Comment: Trident is a ‘big boy’s toy’ and wrong for Scotland

By Bill Kidd MSP

Whether Trident is desirable from a moral or humanitarian aspect can be argued from anyone’s philosophical standpoint; whether it’s too dangerous keep nuclear weapons in the world or the world is too dangerous a place not to maintain them as a ‘deterrent’ is also a point of infinite debate.

However, angels only dance on the head of a pin when there's no nightclub open. Let's look at the economic viability of Trident replacement in the face of crippling national debt.

Even if one thought it desirable to maintain a nuclear arsenal, described by the joint chiefs of staff as useless in military terms, is it economically viable to continue with Trident-armed nuclear submarines at present cost levels, never mind to contemplate the £100 billion replacement and operation of the system through the introduction of the next generation of weapons-of-mass-murder, whilst the banking system is kept from collapse only through the investment of the general population's pension pot.

This big boy's toy cannot be afforded and the sooner Westminster can be forced to take on board that the UK has a place as an equal on the United Nations with other countries on the planet, rather than their superior as a permanent member of the Security Council, the better and safer for all.

When, at the wish of the majority of Scottish people, the Trident nuclear weapons system and its proposed multi-billion pound upgrade will be removed from Scotland, there may indeed be nowhere for it to go, certainly in these islands. An independent deterrent based 3,000 miles away in Charlestown, West Virginia or, horror of horrors from an English point of view, on the Ile de Longue in France would be at turns laughable and culturally unacceptable.

From a Scottish perspective this is very clear cut indeed; whether Scotland could or could not afford this reckless waste of public finances is beside the point, an independent Scotland will not have Trident or any other system of nuclear menace stationed on her soil or in her waters. When they go from here we hope to see an end to them anywhere, but that’s not our decision.

Scotland’s contribution to the current running costs of Trident is around £160 million per annum, money that would effectively be used to employ all 300 Scottish-origin naval personnel on conventional duties; redeploy the 300 MOD security personnel; boost the socio-economic infrastructure and tourism amenities of Argyll and Dunbartonshire; and fund a public agency to focus the local economy of the Lower Clyde on renewable energy projects which would be of long-term benefit to Scotland and the wider-world.

The recession has already proven to be long and difficult for the majority and it is clear to all but the messianic Westminster warlords with their 'tomorrow belongs to me' mindset, that Trident isn't needed, isn't wanted and can't be afforded.

The SNP Scottish government is firm on its rejection of Trident, whether Nato would prefer its long-term continuance in Scotland or not, and Westminster must surely follow suit or suffer an ignominious slide in the eyes of the 21ST Century world.  

Bill Kidd is the Scottish Nationalist Party MSP for Glasgow Anniesland

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