More on Trident; unfortunately, it is not an issue in this election
Among the blusterers I heard on the radio today was a man who recalled that Jeremy Corbyn had said, “No, I would not press the nuclear button.”
The man’s conclusion was that he trusted Corbyn on guarding the nation’s security no further than he could throw him.
Given the opportunity, there are questions I would like to ask the bloke:
- Do you think there are conventional weapons we could deploy if our country were militarily threatened? Or would you go straight for the nuclear option?
- If the trident system is such an effective deterrent, why would we ever need to use it?
- Would your policy be first use? In other words, sending missiles in response to the threat of an attack. Or would you press the nuclear button only after we have suffered a nuclear attack?
- Is the nation prepared for being a nuclear target? Please explain how we are prepared.
- Could you describe the preparations for each household recommended during the 1950s and 1960s? If you can recall that, how effective do you think they would have been? Please note that successive governments have no longer advised any preparations. Can you suggest why?
- Are you aware that our tiny Civil Defence Force, when it existed, worked only a 5-day week?
- Are you aware of the scale of damage a single trident missile would inflict on a large city, or an enemy missile site? Please describe it to me.
- Have you heard the term, nuclear winter? Please explain it to me.
- Ours is a small country and so a single nuclear weapon detonated anywhere on Britain would have country-wide devastating effects, immediately in the form of blast damage, then in the longer term in the form of fall-out radiation. Are we prepared for this?
- If our nuclear exchange were to be with, say Russia, do you think it would stop at one each, or would Russia possibly seek such obliteration that there was no longer any possibility of further retaliation from us?
- Are you aware that NATO exists on the basis that an attack on one member will be acted upon by all members? In other words, France and the USA, which are the other nuclear states in NATO, would be expected immediately to join the war, implying multiple exchanges of nuclear missiles.
- Are you aware that containment of the conflict would be nigh to impossible, as there is no referee?
- If trident is so wonderful, why has such a system not been adopted by Germany, Canada, Australia, Norway, Sweden etc etc?
- If in a position of power, would you be prepared to press the button?
- How would you salve your conscience, having ended civilisation as we know it? Well, perhaps you would have no problem; a dead man suffers no bad conscience.
I put it to you that the Labour Party is still wedded to nuclear weapons as a legacy of Aneurin Bevan’s speech to the Party Conference in 1957, in which he spoke against abandoning nuclear weapons, because that would send our Foreign Secretary “naked into the conference chamber”. In other words, having lost the Empire and being a merely average power on the world stage, we need to be able to sabre-rattle if we are to be listened to.
Unfortunately, most people in this country could not, or would not be bothered to answer any of the above questions, but nevertheless think we must embrace the bomb.
I am happy to come clean. I have been a member of CND since it was founded, took part in every Aldermaston March and was founding secretary of the Combined Universities CND.
I am neither a pacifist, nor a Christian. I simply try to be rational.
The men who cannot be trusted any further than you can throw them are Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin and Boris Johnson. Sadly, they all have a finger on the nuclear button.