Spend Trident money on more public sector workers, argues SNP

Scotland’s share of the annual cost of the Trident nuclear deterrent could pay for the training of almost 3,000 new public sector workers, it has been claimed.

HMS Vanguard at Faslane Submarine base on the river Clyde. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

According to analysis by the SNP, Scotland’s notional share of the bill for renewing and maintaining the Faslane naval base – around £187 million – could pay for training the equivalent of almost 750 nurses, 370 police officers, 1,500 teachers and 235 doctors.

The claim comes as the SNP prepares to debate Trident at its spring conference next month. A resolution by the party’s Glasgow Maryhill and Springburn branch calls for a “clear timetable for the removal of nuclear weapons from Scottish soil and waters”.

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Trident consists of four Vanguard-class submarines, which can carry up to 16 
ballistic missiles, each armed with up to eight nuclear warheads.

Nuclear weapons have been sited at Faslane for more than 50 years and cost the UK around £2.2 billion a year – 6 per cent of the defence budget – with Scotland’s share of that cost reaching £187m.

According to the SNP, the cost of training a nurse is £16,000 a year, a police officer £31,800, while a teacher’s training cost is £8,280 and a GP £50,000 a year.

Bill Kidd MSP, co-president of the Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament group in Scotland, said the new figures backed the SNP’s opposition to Trident.

He said: “The millions of pounds in taxpayer money that is being wasted by Westminster could go towards making sure our public services come first; building hospitals, training public sector workers, improving schools and lifting people out of Tory-inflicted poverty.

“Instead of investing in our vital services, the Scottish Government is being forced to mitigate for cuts, wasted funds and unprecedented damage caused to our economy by the Tories and Labour’s sorry lack of opposition.

“The SNP has always been clear on the fact that we want to see a nuclear weapons-free Scotland.”

However, Glasgow Tory MSP Adam Tomkins said: “The SNP’s objection to Trident is nothing to do with cost and everything to do with their outdated ideology.

“The SNP’s blueprint for independence would subject Scotland to years of punishing public service cuts. If the SNP really wanted to put Scottish public services first, it would abandon its obsession with independence and start improving the health service.”