not independent and not a deterrent.

Meanwhile, a group of "security experts" are saying in a letter to The Times newspaper that the Liberal Democrats are going too far in the opposite direction. But ex-leader Lord Ashdown says that the accusation that the party may be imperilling the nation's defence is nonsense, and "a Tory ploy".

At present the Liberal Democrats oppose a "like-for-like" replacement of the upgrade of the Trident missile system because of the billions of pounds it would cost, but remain committed to a nuclear-based military policy.

Arfon Jones, Plaid's candidate, challenged Lord Ashdown when he visited Wrexham on Monday 3 May 2010.

Jones declared: "Nick Clegg said he opposed Trident but favoured a less expensive option, but failed to explain further his party's policies on the independent nuclear deterrent. He just talks about alternatives - but what are these alternatives?

He added: "The Lib Dems portray themselves as some ethical party full of moral values, when in fact they are no different from the Tories or Labour when it comes to peace and justice."

"Plaid is clear - we will not replace Trident nuclear missiles and that will save £100 billion. It is neither affordable financially or morally."

Lib Dem leader Clegg says his position is clear. The party thinks a straight replacement of Trident is militarily unnecessary as well as hugely costly, but it will put the question into the post-election Defence Review and says that other options, including a renewal of the current submarine fleet or a partial replacement should be considered then and not before.

Military figures, including the ex-head of the British Army, have questioned Trident replacement, which has been backed by both Labour and the Tories.

Anti-nuclear weapons campaigners say the Lib Dems are in a better position on the issue than the other big parties, but are still trying to "have their cake and eat it".


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