MAIL ON SUNDAY COMMENT: Labour’s ‘Minister of Peace’ must go… he is a nuclear menace  | #emailsecurity | #phishing | #ransomware


MAIL ON SUNDAY COMMENT: Labour’s ‘Minister of Peace’ must go… he is a nuclear menace

There are limits to what can be said by anyone who wishes to have any serious influence on our politics and government. They are very wide.

British politics is supposed to embrace a very wide range of opinion. It is one of the main purposes of Parliament that everyone, or at least almost everyone, should feel that at least one voice in the House of Commons speaks for them.

No matter how eccentric or obscure a view it is, it is entitled to a hearing. This is a very British rule, and it has tended to be the parties of the Left that have followed it most in practice.

Labour, thanks to a long tradition of pacifism on its radical wing, has tended to provide a home for many of these voices. And quite right too.

No policy cannot be improved. Serious, thoughtful opposition is necessary in all areas of government to expose folly, overspending and complacency.

As for the issue of the Trident nuclear missile system, there are plenty of fairly crusty generals who privately wish to scrap it. They think the money should be spent on conventional weapons instead.

Speaking to a meeting of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in September 2019, Fabian Hamilton said that ‘Russian hackers can already hack into the software’ that controls Trident

The much-admired D-Day hero Field Marshal Lord Bramall said openly in 2009 that he thought renewing the missiles was a useless waste of money. Who would deny him the right to hold such a view and express it?

So, while it is a little odd that Labour has a Shadow Minister for Peace and Disarmament – when he has no real Minister to shadow – it is not unreasonable for Labour to maintain such a position on its front bench. 

That is presumably why the Opposition leader, Sir Keir Starmer, did not abolish the post, even though it was created by his now-despised forerunner Jeremy Corbyn. So Mr Fabian Hamilton remains in his position.

And The Mail on Sunday today reveals that he has made shocking use of it. Speaking to a meeting of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in September 2019, he said that ‘Russian hackers can already hack into the software’ that controls Trident.

This may or may not be true, though many will doubt it. But, astonishingly, he also said that ‘I’d be quite happy about that’. His defenders will point out that he added: ‘As long as we could do the same to theirs.’

But can an elected British MP, who may possibly hold office in the future, say such a thing? Does the fact that he ‘balances’ it by saying that he has no problem ‘as long as we could do the same to theirs’ get him off the hook?

Not really. The hacking of defence equipment by a hostile foreign power is an act of war, equivalent to physical sabotage of an aircraft or a ship.

In the case of nuclear weapons, it is even more terrible. We must surely all hope that it does not happen, and be appalled if it does. The fact that we have done similar damage to the other side simply would not diminish that.

Whatever Mr Hamilton may think personally about our nuclear deterrent, or about deterrence in general, it is fair to say that its existence is supported by a great majority of voters, put to them repeatedly in party manifestos.

On page 101 of the 2019 Labour manifesto, on which Mr Hamilton stood for re-election, are the words: ‘Labour supports the renewal of the Trident nuclear deterrent.’

If he rejected that, then he should have stood for another party or on another platform. As it is, he really has to quit his position immediately.

With a terrifying war now raging in Ukraine, and the nuclear-armed Vladimir Putin behaving irrationally and unpredictably, we cannot have someone with such irresponsible opinions anywhere near even the smallest levers of power.

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