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Down the plughole

Posted on July 17, 2013 by

Watchful readers will know that one of the recurring themes on this site is the impossibility of finding any real ideological differences between the three main Westminster-based parties. But to be scrupulously fair, we think we might finally have uncovered one now, in the light of this week’s bizarre Lib Dem policy paper on Trident.


(This is turning into the worst day off ever.)

Because as far as we can now tell, the three UK parties have positions on Britain’s nuclear deterrent which ARE motivated by some sort of fundamental disagreement.


Want to keep and renew Trident as a constantly-at-sea force, at a total cost of £100bn, in order to (allegedly) preserve security, Britain’s standing on the world stage, and jobs at Faslane and the surrounding area.


Want to keep and renew Trident, but without a submarine always at sea. The Lib Dem policy therefore can’t be anything to do with security (because obviously there’s no way of knowing how quickly a dangerous situation could develop, and if Britain is only protected sometimes it’s not protected at all. It’s like telling everyone you leave your doors unlocked two days a week, then trying to make an insurance claim if you get burgled).

So Lib Dem support for a UK nuclear force can only be about Britain’s standing in the world and Faslane jobs, not military need. The Lib Dems think £96bn, spread across many years, is a reasonable price to pay for those benefits.


Labour’s position, though, (in so far as it can be ascertained at all) is by far the most interesting. The party supports the same full-strength Trident replacement the Tories do, at the same £100bn cost, but claims to do so (with an honourable exception for Ian Davidson) in order to pursue multilateral disarmament.

It follows, then, that having spent £100bn on Trident, Labour would then actively seek to scrap it, in return for reductions in other nations’ stockpile of warheads. Since we’re not aware of any used-nuclear-submarine dealerships, all the money spent on it would be gone, with nothing tangible to show for it.*

And more to the point, were Labour to scrap Trident or its replacement, obviously all the jobs at Faslane currently supported by the weapons (anywhere from 520 to 22,000 depending who you believe) would be lost.

It’s odd, then, that Labour spends so much time screaming about how disastrous the loss of Trident would be for jobs, when its own stated goal is to get rid of the weapons system and (therefore) all the jobs that accompany it. They bitterly oppose getting rid of Trident at no cost, on the grounds that they want to get rid of it at massive cost.

The Tories and Lib Dems at least want to spend a vast amount of money on Trident to have it, and the jobs it supports. Labour want to buy it in order to throw it away, to sacrifice all of those jobs AND the money that could otherwise be used to invest in the creation of countless thousands of new ones.

It’s a difference, we’ll grant them that.


* The world’s known nuclear weapons stockpile currently sits at somewhere in the approximate region of 11,000 warheads, the majority of which are possessed by the United States. As the US is an ally of the UK, it’s difficult to imagine it trading away its weapons for ours. That leaves roughly 5000 in what might be considered “hostile” states, almost all of them in Russia.

Readers can speculate for themselves on how many of that 5000 the Russians might be prepared to give up in return for the abolition of Britain’s 160, and whether that reduction would represent a significant increase in world peace and security.

Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that they were prepared to incredibly generously decommission ten of their warheads for every one of ours. That would leave the UK with no nuclear force, and the Russians with a mere 3,400 warheads. Feel safer?

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51 to “Down the plughole”

  1. Max says:

    Trident is Westminster’s dummy tit now that it has lost the empire.  

  2. Richard Lucas says:

     The cyberlab faction have no answer to this issue.  I was poking sticks at DH last night – he told me he is committed to nuclear disarmament, but he can’t seem to understand that the way to get rid of nukes – is to get rid of nukes!

  3. Stuart Black says:

    In case anyone missed it from the previous thread, Robert Louis supplied an interesting link to a NY Times article claiming that US defence sources are discreetly warning the UK to consider scrapping Trident, as they can’t afford to run a proper conventional defence set-up AND afford Trident. Straight over the heads of all three parties of course, if it is true.

    Perhaps not as off the wall as it sounds, as the Rev. points out above, there’ll still be plenty to go round.

  4. Gordon Bain says:

    The whole thing is a sham. I have a solution though – eBay.

  5. Murray McCallum says:

    Great summary.  The complete madness of small austerity countries “punching above their weight” through the pursuit of deploying nukes.
    You are being incredibly kind to Labour by the use of the word “position”.  Must be the nice weather.

  6. Hazel Lewry says:

    Comedy of the finest order.

  7. alasdair says:

    Interestingly I heard Radio Scotland news reporting potential job losses following withdrawal of trident as “hundreds” rather than “thousands” or “tens-of-thousands” we’re often warned about.

    Seems even the state muothpiece is beginning to tire of the relentless negativity of the NO campaign.

  8. HandandShrimp says:

    The Labour position is an utter lie and they would not give up a single missile during the life of the next Parliament should they win. They simply want to do the neo-conservative thing with a sop to those who support Labour who need to pretend that the Party’s heart is in the right place. It isn’t and they are as firmly wedded to the things as the Conservatives.  

  9. Andy-B says:

    What does it say about the Westminster Government and Trident
    when it doesnt acknowledge, the people of Scotland, and their Parliament,or our wish to have it removed from Scottish soil, Westminster will plough on regardlessly, and this must surely be an affront to democracy, and shows just how comfortable the UK Government are, at showing disdain, to the people of Scotland.

  10. John Lyons says:

    Multi-lateral disarmament makes as much sense as arming kids in London with knives to reduce knife crime.

  11. Stuart Black says:

    OT, but I see the Rev. and Doug Daniels are fighting the good fight over on Ian Bell’s superb and scathing article in the Herald.

  12. Luigi says:

    No wonder Labour were very quiet during yesterday’s ConDem spat. Their silence speaks volumes.  Yesterday was a perfect opportunity for Labour  to weigh in and spell out exactly what their policy is on Trident is.  Either they don’t have one, or don’t want people to know what it is – “just vote for us for other good reasons”!  By the way, where is JL these days? – leaders are meant to lead from the front!

  13. James Kelly says:

    “Multilateral disarmament” is a sham.  It’s forever just around the corner.  Presumably the way it’s supposed to work is the UK trading arms reductions not with the US or Russia, but with the countries that hold similar-sized arsenals to ourselves, namely France, China, India, Pakistan and Israel.  But has anyone noticed any UK government of any political complexion entering into even the most preliminary of negotiations to achieve such a deal? 

    Unilateral disarmament (hopefully caused by Scottish independence) is the only way to break the logjam.  In particular it would massively increase the pressure on France, which would suddenly look very exposed as the only EU country anachronistically holding onto nuclear weapons.

  14. John Lyons says:

    Andy B It’s not an affront to democracy. That’s exactly how democracy works. You can do anything you like, no matter how stupid or evil so long as 50% plus one, of people who bother to vote are stupid enough to go along with you. There are lots of things wrong with Democracy, I’m not a fan of it, but I can’t think of a better way of doing things either.
    And under first past the post you don’t even need 50% of the vote, just more than anyone else.

  15. David Milligan - a very Sovereign Scot says:

    Suppose for a moment that we knew that there was going to be a nuclear accident at Faslane pouring a radioactive cloud all the way through the central belt.  In reality, it’s only a matter of time and poor circumstance.

    I can assure you that in my mind it wouldn’t matter if there was to be many thousands of folk losing their jobs at Faslane due to the closure of the base, as an event like this would close down the Central Belt of Scotland permanently. 
    The sooner that we are rid of those monstrosities the better.
    I look forward to that base being used for the Scottish Defence Force.

    Kindest regards,
    David Milligan Lvss

  16. Andy-B says:

    @John Lyons

    What we need is a wee bit of

  17. CameronB says:

    I can’t remember the guy’s name, but he’s a Scotsman who left school at 14 and worked his way to the top of the civil service. He retired a few years ago. Anyway, I remember him being interviewed on BBC Radio 4, where he was absolutely clear that it is all the fault of the French. If they did not possess a fully independent nuclear deterrent, Westminster wouldn’t have to spend billions on pretending that Britain also had an independent deterrent.
    1066 and all that?

  18. MajorBloodnok says:

    Jim Murphy was going on about ‘this is not the time for Unliateralism’ or something in the Times today (cafe hard-copy in Coffee Angel).
    Also, there was a balanced critique of the survey on BBC’s performance on the front page – of course NI likes to stick the boot into the BBC, although the Beeb has been giving itself a kicking unassissted recently.
    Nice cartoon of nurses lined up on a Trident sub and then getting washed off when the replacement is ordered.  Didn’t chime with the editorial however…. (and then I had to leave as my haggis, cheese and sweet chilli sauce panini was ready).

  19. Shinty says:

     Gordon Bain
    I have a solution though – eBay.

    I actually remember seeing it up on ebay, but never got a screen shot before it was taken down – however, here it is for all to see

    the description is a must read

  20. Tris says:

    The whole thing is undoubtedly the UK’s way of buying its seat as the Permanent Member of the Security Council, which presumably the US wants as, in anything of import, the US can count on the UK voting with it,
    I doubt then that America would allow Labour to scrap it, even if that was what they wanted to do, which of course it isn’t.
    Can you imagine any Brit prime minister giving up his role at the right hand of the president, privy to the secrets of the permanent membership?
    Not my idea of a day off Stu.

  21. CameronB says:

    @ John Lyons
    There are lots of things wrong with Democracy, I’m not a fan of it, but I can’t think of a better way of doing things either.
    A republic? Or in other words. a democracy where the policies of political parties are constrained by a written constitution.

  22. Doug Daniel says:

    If multi-lateral disarmament ever happens, it’ll be because the USA, China and Russia have sat down and agreed to stop playing silly buggers. Countries like the UK will simply be told “right, it’s been decided that it’s stupid pretending anyone is going to nuke anyone else. Disarm your nukes now, lapdog.” So the idea that the UK having nukes is somehow in keeping with the idea of reducing the number of nukes in the world is not just illogical, it’s delusional.
    I saw a pro-indy Tweeter yesterday sniping about the idea of “not in my name”, saying that unless indy forces rUK to disarm Trident, then it’s a totally meaningless concept. To me, this is an extremely cynical way of looking at things (and plays into the hands of the likes of Hothersall), essentially saying that there’s no inherent worth in simply avoiding doing wrong yourself. It’s like lecturing someone that reusing plastic bags is totally pointless, unless they somehow force other people to stop wasting plastic bags as well.
    By refusing to let Trident be on Scottish soil, Scotland would be making a statement to the rest of the world, adding another voice to the anti-nuclear movement, and we’d be forcing rUK to make a far bigger decision than they currently have to make. It’s one thing to choose to build more nukes to go in the existing base; it’s quite another to choose to build new nukes AND choose an entirely new site to put them into, with all the related expenditure that entails.
    Refusing to have Trident in Scotland is the single biggest contribution Scotland can possibly make to the cause of nuclear disarmament. The idea that we’d do more by remaining in the UK – where Scotland’s anti-nuclear voice is already totally ignored – is absolute pish. Shock, then, that it’s exactly the line trumpeted by unionists.

  23. Macart says:

    Spooky but true.
    Labour are in a bit of a pickle with this argument. Just watch their kissers on telly pull all sorts of contortions when the word Trident is chucked in their direction. There is only one way to disarm and as Richard Lucas above points out… that is tae jist dae it.
    Made a couple of enquiries for you. No luck so far.

  24. CameronB says:

    @ Macart
    Cheers anyway.

  25. Desimond says:

    Lets just get a YES vote and make sure we get them out once and for all. Lets not have any fudging from Deterrent to Deter Rent.

  26. Allan28 says:

    I hope this is not regarded as O/T, but returning to the Daily Record (which I read in the waiting area of my barber – true) the Editorial was firmly against Trident. It also suggested Angus Robertson’s views were in tune with the Scottish people.
    Because I had just flicked through it, i looked at the on-line version when I came home. I see that the on-line version carries the sub-header ‘most British people would rather nuclear weapons were scrapped’. Whether that is true or not, it is interesting to note that the paper version only referred to ‘most Scots’ in the body of the text.

  27. Dal Riata says:

    On Rob Edwards site he has the following pages relating to accidents at Faslane and Coulport. One is dated 2008, and the other 2010. As we’re now over halfway into 2013 there’s bound to have been more. Maybe they just haven’t been ‘reported’ yet. Anyway, the reports of nuclear-waste spillages, etc. into the local environment is just depressing, to say the least.

  28. Luigi says:

    Surely the most ridiculous approach is the three sub idea advocated by the LibDems. How typical.  In trying to take the middle ground and please everyone, they end up alienating all.  Trident is not a comprimise – Trident is either all (Labour, Tory) or nothing (SNP).  You takes your choice.  Just what are the LibDems on?  With the Labour party and the LibDems, you have two different approaches to a problem they are afraid to tackle – Labour go into hiding and the LibDems come up with a useless, hairbrained comproimise.  It’s a tired old cliche, but you really couldn’t make this stuff up.

  29. MajorBloodnok says:

    The unprincipled professionals that Labour now are means that at all times they are playing to the gallery, keeping their options open and making sure that what they say only reflects what focus groups are telling them, as well as trying to look as tough and psychotic as the Tories. 
    Labour seems to presume that no-one will examine, compare or dissect what they actually say, what they mean and what they do.  Of course, it takes intelligence and skill to carry it off (almost) indefinately, which is why Labour in Scotland look so ropey.  Where is Lamont these days, anyway?  And what’s her current view on Trident I wonder?

  30. doug says:

    Send them to Mars?  As realistic as multilateral disarmament…

  31. molly says:

    Depleted uranium shells-Solway Firth
    War games -Cape Wrath
     Fracking ‘potential ‘ East Lothian to Stirling
    As the plane descends and you see the lights twinkling and dotted  around below and you start to get excited , remember, this is the respect shown by others to your home.

  32. Jeannie says:

    @David Milligan
    Suppose for a moment that we knew that there was going to be a nuclear accident at Faslane pouring a radioactive cloud all the way through the central belt.  In reality, it’s only a matter of time and poor circumstance.
    A sobering obituary in the Herald –
    Masao Yoshida
    Tuesday 16 July 2013

    Power plant chief who led battle to stabilise Fukushima;

    Born: February 17, 1955; Died: July 9, 2013.
    Masao Yoshida, who has died of cancer aged 58, was the nuclear power plant chief who led the dangerous battle to stabilise the crippled Fukushima reactors in Japan when they were spiralling into meltdowns two years ago.

  33. Dcanmore says:

    I’ll tell you what Johann Lamont will say on Trident (and everything else that’s not scripted for her): “We will need to have a serious debate on this issue”!

  34. Desimond says:

    Oil be blowed…such nice balanced comments, but still no Johann here either….

  35. edulis says:

    You have reminded me why I come to this site. Taking the piss out of the contortions of LibLab positions on here is comedy gold. I saw Danny Alexander doing his Flash Gordon presentation yesterday. First, he sweated as a pig when he realised that the former head of the navy was in the room. The said Admiral Boyce duly asked the stiff question which the Rev repeated above. You can’t have a part time deterrent and still call it a deterrent. Danny as usual was flummoxed as only a former PR oppo in the Cairngorms National Park Authority could be. The lad is out of his depth and some kind person should tell him so before he faces the electorate. That will be a Michael Portillo moment for me, one of his constituents.

    Danny was followed by the Adam Ingram, he of the revolving door who secured himself fat payments from defence industry when he retired his political role. Ingram was bullish about the need for Trident in a dangerous world, contorting that the North Koreans represented a threat to us, because they could sell their nuclear arms to some state closer to home – what? – the Faorese? 

  36. Dramfineday says:

    HandandShrimp says:
    17 July, 2013 at 2:07 pm

    The Labour position is an utter lie and they would not give up a single missile during the life of the next Parliament should they win. They simply want to do the neo-conservative thing with a sop to those who support Labour who need to pretend that the Party’s heart is in the right place. It isn’t and they are as firmly wedded to the things as the Conservatives.  


  37. Jeannie says:

    Oil be blowed……
    I know….
    It really is mind-boggling how all these major oil companies can be so inept and incompetent as to invest such massive amounts of money in the development of the oil industry in the North Sea when all they have to do is check with the UK Government’s “independent” advisors and they’d soon find out what a crazy idea that is.  In fact, I’m surprised they don’t just pack up and go home.

  38. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “The Labour position is an utter lie and they would not give up a single missile during the life of the next Parliament”

    I think in the interests of painstaking fairness we should acknowledge that Labour did reduce the number of missiles on Trident subs during their last period in power. I’m not aware of it being done as part of any multilateral disarmament process – I think it was solely a money-saving exercise, and didn’t result in any other nation cutting their stockpile – but there WAS a reduction.

  39. Richard Lucas says:

    ‘Dear Foreign Foes,
    As a result of budget cuts, we Liberal Democrats propose to maintain only a part-time nuclear deterrent.  We’re only going to have two boats, and don’t want to pay overtime, so there’ll be no weekend deterrent.  Wednesdays are going to be for staff training, repairs, boat handover etc, so they’re out as well. There’ll be a Summer shutdown as well – we’ll provide details later.We would be grateful, therefore, if you would not launch Armageddon on weekends, Bank holidays or Wednesdays.  August is probably out as well.  Thanks in advance for your kind consideration.
    Nick Clegg.’

  40. HandandShrimp says:

    That is true although in practice it was achieved by not buying all the missiles and warheads that had been planned as Trident came into service…it had been ordered pre-end of cold war and came into service after the end of the cold war. The actual boat on patrol has the full complement of 16 missiles but has three warheads on each instead of the six it could carry. It was just as potent as the Polaris system it replaced. There are enough missiles for two more boats, the fourth would be in dry dock anyway. It is perhaps not surprising that the move which was primarily a cost saving didn’t elicit much of a response.

  41. Atypical_Scot says:

    I’ve got more chance of winning the lottery than Trident being needed, and I don’t do the lottery. There’s even less chance of the UK giving them up even if they equate neatly to the public debt. Perpetual stalemate. It matters not what a Westminster party not in power says, indeed it matters not what they say when they are in power.
    Action can only be taken when a nation says no, or in this case re. Scotland, yes. There is no doubt in my mind that Scotland’s departure from the UK will change the face of politics for not only ourselves and not only the UK in general but the west as a whole and possibly the world – no matter what anyone says, the profundity of our separation will see the dissolution of the worlds first global aggressor and it will make them think again. Get in>

  42. Luigi says:

    JL seems to have picked up a few disappearing tricks from her old boss, Gordon McCavity Brown.

  43. Seanair says:

     O/T sorry, but thought it interesting. On way back from the gowf practice day at Muirfield, got the train at Drem to Waverley. Train not the usual type on this line, having a 1st Class compartment of 9 seats,but the conductor didn’t mind me sitting there with my Standard ticket. As I got my bearings I realised that  the small compartment was full of today’s  newspapers, but that they were all “Scotsmans”.
    I counted 12 copies, but didn’t have the nerve to go down the train to see if there were any more.
    So when the circulation figures eventually come out and we see the latest drop in the Scotsman’s sales remember that Johnston Press are also giving away a huge number of copies free of charge.

  44. HandandShrimp says:

    I’m assuming Johann is actually out of the country on her hols because she seems to be completely out of circulation.

  45. Shinty says:

    Seanair – trains, hotels whoever will take them no doubt, just to keep the circulation numbers up – though maybe they don’t count the freebies in their calculations?

  46. CameronB says:

    JL’s in her crypt, doon in the celler.

  47. HandandShrimp says:

    Where ever she is they have her well hidden
    I wonder who her Renfield is?

  48. James Morton says:

    What amuses me are the unchallenged assumptions that this weapon system will cost no more than £100 billion. If anyone has followed high value government projects in the past, especially defence projects, then its clear that the stated price tag will end up being fairly short of the mark. some other white elephants we are paying & in some cases still paying for.
    Eurofighter typhoons – 30 yrs behind schedule, not expected to see service until 2018 and 75% more expensive than projected at the time, coming in at around £20b.
    Chinook upgrades – MOD has since spent close to 800million upgrading a fleet of 8 chinooks that were delivered in 2001 and considered unsafe and unworkable when delivered. Since 2011 current gov placed an order for new chinooks to bring the fleet up to 60 aircraft at a projected cost of £1billion.
    The joint strike fighter programme – this project has been off & on since the 70’s the current incarnation is the F-35. The US has plunged $400 billion into this and is currently 7 years behind schedule. The UK put in an order for these but we have only received 3. The new aircraft carriers were meant to house these fighters by 2020, but the carriers are expected to be completed before we have completed a single sqd of these new aircraft. Current costs are 100million per aircraft and we have ordered around 40 with an option for 90 more.
    UK gunship capability is under threat, with red letter day arriving in 2016-17 when US drops all support & assistance programmes for the AH-64D apache. The US are moving over to another bells and whistles upgrade and this will leave us with a helicopter fleet that could soon be grounded. Forcing us to invest in another costly US weapons platform programme, or another long and protracted upgrade programme similar to the one started for chinooks.
    Money is just going to be pissed up a wall on this and the trident replacement will be no different. Jobs created will be the most heavily subsidised in the entire UK.

  49. john king says:

    Hazel Lewry says

    “Comedy of the finest order.”
    I agree it’s like watching (and sometimes) being part of the best spitting image episode ever,
    the best and most hilarious site of all   🙂


  50. john king says:

    “Send them to Mars?  As realistic as multilateral disarmament…”

      I’ve always been suspicous about the Dutch , now we have incontrovertible proof,
    their trying to take over the world 
    het arsenaal van de grootste voetbalteam ooit

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