Skip To Content
Breaking News

Will Miliband Family Feud Hurt British Candidate?

(Reuters) — Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservatives accused opposition Labor Party leader Ed Miliband on Thursday of preparing to stab Britain in the back by scrapping its nuclear deterrent in a deal with Scottish nationalists to win power after a May 7 election.

Conservative Defense Secretary Michael Fallon made the allegation, forcefully rejected by Miliband, as he said his party would renew Britain’s fleet of aging nuclear submarines if it won the national vote.

With neither Labor nor the Conservatives forecast to win a majority at the ballot, Labor’s most likely route to power is a deal with the Scottish National Party (SNP) which opposes any renewal of the submarine program.

“For Ed Miliband, our security and our Union are just another bargaining chip,” Fallon wrote in the Times newspaper. He described the nuclear deterrent as the “ultimate guarantee” of Britain’s safety, citing nuclear weapons development in Russia and North Korea and conventional threats from Islamic State.

The Conservative election campaign has focused heavily on questioning Miliband’s suitability to govern, but Fallon went further than previous personal attacks, saying Miliband’s decision in 2010 to challenge his own brother for the Labor leadership showed he was power hungry and could not be trusted.

“Ed Miliband stabbed his own brother in the back to become Labor leader. Now he is willing to stab the United Kingdom in the back to become prime minister and put our country’s security at risk,” Fallon wrote.

Miliband responded by saying: “Michael Fallon is a decent man but today I think he has demeaned himself and he’s demeaned his office.”

Labor said it had been clear in its support for a continuous sea-based nuclear deterrent.

Replacing the vessels carrying the Trident missiles – four Vanguard-class submarines – is expected to cost more than 20 billion pounds ($30 billion) with a final decision on the renewal due in 2016.

The Conservatives have long supported renewing Trident, and since the 2010 election have resisted pressure from their junior coalition partners, the Liberal Democrats, to reduce the number of nuclear submarines.

Opponents argue replacing Trident could cost up to 100 billion pounds and Britain should consider cheaper alternatives.

Under the current system, Britain always has one nuclear submarine on patrol, making the country one of only two nuclear powers within the European Union, with the fleet based at the Faslane naval base near Glasgow, Scotland’s biggest city.

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon said on Wednesday her party would “never ever, ever” vote for a renewal of the Trident program.

Labor, which has previously mooted the idea that three submarines could fulfill the same role, denied they would be willing to cut a deal with the SNP over Trident. ]

“The Conservative Party are trying to create division with us where there isn’t division with us,” Miliband said at a Labor campaign event. “Making up differences when differences don’t exist on issues of national security is frankly a ridiculous and pathetic way to conduct a campaign.”

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.