Isn't British democracy wonderful?
It's not bad enough that we have an unelected head of state, an upper house mish mash of aristocrats, English bishops, failed politicians, old politicians and creeps, a lower house which can command a huge majority on 30% of the vote and which is whipped into shape by enforcers, but worse, it is revealed today, under the 30 year rule, that a presidential style prime minister can walk over the cabinet with no repercussions...well, except that her decisions can cost us all billions.
The cabinet was against the purchase of Trident's first version--C4. But in a secret deal with Jimmy Carter, the then president of the United States, the purchase went ahead anyway, because Mrs Thatcher wanted it. She was told that a debate was necessary because two-thirds of the party and two thirds of the Cabinet were against the purchase of Trident, but she was disinclined to bother much about debate.
The original cost was to be £5 billion. A lot of money now, but very much more in the late 70s.
However the cost was doubled when Ronnie Reagan was elected and decided to go for the Bells and Whistles version of Trident. The British system had to work in concert with the American's, and so the cost became £10 billion.
Failure to buy the system would have left France as the only nuclear power in Europe, and Mrs Thatcher's dislike and mistrust of the French wouldn't allow her to tolerate them having something that England didn't. Entitlement to a seat as a permanent member of the UN Security Council would also have been impossible without nuclear weaponry, and that Mrs Thatcher could not contemplate. Her status as a world leader would have been diminished and she would have been excluded from the most secret of talks with the American president.
So taking advice from Cabinet Secretary, Robert Armstrong in the form of a hand-written top secret note, that going it alone had precedents (Harold Macmillan had done the same thing over Polaris, and Harold Wilson over Chevaline), she decided to ignore the wishes of her Cabinet and do what she wanted.
And so the billions were spent and we have been lumbered with this useless supposedly "independent" deterrent (that we have to have permission from America to use) in Scotland. Effectively, it is extra nuclear capacity for America that the idiot Brits pay for and house in return for a seat at the top table.
On balance though, Mrs Thatcher did buy an ironing board for herself at a cost of £19! (damned expensive ironing board in 1979), and sent back bedding and crockery which had been ordered on her behalf for Downing Street, saying that she would provide her own. So it wasn't all bad. [By contrast Mr Cameron spent £30,000 in his first year, doing up the flat above the office.]