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Faslane is wrong at so many levels

September 11, 2015 12:00 PM
By Stephen Phillips

Trident Submarine (HMS Vigiliant) (Image from the MOD licenced under the Open Government Licence http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/doc/open-government-licence/version/2/)Confirmation that the nation is to invest half a billion pounds on Faslane might be in line with what was promised before last year's Independence referendum in Scotland, but given the closeness of the result - and the outcome in Scotland of this year's general election which virtually handed the Conservatives their election victory - we have to ask ourselves whether this is the right thing to do.

First, a large proportion of the people of Scotland made it perfectly clear that they are not in favour of nuclear weapons and would insist on their removal as soon as the opportunity arises. The UK government argues that this development is not just for the UK's few nuclear vessels, but will house all our underwater boats. But the fact remains that the Scottish people do not want them there.

Secondly, we must ask whether it is sensible to invest £500,000,000 on an infrastructure investment in what will in all probability sometime - possibly quite soon - become a foreign country. It is inconceivable that the SNP will give up its dream of independence from the rest of us, so putting all our submarines in 'their' territory seems rather a waste of money.

Perhaps this is a decision intended to demonstrate how serious the government is about the union and therefore prevent its breakup? But realistically, we all know that Scotland is unlikely to remain within the union for much longer. So spending money now, that will have to be re-spent south of the border within a few years or decades, seems profligate, to say the least.

If this sounds xenophobic towards the Scots, it is most certainly not intended to be and I apologise - just as much as the SNP does for wanting to get away from the rest of us. (How it is OK for the SNP to disparage the rest of the country as much as it likes, but should we question them, we are somehow acting in a disrespectful way?)

Thirdly, however, and far more important is that we have to ask ourselves whether submarines - and particularly Trident and our nuclear powered submarines which carry it - are really suitable for the modern world?

  • The greatest threat facing the world today comes from terrorism. Some of this may be state sponsored, but much of it is not. How can a submarines and a nuclear 'deterrent' possibly help protect us against individual and concerted attacks from those whose sole aim is to kill innocent people?
  • Our old enemy, the Soviet Union, bellicose as it might be under Putin, is unlikely ever to mount a nuclear attack on us, or anyone else for that matter.
  • Nor are we likely to 'go nuclear' to protect the Baltic States.

When we are under attack - as many would argue we are today - we must ask ourselves how many additional troops and their associated material might we get if we spent our money more wisely? And it would create more employment spread across the entire nation. But arms industry might achieve smaller profits, if we stop wasting our resources on needless expenditure.

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Stephen PhillipsStephen Phillips is a member of the Shepway Liberal Democrats, and his views are not necessarily those of the Party. He has been writing professionally for many years on investment and economic related issues, and has focussed recently on creative writing.

You can find Stephen online at www.phillips-writer.co.uk