Issue No. 79, April/May 2005
Is anyone thinking what we're thinking?
A Light Look at the 2005 UK Election
Nicola Butler and Rebecca Johnson
05.05.05. Time for the United Kingdom to go to the ballot box.
Time for the politicians to listen (for a change), to kiss babies,
dodge flying eggs, avoid punching potential voters, and launch
their political manifestos for the 2005 election.
The Conservatives went first with the intriguingly titled "Are
you thinking what we're thinking?" This is a slim volume which
appears to have been hand written by a beaming Michael Howard
(nothing of the night about him nowadays). Actually what we're
thinking is, can that seriously be the title of your manifesto? And
are you thinking coherently at all?
What the Conservatives are thinking about nuclear policy or
international security we may never know, as the manifesto does not
say. Though it is clear from it that they think the real threat
Britons face in the twenty first century is from Europe. We will
never give up our "valuable freedom... We will not join the
Labour, meanwhile, wants to persuade us it is taking "Britain:
Forward Not Back" - or was that backwards not sideways? Vote
for Tony Blair and you may or may not get Gordon Brown. Anyway,
they've published a little red book about it all, which they
launched in game-show style with co-ordinating little red outfits.
It seems that in 2005 Labour, or should that still be 'New Labour',
is "committed to retaining the independent nuclear deterrent",
paving the way for a decision on whether to replace Trident in the
next parliament. Don't forget how Tony Blair pledged in 1997 that
he was man enough to push the button.
All that earnest stuff about supporting the CTBT and verifying
the BWC that was in the last manifesto has disappeared, which is
what happens when Washington helps you write your foreign policy.
Instead, this Labour government seems stuck in the 1970s, still
urging "states not yet party to non-proliferation treaties, notably
the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, to join". So, no mention of
full compliance with our own treaty obligations, or ensuring that
the NPT has the institutional powers to enforce its own provisions
to ensure that states who became party to the treaty don't leave it
and develop nuclear bombs.
Labour wants us to believe them that nuclear weapons are
necessary for deterrence - not to deter terrorists (everyone knows
that won't work), nor for the Russians or even the French (though
we can't bear the thought of letting France be Europe's sole
nuclear power, so we'd insist on keeping ours as long as they have
theirs). No, Labour's nuclear weapons are to deter the tabloids
(from portraying Labour as soft on defence). That's also the more
likely reason for going to war on Iraq than to imagine that Blair
really believed the nonsense he span about Iraqi WMD being 45
The Liberal Democrats are, they tell us, the REAL alternative
(with BLOCK CAPITALS). Like Labour, before they went forwards not
back, the Lib Dems are going to simultaneously "work for the
elimination of nuclear weapons" and "retain the UK's current
minimum nuclear deterrent for the foreseeable future". So, two
REALLY incompatible alternative policies in one manifesto.
The Scottish Nationalist Party has Sean Connery's sexy Bond
voice purring in your ear: "If Scotland matters to you, make it
matter in May". As a manifesto title, it's less snappy than the
Tories with more block capitals than the Lib Dems, and leaves us
wondering about the other eleven months of the year. However, the
SNP are not afraid to be firmly committed to "no nuclear weapons"
on "independent Scottish soil". Though the nuclear submarines are
generally in Scottish waters rather than on Scottish soil, the
independent British warheads for Trident are carried up and down
the roads of Scotland and England from Aldermaston, west of London,
to Faslane, west of Glasgow. So I think we can take it that the SNP
would put a stop to that. And they're not keen on NATO either
(though the EU is quite popular).
Plaid Cymru, the Welsh nationalist party, are going to
"Adeiladwn Gymru Newyd". For all you non-Welsh speakers, that's
"Build a Better Wales". Like the SNP, Plaid Cymru are committed to
opposing "all weapons of mass destruction, including the UK's
nuclear weapons". Luckily for them, they don't have any nuclear
weapons on Welsh soil, though plutonium waste from Sellafield
contaminates the north Wales coast before heading across to
The Green Party manifesto announces that it is making "Real
Progress". The Greens are committed to "pursuing immediate and
unconditional nuclear disarmament", putting peace, sustainable
energy and local democracy high on their agenda. In addition, the
post-2003 Respect Party is appealing for... er... respect. And both
a Menwith Hill protester and the father of a young soldier killed
in Iraq are standing against Tony Blair in his north England
constituency of Sedgefield, which must say something.
Back to the top of page
© 2005 The Acronym Institute.