Today’s Telegraph reports that a new Government contract for nuclear reactors in submarines brings the renewal of Trident a lot closer and creates a rift with the Liberal Democrats.Well, I’m glad that they recognise our point of view on this, that we fought the last election on a policy of there being no like for like replacement of Trident. Can I suggest that before we get ourselves in a twist about this, we read what Liberal Democrat defence minister Nick Harvey wrote on Liberal Democrat Voice last month. The main decision will not be made until after the next General Election. We have seen to that.
I for one was never entirely comfortable with the notion of no “like for like” replacement of Trident. I have no desire to go shopping in the bargain basement for nuclear weapons. I actually don’t think we have any business investing squillions in weapons of mass destruction at all. I want to see our entire nuclear weapons programme ended. No ifs, buts or maybes. Keeping a stock of these weapons is absolutely unjustifiable in my opinion. Why would you want to have missiles whose prime purpose is to cause widespread devastation, death and destruction amongst innocent civilians, people like you and me.
What those of us who feel the same way, whatever party they’re in, should be doing is spending the next 3 years building a campaign against a nuclear deterrent in principle. That’s going to be a huge issue in the next election. I am far from convinced that we’ll be out of the economic mire by then and we will have better things to spend our money on than stellar guided wickedness. The Labour Party needs to think long and hard about whether it can justify it. They may well be haunted by their 1983 manifesto which advocated unilateral nuclear disarmament but we are in a different world now. If the biggest threat we face is from international terrorism, as the US and UK Governments would have us believe, then there is no point investing in more nukes, because they will do nothing to deal with that threat.
My Nationalist friends will no doubt rush to tell me that an independent Scotland wouldn’t have any nuclear weapons. How selfish can you get? As part of the UK, we Scots, who tend to be less convinced by the argument for these things, have a chance to bring about a change of policy which will rid the whole island of them. Narcissistic nationalist nimbyism isn’t going to help make the world non nuclear place. A UK without Scotland would, I think, be less likely to abandon nuclear weapons, leaving all on these islands worse off.
We know that the Tories like to scare people into accepting the unacceptable – just look at Theresa May’s comments on the Draft Communications Data Bill (which is only a draft bill due to Nick Clegg putting his foot down). She’s clearly trying to convince us that unless she’s given unbridled power to snoop on all our Facebook messages, terrorists will run amok. Of course, the people who are really up to no good will be able to circumvent such measures. In the same way, they will build a frightening case for maintenance of the deterrent. The opponents of nuclear weapons need to build a more compelling, evidence based case for getting rid of them. We don’t have long – just around half a year further away than the Independence Referendum. Let’s get to it.