Trident [24 November 2015]

Thank you Madam Deputy Speaker.

Trident is a term often used to describe the UKs entire system of nuclear weapons.

Including Vanguard class submarines, Trident missiles and nuclear warheads.

Each Trident D5 missile can hold up to 12 nuclear warheads.

Each warhead has 8 times the capacity to kill and destroy compared to the bomb exploded over Hiroshima.

Each submarine has 16 missile tubes, which makes it technically capable of carrying 192 warheads per vessel.

192 x 8 if deployed as per Hiroshima equates to 61 million deaths.

With 4 submarines that is 250 million deaths.

Of course it would be far worse than that. A nuclear strike would lead to the pollution of water supplies and arable land. Live stock would die, crops would fail.

for those not initially killed by our nuclear weapons….. starvation would follow.

By arming itself with Trident, the UK Government is saying that it is prepared to inflict this fate on millions of innocent civilians if it was deemed necessary.

Madam Deputy Speaker, nobody can win a nuclear war – an exchange of nuclear weapons would lead to a level of devastation that neither side could ever recover from. Indeed the planet would not recover.

However I acknowledge that we have imposed limits on the use of these weapons.

Which will come as little comfort to the dead and dying .

But the plan is to use a maximum of 40 warheads.

Because obviously sitting in the cloistered atmosphere of Westminster playing war games, somebody decided that, 39 wasn’t enough and 41….. Well that would just be barbaric.

The only rational thought that can justify the renewal of Trident would be if one genuinely believed that the existence of the Trident system in some way, shape or form was contributing to a more peaceful world.

Since World War 2, the nuclear deterrent has not stopped wars in,

Vietnam

Iraq

Afghanistan

Falklands

And I can list 30 or so more.

It has not deterred terrorist attacks in,

Tunisia

Mali

Paris

London

New York

So if nuclear weapons have been proven to be completely inadequate in preventing these wars and atrocities ……….. Where are its successes?

What threat does Trident address and who does it deter?

Major General Patrick Cordingley, who led British forces in the First Gulf War, said,

“Strategic nuclear weapons have no military use. We have more to offer than nuclear bombs.”

Chief of the Defence Staff, Field Marshall Lord Bramall said,

“The first question from a military point of view is whether we still need the successor to Trident”. To this I believe the answer is unquestionably no.”

Former Defence Secretary Des Browne and Ian Kearns the former adviser to parliament on national security strategy said,

“It has become clear for example, that a set of long term threats has emerged to which deterrence, nuclear or otherwise, is not applicable.”

Former Conservative Defence Secretary Michael Portillo said,

“Britain now has a minute army and a microscopic navy. And as these have become smaller so the status symbol of nuclear weapons has become more important, or at least to some people.”

And I shall continue to quote from the former Conservative Defence Secretary in the hope that maybe, if you will not listen to me, you may listen to him.

“Our independent nuclear deterrent is not independent and doesn’t constitute a deterrent against anybody that we regard as an enemy.

It is a waste of money and it is a diversion of funds that might otherwise be spent on a perfectly useful and useable weapons and troops, but some people have not caught up with this reality.”

I would say don’t spend it on weapons and troops but I understand where he is coming from and that is a debate for another day.

I agree with the Honourable Member for Reigate (Crispin Blunt MP) when he said, “The successor Trident programme is going to consume more than double the proportion of the defence budget of its predecessor … the price required both from the UK taxpayer and our conventional forces is now too high to be rational or sensible.”

However Madam Deputy Speaker, I am not naïve, I know there are dangers in the world – but the sort of threats we need to address will not be placated by Trident.

The UK Government has identified terrorism, cyber-crime, pandemics, natural disasters, foreign instability and foreign conflicts as our primary risks in the next 5 years. Trident will not solve any one of these issues.

In the meantime, Scotland’s coast continues to be poorly guarded and our maritime reconnaissance is poor.

I’m aware that the UK Government has finally committed to new Maritime Patrol Aircraft, but the gap in our capability will remain at least until 2020.

Westminster’s irrational commitment to Trident has also come at the expense of defence jobs in Scotland.

Between the years 2000 and 2010 cuts to military personnel in Scotland was measured at 27.9%, compared with 11.6% across the UK as a whole.

The decline continued between July 2014 and July 2015 as personnel numbers in Scotland dropped a further 9.5%.

Madam Deputy Speaker, at a lifetime cost of £167 billion it’s clear that Trident makes no economic sense.

It solves none of our most pressing foreign policy priorities and it is draining resources from our conventional forces.

Trident is not the solution, it is very much part of the problem.

This is the speech I had written however due to time constraints I was unable to get through the whole thing. You can see an exact transcript of the speech I delivered here.

You can watch the speech I delivered here.

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