Corbyn has to build a sound argument to sell a nuclear-free defence policy

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Should Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s views on removing nuclear warheads from Trident submarines be dismissed out of hand (your report,18 January)?

There is little doubt that support for a transition to a non-nuclear defence policy has always lacked one vital stimulus – credibility. There are three main reasons for this: the first relates to deterrence theory, and how any potential adversary could be discouraged from aggression if the threat of nuclear annihilation were to be removed. The second involves lack of clear detail on a diversification policy that will at once provide strong defence for the UK and secure many highly skilled jobs in that sector. The third now appears to be whether existing or new subs can in fact be adapted for conventional weapons use alone.

On all three Mr Corbyn and his shadow defence secretary, Emily Thornberry, have much to do if they are to win round sceptics in their party, workers at Faslane and Barrow-in Furness and elsewhere, and the wider voting public. It needs research and detail that so far supporters of non-nuclear defence have failed to provide.

The case for a non-nuclear defence policy within Nato remains a strong one. It will always be open to the criticism that it simply means hiding behind the US nuclear umbrella. Most Nato members do not have nuclear weapons. It is not necessary that they should have, as Nato ought to be about security, diversity and the protection of liberties.

It also requires each member to demonstrate self-respect and a strong defence policy is surely part of that. The challenge for Mr Corbyn and his team is to give the public the detail that will show that self-respect, reassure them that the benefits of cutting spending on Trident will not make the country more vulnerable than it is now, and to keep faith with the many employees whose skills have been nurtured in the nuclear era.

Bob Taylor

Shiel Court, Glenrothes, Fife

In the early days of the Polaris project Harold Wilson floated the idea of sending the boats to sea as attack submarines, armed only with torpedoes. Jeremy Corbyn has hit on the same wheeze, though now the weapons outfit could include cruise missiles. It would make more sense to “save” Barrow jobs by building more Astute class, which we badly need.

Frank Donald

Tantallon Place, Edinburgh