Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Trident

I could be completely wrong about this, but I get the sense that the debate about whether or not to renew Trident isn't one which most people feel all that strongly about.

The issue that really seems to get people going is our support for American foreign policy (which is something which lots of people do feel very strongly about, both for and against), and that the case for and against renewing Trident is mostly conducted as a part of that wider debate (that's the feedback, for instance, I got about last weekend's demo). This is different from the 1980's, with fewer people who hadn't been involved in other campaigns getting involved in the anti-Trident campaign, and fewer people thinking that getting rid of our nukes will lead to surrender to a Communist dictatorship.

One interesting implication of this is that I think most swing voters now (unlike in the 80s) would like us to show a bit more independence from the Americans, and if they are not that interested in the detailed arguments for and against Trident renewal, not renewing might be quite a good way for us to show we are on their side.

Personally, I think renewing Trident would be a bad idea, and the argument that we should do so because we don't know what threats there will be in the future on a par with arguing that billions should be spent to defend against giant lizards invading from outer space (it may sound unlikely, but can its opponents say that it is impossible?) But I don't feel nearly as strongly about it as I did about, say, Iraq.

4 Comments:

At 11:31 pm , Anonymous Tim F said...

I am convinced Trident doesn't need to be an issue and it's better if it isn't. I don't want a massive debate on it; I don't want people thinking Labour is obsessed with it, I'd just like us to quietly not renew it and spend the money on things it makes political sense to make a big hoo-har of improving.

 
At 3:24 pm , Anonymous angus said...

I agree with Tim. Labour shouldn't seek to fight elections on defence policy. I don't think many people would see non-renewal of Trident in terms of demonstrating independence from the US, and there are clearer ways of making that point.

Unlike when Labour in opposition supported scrapping Britain's existing nuclear weapons during the Cold War, I think it would be difficult for the Tories to make an issue out of Labour in government post-Cold War not renewing Trident because in effect they would be making a huge spending commitment which we could attack at the next election as involving billions in tax rises or spending cuts.

 
At 9:07 pm , Blogger HenryG said...

We know having a nuclear deterrant is desirable but the cost of trident renewal is prohibitive. So can't we do what some people are known to do burglar alarms? They fix empty alarm cases to their houses to act as a deterrent but save on cost? Surely we could get the shells of empty trident submarines bobbing around looking menacing but spend the money on public services instead? Just an idea!

 
At 9:06 am , Blogger C4' said...

Thank goodness you are not the Defence Secretary as the nation would be at the mercy of Al-Qaeda, China and Iran.

 

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