Maria Eagle

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Person.png Maria Eagle   Facebook Powerbase TwitterRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
(Lawyer, Politician)
Twin Labour MPs Maria Eagle (left) and Angela Eagle
Born17 February 1961
Bridlington, England
Alma materOxford University/Pembroke College, University of Law
Member ofLabour Friends of Israel
British Labour MP who held several ministerial appointments in Tony Blair's government

Employment.png Shadow Secretary of State for Defence Wikipedia-icon.png

In office
14 September 2015 - 5 January 2016
Succeeded byEmily Thornberry

Employment.png Shadow Secretary of State for Transport Wikipedia-icon.png

In office
8 October 2010 - 7 October 2013
Preceded bySadiq Khan

Employment.png Shadow Solicitor General Wikipedia-icon.png

In office
11 May 2010 - 8 October 2010

Employment.png Minister for Children Wikipedia-icon.png

In office
17 June 2005 - 8 May 2006

Maria Eagle (born 17 February 1961) is a British Labour Party Member of Parliament (MP) for Garston and Halewood who held several ministerial appointments in Tony Blair's government and shadow cabinet positions under both Ed Miliband and Jeremy Corbyn.[1]

Defending Trident

On 14 September 2015, Maria Eagle was confirmed as the Shadow Defence Secretary in Jeremy Corbyn's first Shadow Cabinet.[2] In November 2015, her support for renewing the Trident nuclear programme brought her into conflict with both Ken Livingstone, her co-chair of Labour's defence review, and with Jeremy Corbyn.[3][4]

An unachievable fallacy

On 13 October 2015, Peter Biddulph wrote the following email to Labour's Shadow Defence Minister, Maria Eagle:

Dear Ms Eagle,

Thank you for taking the trouble to reply to my emails.

You quote Labour Party policy as including Trident as a "minimum, credible, independent and continuously-at-sea nuclear deterrent". I hope you might be willing to re-examine these words in the light of true expertise in this field, namely the United States Department of Defense, the office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and members of the Rand Corporation asked to analyse the results of nuclear war between the US and Russia. If you stay with their analysis to its conclusion you will perhaps understand that current Labour policy is an unachievable fallacy.

In 1961 Daniel Ellsberg was a Rand consultant to the Office of the Secretary of State for Defense, Robert McNamara. At that time NATO policy rested openly on US readiness to carry out a nuclear first-use strike against a Soviet conventional attack. Ellsberg was asked to draft, and McNamara approved, a top secret secretary-of-defense guidance to the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) for operational plans for general nuclear war.

Ellsberg had drafted a number of questions for the JCS to consider, one of which was "If existing general war plans were carried out how many people would be killed in the Soviet Union and China alone?"

Analysis by the National Security Council came in the form of a straight line graph, a rising line that related fatalities on the vertical axis in millions of deaths, against time on the horizontal axis in months from the time of the attack. The figures showed only deaths, not wounded or sick. The lowest number was 275 million dead. The higher was 325 million. These numbers were for the Soviet Union and China alone.

Ellsberg then drafted a follow-up question to cover areas contiguous to the Sino-Soviet bloc. The answer came: 100 million would die from US attacks on targets in Eastern Europe satellite countries. Fallout from US surface explosions would decimate the populations of neutral countries such as Finland, Sweden, Austria and Afghanistan, Japan and Pakistan. The Finns would be virtually exterminated. In addition, another 100 million would die from wind-borne contamination, in the words of a US general "depending which way the wind would blow." In addition to the above, fallout fatalities inside NATO allies from US attacks against what was at that time the Warsaw Pact nations would add a further 100 million dead.

All the above figures excluded deaths from Soviet attacks upon the USA, Western Europe, and US bases around the world. Nor - and this point is especially relevant to Trident - did the figures include deaths from tactical nuclear weapons. The total of deaths from US attacks alone would be five to six hundred million. A hundred holocausts. Mostly inflicted within a day or two, the rest over six months, and about one third of them in allied or neutral countries.

To this day NATO retains a first-use policy within NATO areas. The USA retains a first-use policy for areas outside the NATO area. It was reinforced and confirmed in 2002 by President George W. Bush. Ellsberg still remembers holding the graph in his hand and looking at it in the an office of the White House annex in the Executive Office building on a spring morning in 1961. He was thinking: "This piece of paper, what this piece of paper represents, should not exist. It should never, in the course of human history, have come into existence."

For those who support the retention and possible use of Trident, the above information exposes the fallacy. The word "independent" has a hollow ring. The US would never allow the UK to even threaten another nation with Trident. To do so would risk drawing the USA into a nuclear war not of its choosing.

Immediately upon any spoken threat by the US or Britain to use Trident against any nation, there would be world-wide reaction and nuclear readiness. The Soviet Union and China, with Pakistan and India would immediately move to high alert. Russia and China would consider first-use. The USA would be automatically in first-use mode, as would Israel. All would speak the words "If we don't kill them first, we lose."

Britain's so-called deterrent would still be sitting in launch pens even as US, Russian and Chinese detonations echoed around the planet. Only then would we discover the truth of the 1961 analysis. In defence of Freedom, protecting British values, saving the world - words to be rendered meaningless across a nation already dead or dying from nuclear contamination.

You might take the trouble to draw the figures on a page of graph paper, for your own use. Were I in your position I would find it hard to envisage showing it to my children or spouse. You may wish to verify this information for yourself: Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers. Daniel Ellsberg. Penguin. First published 2002. See pages 57-61.

Take your political courage in both hands. Say No to Trident and prepare for the backlash from the USA and the Murdoch media. Do it for our children and future generations.

Sincerely yours,

Peter Biddulph[5]


Maria Eagle was moved to the position of Shadow Culture Secretary in January 2016 and resigned from the Shadow Cabinet on 27 June 2016,[6] as did her twin sister Angela Eagle.[7] She remains on the Labour backbenches under Keir Starmer's leadership.

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