The vote on whether Britain should renew its Trident nuclear deterrent system has been and gone. At the debate in the Commons that preceded the vote on Monday, Theresa May looked authoritative, saying loudly and proudly that she would launch Trident if necessary. This was met with predictable outrage from the SNP, who are demanding that Trident be removed from Scotland. That made them look hypocritical since they want an independent Scotland to be a member of NATO—an alliance committed to the use of nuclear weapons if necessary.
Meanwhile, the Labour Party looked, well, it looked like it almost always does at the moment: divided, confused and at some distance from reality. The backbench—led ably by John Woodcock, MP for Barrow and Furness and Chair of the Parliamentary Labour Party’s Defence Committee—put up a strong defence of Labour policy, which is commitment to the deterrent. Unfortunately all the good work was undermined by Jeremy Corbyn, who gave one of the worst parliamentary performances ever from an opposition leader.
It is not simply that after more than thirty years of practice he is unable to make a coherent case in favour of unilateral disarmament. Rather, he clearly had no idea what he was actually debating. He had to be reminded by a Labour MP that the debate was about the renewal of the boats that carry Trident not the renewal of the weapons system itself. Corbyn was baffled and bemused by this information.