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Tory attacks on Ed are detestable but the practical case against Trident must be made

Bairns not Bombs CND TridentThe constant personal attacks on Ed Miliband by the Tories have rightly been deplored. Last week ,Tory defence spokesman Michael Fallon chose to claim that Ed “had stabbed his own brother in the back to lead Labour and was now willing to stab the UK in the back by doing a deal on Trident with the SNP to become PM.” His remarks were correctly seen as a new low. But just as depressing as the attack on Ed was the fact that nowhere in the resultant political hullabaloo was there any serious discussion of the practical  case against Trident.

This is not true of Scotland of course. Two week-ends ago five thousand people gathered in Glasgow to protest against Trident and carrying banners saying “Bairns not Bombs” and “Scrap Trident“. But, back in the Westminster bubble, the Labour party’s response to Fallon’s unpleasant remarks didn’t even contain the hint of a willingness to look at the costs of Trident, or of whether Trident was even any use against the threats we currently face including international terrorism.

So it is worth remembering that in a letter to The Times newspaper in 2009 three former defence chiefs said that the new Trident system would be pointless, as it would not deter terrorists or nuclear blackmailers and would make it far harder for Britain to encourage nuclear disarmament around the globe. The warnings came in a letter to The Times from former Chief of the Defence Staff Field Marshal Lord Bramall, and Generals Lord Ramsbotham, former Adjutant General, and Sir Hugh Beach, former Deputy Commander-in-Chief of UK Land Forces.

They argued that the huge cost of replacing Trident would be better spent on improving conventional forces. And they dismissed the idea that nuclear weapons are needed to boost Britain’s influence in the world, claiming that would be done far better by having more well-equipped troops with hi-tech weapons ready to intervene around the globe.And the letter went on:

Nuclear weapons have shown themselves to be completely useless as a deterrent to the threats and scale of violence we currently face or are likely to face, particularly international terrorism.Our independent deterrent has become virtually irrelevant, expect in the context of domestic politics.”

But, despite the well-known scepticism of defence chiefs about Trident, the Labour Party continues to talk about Trident nuclear “deterrent” as if it’s practical value is completely unquestioned.

The costs of renewing Trident are disputed. But the estimates range from £20 billion in the short term and a £100 billion to include submarine procurement, missile leasing costs, extension of the current warheads’ lives, servicing and decommissioning. However you calculate it, Trident is going to cost a huge sum of money. And this at a time when the right in politics is insistent that the most important thing is to shrink the deficit. So it is baffling that so many people  are prepared to nod through these gigantic costs unquestioned. It has been calculated that, at the higher end, figure could pay for: 150,000 new nurses; 1.5 million affordable homes; 2 million jobs & much more. 

The attacks on Ed are detestable and already seem to be rebounding on the Tories. But it would be a shame if, in the political to and fro, we all lost sight of the fact that there is a debate to be had about whether a submarine based system designed for the twentieth century Cold War is really the best use of twenty billion pounds in the twenty first century Age of Austerity.

16 Comments

  1. Robert says:

    Two middle class brothers going for an election one was thought to be Blair choice the other became the Unions choice, turns out both were the same.

    Today we have issue with Russia and we are slowly seeing Russia pushing the limits I do not think the people of this country will vote to get rid of trident now.

    They may have done so a few years ago but now I’m not so sure.

    My own feeling Trident is a total waste of money but it would anger the Yanks and with Russia flying ever close to our Borders big big risk.

    1. It is a waste of money. And we should at least be prepared to discuss it!

      1. Robert says:

        Yep no argument, but now is the time to talk about it, go on then I dare you. The time to talk about it was 1997 you had thirteen years to talk about it.

      2. Billericaydickie says:

        Are they trying to divide and rule us or are they sending their children to private schools?

  2. David Pavett says:

    It would indeed be a shame if we were to lose sight of the importance of making the case against Trident renewal. The problem is though that making that case with the current Labour leadership can only have one outcome: they will redouble their effort to make it clear that they are every bit as keen as the Tories on complete replacement.

    Diane Abbott refers to the recent Scottish demonstration against Trident. At the Glasgow rally Nicola Sturgeon spoke on behalf of her party. Labour’s Katy Clark spoke against Labour policy. In the Commons vote in January a big majority of Scottish Labour MPs voted for complete Trident replacement. And yet I heard a Scottish parliamentary candidate on Radio 4 today saying that he couldn’t understand Labour’s losses to the SNP. What it is to live in a political bubble!

  3. James Martin says:

    Yes, Trident is a scandalous waste of resources and a ‘deterrent’ to no one. But of course that isn’t its real purpose, its rather the fact that it keeps us linked to the US (we can’t even fire ‘our’ weapons of mass destruction without asking their permission to use their tracking systems first), and this in turn links to the terrorist organisation known as NATO who have in recent years carried out many attacks using high explosives on civilians around the world.

    And this is one of the problems with the Trident debate. Yes, scrap it. But what about the hundreds of other nuclear weapons we have, what about all the NATO (read american) bases that are used for anything from a rendition/torture mission to bombing a hospital or TV station somewhere. So we must again be very loud in demanding along with the scrapping of Trident that the UK must get out of NATO and NATO must get out of the UK.

    1. Robert says:

      We have joint use of the tracking it’s our people in it, it belongs and is made in the US but run by the UK.

      The firing of a nuke is now done in the UK with the queen the Prime minister and one other who is unknown. It is all secret of course.

      .

  4. swatantra says:

    Bit rich of the Israelis to protest against the Iranian Nuclear deal when they haven’t the guts to owning up to the number of nukes they have pointing at Iran, the Gulf States, Syria and the Rest of the World. So, Obama has finally decided to remove little old Cuba as a terrorist State after 50 long years, but he’s keeping quiet about NATO/USA.
    The future actually lies in conventional warfare not nuclear, but the world’s energy needs can only be met by nuclear power stations, which are exactly the intentions of the Iranians, when their oil finally runs out.
    Di Abbott is absolutely right about pouring money down the drain on Trident and in keeping 500 jobs going in Faslane, as she said a few months back at a LCND Event. Those £100bn could be better spent, putting Britain to rights.

    1. Billericaydickie says:

      Israel isn’t a rogue state and they have just had one of those really strange things for their neck of the woods, an election.

  5. John.P reid says:

    As various supporters of Iraq war, Andrew Mckinlay, Charles Clarke, ,Kinnocks, Hattersely, Jon Cruddas,David Lammy, didn’t want trident renewal, nor did the party in power with the Tories, it’s not something that’s going to cost labour votes,
    The way various quotes like Karen a bucks, the toriesdont want the poor to breed, I nor on Your Twitter, you’ve blocked, me, I wonder if you’ll keep me blocked, when you want me to see if Havering labour want to endorse you as mayor.L

    There’s a link to the Tories 1987 poster of the loony left, which cost us that election, it’s more likely, the Finnish nurses, jury were wrong in the duggan shooting, white people love to divide and rule, that’ll cost us votes,

    1. John.P reid says:

      Having looked at Twitter again, I’m now not blocked,so I stand corrected,

      1. James Martin says:

        John, are you on medication?

          1. James Martin says:

            Well you have just written what looks like a jumble of random words that make no sense, or did your pet cat sit on the keyboard at 6.30pm last night?

          2. John.P reid says:

            Oh i get it you’re trying to be sarcastic, because there’s more than a few spelling mistakes, very clever of you,

          3. James Martin says:

            No John, it is not sarcasm, nor is it about spelling, I simply cannot work out what you are saying, it is a jumble of words apparently in a random order, something you seem to do quite often, but if it makes sense to you (but possibly no one else) then let’s leave it there.

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