Monday, 18 July 2016

Trident renewal

£205 billion (a price tag that has doubled since 2015) is an extraordinary amount of money to spend on renewing a bunch of pointless doomsday machines that nobody in their right mind would ever use.

Nuclear weapons are a massively expensive hangover from the Cold War. They are literally useless in the kind of asymmetric warfare the the United Kingdom keeps getting involved in. Nuclear weapons are of no use against the likes of ISIS and Al Qaida, and neither are they of any use against homegrown terrorists. France's stockpile of nukes hasn't stopped them from suffering one terrorist atrocity after another and the same goes for Pakistan.

The idea that the UK would be open to invasion (from Russia? China? Who?) should we stop wasting vast fortunes on maintaining the capacity to commit mass indiscriminate slaughter is utterly absurd. Italy has no nukes, Spain has no nukes, Japan has no nukes, Australia has no nukes, Brazil has no nukes. If countries without the means to commit mass genocide are so ripe for invasion, why have none of them been invaded?

Another thing to consider is the fact that operation and maintenance of the UK's "independent" nuclear deterrent was privatised back in 1994. The consortium that operates our nuclear weapons is 66% owned by US corporations, and 33% owned by the corporate outsourcing giant Serco.

Serco are so incompetent that they couldn't even run the GP out of hours service in Cornwall properly, but somehow they're in charge of maintaining nuclear weapons!

If just half of the £205 billion (and rising) cost of renewing the UK's ability to commit mass indiscriminate slaughter was spent on improving the UK's conventional (useable) military capacity, the UK would be militarily stronger, it would create far more jobs, and there would be plenty of money left over to invest in infrastructure and services to actually benefit British people.

That's not going to happen though, because there are too many vested financial interests in digging a pointless new Trident money pit to shovel £billions into, and because there are an awful lot of people in Britain, and especially in the Westminster establishment club, who see international relations as some kind of dick waving competition where those with the biggest stockpiles of pointless Cold War relics have the most important voices.

So the conventional military is going to continue to be shrunk with one cut after another as it has been since the Tories came to power in 2010, British soldiers are going to continue to be sent into combat with inadequate equipment, and the country as a whole is going to continue suffering a debilitating lack of investment in infrastructure and services, all so that Theresa May and her successors can maintain the ability to trigger nuclear Armageddon.

They don't care about whether such weapons of mass destruction are necessary. Even if they do honestly believe that they are necessary, they don't give a hoot whether Trident renewal represents the best value for money, or whether a less expensive, more versatile weapons system could be developed.

The UK military-political-media establishment want the money to be wasted in this way, so it's going to happen no matter how little sense it makes, and anyone who dares object (for moral reasons, or on cost/feasibility grounds) will be routinely derided and condemned as raving extremists.

How the parties stand

Tories: The Tory party strongly favour renewing Trident, and are determined to press ahead with the Trident renewal vote in order to score political points against Labour, despite the fact that a lot of funding and technical issues remain completely unclear. Theresa May even tried fearmongering about the threat of Russia in order to justify the Tory stance that Trident renewal is the only option!

Labour: The Labour party is deeply divided on Trident. Jeremy Corbyn and a significant share of the party membership oppose Trident renewal as morally indefensible and/or a vast waste of money, but the majority of Labour MPs support the Tories writing a blank cheque for the private companies that stand to profit from Trident renewal.

UKIP: The 2015 UKIP manifesto pledged to scrap Trident renewal and invest in a cheaper more flexible form of nuclear deterrent, but like most of their manifesto the policy is lacking in specific detail.

SNP: The SNP are united in their opposition to Trident, and especially the location of the Trident nuclear base at Faslane, just 25 miles from Glasgow (Scotland's most populous city with 600,000+ inhabitants).

Liberal Democrats: The Lib-Dems want a "value for money" review to consider Trident renewal alongside alternatives to a like-for-like replacement.

Green Party: The Greens strongly oppose nuclear weapons and propose nuclear disarmament.

Plaid Cymru: The Welsh national party strongly oppose Trident renewal too.

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