Monday 26 October 2015


Cameron tells us we need Trident because of the threat from
North Korea.
As Big Alan pointed out in a comment on our Soppy Sunday post, the cost of the UK Trident Nuclear Deterrent renewal has now been put at an astronomical £167,000,000,000.

For some years Westminster has bandied about the figure of £100,000,000,000 as the cost of updating and maintaining the weapons system. So that's a bit of a price hike. 

Maybe, in considering that figure we should take into consideration that almost nothing that Westminster does is ever delivered on time or on budget, and not be surprised if within a few years the cost  has risen to £200,000,000,000 or more.

Regardless of any other argument, the question must be can a small island off the coast of Europe justify this kind of money? And probably the answer to that is... No.

The current government and the Blairite wing of the Labour party tell us that without a nuclear deterrent our security is in danger. Even the Liberal Democrats believe that, although they think we shouldn't have the bells and whistles version advocated by the Tories, they say we most certainly need some nuclear deterrent.
Not everyone is happy with nuclear weapons.
But is this true? Of the some 200 nations in the world, only a handful possess this kind of weaponry, 5 legally (with the consent of the UN) USA, France, UK, China, Russia. And 3 or 4 illegally (without international consent) India, Pakistan, North Korea, and probably Israel. There are also 5 countries which have access to US weaponry: Belgium, Germany, Turkey, Netherlands and Italy.

So, by denying nuclear deterrents to the rest of the countries, is the UN condemning them to perpetual danger? If you are Polish or Spanish, Swedish or Moroccan, should you spend your life expecting destruction to descend from the sky at any moment?

I suspect not.

So, how much use are these nuclear weapons? Could we ever use them?
It's unlikely that anyone could or would use these weapons. They have been used twice only. In 1945, bombing Japan. But the aftermath of that was horrendous (people are still suffering). The weapons we have today make the 1945 bombs look like kids' toys by comparison. It is unlikely that France would use a nuclear weapon without agreement from the USA, and it would be impossible for the UK to do so, even if it wished to, because of the massive involvement of the Americans in the UK system. (See also here and here.) 

The fact is that against the enemies that the UK faces in today's world, a nuclear bomb is useless. I suppose that Obama could give Cameron permission to blow up Moscow if the Russians threatened to blow up London over the disputes in Ukraine or Syria . But how likely is that to happen? 

The UK seems to have been permanently at war for as long as I can remember, most recently in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and I imagine, soon, Syria. Can we use a nuclear bomb in any of these places? Did the UK having nukes stop Argentina from invading the Falklands? Did the US's massive nuclear arsenal stop the attack on the twin towers or on the Pentagon? And was the response in these cases to nuke Buenos Aires or Kabul?

Sir Hugh Beach, former Deputy Commander-in-Chief of UK Land Forces,
who has this to say -

It seems to me that despite being a warlike nation, the UK has cut and cut its military spend (although still the 4th largest in the world). What has gone is the stuff they need to do the job they appointed themselves to do... be Americas's deputy when it comes to policing the world. Personnel have been dismissed, equipment reduced, bases closed. Scotland has been left almost undefended with fewer than 10,000 personnel in the country. And yet it has to house the nuclear submarines with all the attendant issues of security and radiation leaks, only 25 kms from the centre of Glasgow.

Can the UK afford this money?

Yes and no. The UK can afford whatever it wants to because it can "print" the money. It already has staggering debts, so what is another £200 billion? Clearly, of course, at a time when it cuts budgets for nearly everything else, when basic services that make people's lives bearable are being dismantled, it may seem a little "fur coat and no drawers" to be spending on a weapon that will never be fired.

So who is for it, who's against it, and why?
Corbyn says he wouldn't use  nukes.
The Tories are for it. The Blairites in Labour are for it. The Liberal Democrats are for it, the last I heard, (but at a lower cost). The SNP, Plaid, the Greens and the left of Labour are against it.  Indeed Mr Corbyn, the only possible UK PM from these parties, has said he would not use it, which renders it useless as a deterrent.

Tony Blair admitted that Trident was all but unusable, but to rid himself of it was to downgrade Britain. I always wondered why he didn't think the homelessness, hunger and poverty weren't downgrading Britain in the eyes of the world.
The sooner he's in the Hague, the better we'll like it
The real truth is that only nations with UN-approved nuclear weapons can retain permanent membership of the UN Security Council. Without Trident's successor, Britain could be forced to resign from the top table. The loss of status for a prime minister careful of these matters, would be too much to take.


  1. Westminster is already giving control and responsibility for their new nuclear power station to this, and future governments of China, so maybe the Chinese government has been persuaded to buy, and pay for a slice of Trident as well.

    That would give them a nuclear presence at both ends of the UK. Democratic balance for the latest Chinese colony, and we can all go back to feeling as safe as we do now.

    1. I imagine the Chinese will install something in the power station....

      Would be silly not to.

  2. The fundamental problem we have is that the ruling elite in London refuse to accept that we are no longer a world power and like to maintain the pretence that we are through spending our taxes on grandiose schemes which we cannot afford.
    Trident is just one example.
    By concentrating resources in the SE of England and in particularly London,they are trying to maintain an edifice of prosperity when in reality we are only a pay check away from destitution.
    Thank goodness for the Chinese,where would we be without them?
    However,can't see Osborne paying back the Chinese,the £1.5 trillion debt he owes and then being able to balance his current account.
    Something just doesn't add up!
    Probably have to sell off some things in order to get anywhere near balancing the books.

    1. But almost everything has gone.

      They remind me of an aristocratic family fallen on hard times. They sell off the paintings, allow the roof to go unrepaired and the gardens to revert to parkland. Bit by bit the staff all go, until they are left with a faithful old retainer who does it for love...

      The lady of the house mends her own clothes and the Rolls now only taken out on special occasions.

      But when the someone comes to call... they blow a month's food budget on a slap up meal and good wines... and hie people form the village to make it look like they are still important.

  3. I have a solution to the Trident thingy Tris. Well at least as to where they stick them. Now Now Tris keep those thoughts clean now!

    As wee Hambone has invited the Chinese to build his new lovely Nuclear power station at Hinkley Point then obviously all they need do is extend Hinkley Point out a wee bit further and hey presto a new base for Hambone's Trident whatnots!

    1. You're a strategic genius, Arbroath.

      I'll suggest you for the next honours list. The Chinese won;t notice the extra expense... and they get the bonus of knowing ALL the UK's nuclear secrets.

      Countess Arbroath.

    2. Why thank you dear sir.

      Do you think her whatsnot herself would be happy to send the proposed Baronessship to me through the Royal Mail?

      Oh wait a second Tris ... it is NOT the Royal Mail anymore is it, it is the PRIVATISED mail service of Englandshire and other regions.

    3. You'll get it as a text message! :)

    4. Might take some time for me to receive it then ... my phone is never on ... the walls have eyes and ears and all that jazz! LOL

    5. It will still be there.... Beware!

  4. It's all about fakery, kidding themselves that the world thinks Britain is a force to be reckoned with. It's all pish obviously, well obvious to those of use staying here, with our eyes open.

    1. Remember at the beginning of the referendum campaign Cameron blabbing on about how OUR UK had the 4th biggest military spend in the world. How the rest of the world either respected or feared the UK...

      I remember thinking... you should get out more mate and meet ordinary people you think you're a joke.

    2. Remember we are just at the design stage. Just wait until the MoD starts modifying the specs before the keel is laid and during the construction phase changes electronics and applies weapons systems upgrades.

      Based on pevious major projects I confidently it will come in nearer £500 Billion, and then be a running sore on annual budget.

      Couldn't run a menodge.

    3. Yes, you are probably right. Costing over the lifetime of the project is virtually impossible.

    4. They couldn't run a spigot either.

    5. You guys are awfully posh with all these big words.

      A bath!

    6. I stole the "spigot" idea, a wee wifie said it about Tony Blair, a few years ago.

    7. That was quite a flattering thing to say about Tony Blair. One of the nicest I've ever heard!

  5. I personally support having a nuclear deterrent of sorts, but not in the scale of Trident. An attack submarine has the capability to launch nuclear tipped Tomahawk cruise missiles, and it is believed that some of ours do carry one or two.

    Why should we not replace Trident? I was at the National Air Museum a couple of weeks ago. In there, they have a Polaris missile. It is bloody huge! That gives an indication of how big a submarine is required, and the associate cost, manpower and resources required to support not just one, but four vessels - the minimum number required to maintain a 24/7 patrol. I cannot and will not support such a huge outlay of cost for a relatively small segment of equipment. And especially when the Armed Forces have been decimated over the past 20 years,

    Why do I support having a deterrent? No one knows how the world will be in 5, 10 or 50 years time. You cannot dismiss the fact that a threat may arise - look to history for example after example.

    Cameron would be better using the money (or part of it) to providing proper equipment for the Armed Forces. That would leave a sizeable chunk which can then be used for more useful purposes. How about paying off the PFI contracts and returning the NHS to public ownership? Won't happen though. not with Gideon needing to keep his offshore trust topped up.


    1. America has the worlds biggest stockpile of nuclear weapons. This did not stop a bunch of nutters, from hijacking some planes and turning the planes, into flying bombs. There is no reason to have such weaponary, unless you wish to be the school yard bully.
      Conventional forces being "beefed up", would be a more effective " defense.
      Personally I'd prefer the cash was spent on health, education, renewables (not nuclear), council housing stock and the rebuilding of our industrial base, fit for the 21st century; to name but a few better uses.

    2. You can never tell what is coming around the corner, but the West with one deterrent, overseen by Nato, with financial contributions from all countries expecting to be protected.

      But not some massive bill for a tiny broke country that is too poor to give benefits to people with only days left to live at the same time as sending conventional forces out with substandard equipment and rations.

    3. Yes, should have read what Jim said first ... I'm in agreement with that.

      As I said it is inconceivable that the UK would ever use a nuke without specific permission form the USA, we should all pay a sub to Nato and let them own the nukes, and let the USA be in charge of them. They are anyway.

  6. Are our warheads solely on the Polaris subs? France has a number of aircraft deliverable warheads. Are the subs not just about projecting power? Whatever happened to neutron bombs/ battlefield nukes? Is there not a cheaper, indigenous way of staying on the Security Council Guest List?

    I would question the cost. I would question the power projection - would affording aircraft for our white elephant carriers not be cheaper - and keep the armaments work this side of the pond ( independent of the US ) ?

    Will the new subs be using Chinese steel? How will all this be the fault of the SNP?

    And at the risk of controversy, and opprobrium.The deaths of all people by any means are distressing. Pictures from Japan are no less so. But the disgusting treatment that was visited upon our soldiers, and upon the civilians of China and Korea by the Japanese Imperial Army should not be forgotten either. Temper your sorrow for the victims of Hiroshima by remembering they surrendered a week later. In Japan they remember their own victims. In Germany they remember the victims they caused. I like both counties very much, but there is a difference in the degree of contrition they exhibit.

    Saor Alba

    1. I wasn't making a comment about Hiroshima Saor, so I wasn't ignoring the horrors that were meted out by the Japanese.

      All war is horrific to me. All victims are equal in my book. The cruelty of it all is terrible beyond words.

      Since I was a child I have thought that if a prime minister wants to go to war with another prime minister, that is exactly what s/he should do. Let them have a fight. That they do it all by proxy is disgusting, and that it is advertised in the name of patriotism and love of country is repulsive. The last vestige of the scoundrel, indeed.

      I don;t know what the answer is. But i suspect £200,000,000,000 for a system that will never be used, while every public service continues its underfunded downward spiral, is too much.

      Incidentally, I'd like to see Britain show a bit of contrition for all the dreadful things it has done over the world, but it doesn't. Indeed it only shows compassion to British war dead once a year at a big do in London, with drinks after in the MoD. In the meantime it treats servicemen with disdain.

  7. Tris

    When the country is facing cuts on a scale that will take us back to before the bloody Victorian Age there is no justifictaion for this level of spending on a disgusting weapon that we will never ever use and actually have no control over given America retains the codes. I also think that any politician from any party supporting this should hang their heads in shame, the pritorities in this country are all wrong. We need to wake up and if the established parties won't do what we the voters want then we need to vote for the alternatives.

    I am so sick of this country and the warped decision making that goes on. I watched some of the Lords debate last night before work and then followed the result and Labour are not Red Tories they are just Tories. I hate that party with a vengence and they are toilet scum and I wish them the worst. What they did again yesterday is national disgrace and just shows that Corbyn has no control of that party and that party has no decency. The lack of coverage on the BBC was also a disgrace but I expected nothing more to be honest. I have pretty much had enough of the whole lot of them to be honest. They care more about their status, their seat on the security council and the windosrs than they do starving children in towns and cities all across the UK. They should all be facing a court for crimes against the state, they are scum. I also think the SNP and any others of the same mind need to be taking a stronger line in parliament, start disrupting sessions, start clapping, start booing, what will it take for this country to wake the f up.


    1. Talking about clapping, Bruce, I notice that some bishop took her seat yesterday and was applauded.I thought that was frowned upon.

      I don't know what will make them wake up.

      I wish the opposition parties could get together and oppose. instead of abstaining on things in case they upset Tory voters who might vote for them.

      Hat tip to the Liberals for proposing a proper opposition to the tax credits. Yes, it might have created a constitutional crisis, but why not. It's about time we had something sorted out.

  8. Here I am agreeing with Bruce again, time for rebellion, well if you can consider it such. When you go to Europe,to places which were bombed flat and you see what they did with the money, and you come here and look at bits which still look like they were bombed flat but weren't. Then you realise what the bunch of warmongering politicians wasted all the money on, yes, building their own A bomb.
    Blue Streak anyone, I believe that waste of money, cost us big time and never went into production, that was to be their delivery system.
    Great Britain has never come to terms that the US helped destroy their empire after the war and took over. Realism would help but then I am sorry that will have to take a defeat to induce.

    1. True. The Marshall plan money which the UK got was wasted on bombs and propping up self importance.

      Elsewhere it was spent on rebuilding the infrastructure.

    2. Actually they used it to set up the Welfare State and the NHS on Tick as England (sorry Britain) was flat broke and up to it's neck in debt after it's recent glorious victory!

      Serious post war re-armament didn't start until the early 50s - just in time for Korea.

      Anyway it'll be interesting to see if Corbyn votes against Trident or perhaps just abstains?

      J Galt

    3. J Galt,

      I imagine he'll be 'unavaiable' or summat.

    4. It's strange we now have an English Labour Party with a leader that wants to get rid of Trident, but the members don;t, and a Scottish one with a pro Trident leader and a party that wants rid of it. Messy.