Trident vote hangs in the balance

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Thanks in large part to continued activism by nuclear campaign group CND, the government is facing a rebellion of MPs in today’s vote on whether to renew Britain’s nuclear missile system, Trident.

Two resignations, those of deputy Commons leader Nigel Griffiths and ministerial aide Jim Devine, have suggested the gravity of the case against the government’s position that Britain cannot be without a nuclear deterrent.

The missile system, which is due to cost taxpayers up to £76 billion over the lifetime of the weapon, has been the subject of strong protest since the government announced its intentions in its December Defence White Paper. Yesterday, protestors from Greenpeace led police in a dramatic boat chase across the Thames in order to scale a construction crane erected on a barge next to the Houses of Parliament. The activists then unveiled a huge banner reading ‘Tony ♥ WMD’. Two have spent the night on the crane in order to greet MPs as they arrive for today’s debate, which will run from 12:30pm until the vote, expected around 7 pm this evening.

The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament have organised an emergency lobby within Parliament today, which will be attended by actress Susannah York. A public demonstration, attended by MPs, will be held by the group this evening in Parliament Square between 6 and 8 pm.

If the £76 billion earmarked for Trident were to be spent on renewable technologies, such as off-shore wind turbines, up to 33 per cent of the UK’s electricity could be generated in a clean way.

This article first appeared in the Ecologist March 2007