Sunday, 17 July 2016
To Trident, or not to Trident?
Tomorrow the House of Commons is to vote on whether or not we should replace Trident with another nuclear, allegedly independent, alleged deterrent. If we do we shall remain a nuclear armed state until the 2060s at a lifetime cost now estimated to be over £200bn.
Given the chaos following Brexit and the formation of a new government, not to mention another appalling atrocity in France, there doesn't seem much point in debating this issue at the moment - other than to embarrass the Labour Party..
No hint of wiser and more mature politics from Mrs May so far then.
Such a deterrent would not be independent since it is inconceivable that it could be used without the permission of the United States. Nor would such a weapon be much use against the very real threats that face us today, identified as terrorist attacks, climate change, pandemics and cyber warfare.
The vast expenditure involved would not only absorb funds which could be used to finance the NHS properly, upgrade our prisons and make them fit for purpose, provided an adequate social security safety net, build lots of houses and improve our inadequate transport infrastructure, to name but a few off the top of my head.
It also means that our conventional forces, including our intelligence services, are over-extended, inadequately equipped (see the Chilcot Report) and many of our service personnel, we now learn, are condemned to live in substandard and even rat-infested housing.
The only argument for replacing Trident is the illusory one of keeping us at the top table and allowing us to strut around the world as a big hitter - something, if you want that sort of thing, which could have been better achieved by remaining and playing full and constructive part in the EU.
Sadly not only will most of the Tory MPs vote for the illusion, but many of Labour's MPs, recently described to me as "Mardy-bums,"* will do the same rather than follow Jeremy Corbyn's wise lead.
It is my fervent hope that the parliamentary Liberal Democrat Party, minuscule though it now is, will assert our right to be regarded as the party of reality and reason, and vote solidly against.**
* This is apparently a Sheffield expression, used by children to refer to those who refuse to play, but sulk, if the game is not played according to their liking. I heard if for the first time yesterday morning, used by a friend of mine, lifelong Labour Party member, I should have thought highly moderate, in reference to the Labour MPs, and Hillary Benn in particular, who are trying to knife Corbyn in the back rather than support the leader their party has chosen.
**Post Script (added 20th July). Well they did, or almost - seven out to the eight of them did. The eighth, Greg Mulholland, Leeds North West, abstained. But it's only modified rapture, because all of them, including Mulholland, were in favour of downsizing the nuclear capability rather than getting rid of it. While this may seems successful "triangulation" between what is sensible and what they think the electorate can be persuaded to accept, it seems to me to be cowardly. There is no practical case for our retaining Trident, even if not "like for like". It will be merely a prestige symbol. We are a mature democracy and should treat the electorate as adults and have the courage to say so.