Trident replacement is costly, and even Generals are calling for a re-think.
To be clear, the SNP's manifesto states:
"We have a moral objection to nuclear weapons and are firm in our belief that when the UK government is planning cuts in important budgets, they should not be wasting £100 billion on buying a new generation of nuclear bombs. We have been proud to stand alongside Scotland’s faith groups, the STUC and community campaigners in opposition to Trident and its replacement and we will continue to do so."
The Lib Dems say they are:
"showing leadership by committing not to replace the Trident nuclear weapons system on a like-for-like basis"
What exactly does this mean though? One fewer sub? A couple fewer nuclear warheads?
Following comments by the Lib Dems foreign policy spokesperson Ed Davey on the Daily Politics, Kate Hudson of the CND blogged:
"Sorry to say there is a disappointment today on LibDem nuclear policy. Ed Davey, party spokesperson on foreign policy, was on the BBC Daily Politics debate earlier on today, with Hague and Milband. When pressed to more fully explain LibDem nuclear policy, he confirmed that they did want Britain to have nuclear weapons.
They have consistently argued that they do not want a 'like-for-like' replacement for Trident - in other words, presumably not building four new subs, designed primarily for nuclear weapons use. There has been some confusion as to whether they have wanted to go for other nukes or abolish Britain's nukes altogether. This uncertainty has clearly reflected differences within the party about this issue, as has already been clear in these blogs over the past few days.
But Nick Clegg has made it clear in recent statements that they intend to have some form of nuclear weaponry, and again today Ed Davey has made it absolutely clear that the LibDems do favour an alternative form of replacement. But it is not clear what this might be. An air-launched system has generally been ruled out as being insufficiently secure. An alternative submarine system that has periodically been suggested is to put put nuclear warheads on submarine launched cruise missiles, carried on Astute class submarines, modified to carry the load.
The problem with this is that the recent US nuclear posture review is retiring their submarine launched nuclear cruise missiles. So there will be no easy option of getting missiles, and all the associated systems, off the shelf from the US, as we have done with Trident. So presumably we would have to make them ourselves. I can't see that saving any money. After all, cost was a big part of why we gave up making our own in 1960, fifty years ago this month, and bought into US systems - first Polaris and then Trident.
I think the LibDems need to go back to the drawing board on this one - or, to mix my metaphors, get off the fence and come down on the side of genuine nuclear disarmament."
All three major UK parties seem to agree that nuclear weapons are ok - it's just the numbers they need to work out. Don't be fooled by the Lib Dems on this one. Only the SNP will stand up for Scotland, and work to remove immoral nukes from our waters.