The UK Trident Program maintains a fleet four Vanguard-class submarines armed with Trident II D-5 ballistic missiles, able to deliver thermonuclear warheads from multiple independent re-entry vehicles. It is the most powerful capability of the British military forces (I copied that from the above linked Wikipedia article). We are told that this capability somehow keeps us safe because nobody will dare attack us (or our friends) for fear of vaporisation. There are some fairly obvious objections to this theory which I could go into but I will save myself the effort and just remind people of a 2009 letter to the Times in which the former head of armed forces, Field Marshal Lord Bramall, backed by two senior generals, said that “Nuclear weapons have shown themselves to be completely useless as a deterrent to the threats and scale of violence we currently face or are likely to face”. Completely useless and “virtually irrelevant except in the context of domestic politics”.
So why are we being asked to spend something like £100 billion (spread over 30 years) on replacing the ageing fleet and updating the missiles if they are completely useless? Of course the government will say that Lord Bramall is wrong but I don’t trust them, there is too much money involved, companies that stand to make billions and that will have been lobbying extremely hard. Of course they want it to go ahead and it seems they have managed to convince a large segment of the population that it is worth the cost – that it is somehow a better use of £100 billion than funding the NHS, education, public transport, green energy etc.
Of course I am not alone in thinking this way and today I joined perhaps 2000 people for a Wrap up Trident protest in central London. People were asked to assemble at noon to encircle the Ministry of Defence and MP’s offices at 1pm before marching to the Old Palace Yard for a rally at 2pm. The encirclement was by not just people, but people holding sections of the seven mile long peace scarf which was knitted by hundreds of people to connect the Atomic Weapons Establishment sites at Aldermaston and Burghfield – see Wool against Weapons. I filmed some of this with my GoPro and uploaded it to YouTube here.
During the speeches people started drifting off due to the cold and I was tempted to do the same but found the resolve to stick it out till the end. I was glad I did because I got to hear what I thought was the best speech by activist Angie Zelter and the finale, a rendition by Leon Rosselson of his Trident Song to which I and many others joined in for the chorus. I don’t know whether we made a difference today but I believe it was important to be there, particularly as the election fast approaches. I will certainly not be voting for anybody who does not promise to oppose Trident renewal.