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UK’s Ministry of Defence called out for lobbying MPs on nuclear weapons

MoD under fire for lobbying MPs on nuclear weapons, The Ferret, Rob Edwards. March 13, 2022

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) is facing criticism for lobbying up to 27 Westminster politicians on the “benefits” of nuclear weapons for “UK industry, economy and the union”

Four lords and 23 MPs were invited to two briefings by senior MoD officials at the Faslane nuclear submarine base on the Clyde in 2021. According to the MoD, the aim was to “educate” them on the “continued relevance” of the Trident nuclear weapons system, and how replacing it was “value for money”.

According to experts, it is “highly unusual” for a government department to lobby politicians in this way. Campaigners questioned whether it was an “appropriate” use of public money and accused the MoD of acting as an “influencer” for nuclear vested interests………………………

One lobbying expert disputed the MoD’s suggestion it was not trying to influence politicians. “This is clearly a lobbying and influencing strategy, thinly disguised as a briefing to promote dialogue about defence policy,” said Dr Will Dinan, a senior lecturer in political communications at the University of Stirling.

“It is highly unusual for a government department to lobby UK politicians in this way. While the rationale offered is that these briefings are simply educational, it is clear that the overall strategic aim is to increase support among parliamentarians for maintaining nuclear capability.”

Dinan maintained that the nuclear briefings were “hardly neutral, informational or apolitical”. The need for nuclear weapons was “highly political” and MoD officials appeared to have “strayed some way from offering neutral and balanced advice to inform decision makers”, he said.

The Nuclear Information Service, which researches nuclear weapons, was also critical of the MoD. “These documents make it clear that the purpose of this exercise is to bolster support for the UK’s nuclear weapons programme,” said the group’s director, David Cullen.

“Lobbying in this fashion is not an appropriate use of public funds and diminishes the prospects for meaningful parliamentary oversight.”

The Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament pointed out that retired military commanders had spoken out against nuclear weapons. “The MoD is acting as an influencer for the nuclear-military-industrial complex with vested interests in them being constantly modernised and never given up,” said the campaign’s chair, Lynn Jamieson.

“If the MoD had a genuinely educational agenda it would include consideration of how to move towards signing the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. But then their job isn’t education, it’s defence and security — and Scottish CND’s view is that nuclear weapons put that at risk

The SNP MSP, Bill Kidd, is co-president of the international group of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament. He pointed out that MSPs from the Scottish Parliament had not been invited to MoD nuclear briefings. 

He said: “Will this be because we, at Holyrood, have voted time and again against the maintenance of these weapons of mass murder being stationed in our midst and looking for their removal? Or could it be that it’s Westminster that votes on the budget and long-term future of nuclear weapons and therefore it’s MPs who need to be influenced?”

Kidd also criticised the House of Commons and Lords for voting through upgrades and increases in nuclear warheads. This breached article six of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty committing countries to nuclear disarmament, he claimed……………..

March 14, 2022 - Posted by | politics, UK

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