The Political Parties, Nuclear Weapons and the Future

  • Peter M. Jones
  • Gordon Reece


This chapter will consider the political impact and likely effects of this survey. Unlike previous surveys, which have tended to give a snapshot of public opinion at a given time, this survey has attempted to develop a deeper understanding of why people believe what they appear to believe. It was inspired by a similar survey undertaken in the United States in 1984, which some people believe had a major effect on the conduct of the presidential election campaign of the year.1


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  1. 2.
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  2. 3.
    Conservative Party Manifesto: The Next Moves Forward (London, May 1987).Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    Labour Party Manifesto: Britain will Win (London, May 1987).Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    SDP/Liberal Alliance Manifesto: Britain United (London, May 1987).Google Scholar
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    See Peter Jones, ‘British Defence Policy: the breakdown of Consensus’, Review of International Studies, vol. 13, no. 2, 1987, pp. 111–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 17.
    See, for example, George Younger, Secretary of State for Defence, ‘Success for the Old Firm’ in the Guardian, London, 4 December 1987, and David Mellor, Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, ‘The INF Agreement: Is it a good deal for the West?’ in NATO Review, vol. 35, no. 6, 1987.Google Scholar
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    George Younger, Secretary of State for Defence, ‘Success for the Old Firm’ in the Guardian, London, 4 December 1987. For the text of the NATO Nuclear Planning Group Communique, see NATO Review, vol. 31, no. 5, 1983.Google Scholar
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    Official government figures are disputed by other authorities who suggest that the superiority of Warsaw Pact forces has been greatly exaggerated. See, for example, M. Chalmers and L. Unterseher, Is there a Tank Gap? (Bradford School of Peace Studies. Peace Research Report no. 19, 1987).Google Scholar
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    For reports of Mrs Thatcher’s speech see the Guardian, London, 18 February 1988. In a separate article in the same edition it was reported that the then NATO Secretary-General, Lord Carrington, supported Mrs Thatcher’s position on modernisation but also recognised that the West Germans had a point of which some account should be taken. See the Guardian, London, 8 February 1988 for Sam Nunn’s remarks.Google Scholar
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    The text of the Labour Party policy review on defence was published in the Guardian, London, 8 May 1989. The document was passionately supported at the party’s National Executive Committee by Neil Kinnock, who adopted a clear multilateral approach to nuclear disarmament. Reaction to the party document was generally favourable, especially the vote at the Welsh Labour Party Conference, following a speech by Kinnock, reported in the Guardian, London, 13 May 1989. However, the new policy was roundly condemned by those on the left of the Labour Party, such as Ron Todd, the General Secretary of the Transport and General Workers Union and Ken Livingstone, who continued to support unilateral nuclear disarmament. In addition it was condemned as being ‘unilateralism in another wrapping’ by Mrs Thatcher. Guardian, London, 10 May 1989.Google Scholar
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    Neil Kinnock, interviewed in the Guardian, London, 18 July 1988.Google Scholar
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    Martin O’Neill MP, ‘Towards a nuclear-free future’, Labour Party News no. 10, July/August 1988, p. 15.Google Scholar
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    For a fuller discussion of this issue, see Peter Jones ‘British Defence Policy: the breakdown of consensus’, Review of International Studies, vol. 13, no. 1, 1987, pp. 111–31. However, after the publication of the 1988 Statement on the Defence Estimates, Mr Younger, the Secretary of State for Defence, said that he faces ‘difficult choices’ because his defence budget is no longer growing in real terms. One commentator suggested that this understated the longer term problems. See the Guardian, London, 18 May 1988.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Jean François-Poncet, ‘The European Pillar’, Atlantic Focus, no. 1. (Paris: Atlantic Institute for International Affairs, 1987). The paper also discusses some of the difficulties facing the proposed Franco-German co-operation on defence.Google Scholar
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    John Cartwright, Defence and Disarmament — the Dual Track (London: Campaign for Social Democracy, 1987), p. 5.Google Scholar
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    Paul Rogers, ‘Trident becomes Mrs Thatcher’s surprise ace’, New Statesman, 4 December 1987.Google Scholar
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    See, for example, M. Chichester and J. Wilkinson, The Uncertain Ally: British Defence Policy, 1960–1990 (London: Gower, 1982).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Peter M. Jones and Gordon Reece 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter M. Jones
    • 1
  • Gordon Reece
    • 2
  1. 1.University of ReadingUK
  2. 2.University of BristolUK

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