Notes from the Green Party Candidate for South Norfolk, for General Election 2015. Longer reflections and discussions on issues relating to policy, the good life, justice, equality, anti-austerity economics and the future of the planet. This is also a forum for exchanging ideas on how to tread lightly on the planet and avoid supporting exploitation and corrupt practices. Here we go...

Friday, 20 February 2015

Renewing Trident? Nuclear weapons? Do they make things safer?

Like other election candidates, I have been approached by CND for my response to a series of questions about Trident and Nuclear Disarmament. I thought I would post my response here as well as on the CND website, so that it is easy for people to find. Also the version currently showing on the CND site has an incomplete version of the answer to question 4 and I don't know whether that will get corrected. So here is the finished one.

At the time of writing, nine days after the e-mail request came, no other candidates in South Norfolk have bothered to respond to this survey. Which is interesting.

Question 1: Trident replacement and New Nuclear Weapons
The UK's submarine-based Trident nuclear weapon system is approaching the end of its operational life.
The MPs elected next year will be asked to vote on constructing a replacement nuclear weapon system for Trident that will operate into the 2060s.
To what extent do you agree that the next government should scrap its nuclear weapons rather than replace them with a new system?
Answer: 5, Very Much agree.
I think we should never have had Trident and that it is overdue for scrapping. In addition we should not be diverting money to replacing or renewing such outdated war machines. Military advisers themselves have noted that these weapons have no use, and cost more than the conventional defence resources that are needed in the current climate. Nuclear weapons are a status ornament, of no more use than the crown jewels.

Question 2: Trident and the Strategic Defence and Security Review 
The next government will conduct a Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) following the election.
To what extent do you agree that SDSR should consider the possibility of non-replacement of Trident and a UK without nuclear weapons?

Answer: 5 Very much agree.
Indeed, this should be the most urgent ambition, and the feasibility considerations should include a wholesale investigation of the underlying sources of any external threats, such as our dependence upon supplies of fossil fuels and the increasing evidence of a war for energy supplies. It should also look into the nature of the terrorist threat from Islamic extremism and consider whether diverting resources to maintaining nuclear weapons has any relevance to that problem, and to what extent cultural and imperialistic interference might be causing, rather than resolving, the radicalisation of the Islamic world.

Question 3: Trident and the Non-Proliferation Treaty
The next government will need to attend the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference in New York in May 2015.
To what extent do you agree that the next government should support a nuclear weapons convention or ban, similar to those for chemical or biological weapons?

Answer: 5 Very much agree.

Question 4: Trident and Austerity
The current government has carried out significant public spending cuts and planned for them to continue through the next parliament.
With so many other services being cut, to what extent do you agree that the next government can not afford to replace Trident at an estimated cost of £100 billion?

Answer: 4 Somewhat agree.
I think that spending £100 billion on nuclear weapons while cutting other services is irresponsible and immoral. It is also pointless, and indeed increases our vulnerability, since modern warfare always takes place with conventional weapons, while the very presence of a nuclear arsenal on British soil increases the risk of setting it off by accident, or in a panic, or generating a mistaken counter-strike from elsewhere due to panic or false intelligence.
On the other hand, the need for cutting is actually premised on misunderstood economics. In principle we could have both an NHS, full benefits system, free care for the elderly, a substantial standing army, AND nuclear weapons, and be better off. The idea that it is an either-or choice is based on assuming that things need to be cut. We are wealthy in this country and our wealth comes from the things we invest in, not from cutting back on everything we do so that revenues fall; we do not need to put services at risk as though we were a household with a low income and no prospect of a salary rise. So the argument against nuclear weapons is not primarily about saving money, but about whether this is a good thing to spend money on and a good industry to incentivise. Isn't energy self-sufficiency based on renewables, not nuclear or fossil fuels, surely a better way to stay clear of wars?

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