No doubt you’ll have heard that Gordon Brown has offered to cut his Trident missile-carrying submarines from four to three. That’s an exact reduction of 25% so if the total long-term costs of replacing the fleet are estimated by the government to be around £65bn (disregarding independent estimations) and a quarter of those costs were slashed, they’d make a saving of £16bn, but maths being an illogical old thing, they’re telling us it will save between £3 to £5bn. Well at least it would cover the £2bn cut that they’re going to make in the education budget. That’s assuming they’ll use the saving wisely and not award it to fat-cat celebrity financial consultants or to pay off their second mortgages.
Once upon a moonshine ago, the then chancellor Gordon Brown was utterly opposed to replacing Trident. He said so himself. In some strongly worded words, he said, and I paraphrase, that the programme was unacceptably expensive, economically wasteful and militarily unsound. He also said a replacement was against British treaty obligations. Some time later he made a 360° U-turn and became passionate about replacing our wonderful weapon of mass destruction. Now he’s making a U-turn on his U-turn. Well, a quarter of a U-turn at least, which means we may finally begin to stop being in breach of the NPT.
I feel obliged to say it’s a good start but if Brown was a really, really brave man, he would cancel the whole deal and abolish the lot. Then global nuclear disarmament would look like a real possibility. We don’t need Trident. It’s a pointless deterrent. Renewing and maintaining the Trident fleet was never a sensible plan. It never made me feel safer. No-one wanted it apart from the guys in the defense industry – you know, the good buddies of the Prime Ministers and the Presidents who made potloads of money from war and conflict.
Now, let’s just end the whole sorry thing and focus on real threats. I’m not saying we shouldn’t invest in our country’s security. We most certainly should. But I’m thinking more in terms of imminently real threats such as climate change and unsustainable runaway dependence on fossil fuels.
Just think what good £100 billion could do.