Sunday, April 18, 2010

Dispensing with the full nuclear loaf

I mentioned in a previous post Iain Dale's wishful thinking that a surge for the Lib Dems might split the 'centre-left' vote and lead to a 1983-style landslide for the Tories. To be fair he now seems to have well and truly given up on that one! However there's one 1983-vintage fantasy that leading Tories don't seem to be quite ready to give up on just yet. They were convinced after Thursday's debate that Nick Clegg had made a tactical blunder by repeatedly stressing that the replacement for Trident could not be afforded, and were rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of this being painted as a 'loony-left' fringe position in precisely the way Michael Foot's unilateralism was in 1983. The only trouble is that today's (rather historic) BPIX poll in the Mail on Sunday shows that the public have long since moved on from Britain's Cold War-era delusions of grandeur, even if the Tories - and indeed Labour - haven't. By a margin of 46% to 34%, respondents agree that the UK's nuclear 'deterrent' should be scrapped.

But as Jeff points out today, there is actually a huge problem for Clegg and the Lib Dems on this issue - it just isn't the one the Tories have in mind. The problem is that Clegg doesn't actually agree with the public that our nuclear weapons should be scrapped, although you'd never have got that impression from listening to him on Thursday night. As Jeff hints, this could be a huge opportunity for the SNP (if they ever get enough access to the media to put their case forward, that is). It's a bit of a no-brainer that, if you believe in a nuclear weapons-free Scotland, you should vote for the only main party to be offering you the full loaf, rather than just a couple of slices.

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