Sunday, August 06, 2006

Nuclear subs and party politics

HMS Tireless pictured last Monday in Southampton water.
copyright BBC.

For the first time since the year 2000, a Royal Navy submarine, HMS Tireless made a week long official visit to the city of Southampton. Operating from Devonport Naval Base in Plymouth, Tireless has recently completed a revalidation maintenance period and is now in the midst of final preparations for a return to the fleet after 21 years of service. With 130 Officers and men, the recent refit made her one of the most modern and capable in the Royal Navy, able to fire Tomahawk cruise missiles and other conventional wepons. HMS Tireless's Commander, Iain Breckenridge was quoted as saying that the visit "will show the city and the Royal Navy working together to achieve common goals". Sadly, that has not been the case. Despite being a member of a government that has deployed and used submaines extensively and most recently fireing missles in anger during the Iraq war, Southampton Labour MP Alan Whitehead opposed the visit. On Sunday, a Labour Councillor, Dennis Harryman was the guest speaker at a CND rally at Riverside Park, near Cobden Bridge. He was candid in his opposition to all forms of nuclear power and defence and defiantly spoke out against his party. One observer said to me that he was more militant than new Labour. Shockingly, arriving in his official car and wearing his symbols of office, the Mayor of Southampton, Liberal Democrat Cllr John Slade was also present.
Messrs Whitehead, Slade and Harryman are free to attend any political meetings they so wish as private individuals. They may say what they like, even if most people profoundly disagree with them. If they choose, they may oppose the policies of the national parties on whose platform they were elected, although one might question why they continue to seek re-election on such party-political tickets.
However it can not be right for the Mayor to attend such controversial events in an official capacity at tax-payer's expence. Nor for Mr Harryman to parade his position as an elected Labour Councillor to attack the defence policies of this country and his party. Nor for Mr Whitehead to support his government on a peacemeal basis. If they wish to expound such views
let them resign the whip from their respective parties. Let them campaign as individuals. They may then do as they wish but not in the name of their constituents, nor in my name or the name of the City in which I live.


Blogger Jeremy Moulton said...


It was a fascinating meeting. I have put a posting on my blog.

1:05 pm  
Blogger Matt Dean said...

Councillor Harriman’s attack on his government was extraordinary; his personal views are off the wall.

12:57 am  

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