Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Cut Trident - not public services

This week, my column in the Cornish Guardian focuses on Trident. It is as below:

I have been a member of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) for over twenty years. To me it is a matter of principle. I strongly believe that we should be working to rid the globe of all nuclear weapons, so that we can make the World a safer and more secure place.

I find it indefensible that while central government is forcing through devastating cuts to vital public services, it is continuing to spend billions of pounds on nuclear weapons.

How can a government justify spending £3.1 billion of taxpayers’ money on the Trident nuclear missile system each year?

Just think how much good £3,100,000,000 would do if it was instead spent on social housing, job creation, education, health, policing, community groups, etc?

The Government has also authorised the expenditure of billions of pounds on its scheme to replace the Trident nuclear submarines / weapons system, even though the decision on whether to press ahead with the replacement will not even be taken until 2016.

The original estimate for the new submarines was a massive £11-14 billion, but recently the government published a progress report which shows that the actual costs are likely to be in the region of £25-26 billion. It has also been acknowledged that the total cost of the whole programme, including lifetime costs, will probably exceed £100 billion.

Kate Hudson, the General Secretary of CND has rightly described the weapons as a “ruinously expensive white elephant.”

I agree with her, and her view that it is a disgrace “the government seems willing to pay whatever it takes for these weapons, with the estimated bill almost doubling since they were first proposed.”

It is also the case that, in recent years, runaway increases in costs have blighted almost every major defence project. And yet the Government is still unwilling to rethink its position on nuclear weapons and even consider whether the United Kingdom should develop a non-nuclear defence policy

It is my view that expenditure on Trident equals an appalling waste of tax payers' money and it is little wonder that polls show a majority of the British population agree and are now opposed to Trident.

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