Saturday's debate at the NPF on the Government's Defence White Paper was as expected a feisty affair. Secretary of State Des Browne didn't take any prisoners (is that a good or a bad thing in a Defence Secretary?) but at least it was clearer afterwards where the lines of the argument have been drawn.
Senior members of the Grassroots Alliance tried to dominate the discussion, but their contributions were mostly very weak - to suggest that as the West's possession of nuclear weapons hadn't protected it from the atrocities of 9/11 and 7/7 we should not renew our arsenal in the future was poor logic, and easily swatted away by Browne. Equally he was dismissive of the multilateralist delegate who thought that our position as a world power would suffer if we did not replace Trident.
Browne made a cogent case regarding the importance of submarines as the method of delivery, and contemptuously dealt with the LibDem argument that we can somehow stave off the decision indefinitely.
The key passge seemed to me to be, "It is very difficult to predict how the global security environment is likely to develop over the next 50 years. But global uncertainty and tensions are increasing and we cannot guarantee we will not face a nuclear threat in 20-30 years. Now is not the right to move from our current multilateral stance to total unilateral disarmament. To decide now not to maintain our deterrent would be gamble with the nation's security - a gamble we are prepared to take."