REPLACING TRIDENT: WHITEHALL ‘LACKS EXPERTISE’

A report from an influential House of Commons Committee, published today, further undermines the case for spending £167 billion on a replacement for Trident.

I’m not a fan of nuclear weapons, especially when they are parked 30 miles from Scotland’s largest city.

I do believe that national defence is one of the most important duties of Government. But I’m opposed to replacing Trident on practical as well as moral grounds.

For one thing, possessing a nuclear deterrent didn’t protect France from the horrific attack on Paris last week, nor the Russians from having one of their civilian airliners blown up, nor the Americans from 9/11.

Nor is the UK’s so-called ‘independent’ nuclear deterrent actually independent: the UK can’t operate it without the US. That isn’t just my view, by the way, but that of the well-known leftie and SNP activist (Have you checked that? Ed) former Conservative Defence Secretary, Michael Portillo. He was reported as saying so in the Financial Times, back in 2103 (http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/c569db3a-4947-11e2-9225-00144feab49a.html#axzz3s3ofyJH4) – when he also said that nuclear weapons weren’t a deterrent – comments he repeated on the BBC’s This Week programme in May this year.

We are also told that the nuclear deterrent ‘supports thousands of jobs’. Estimates vary, but the BBC (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-business-20132118) reckons that the total might be somewhere around 11,000. At £167 billion, that works out at around £15 million per job, making it the most expensive job-creation scheme not just in the UK, but also in the western spiral arm of the Galaxy.

But back to today’s report, which you can read in full here http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/defence-committee/news-parliament-2015/an-sdsr-checklist-potential-threats-report-published-15-16/. It’s from the Commons Defence Select Committee, which has a Tory majority and a Tory Chair. It’s being published ahead of the publication of the Government’s Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) on Monday. It is highly critical of the Government’s “flawed” system of grading potential threats to national security, and says that there is a “lack of expertise” in Whitehall, meaning the Government would face a “significant challenge” in assessing any new threats that arose.

In other words, and translating the committee’s polite Parliamentary language into the vernacular, the people currently determining the UK’s defence priorities, including the decision to replace Trident, are a bunch of numpties whom we shouldn’t trust to run a whelk stall.

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