Trident: the £25 billion white elephant
Yesterday’s debate in the House of Commons on whether to renew Trident produced only a few surprises, because most speakers were holding to well know positions: Tory MPs and front bench Labour speakers argued for renewing Trident, left wing Labour MPs and the SNP were for scrapping it, and Sir Nick Harvey, from the Lib Dems, was for neither nor the other.
But one person who supplied some original thought was the Tory MP Crispin Blunt, a former army officer and special adviser at the MoD. “We are being invited to engage in an insurance policy that is going to last about 40 years and cost between 5 per cent and 6 per cent of our defence budget. Will that insurance policy ever be cashed in?” he asked.
He said that the only weapon he could imagine a UK Prime Minister using would be a “pinpoint” missile capable of taking out the weapons of mass destruction held by a rogue state or terrorist group. That is not what Trident is for. The point of Trident is to give the UK government the power to obliterate cities and kill people in their hundreds of thousands. Each submarine carries the capacity to hit 48 cities with warheads eight times as powerful as the bomb that killed 100,000 people in Hiroshima. “The question of whether it would be a matter for the International Criminal Court if a leader chose to eviscerate millions of wholly innocent people…is one that ought to engage us,” Mr Blunt suggested.
Another speaker who cannot be classed as a ‘usual suspect’ was the former Labour Cabinet minister and Chief Whip, Nick Brown, who said, succinctly: “This is a weapons system that we cannot use. The cost is disproportionate to the hard-to-identify benefits and it makes no sense…”
Unfortunately, though renewing Trident makes no sense, politically it is safe. To scrap it is to take a political risk – which is why we can assume that the final decision will be to expend another £25 billion, at minimum, on this great white elephant.Tagged in: debate, trident
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