So the Trident Commission has sifted the evidence, found a risk of nuclear blackmail and concluded Britain does need a replacement for Trident.
Well slap my thigh. You’ll be telling me next that Uruguay thinks Luis “Gnasher” Suarez doesn’t deserve a four month footie ban!
The commission of the great and good, including two former defence secretaries, didn’t have to do what voters must put the massive cost of Trident beside the massive public spending cuts that have sent working families into debt, depression, crisis and food banks.
When you do that the £130 billion price of Trident doesn’t look like much of a bargain. It’s a bit like selling the house to buy the world’s most sophisticated burglar alarm which comes without a guarantee it can outwit all intruders. Nice.
But their Lordships insist public opinion is actually on their side. The latest British Social Attitudes Survey suggested 41% of Scots want nukes to stay on the Clyde even after independence, while only 37% want them removed pronto.
But let’s take a closer look at that poll.
It was actually conducted in 2013 not yesterday. It wasn’t primarily a survey of Scottish opinion so only 240 folk fae north of the border took part. A thousand folk are normally needed for any statistically valid result.
And the 240 were asked if “nuclear submarines” not “nuclear weapons” should stay or go. Not quite the same thing is it?
Finally the pollsters didn’t explain that keeping nuclear subs in Scotland means keeping paying for them too. Perhaps that’s why a differently worded question in the same poll found a majority opposed having any nuclear weapons at all.
Most properly conducted polls show a consistent opposition to nukes in Scotland. In 2013, 75% of No Voters and 87% of Yes folk opposed Trident’s replacement. In 2007, 73% of Scots said it would be wrong to spend £50 billion on a Trident replacement system (half the current estimated price).
Now call me old-fashioned, but doesn’t that look like a fairly consistent pattern?
And folk in the rest of the UK are equally anti-Trident. In April of this year 79% of Britons opposed its replacement and months before 64% said there should be an international convention banning nukes. In 2009, 70% said they’d rather spend Trident cash on nurses’ salaries or affordable homes.
So let’s not place too much weight on one rogue poll.
The bulk of Scots voters think Trident is poor value for money, believe indiscriminate weapons of mass destruction are illegal, fear nukes on the Clyde make Scotland a target and note that possessing Trident hasn’t helped in the conflicts boiling up around the world today. What use is our expensive American-supplied and controlled nuclear deterrent in tackling street fighting and terrorism in Syria, Ukraine or against Isis?
The only factor that gives some pause for thought is the potential loss of jobs.
But again, let’s get the facts. The Ministry of Defence was forced to confirm only 520 civilian jobs on the Clyde are dependent on Trident. Far more would be created by a new non-nuclear naval base.
What about the argument Scots would only export Trident down south? Nowhere else in these isles can combine a deep-water berth with relatively quiet shipping lanes and easy access to the oceans.
Behind the scenes prominent Lib Dem and Labour politicians also oppose Trident replacement but are too feart to say in case it strengthens the case for independence.
I’d say Scots can do the whole UK a great service on September 18 by voting to dump Trident for good.