'LABOUR'S NUCLEAR WEAPONS STRATEGY'
The Times – 6 October 1989
Whoever first conceived of the notion of an 88-page "Policy Review Document" as a way out of Labour's difficulties will have deserved well of Mr Kinnock, if he ever scores a general election success. The burying of specific proposals in a welter of verbiage has succeeded, astonishingly, in throwing potential critics in the media off course.
Thus, your October 3 leading article, misleadingly entitled "Multilateral Labour", observed that the party "has at last rid itself" of unilateralism – a claim reiterated the following day.
Have you forgotten, Sir, that Labour went into the 1983 general election pledged to "take up Andropov's offer of matching reductions in SS-20s in return for British withdrawal of Polaris", according to its shadow defence spokesman John Silkin (Tribune, June 3, 1983)? What was that if not a policy of seeking to negotiate away our deterrent for something in return, just as is now proposed?
When Labour entered the 1987 general election pledged to take up the USSR's "firm undertaking" to Mr Kinnock in Moscow in 1984 "to make a missile-for-missile reduction in the nuclear weapons of the Soviet Union in return for the reduction in British nuclear weapons" (Mr Kinnock, quoted on Radio Moscow, November 27, 1984), was that also not identical to Labour's current policy of negotiating them away for the best return obtainable?
It is not multilateralism to give up all nuclear weapons whilst our potential opponents retain more than enough to obliterate us. As Kenneth Baker has pointed out, what matters is "not the weapons which each side gives up, but the weapons which each side has left at the end of the process".
What people need to know is whether or not a Labour government would continue to possess nuclear weapons as long as the Soviet Union has them. The press will perform and important public service if it insists upon an answer to that question and stops referring to Labour as newly "multilateral" until that answer is forthcoming.
Dr JULIAN LEWIS
Policy Research Associates