Mapping the debate

9 January 2007

With much abuse of post-it notes, gnashing of teeth and callousing of keyboard-happy fingertips we’ve managed to whip into some kind of shape the arguments for and against the renewal of the UK’s nuclear deterrent.

The starting point of the debate is here: http://kys.myzen.co.uk/map-viewer/?map=8&id=8

The debate is not represented by a visual map (yet!). Rather, the above link offers a way of navigating through the arguments/points for and against renewing the UK’s nuclear deterrent. Each point is in response to another, either backing it up or negating it. Each point may also have other arguments in favour or in opposition to it. For instance, clicking on the starting point ‘Replace Trident’ lists related pro- and anti- arguments. An argument in favour of replacing Trident is that ‘Nuclear weapons prevent war’. Clicking on this argument then lists a number of arguments for and against that position.

At the moment users may not edit the arguments themselves, or change the relation of the arguments to other points: this level of interaction will be possible in the future, though. For the moment, you can leave comments and questions related to individual arguments. We can then factor these into the next version of the map.

Please do have wander around the site, study the various arguments and comment freely on the structure and content of the debate. If you have feedback on the debate-mapping application in its entirety please comment here or email lucas@kenyersel.org.


Where the parties stand on the Trident debate

25 September 2006

So here’s a quick capsule review of the official policy positions of the main political parties. In no particular order:

Conservatives

David Cameron’s newly be-logoed Tory party are “committed to replacing” the UK’s nuclear deterrent. More information here on their national security policy pages.

Labour

Officially Labour are “committed to retaining the independent nuclear deterrent” (2005 manifesto). However there is to be a government white paper on the future of Britain’s nuclear deterrent to be published later this year. It’s pretty much guaranteed that there’ll be a debate and vote in the House of Commons on the issue. But then, given the accusations that Labour won’t even countenance a debate on the issue at its annual conference, I’m not holding my breath for an open debate and a free vote in the Commons.

Liberal Democrats

According to their 2005 manifesto, the Lib Dems “… will press for a new round of multilateral arms reduction talks, retaining the UK’s current minimum nuclear deterrent for the foreseeable future, until sufficient progress has been made towards the global elimination of such weapons.” Following the Labour government’s announcement that the future of the UK’s nuclear defence system will be decided this year, the Lib Dems are undertaking a consultation on the issue. If only those pesky kids in government would just slow down so they could catch the heck up.

The Greens

Unsurprisingly the Scottish Green Party’s 2005 manifesto commitment is to “decommission all the UK’s nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.” Fairly unambiguous that, then.

SNP

The Scottish National Party also has an anti-nuclear-defence policy: “The SNP reaffirms that no nuclear weapons will be based on independent Scottish soil. On Independence we will negotiate the safe removal of Trident from Scotland”.

SSP

And for the record, the Scottish Socialist Party opposes “the madness of nuclear weapons”.

Have I missed anyone?


Moral challenge

31 August 2006

I’ve just been reading a publication from Justice and Peace Scotland entitled Nuclear Weapons. Replacing Trident- A Scottish Catholic Response. Unsurprisingly, it takes a strong moral stance against Trident renewal. Now I’ve been studiously avoiding the moral arguments around the Trident issue since (a) I don’t want to be aligned with the ‘x is just plain wrong’ crowd and (b) (a) is pretty much guaranteed given my supreme lack of skill in the moral-reasoning field. Against my better judgement, though, I’m going to step into the fray (then hopefully extricate myself without a scratch following some fancy logical footwork)….

So, let’s say that there is a strong moral argument for renewing the UK’s nuclear capabilities. Now given that *any* state – I propose – will be able to use a similar argument to defend their holding or developing nuclear weapons, would it then not be immoral to deny them the opportunity to do so. It would certainly be hypocritical.

So I suppose I’m saying that holding a nuclear deterrent cannot be justified on moral grounds unless one is happy to defend the right of all nations to retain a nuclear arsenal.

(Oh no. I knew this would happen. I’m not dancing merrily out of the moral fray, I’m foppishly throwing down a gauntlet.)

You sir! You! You in the pro-Trident Lobby. You, sir, are an immoral pragmatist or a defender of unfettered nuclear proliferation. And I’ll see you at the end of my rapier if you say otherwise…


An exciting but thought-out debate on Nuclear issues

30 July 2006

Issues surrounding nuclear technology, disarmament and development are hot like a wasps nest.  We would like to provoke an exciting but thought-out debate on the issue, looking at questions like “does having nuclear weapons make us safer?”, “why should we have them?”, and, in Britain, “should the Trident nuclear submarines be replaced?” There are many other important related questions. We want to consider arguments from all sides, to really see what the issues are and what the important questions are. We hope that this will form an stimulating, educating and engaging discussion.

To tickle your minds and inspire responses try googling “Trident UK Nuclear”, which should throw you into the UK Trident replacement debate. This is what we will initially be focusing on.

We would really like to get suggested questions to focus on and some position statements about the Trident issue. More links to informative websites would also be very welcome!

happy pondering,

Lucas Dixon of Kenyersel.