Sir Simon Jenkins: Jeremy Corbyn’s straight talking on Trident should be applauded
Christine writes: “I was horrified to hear interviews on BBC yesterday, in which reporters were talking about Trident as if it is a weapon that can be used. I guess we grew up under the threat of a nuclear war and today’s generation are no longer aware of all the dangers associated with it. Thank goodness the Guardian has redressed the balance.”
We followed this up and found the Jenkins article.
The sole reason for Trident surviving the Blair government’s first defence review (on whose lay committee I sat) was the ban on discussing it imposed by the then defence secretary, George Robertson, in 1997.
I can recall no head of the army and no serious academic strategist with any time for the Trident missile. It was a great hunk of useless weaponry. It was merely a token of support for an American nuclear response, though one that made Britain vulnerable to a nuclear exchange.
No modern danger, such as from terrorism, is deterred by Trident (any more than Galtieri had been in the Falklands or Saddam in Iraq). But the money was spent and the rest of the defence budget had to suffer constant cuts – and soldiers left ill-equipped – to pay for it.
For decades the Labour party lacked the courage of its own convictions on nuclear weapons and the courage to confront the industry lobby behind Trident. Gordon Brown openly backed Trident simply as job-creation for Scotland.
While the missiles come from America and their use without American permission is inconceivable, a decision on the related submarine replacement programme is due next year. It will have nothing to do with national defence. Talk about “ultimate deterrents” might as well apply to any Armageddon weapon, bacteriological or chemical.
Trident is about diplomatic clout, global posturing, domestic grandstanding and huge sums of public expenditure.
- This is precisely the kind of issue on which Corbyn’s straight talking might be thought to turn over a new leaf.
- He might break with New Labour’s craven appeasement of the industrial lobbies and log-rollers.
It is sad that his party colleagues, not one of whom can seriously believe in Trident, feel obliged to oppose him on this issue, just so Labour can seem tough on defence. Jenkins suggests that perhaps Corbyn should talk to a soldier.
Posted on October 14, 2015, in Defence, Jeremy Corbyn, Labour Party, Peace, Security, Trident and tagged Armageddon weapon, General Colin Powell, New Labour, nuclear war, terrorism. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.