We live in a dangerous and uncertain world. While terrorism is the most immediate contemporary threat, the dangers of nuclear weapons remain an ever present concern. During the Cold War a series of nuclear arms control agreements helped to mitigate the worst excesses of the arms race and contributed to the easing of tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union, and their respective alliances.
As the new leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, wrestles with his own beliefs about nuclear weapons and those opposing beliefs of many members of the Shadow Cabinet, it is interesting to look back to the debates which took place in the Labour Government of Clement Attlee in the immediate post-war period.
In March 2007 the British government of Tony Blair officially decided to extend the life of the Trident submarine deterrent through a ‘life extension programme’ whilst also placing before parliament the need for a successor system. This essentially began the debate on a successor system.
The beliefs of British Prime Ministers since 1941 about the nation’s security and role in the world have been of critical importance in understanding the development and retention of a nuclear capability. Winston Churchill supported the development as a means of national survival during the Second World War.