Why MPs Must Vote To Renew Trident

Vanguard class submarine - Royal Navy

This is no time for woolly idealism or virtue-signalling. Britain’s independent nuclear deterrent must be renewed if Britain is to maintain its status as one of the world’s pre-eminent nations

Tulip Siddiq, the MP for the London – Hampstead & Kilburn constituency and my local MP, sent an email last week encouraging appealing for her constituents to send their views on the renewal of Trident, which Parliament is debating today.

And fair credit to Tulip Siddiq for doing so, rather than simply voting based on any prior ideological views she may have held on the subject. This was the email she sent:

As you will be aware, on Monday 18th July next week MPs will be voting on the renewal of Britain’s Trident nuclear missiles system.

I am deeply disappointed that the Government has rushed through this measure without the chance for proper debate. We are set to have just a day’s debate in Parliament over a spending commitment that will cost billions of pounds throughout its lifetime, and I would have hoped for the chance for much better scrutiny. We still do not have the wording of the motion which we are expected to vote upon.

Nevertheless, I am duty-bound to vote on this issue, and in just a matter of days I will have a momentous decision to make as your local representative. As with the vote on Syria last year I am keen to hear the views of all local residents – on both sides of the debate – ahead of this important vote.

As residents who have written to me about this in the past will know, I have consistently queried the cost-effectiveness of the Government’s plans and raised testing questions with Ministers about the options for renewal.

Given the pressure on our public services and the bleak economic outlook ahead, I think it is vital that Labour redoubles its efforts to scrutinise every penny of public spending and balance our security needs with our country’s other priorities.

I think that you – local taxpayers in this constituency – are best-placed to advise me on how you feel this money should be spent. Just as I did with Syria late last year, I will take the time to look through every comment I receive on this issue ahead of the vote, and you can expect me to respond comprehensively setting out my position in due course.

And here is my response to Siddiq:

Dear Tulip,

Parliament must vote to authorise the renewal of our nuclear deterrent as a matter of the utmost importance. Contrary to the claims of those who favour unilateral disarmament that Trident is an expensive white elephant which we never use, in fact we use our nuclear deterrent every single day, at great benefit to our nation.

Trident benefits Britain in the following ways:

1. Planting the sure knowledge in the mind of rulers of hostile regimes that a nuclear or otherwise catastrophic attack on Britain will be met with a full nuclear response – a deterrent which served us through the Cold War and which nobody should vote to scrap at a time when we can barely guess what threats we will face in 5-10 years time, let alone the medium to long terms

2. Our nuclear deterrent gives Britain a seat at the geopolitical “top tables” and underpins our seat on the P5 of the UN Security Council. The priority of every government (and every MP) must surely be to ensure that Britain’s voice and influence is projected as powerfully and clearly as possible in the world. Scrapping or downgrading our nuclear deterrent would put our permanent seat on the Security Council at risk, immediately making Britain less relevant in world affairs. This will directly harm our interests because, frankly, being a consequential player in the UN helps Britain in a myriad of tangible and intangible ways touching diplomacy, trade and military alliances.

3. Unilateral disarmament by Britain will do absolutely nothing to prompt a sudden outburst of peace or a change in the attitude of Russia and China, the non-allied nuclear powers. Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping would take unilateral disarmament by the UK, put it in the bank and give nothing in return. CND activists and Green campaigners would effectively be virtue signalling their moral purity while Britain’s security and national interest were jeopardised.

4. Britain’s insatiable public services will swallow any money diverted from Trident and then still ask for more, with little money actually reaching the front lines and no great increase in performance metrics over the long term. One could throw billions of pounds more that the NHS and other public services, and newspaper headlines will still talk about how they are perpetually “in crisis”. In fact, throwing more money at public services only serves to paper over the cracks, delaying the eventual reckoning which we need to have regarding the NHS, pensions and other services. Is it really worth killing our nuclear deterrent, deliberately maiming our stature on the world stage just to feed the public services bureaucracy with the extra 0.2% of government spending which the Trident renewal will cost over its lifetime?

I hope that you will consider these points as you consider your approaching vote, and I look forward to your response.

Interestingly, the Conservative candidate defeated by Tulip Siddiq in the 2015 general election was a wishy-washy, vague Coke Zero Conservative who disagreed with the “bedroom tax” and who wanted to scrap Britain’s nuclear deterrent altogether. Shamelessly adopting these left-wing positions did not help him much.

As a “rising star” of the Labour Party and with one eye doubtless fixed on her future political ambitions it will be interesting to see which way Siddiq decides to vote this evening.

 

Trident Nuclear Submarine - Faslane Naval Base

Top Image: Guardian

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On Armed Forces Day

 

Saturday 28 June is Armed Forces Day in the United Kingdom.

Of course we should all take a moment to express our gratitude to the men and women who serve on the cutting edge of our nation’s defence and foreign policy projection capability – they toil and risk their lives for far less material reward or public recognition than many of us receive for doing far less.

But one day of public praise is not enough. Our armed forces are suffering significant cuts and capability reductions because of the coalition government’s refusal to protect the defence budget from spending cuts. These cuts include the compulsory redundancy of many long-serving, experienced veterans who deserve better from their government.

Britain is not like the United States – aside from our nuclear deterrent and pared-back blue water navy, we do not enjoy an advantage of many multiples over most of our current and potential future enemies, in terms of manpower or total defence spending. What advantage we have comes from our high-tech skills base, strong defence sector and the extraordinary professionalism of the people who serve our country in uniform.

All too often, people (particularly those on the left) suggest that defence spending should be pared back even further (“Shame on us for not investing more in schools while we build two new aircraft carriers”, etc.) It’s easy to say such things while quietly and ignorantly enjoying the fruits of Britain’s peace, prosperity and place in the world, which is underwritten by the very things that they want to see cut back or abolished. But in reality the opposite is true – having a powerful, effective and deployable military is crucial if Britain is to defend her interests, hedge against the unknown and be taken seriously on the world stage.

The introduction of Armed Forces Day has done a lot to promote greater knowledge, awareness and respect for the role that the armed forces play in our national life. But Britain still has a long way to go until serving soldiers and veterans are accorded the daily respect and acknowledgement that they deserve. Here, we can look to the United States as an example of giving the military a more prominent, respected role in society: from simple acknowledgement at places like airports, through discounts at stores and restaurants, up to incorporating more patriotic rituals – and yes, British Values – into the fabric of our national life.

And most importantly of all, we can put our money where our mouth is. In that spirit, Semi-Partisan Sam has made a small donation to veterans charity Help for Heroes, in support of the great work that they do supporting our wounded veterans.

Whatever our party allegiance or political differences may be, on this Armed Forces Day we should all be able to show our appreciation for those who fight our fights and wear the uniform.