11th June 2015

Scrapping Trident – a ‘red line’ issue!

A Trident Submarine

‘Scrapping Trident – a ‘red line’ issue!

Some thoughts by Kenneth Wardrop, Chair of Stirling CND and Member of the SNP City of Stirling Branch
The 2015 General Election campaign and the manifesto commitment by the SNP to scrap Trident, put the issue of the UK’s nuclear weapons system centre stage in the election debate and became a red line issue for the SNP. It also represented a bold position from a mainstream political party in the UK with the Tories, Labour and Lib Dems all committing to renew Trident in the life span of this new Westminster Parliament.

At the heart of the SNP manifesto commitment is the overwhelming moral and economic argument for the scrapping of the Trident Weapons system – with opinion polls continuing to show that the majority of Scots agree that the UK should give up nuclear weapons. In January 2015 a YouGov poll for the Times showed, that when ‘Don’t Knows’ were removed, 53 per cent of people in Scotland want to see an end to nuclear weapons, with only 20% saying they want to see the UK replace Trident with an equally powerful nuclear missile system.

Stirling SND

Stirling CND at a Glasgow Demo ( courtesy of Stirling CND)

The resounding success of the SNP campaign means that 56 out of 59 of Scotland’s new MP’s are unequivocally committed to the scrapping of Trident. John Ainslie, Coordinator of Scottish CND stated in March 2015 that: “We are disappointed that the Labour party will commit to renewing Trident in their election manifesto. This goes against the views of many of their own candidates as well as the majority of people in Scotland. In a time of austerity the last thing we should be doing is spending £100 billion on more weapons of mass destruction. Nuclear weapons only make the world more dangerous, they do nothing to make us any safer.” The argument by many of these Labour MP’s is that they believe in Multi-lateralism rather than Unilateralism and you will hear them say that effort should be put in to non – proliferation negotiations yet successive Government’s record on this is poor. Many Labour MP’s state that Trident is: “the ‘minimal-cost’ credible nuclear deterrent” – this while we have food banks in our country! In April 2015 however, it was widely reported in the UK press that 75% of Labour Party candidates were opposed to renewing Trident. Ian Murray MP (Labour) and Scotland’s only Labour MP has made public statements regarding his opposition to the renewal of Trident. So there may be opportunities for the new block of SNP MP’s to sway their Westminster colleagues in the Labour Party?

7 Comments on “Scrapping Trident – a ‘red line’ issue!

Morag Fulton
11th June 2015 at 13:53

Fantastic article Kenneth. I have another concern if they renew, what are they going to do to dispose of current nuclear system… it true we are still spending millions to securely store last generation ? x

Kenneth Wardrop
15th June 2015 at 10:58

Hello Morag
Thanks for the feedback. UK taxpayer is paying c £3 million a year just to store old Nuclear powered submarines at Rosyth and Devonport with no de-comissioning plan as far as I know as yet what to do with the reactors and contaminated radioactive materials on these subs?

Sandy Brownlee
15th June 2015 at 10:07

I struggle to find anything to disagree with here. It’s obscene that we are spending so much on something so useless with such a strong moral case against it.

To open up the discussion a bit: I have heard some making the case that, especially with the stance of Russia in recent years, there is an argument for Europe collectively taking on a replacement for both UK and France’s nuclear weapons. This would obviously share the cost over a much wider area, although of course it does nothing to answer the moral problems with the weapons existing in the first place. What do others think?

Kenneth Wardrop
15th June 2015 at 11:03

Hello Sandy I have not heard of a plan for a EU wide collective replacement for France and UK’s nuclear weapons? Cannot imagine non- nuclear EU states supporting any such plan? As you say morally any such move would never be a solution – Nuclear weapons are effectively unusable weapons due to the adverse and uncontainable ecological and environmental impacts there use would have on the planet!

Sandy B
15th June 2015 at 11:25

Certainly not a formal plan! More idle chatter. I’m sure I’ve read more than one opinion piece suggesting it but of course I can’t find any just now, just a couple of academic papers (e.g. this one) that raise the idea but dismiss it. I suspect it would indeed be unworkable in practice without at least further EU integration: a whole other debate in itself. I agree with your point that they are unusable as we all have to share this planet – if we really want a “deterrent” we’d be as well spending a fraction of the money on pretend ones 🙂

Kenny H
15th June 2015 at 13:56

Can you imagine 25 countries arguing over whose finger should be on the trigger? And then some unelected Commissioner being allocated “big red button duty”. Imagine the Eurovision Song contest it could turn into nuclear war!
But seriously, never having been particularly “anti nuclear”, I have to say while there is a lot of sabre rattling between the Russians and US these days, I find it hard to conceive of a scenario where launching a WMD is the solution. If it happens regardless whether we live near the Clyde or the other side of the world, we are all finished anyway! So between that and the sheer cost for something that couldn’t/won’t be used, I just think it’s an utter waste of money and needs to go. If the US decides it needs to use WMD’s it will do it with or without our say so anyway so having ours is just some big trip “Britain” is on to have some prestige at the top table of the UN. I personally can live with out that like the vast majority of countries do. The lost jobs issue is a huge smokescreen, the economic benefits of the money saved would far out weigh the few lost jobs. In anycase the nuclear specialists will have years of work getting rid of the stockpile of old kit that seems to be lying round. Great article Kenneth

Kenneth Wardrop
15th June 2015 at 15:30

Well said!!!


Leave a Reply