Lucy Mannion

Naked Politics Blogger 

Earlier this month our Members of Parliament learned to stop worrying and love the bomb. They voted to renew the Trident nuclear programme 472 to 117thereby ensuring that we still have enough military swag to do some world shattering damage.   The retention of nukes is still seen by many as highly controversial, though luckily we’ve moved on from the seventies and see less drug addled, flower power demonstrations with people in horrendous flares tying themselves to railings.

Whatever those pesky pacifists might want, politicians selected rather overwhelmingly to keep us at the WMD table and I happen to agree with them that we need the nuclear option and Trident in particular.

First and foremost, Trident is pretty damn ultimate as deterrents go. Though some feel cold war style Mutually Assured Destruction (or the rather apt MAD) has no standing at a time when we have shifted away from state on state conflict to tackling individual acts of terror, you just can’t argue with the hypothetical effectiveness of Trident.  The bottom line being, if you attack the UK and wreck all our defences, well jokes on you, as we’ve got a lurking submarine filled with bombs out there that can still get you.  It’s a bit like in a film when the hero, who is trying to expose some sort of corruption, sends a bunch of documents to a journalist to be released in case they ‘go missing’, it’s insurance.

I appreciate the stance some hold that Trident is obsolete as it cannot deal with the new type of security threats we are facing, but surely its horses for courses, nuclear weapons aren’t supposed to stop suicide bombers.  If nukes were our only defence this would be tricky, but we also have, you know, a full on military, alongside intelligence agencies to manage other tribulations.

For your interest, each of the subs that the Trident missiles are housed on carries a sealed ‘letter of last resort’ authored by the PM with directives to follow in case we are devastated and the government obliterated……cheery.  This alone is another check in Trident’s column, it incorporates classic spy movie style correspondence.  Indeed these instructions of doom are one on the first things our new PM Theresa would have had to do the other week on crossing the threshold of No 10, after fussing Larry the cat though, obviously.

Renewing Trident will cost a bomb (sorry) but the exact figure shifts quite dramatically depending on who you ask, it’s certainly many many billions, however it’s day to day running expenses aren’t too eye watering.  I’m uncertain what price tag you can put on annihilating your enemies from beyond the grave but I’d hazard that Trident is decent value for money as the MOD has confirmed it spends only about 6% of its annual budget on the system.  The scheme also provides employment for around thirty thousand people who should at least now have some job security after the parliamentary vote. Not really sure what they would be scribbling on their CV otherwise, vast experience with theoretical armageddon?

It’s been clear in recent times that the future we face is foggy, random terrorist violence is on the up, people are rebelling against establishment politics and it appears that the geo political realm is about as stable as a game of Jenga.  I mean come on, even pariah state North Korea is expanding its nuclear ante.


Therefore I concur that just to be on the safe side, we should retain Trident.  Also, I can’t shake the image in my head of Putin wetting himself with laughter if we went nukeless, to tyrants such as him it would be the defence equivalent of bending over.

If countries had top trumps cards, nuclear capability would be a category and following the vote for Brexit we don’t need anything else damaging our international street cred right now.  We won’t be within the snug bosom of the EU soon, so the need to be independently strong is crucial.  No, Trident alone isn’t going to defend us but it’s still handy to have an ace up your sleeve and pragmatic security must be prioritised over idealistic morality in this instance.

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Last Update: April 28, 2018