Labour's Shadow Defence Secretary, Bob Ainsworth has been accused of arguing at “the level of caricature” after making dismissive comments about the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND).
Speaking at a fringe meeting at the Labour Party Conference, Ainsworth said, “People like CND have to be prepared to engage with the issue and not just repeat slogans from the 1960s when a consultation process comes up”.
Ainsworth previously served as Defence Secretary in Gordon Brown's cabinet and has strongly supported the renewal of the Trident nuclear weapons system.
CND said his comments were “astonishing” and “ill-informed”. They pointed out that CND actively engaged with the Ministry of Defence during Ainsworth's time there.
They declared in a statement that, “In the period before, during and after the parliamentary vote on Trident replacement in March 2007,” CND produced a range of materials for MPs and ministers and gave oral evidence to three Defence Select Committee Inquiries into Trident Replacement on the invitation of its Chair, James Arbuthnot MP.
"CND has produced extensive amounts of well-researched documentation on the subject of Trident and its replacement, much of the data in which are based on parliamentary answers from Mr Ainsworth's predecessors and senior colleagues,” said CND's General Secretary, Kate Hudson.
Hudson has now re-sent six major documents to Ainsworth, “so he can fully understand CND's analysis and critique of nuclear weapons”.
She added, “We hope this will prove useful to him in the new political context, where Labour's new leader Ed Miliband has clearly stated that he believes Trident should be in the Strategic Defence and Security Review. It is time for old prejudices to be put aside."