Wednesday 21 April 2010

Lib Dems: Woolly on Nukes

Somewhat typically, the Lib Dems have come over all woolly on the topic of nuclear weapons and trident replacement. It's an important issue - one of principle and one of cost.

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.


William said...

No-one cares about Trident, Alison. It's just a classic example of politicians imagining their own political prejudices are of interest to anyone outside their own little coterie.

Look around the east end of Glasgow - junkies, beggars, immigrants, prostitutes, muggers, neds, bampots with knives, benefit scroungers, etc. You'd think there was a minefield in the Calton the amount of one-legged junkies you see hopping about.

These are the issues that bother people. No-one cares whether we have nuclear weapons or equality laws or are twinned with Beirut.

Can you sort out the crime? Can you stop my area turning into Bangladesh? Can you help create more jobs? Can you help restore some civic pride? Can you lower the amount we're paying in taxes?

No-one lies away at night worrying about Trident. They worry whether some reprobate is going to smash one of their windows and steal their telly.

Don't go down the road of jumping on political bandwagons that don't serve anyone. That's how trade unions have fallen away. They get hijacked for all sorts of 'trendy' issues and forget they're meant to protect workers, protect jobs.

BellgroveBelle said...

Thanks for your comments William. Trident does affect things like crime, as it uses up the resources we could be better using to treat addiction and enforce the law.

Put simply, our taxes are going to pay for unnecessary weapons of mass destruction. If we choose not to have them, there's all manner of things we could use that money for - including lowering taxes as you suggest.