A Labour candidate in the region has broken ranks by pledging to vote against the renewal of the Trident nuclear deterrent.
Party leader Ed Miliband has insisted he would retain the submarine-based weapons system, because Britain faces an “uncertain and unstable world”.
And he has rejected demands from the Scottish Nationalists who say it is not the best way “to spend £100bn” – the possible total cost of replacing the deterrent.
But Grahame Morris, in Easington, is among around 50 Labour candidates who have made clear their opposition in statements on the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament website.
Mr Morris wrote:
“Replacing Trident will undermine the UK’s moral authority when seeking to restrict nuclear proliferation by other countries.
“We must adapt to meet the new security challenges of the 21st Century, such as climate change, pandemics, organised crime, cyber warfare and terrorism.
“In a time of austerity, when the Government are making damaging cuts to our armed forces, we cannot justify spending in excess of £100bn on a new Trident system that will do nothing to improve the security or defence of the UK.”
The stance puts Mr Morris strongly at odds with Kevan Jones, the North Durham candidate and defence spokesman, who recently said of Trident :
“It is party policy, it has gone through rigorous policy review, it was endorsed at conference last year, and that is the policy.
“We’re in favour of a minimum credible nuclear deterrent based on a continuous-at-sea deterrent.”
The Conservatives have been criticised by senior military figures for making Trident an election issue, after the Defence Secretary suggested Mr Miliband was ready to “stab the UK in the back”, to get into No.10.
A Sunderland clergyman is among hundreds who have turned out to fight plans for Britain’s nuclear weapons programme.
Rev Chris Howson, who is based at Sunderland Minister, his wife Katriona, and their daughters Clara, 10, and Angela, seven, are among the crowd blockading the Faslane military base on the River Clyde in Scotland.
They are among a North East contingency who have made Bairns Not Bombs banners, with some members of the protest chaining themselves in to prevent anyone entering or leaving the site.
Wear 4 Peace has around 15 people at the event.
Rev Howson, who travelled to Scotland overnight with his family, said:
“We’re protesting against Trident, which would cost £100billion at a time when Sunderland is facing cuts in its services and terrible devastation to its public sector.
People from across the world are taking part in today’s protest, and Rev Howson say the group will remain in place for as long as possible.
Trident is a sea-based nuclear weapons system which was acquired by Margaret Thatcher Government in the early 1980s as a replacement for the Polaris missile system which the UK had possessed since the 1960s.
Trident came into use in the 1990s, with a proposal to renew it sparking the protest today and other demonstrations.
Source – Sunderland Echo, 13 Apr 2015
Scots are heading to the polls later this month to decide on the possibility of independence.
But one Newcastle man thinks the borders of any new country should be redrawn – south of the Tyne.
Andrew Gray, a member of the Green Party, has launched a petition that he hopes could lead to a referendum which could see Newcastle vote to leave England.
While the eyes of the nation have been on Alex Salmond and Alistair Darling, Mr Gray, who lives in Heaton, believes the independence debate should extend beyond the Scottish borders.
Distance from London, tuition fees, the rising cost of social care and the privatisation of the NHS are among a hat-trick of reasons Mr Gray believes Newcastle should join Scotland.
“Many people in the North East feel distant from our government in Westminster, both economically and politically.
“The Scottish Parliament has proved that different ways of running public services are possible, including an NHS without the internal market, higher education without tuition fees, and, if there’s a yes vote in the referendum, defence without the threat of Trident.
“We therefore call on the UK Government to grant a referendum to all who live north of Hadrian’s Wall, or in Newcastle and North Tyneside council areas.
“We would choose whether to remain in England or to join Scotland.
“We call on the Government to arrange and fund this referendum, and to be bound by the result.”
Dr Alistair Clark, a senior politics lecturer at Newcastle University, said the idea was “interesting” but that Scotland is unlikely to expand.
He said feelings of neglect by Westminster have helped lead to the Scottish independence debate as well as devolved power for Northern Ireland and Wales, and those are shared by the region.
“It’s an interesting idea and obviously there’s a lot of sympathy and shared feeling and a lot of links between Scotland and the North of England.
“The issue that it points to is that the north has not been well-governed from Westminster.”
But he added:
“I do not think anyone has interest in moving the border. I don’t really think Scotland wants to add stacks of territory and I don’t really think England would want to give it up.
“There is no political will behind this and you would need considerable political will to make this move.”
The referendum on Scottish independence is due to take place on September 18.
> Why stop at the north bank of the Tyne ? Extend the Scottish border to the north bank of the Tees !
Source – Newcastle Journal, 01 Sept 2014
Seems a Surrealist managed to hack into Labour’s press team’s Twitter account yesterday, giving the impression that Ed Miliband had come up with his most revolutionary policy so far.
‘Everybody should have his own owl,’ said the tweet that quickly took flight on social media.
One tweeter said: ‘We had hoped our compulsory owl guarantee would be a head turning policy, but sadly it’s no longer going to take flight. #tweettwoo’.
Another, Lucy Vine, said: ‘You know… I think a free owl would actually genuinely make me vote Labour.’
More serious-minded observers pointed out that it would be a policy unlikely to find support at the Treasury, as baby barn owls cost around £80 each.
To provide one for all 63million people in the country would cost £5billion a year, or around 5 per cent of the entire budget for the NHS.
But if you think that’s expensive, just consider that the Trident nuclear weapons system cost £5.5 million in 2010-11… and is projected to cost £37.5m by 2015-16.
What would you rather have – weapons of mass destruction over which you have no control, or an owl ?
Sadly, Labour politicians have no more imagination than their opponents, so it’ll be back to stealing ideas from the Tories and UKIP.