Friday, September 17, 2010

The Trident Replacement Programme.

Never really been that engaged with the debate about the UK's independent nuclear deterrent. Always tended to be 'in favour' of it because I don't think it wise to disarm unilaterally. A big majority on MPs share this opinion. But over the last year or so I've been lobbied umpteen times by people who believe we shouldn't replace our current nuclear defence system which is based on Trident ballistic missiles launched from Vanguard submarines, one of which is always 'at the ready' - and never been lobbied by anyone in favour.

Yesterday, I sat in on a 5 hour debate on defence policy, inspired by the new back bench committee. The debate became dominated by 'Trident' replacement policy. I was there on behalf of the Wales Office to hear any contributions from Welsh MPs or that referred to matters affecting Wales. Reason for all this Trident turbulence was that the BBC had reported earlier in the day that the replacement programme could be delayed by 5 years as a cost-cutting measure. As I listened to the Minister for the Armed Forces, Nick Harvey speaking, it became clear that the report was total tosh (which is not to say that it hadn't been leaked of course!).

The actual position is that the last Government decided to commission a Trident replacement programme, which is going ahead as planned. There has been no change. No proposals to reverse this decision. The date on which the 'point of no return' will be reached, when the final, final, final green light is given is late 2014/early 2015. It seems that the Coalition Government has decided to review the expenditure profile of the programme, which is sensible, but which may delay things by a few months (or may not). Nick Harvey could not have been more explicit. Still, I should be grateful to the BBC for running big with such a total b****** story because the ensuing outrage from some of my colleagues enabled me to acquire a reasonable knowledge about a subject that I should have known a lot more about.

Whether the Coalition Government should be going ahead with this programme is, of course, a seperate debate altogether, and one which may well draw some comment. My aim in this post has been to spread a bit of fact about where we are.


Ex-Trowbridge council house laddie said...

I gather that Gates has pointed out to the UK government that if it cuts back even further on defense spending as a portion of UK GDP that the 'special relationship' will be imperiled in part because UK military kit will be so behind US kit.

Also, now that the UK economy is slipping in the world rankings its position on the Security Council is imperiled and would be further imperiled if the UK lacked a credible nuclear deterrent.

"It's like what she wrote" some years ago now, the prediction that came true; In re the mega-economic storm that would disproportionately hit the UK (probably hit harder because of Gordon Brown's cotton filled ears).

In part of that prediction was a severe warning, that unless Wales took action to develop its indigenous economy that Wales will suffer even more in the shadow of "London".

Well, WAG took little heed.

Also, I saw no real movement to harness Wales' number one (#1) asset and the natural consequence of all this is that Wales (along with the rest of the UK) is now facing a major adjustment in its living standards.

"So it is", turns out that Rhodri Morgan had had cotton filled ears too.

Given the stubbornness over Welsh IP – the only thing I see that will counter-intuitively bring jobs back is deregulation of job regulations.

I do know that American small businesses are frightened of all the regulations heading their way. The burden is disproportionate and over-whelming. Obama has seen an ‘opportunity’ to do America in by taking the fun out of running a small business.

As American small businesses now flounder and are not hiring in anything like the numbers needed – graduate employment will take a HUGE pounding, as will UK/Welsh exports to the USA with American small businesses hunker down in fox holes or quit all together.

Oh well.

S.E. Asia economies must be falling over themselves as we impose one job-killing burden after another.

Richard Tebboth said...


[Remember Dave, the government is ]committed to 'evidence-based policy'

1. Trident is not an independent capability.
2. The costs will devastate the ability to invest in other areas of defence - let alone pay for the 'Military Covenant'.
3. The system's security is compromised.

1 Independent??

2. Cost??

Greenpeace Paper

CND Paper

3, Secure??

Anonymous said...

We must maintain a full-time, independent nuclear deterrent. In the growing global instability, with nuclear proliferation and the dwindling of the world's resources, we must keep our place amongst the Big 5, not for kudos and arrogance, but for our very survival. The defence of the UK is the governments highest priority, even over and above healthcare or education in my view. For this deterrent to be credible, it must have a continous at-sea presence.