I keep hearing from the First Minister that the £100 billion renewal cost of Trident could, more or less immediately, be spent on all sorts of things to make things better for us.
I have done some research and this figure appears to be an arbitrary sum promulgated by the CND. House of Commons library figures are nowhere near as high, but even if it were £100bn, that is not a sum immediately available. It is the cost over 35 years.
Current UK population is about 63 million, estimated to rise to about 70 million by the mid-2020s. Using the current population, simple arithmetic tells us that the daily cost, per head, would be about 12p.
We live in an increasingly unstable and dangerous world; the first duty of any government is to protect the state. Is 12p a day for 35 years too much to protect us?
Should we abandon our deterrent we would be at the mercy of any country or faction that wished us ill – and not necessarily by nuclear threats. Several very dodgy countries or groups could use chemical, biological or “dirty” bombs to spread radiation if they thought that we were incapable of retaliation. Or blackmail us.
Trident does not have to deliver a maximum yield warhead to kill masses. A minimum yield bomb would be enough to make the point if warnings of our willingness to use it were not enough.
To be fair to Alexander McKay, he has consistently called for multi-lateral disarmament, but it deeply depressing that there are people writing to The Scotsman who are prepared to countenance the mass slaughter of millions of innocent civilians in useless retaliatory strikes, while the respective leaders and commanders cower in their respective bunkers. What would that achieve?
Also his rogue state argument does not stack up. Assuming that North Korea and Iran were ever allowed to develop inter-continental ballistic missile capability, does Mr McKay seriously believe they will launch strikes against countries that do not have nuclear weapons?
Mr McKay consistently overstates the economic impact of removing Trident. In the first place, consider the number of infrastructure projects and jobs we could create with £100 billion. Second, Faslane would continue to operate as a conventional naval base.
Third, we don’t own Trident; we lease them from the US and the deal includes the being serviced and maintained there, thus providing jobs for Americans.
Finally, let’s not kid ourselves: Trident is not an independent deterrent and we can’t even fire them unless America says so. We don’t even have the launch key codes.
Trident is a post-Imperial posture and a fig leaf for the massive cuts coming to our conventional armed forces regardless of who wins the election.
Then, Mr McKay, you will see real job losses as Scotland will once again disproportionately bear the brunt of cuts to military personnel.
The SNP has stated that no-one in Scotland wants Trident. Wrong. I want it because it has protected me for 77 years and I hope it will continue to do so for the rest of my life, the lives of my family and the rest of the British population. How foolish to think that moving Trident elsewhere in the British Isles would make Scotland safer.