This is a joint statement by a number of members of Labour’s national policy forum in 2014
The assertion keeps being made by journalists, MPs and Labour Party members that Labour’s policy making process has in recent years cemented a pro-Trident position. It has not. We should be absolutely clear: during the 2010-2015 parliament, the national policy forum discussed the issue of Trident and it was a major topic at the final policy forum gathering at Milton Keynes in July 2014.
An unambiguous and non-negotiable pro-Trident policy would never have got through that forum. Over 50 amendments from local parties were submitted to a hawkish pro-nuclear draft document and as a result the policy was changed significantly. Crucially, nuclear weapons would be included in a Labour government’s strategic defence and security review. The previous draft wording indicating Labour would proceed with Trident replacement (i.e. that Labour would ‘ensure the deterrent is delivered in the most cost-effective and strategic way‘) was removed. A commitment ‘to show leadership in achieving progress on global disarmament‘ was added. The final wording included:
Labour has said [past tense] that we are committed to a minimum, credible independent nuclear deterrent, delivered through a continuous at-sea deterrent. It would require a clear body of evidence for us to change this belief [i.e. the belief could be changed] … the process and debate leading up to the next strategic defence and security review in 2015 needs to be open, inclusive and transparent, examining all capabilities, including nuclear. It must also examine cost implications as well as strategic necessities … To this end [Labour] will have a continuing consultation, inviting submissions from all relevant stakeholders.”
So the national policy forum (NPF) only reached consensus because it agreed without dissent that future nuclear weapons would be subject to a full defence and security review by a 2015 Labour government, with continuing debate including consultation with party members, affiliates and other relevant stakeholders, before proceeding further. This was endorsed by all stakeholders including Kevan Jones and Vernon Coaker.
Some have also claimed that the 2015 conference, after Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader, endorsed continuing support for Trident. This is untrue. A national policy forum report was placed before conference noting the contents of the manifesto and discussion in the policy commission before the general election. Instead the conference decided not to discuss Trident as a priority.
Labour didn’t win the election and since we don’t have a Labour government the matter, according to thenational policy forum, is subject to continued assessment, and Corbyn is following the 2014 NPF consensus faithfully.