It comes as a shock to be reminded from time to time that some of the European allies now have opposition parties, old parties with familiar, respectable names, that have gone around the bend. Such is Britain's Labor Party, which, while not otherwise engaged in sharpening up the class war, devotes itself to the pursuit of unilateral nuclear disarmament. So it was that the party's leader, Neil Kinnock, recently found himself in Moscow listening to President Konstantin Chernenko spin out a familiar line to the effect that Britain would be removed from the Soviet war target list just as soon as the Brits show their good faith by dismantling American nuclear bases and junking Britain's own nuclear bombs.
The only remarkable thing about this episode is that Mr. Chernenko apparently managed to keep from laughing in Mr. Kinnock's face. Anyway, Mr. Kinnock seemed to take him at his solemn word. "Kinnock Claims Nuclear Triumph," the Guardian headlined, reporting that the Labor leader was "clearly delighted" with "these Kremlin undertakings" and that he had expressed the hope they could convert Labor's disarmament policy, up to now a distinct electoral liability, into an asset. No, Mr. Kinnock conceded to the press, verification had not been on the agenda of his talks; he had no "piece of paper" with the Kremlin's promise to guarantee Britain a free nuclear pass in the next war, since "we were not in the business of making treaties."
Americans are fortunate to have their nuclear debate conducted within a considerably narrower and more responsible part of the political spectrum. The British, these days, do not have that comfort. The Labor Party not so long ago held power, but it is now in the hands of people trading on the public's susceptibility to nuclear nightmare. We wish Mr. Kinnock and his kind a very long stay in the political wilderness.