'UNILATERALIST LOGIC'

Financial Times – 25 August 1989

Your thoughtful leading article on defence (August 22) is not alone in asserting that "Labour is escaping from its manifestly unpopular unilateralism." Yet is this really true? A close examination suggests that there are no grounds for claiming that the Labour Party has fundamentally changed its position.

When Neil Kinnock and Denis Healey went to Moscow in November 1984, they secured "a firm undertaking," from President Chernenko to scrap 64 Soviet missiles if Britain's entire stock of 64 Polaris rockets were abandoned by a future Labour government. Did that mean that Labour Party policy had ceased to be unilateralist? Of course it did not.

The "unilateralism" to which voters object (an average of 67 per cent in poll after Gallup poll for the past five years) is not the taking of individual steps in disarmament without waiting for the other side: it is the notion of giving up all our nuclear weapons while the Soviet Union retains its ability to vaporise our cities.

It is unilateralism if we give them all up and the Soviet Union gives up none: it is unilateralism if we give them all up and the Soviet Union gives up an equal number, and it is still unilateralism if we give them all up and the Soviet Union gives up a much larger number – while continuing to possess enough to obliterate us.

Until Neil Kinnock comes forward with a pledge to hold on to nuclear weapons as long as the Soviet Union has them, he will remain a unilateralist. There is no hint of such a commitment either in his policy review document or in anything he has subsequently said.

Dr JULIAN LEWIS
Policy Research Associates
London SE1