It’s one ex-leader apiece for Chris and Nick

by Stephen Tall on October 26, 2007

Last week, Paddy Ashdown endorsed Nick Clegg as leader, both in The Guardian and on YouTube.

Today, it’s the turn of David Steel to endorse a candidate – and he’s plumping for Chris Huhne. The full story is on Chris’s campaign website. Here’s Lord Steel’s quote, which also seeks to re-open the Trident debate:

“I have known Chris Huhne for 25 years, and worked last year with him on the Steel Commission. I therefore enthusiastically endorse him. He is a man of great ability and experience.

“Having enjoyed a talk with both candidates there is also one policy matter which motivates my choice. The current party policy on Trident replacement is that we don’t need to make a decision yet. While that is technically correct, it is hardly a convincing stance to put before the electorate.

“With the end of the cold war, with our armed forces requiring better equipment in the fight against terrorism, and with service families seeking improved housing, it is (as former defence chief Lord Brammall argued in a House of Lords debate) unsustainable to commit billions of pounds on a new generation of so called independent nuclear deterrent. Chris Huhne will be bolder on that issue.”

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. . . so it all hangs on the casting vote of Jeremy Thorpe.

by Laurence Boyce on October 26, 2007 at 3:49 pm. Reply #

Given our insistance on inclusivity for ” predecessor parties” does David Owen get a vote?

by David Morton on October 26, 2007 at 3:54 pm. Reply #

I think David Steel is spot on.
I wonder if this is going to be a matter for debate in this leadership contest?
The current policy completely lacks imagination and would appear to be one geared towards the Lib Dems not taking a position at the next general election. What a waste!
Yet at a time when global warming is a serious threat to our national security, having instead to contemplate spending billions on nuclear weapons that are most unlikely to have any deterance effect is a complete waste of money and wrong set of priorities.

by Geoffrey Payne on October 26, 2007 at 3:57 pm. Reply #

Does anyone know what Huhnes stance on trident is? I must say that would swing my vote.

by David Morton on October 26, 2007 at 4:16 pm. Reply #

I find this slightly odd; Chris’ team has put up a statement which hints that he’s anti Britain retaining nuclear weapons. If this is the case why isn’t he saying so openly? If it’s not the case what are they saying?

I recall in the last leadership election Chris Huhne did a podcast interview with Tom Paul in which he came out in favour of retaining a nuclear capability. As a unilateralist that did have an impact on how I voted last time.

by Theo Butt Philip on October 26, 2007 at 4:29 pm. Reply #

I’ve emailed his camapign today asking for clarification. lets see what he says.

by David Morton on October 26, 2007 at 4:43 pm. Reply #

In the previous leadership election he said that he was not a unilateralist, but he made apoint of opposing replacing Trident.
I started posting a few comments about this this time round as well, but I desisted because given the party now has a policy, I am doubtful he can change it.
I suppose the policy gives you the flexibility to support it, but still be pro or anti replacing Trident, which got Simon Hughes and Tim Farron off the hook during the debate last time.
I guess that is how fudge works.

by Geoffrey Payne on October 26, 2007 at 4:55 pm. Reply #

Unfortunately a very large proportion of the billions is already committed as RollsRoyce and VSEL were given bankable guarantees of future orders so that the development costs of PWR2 and the construction facilities did not all appear in the Astute class costings, and the UK maintained a submarine manufacturing capability.

by Ian Roebuck on October 26, 2007 at 6:30 pm. Reply #

Lord Maclennan, former leader of SDP and joint leader of Liberal Democrats with David Steel 1987-88 is listed as supporter of Chris Huhne at

So it 2-1 for Chris.

by Anonymous on October 28, 2007 at 11:17 am. Reply #

Theo – Chris says (Observer interview) – “Huhne ruled this out. He said he favoured a less powerful, ‘minimal’ deterrent, even if that meant it would be ‘more vulnerable’ to attack by other nuclear powers”

I have to say I have no clear idea what his stance now is apart from looking like saying all things to all people.

by Hywel on October 28, 2007 at 11:30 am. Reply #

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