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Last Updated: Friday, 9 March 2007, 14:50 GMT
Pursuit of a politician
Paul Barltrop
Paul Barltrop
The Politics Show West

Anti-nuclear demonstration
Dawn Primarolo supported CND in the 1980s

'I have changed my mind. I was wrong.' Not words you generally hear from the lips of politicians. But surely sometimes they must admit it...

The government that wants to spend tens of billions of pounds replacing Britain's Trident missile system is Labour.

A quarter of a century ago Labour wanted to scrap all Britain's nuclear weapons - unilaterally.

And for the ordinary man or woman in the street that may seem puzzling. Back then we were in a Cold War facing a superpower with a formidable nuclear arsenal.

Today the Soviet Union is gone, America is the sole superpower, our enemies are terrorists.

Politics changed

A good example of how views change is Dawn Primarolo. In the 1980's she was a rising star in Bristol's Labour party, and an ally of Tony Benn.

She was proud to call herself a socialist, brought into politics by things like "the revulsion that people felt with the Vietnam war."

"I moved much more into community groups, the homelessness movement, the squatters movement, the anti-war movements, the rise of CND," she said in an interview after entering Parliament in 1987.

Many others felt the same way then - and still do now.

Right Rev Peter Price
Right Rev Peter Price: Anti... then and now.

Bishop militant

Among them is the Right Rev Peter Price. He opposed Trident as a young priest.

Today, as the Bishop of Bath and Wells, he is again taking a stand.

"It is morally unjustified and the very antithesis of the gospel," he says.

"To renew Trident is to break faith. Britain has signed up to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty which specifically includes Trident."

He helped get the Church of England's ruling body, the Synod, to stiffen its opposition to replacing the missiles.

He would like to get some answers from the politicians. So too would Howard Andrews - a World War 2 veteran who has just turned a hundred.

For his birthday he turned convention on its head - and himself wrote to the Queen asking her to intervene.

"War is a wasteful thing, it's a wicked thing, and nobody ever wins," he sighs.

"To spend that amount of money when there's so much else really absolutely urgent doesn't make sense."

Dawn Primarolo
Dawn Primarolo MP had a change of mind

Changed view

So we set out to ask Dawn Primarolo why she had changed her view.

It wasn't easy. Our request for an interview about Trident was turned down - she would be 'fully committed' when she returned from Parliament to Bristol.

But when a separate bid was made to talk to her about a new children's centre in her constituency, her officials found she did have time to talk.

So we went along to ask her about that - and Trident.

Would the MP admit she had changed her mind and been wrong in the past?

Find out on the Politics Show West on Sunday.

Tune into the Politics Show, to find out. And we would like to know what you think - e-mail us here!

The Politics Show on Sunday 11 March 2007 at 11:30 GMT on BBC One.

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