An opinion poll of over 500 Liberal Democrat party members carried out by YouGov for Greenpeace has found that only 7% said they supported a like-for-like replacement of Trident.
The key question asked over the options for replacing Trident was:
As you may know, there is currently debate about whether or not the UK should replace its Trident nuclear weapons system. Current policy is to replace the Trident submarines with a new fleet of boats, and to replace the ballistic nuclear missiles they carry at a later date. Which of the following options would you favour most?
Replace Trident with a broadly comparable system: 7%
Replace Trident with a cheaper system: 32%
Not renew Trident and give up nuclear weapons altogether: 57%
Don’t know: 4%
Fieldwork: 10-14 September 2010
The usual caveats about taking care over reading too much into individual polls apply, but the big margins between different answers suggest that even if the sampling was a little off the underlying findings are solid. The 57% looks on the high side compared to previous conference votes, but those have been with a clear steer from the party leadership against unilateralism and before the financial crisis hit.
The figures also suggest that the emerging coalition government compromise on Trident – put off any decision on a replacement until after the next general election – may turn out to be one of the most popular parts of the coalition with party members.
A motion on Trident is set to be in Sunday’s emergency motions ballot being held at Liberal Democrat conference. If it comes out on top in the ballot, the motion would then be debated later in the week.