No ‘Back Door’ Trident replacement

Kate Hudson, CND UK

Kate Hudson, CND UK

By Kate Hudson.

Is a piece of nuclear double dealing going on? Last summer the government stated that the decision on whether or not to replace Trident would be delayed until 2016. Now, thanks to the good old Freedom of Information legislation, we know that the MoD is currently planning to order quite a bit of the first submarine – and nuclear reactors for three of them – before the 2016 decision is actually taken.

It also seems that construction is planned to start on significant parts of the first submarine ahead of the decision. These will include elements – if not all – of the hull, the propulsion systems, power plant, electrical, combat and life support systems. In fact, that adds up to quite a lot of the first sub.

This is a classic case of saying one thing and doing another – commonly known as double-dealing or being duplicitous. Surely this is unrepresentative of the ‘new politics’ promised by the coalition government? This smacks of getting Trident replacement in through the back door, bypassing proper political processes and making a mockery of any notion of accountability. And where do the Lib Dems stand in this? Last October they pledged that “Trident will not be renewed this parliament – not on a Liberal Democrat watch”. If that claim is to be anything more than a cosmetic sham – or at best the good intentions with which the road to hell is paved – then these multi-million pound orders must not be placed ahead of the next election.

So what is really going on? Maybe they just told the public what they want to hear – after all a majority is against Trident; or maybe it reflects differences within government about the future of Britain’s nukes? There are plenty of people in the top of politics who don’t want Trident but don’t want to say it. Or maybe we are seeing commercial and industrial interests taking over?

I am reminded of fiascos like the aircraft carriers where billions are committed to projects that no-one wants or needs but we are stuck with them because of contracts and advance expenditure. It’s like saying we have to go to war because troops have already been sent to the region. This is all clearly a total outrage. It is vital that the government commits to an honest debate and accountable process about the timetable, decision-making, cost and scope of the contracts for Trident replacement. Above all it must provide for a fundamental reappraisal – involving parliamentarians and public – of whether a Cold War nuclear weapons system is necessary for the defence of Britain in the 21st century. If you haven’t already done so, please ask your MP to sign EDM 909 calling for such a Review.

The majority of the population is opposed to Trident. Spending on Trident is a dead-end in every respect. No Trident through the Back Door.

Kate Hudson is General Secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. This article was originally published on Kate Hudson’s Blog.

A briefing discussing these issues in greater depth is available here.

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