Rendering Reasoned Debate Impossible

Mick Hall @ Organized Rage writes about Trident Renewal:

We must not allow the media, Tories and a minority of LP rebels to create such a poisonous atmosphere that reasoned debate is rendered impossible

The Guardian's resident Tory columnist Rafael Behr has been up to his old game of stirring the pot against the LP. His header alone is enough to show where he is coming from, "Trident really is a destructive weapon – just look at the Labour Party."

There is little doubt Labour's Shadow Defence Secretary Emily Thornberry had a rough reception from a minority of Labour MPs when discussing Trident earlier this week. However the loyalty of these people is brought into question when they left the meeting and briefed against her to Tory supporting hacks. Knowing full well this could only benefit the Tory Party. If ever there is an example of these people hoping for a low LP vote in May, this is it.

There is nothing wrong in arguing in favor of keeping Trident, but to then leave the meeting and brief Tory supporting hacks displays a disloyalty not only to the party and its leader but also to the millions of Labour voters who are in desperate need of a Labour run council.

Behr then attempts to lecture Corbyn on who the party under his leadership represents, as if he give a damn. Week after week he acts as little more than an echo chamber for the Tory government and its leader David Cameron. I presume the Guardian employed him to add balance to its political coverage, if so he is yet to earn his fee, for what he has morphed into is yet another attack dog against the LP leader.

Owen Jones who covered the same meeting wrote a more measured piece:

I don’t want to write about this. I want to write about the consequences of Tory cuts to services, tax credits or universal credit, about the Tory split on the European Union, about the privatisation of the NHS. But unless this approach to politics is checked, it will continue to proliferate.

It seems there was only a handful of hecklers, and they are alienating even those MPs with a principled stand in favour of Trident renewal. But the damage is being done, allowing the Conservatives to tear strips off one another over the European Union – if they choose to do so – with little political cost.

I totally agree with Owen when he writes:

I happen to be among those who believe Labour should be focusing on domestic issues, rather than Trident, though an impending parliamentary vote on funding rearmament makes that difficult. But we are, supposedly, a mature democracy. What does it say about us if we unable to debate whether to spend tens of billions of pounds of public money on nuclear weapons, which some former senior military officials believe is a waste of money, 25 years after the Soviet Union collapsed?

There is the rub, Tory hacks like Rafael Behr, and potential Labour turncoats like those who howled down Emily Thornberry as if they were paid up members of the Bullingham Bullies Club, have no interest in an open and democratic debate over whether Trident should be renewed at a cost of approximately £100 billion pounds. Instead they huff, puff and smear as is their way.

Owen sums up this attitude precisely:

Here’s the point. Some may support Trident. Some may support nuclear weapons, but only a smaller, less expensive option. Some may oppose nuclear weapons altogether. How we defend jobs, skills and communities in communities currently dependent on Trident needs discussion, too. But there is a sensible, mature debate to be had.

Unfortunately, those MPs yelling at their own senior colleagues have no interest in it. They seem determined to create such a poisonous atmosphere that reasoned debate is rendered impossible. Even from their own perspective, it makes no sense. If they want to win back the party leadership in a future contest, they need to convince the party membership. Yet they are only toxifying their brand while damaging their own party. I hope Labour decides on a free vote, then moves on to the key domestic issues facing Britain. But this risible attempt to shut down debate – and make politics even more unpleasant – needs calling out for what it is.

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Anthony McIntyre

Former IRA prisoner, spent 18 years in Long Kesh. Free Speech advocate, writer, historian, humanist, and researcher.

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