It is wrong for the Government to spend £15 to £20 billion on new nuclear submarines to carry Trident nuclear missiles not least because the spending simply is not focussed on real threats to the security of our society. Securing sufficient, clean, green energy supplies, global terrorism and organised crime, climate change and a number of other issues all clearly represent security threats that we know will be ongoing for some time but investing in new nuclear submarines tackles none of these. Kingswood MP Roger Berry may not be my preferred political colour (Green) but he is right to say, 'Today's security threat is not one that can be met by nuclear weapons' ('Blair faces fight over new nukes', Bristol Evening Post, December 5).
This is not the only sense in which the £20 billion (more like £70 billion if one adds up the weapons and submarine lifetime expenditure) will be misused. At todays costs £20 billion would be enough to build 800 new schools, and who would say they aren't needed. It could pay for the protection of over 700 million acres of rainforest, or meet our UN Millenium Goal aid target of 0.7% of GDP every year for the next eight years, thus fighting global poverty which will add to our insecurity if not tackled ! There are many other life and security enhancing ways to spend the money.
Just think of what could be done to enhance state pensions or improve care for the elderly or improve aspects of the NHS with the billions to be spent on nuclear submarines armed with nuclear weapons. And lets not forget that the Germans, Italians, Spanish, Danish, Swedish and others in Europe and around the world do not feel they have to spend billions on nuclear weapons to make them more secure - so why do we?
Bristol North West MP Doug Naysmith is no Green but he is in tune with what will make us more secure when he said, 'We should be reducing nuclear arsenals, not increasing them.' ('Blair faces fight over new nukes', Bristol Evening Post, December 5). He is right because by not reducing nuclear weapons significantly, an aspiration of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty signed decades ago, we have sent out the message to countries who have since developed nuclear weapons, like India, Pakistan, North Korea and possibly others, that possession and threatened use of nuclear weapons is a necessary and acceptable part of being a secure state. The resulting higher risk of wider availability of nuclear material may well enhance the ability of terrorists to terrorise on a larger scale, with 'dirty' bombs containing such material.
I'm glad that a number of MPs will oppose the Government, though I note that former radical left-winger, now Bristol South MP, Dawn Primarolo wont be among them. Tony Blair is likely to win the vote on this, most likely with Conservative support too. The Government have not and wont now be leading the world in nuclear disarmament. The destructive capacity they have decided to retain is equivalent to 1000 Hiroshima nuclear bombs. Why on Earth is such a massive capacity to indiscriminately annihilate needed? How can the Labour Government, or the Conservative and Lib-Dem opposition who also want a large nuclear arsenal, ever be considered Green if they favour 'defence' by threatening to destroy life on a mass scale?