Has Huhne found the weapon to beat Clegg?

Has Huhne found the weapon to beat Clegg?

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    Could the “no” to the Trident replacement help him and his party?

After a period when the main complaint about the Lib Dem leadership race was that both contenders appeared the same the man who came second last time, Chris Huhne, has put a new issue on the table – should Britain spend the billions on replacing Trident and maintaining its independent nuclear deterrent?

In an interview with the Observer Huhne declared it would be ‘ridiculous’ to spend up to £15bn updating the UK’s ageing submarine-based nuclear arsenal. This was he said “a Cold War relic”

I think that this is a very significant move that should resonate well with largish sections of the party membership – which is probably a lot more left-wing than most of those who vote for the party in elections. Clegg, meanwhile, has suggested that he would strongly support the Trident replacement.

For more than half a century the issue of Britain’s independent nuclear capability has been a major fault-line in the nation’s politics and the need to replace the existing system means that it’s still there. If the left-winger John McDonnell had managed to find the nominations to challenge Brown for the Labour leadership then Trident would figured largely in that race.

Not replacing Trident and the total reliance on the US that it implies also fits well with the Lib Dems opposition to the Iraq War. A Lib Dem party following a Huhne policy could cause problems for Labour as it seeks to attract and retain those supporters who switched in 2005.

I’ve now got more than £100 on Huhne at average odds of 2.82/1. That seems the value bet.

Mike Smithson

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