Saturday, 3 March 2007
Trident - a close run thing
A knife-edge vote this morning at the Lib Dem Spring Conference at Harrogate. We were debating our response to the Government's plans to rush through a decision in favour of replacing Trident. The motion argued that any decision now was premature and that instead we should be announcing plans for an immediate cut in our nuclear arsenal as our contribution to kick-starting multilateral talks. An amendment had been tabled calling for an immediate decision now to rule out replacing Trident.
I would say that at the start of the debate views were pretty evenly split and there were good speeches on both sides. There was however a collective gasp around the auditorium when the chair of the debate said: "Would Ming Campbell please stand by" to be be the next speaker - limited to 4 minutes, just like everyone else. Ming argued powerfully for the main motion, received a really positive response and, I think, swung it. When delegates voted by holding up their cards it was too close to call, but after a nail-biting count the vote went through by roughly 52% to 48%.
We will be united in voting against the Government on Trident in the House of Commons in a few weeks' time, and we will be all the stronger for the fact that the members of the party had the chance to argue freely for their position and we've reached a democratic decision as to our party's stance.