No replacement of Trident

 

Members and supporters of the  Libdems against Trident group have proposed a motion calling for the like-for-like replacement of Trident to be scrapped.  The motion will be debated at Bournemouth in September. I am not able to get to Bournemouth, but the motion has my full support.

This does not mean that I am anti-nuclear; I am not. What I am is anti-waste on a nuclear scale, which is what I believe the replacement of Trident to be. It takes us back to 1930s thinking which saw Britain prepare to fight the previous war, not the next one or the one after that. The days of Mutual Assured Destruction, and the Cold War are behind us thankfully. The Soviet Union has collapsed and whatever its posturing, Russia is a much weaker opponent. China is no threat to the UK and the nuclear powers outside Europe have regional not global ambitions.

Or consider modern military satellite technology. If a British submarine should launch a long-range missile, its launch would have been registered within seconds, the precise coordinates of the launch site calculated in a matter of minutes and the submarine itself would become a sitting duck. Trident and any replacement system are no more than a vanity project that allows government ministers to pretend that the UK is still a great military power; we are not.

The threat at present and in the future comes not from aggressive nations, but from from dissident, fundamentalist extremist groups operating as a loose network of cooperating cells and striking by way of terrorist attacks at a local level. Those are the enemies we must be equipped to tackle.

Defence is one of the four areas which George Osborne has promised to protect from further cuts. It only features in the group because the Chiefs of Staff have made it plain that they cannot contemplate any further reduction without damaging their ability to provide the necessary resources to fulfil a prime purpose of any government; the defence of the realm. In those circumstances, to ring fence the whole cost of a Trident replacement, estimated at £100 billion over its lifetime is military and economic lunacy.

With the money saved, we could ensure proper levels of manning, training and equipment within the armed forces for those organisations in the front line against terrorism; our special forces where we need to have a presence overseas; the intelligence services and diplomatic services. But the spending must go beyond the Ministry of Defence. We face both short- and longterm threats from British born groups and individuals as well as those who infiltrate our borders. So money is also better spent on manning, training and equipping border control bodies; similar investment is necessary to ensure that anti-terrorist and special branches within the police service are fully capable of fulfilling their specialist roles, and we must restore the level of neighbourhood policing, remembering that a familiar, trusted local uniformed police officer is often a first channel from a concerned member of the public often supplies the seed that grows into an effective awareness of pockets of threat within the community.

For longer term success, resources need to be invested in youth and community work, support of local, influential community groups, schools, colleges, universities and, importantly prisons and YOIs to combat feelings of alienation that open the door to radicalisation.

It is here that we should be investing, not in a replacement for Trident.

* Ian Hurdley joined the Liberal Party back in the 1960s. Before retiring to Spain he served for fourteen years as a magistrate on a Northern metropolitan bench and continues to take a keen interest in all matters to do with justice

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72 Comments

  • Josh Bassett 12th Aug '15 - 4:55pm

    Agree with the scrapping of trident and using the money to increase spending on relevant conventional defence.

    As well as the areas you mentioned I would personally like to see an increase in resources (particularly manpower) to the Navy, which is at the frontline operating all round the world in all manner of worthwhile causes: http://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/news-and-latest-activity/operations

    Defence spending is an area where money is frequently spent in the wrong places (do we really need over 100 tornados?) when it could be spent more effectively elsewhere. I would point to HMS Ocean being an excellent example of a low-budget but brilliantly effective asset that has been in constant demand since it came into service.

  • Eddie Sammon 12th Aug '15 - 4:57pm

    The fault of radicalisation is the preachers, not the alienation and other excuses to spend defence money on community projects.

    I’d get rid of Trident as long as the ministry of defence was given everything else they need, Including possibly every pound saved. Otherwise it is just am excuse to run down the country’s defences to the delight of our enemies and opponents.

  • Eddie Sammon 12th Aug '15 - 5:04pm

    There is also a strong social justice case for defence spending. Politicians always end up using the military and it is deeply immoral to send them into harms way without proper equipment and support. This is why people end up passionate about the state of the armed services.

  • Completely agree with all your points, Ian. How does one join the group given that I don’t use facebook.

    It’s odd how the two old imperial powers Britain and France have clung on to nuclear weapons, yet the Germans seem to manage perfectly well without them. It’s also odd how the Liberal Democrat party has a ‘nearly but not quite’ policy of three quarters of the Tory policy. It would be a refreshing change and do much to build up our radical credentials again after the disaster of the last five years if the Bournemouth conference passed the resolution.

    It’s strange how the Tories get the knives out on social spending but quiver with excitement at the prospect of spending £ 100 billion on a weapon that could never be used.

  • Richard Underhill 12th Aug '15 - 5:44pm

    Tim Farron has said on BBC radio that this is a Cold War weapon, that he does not want to spend £100 billion on it and that he is not against all nuclear weapons.
    During the previous government we had a minister at defence who told us that
    “There is nobody out there who has both the means AND the intention to attack us” and
    “the main gate” for spending will come in 2016.
    http://www.parliament.uk/biographies/commons/sir-nick-harvey/231

    A former Secretary of State for Defence, Michael Portillo, a former member of the Conservative party, has stated, passionately, on TV, that Trident is “big boys’ toys”. He would strongly prefer that the money be spent on many other things that our armed forces actually need.

    After Nick Harvey left MoD, Treasury Minister Danny Alexander, an MP in Scotland, wrote in the Times about the financial cost of Trident, which he wanted to avoid. Danny Alexander was a member of The Quad, an inner cabiinet of the PM, the DPM and both Treasury cabinet ministers.

    To refer to Trident as “defence” is spin, although well worn. It threatens counter-attack, but is not longer pointed at Moscow. It may also be possible to use it in negotiations. Both USA and Russia have more weapons than they have so far negotiated away. The Russian economy is in decline, because of falling oil prices, corruption and bad governence, sanctions, etc.

    We are no longer in coalition with the Conservatives.

  • Mick Taylor 12th Aug '15 - 5:48pm

    I shall be at conference and will be supporting the resolution. There is no case on moral, political or strategic grounds for renewing Trident. Quite apart from the cost (which is obscene) there are no grounds on which this weapon would ever be used. To repel a terrorist attack? Don’t be stupid, the very nature of terrorism is that the perpetrators want to be martyred. To repel a nuclear attack? From whom?
    Let’s be clear, I’m a pacifist. I want problems to be solved by talking, not fighting. I want peaceful resistance to wrong policies and governments, not violence. So all this talk of beefing up the armed forces passes me by. Scrapping Trident and not ordering a successor makes sense. As Tim Farron has said before. It doesn’t matter if 70% of the electorate disagree with us. I’d be very happy with 30%, given the 7.9% we polled last time around. Let’s stop kowtowing to the fools who still believe the UK is a ‘great’ power that needs bigger and better bombs. Let’s speak from our hearts.

  • Richard Underhill 12th Aug '15 - 5:54pm

    With Trident, as with Polaris and Chevaline previously, it is doubtful that the weapon could actually be used without agreement from the USA, who have their own weapons and would be at risk of a counter-attack from any power we shot at. The political argument is out in the open. The technical argument about independence is probably a military secret.

  • Eddie Sammon 12th Aug '15 - 6:01pm

    Do we think criminals should be caught by peaceful protest or should we go out and get them? If force is good within our borders then sometimes it is good outside our borders too.

    This was in response to Nick Taylor and anyone else who thinks the Armed Forces are unnecessary.

  • Kevin White 12th Aug '15 - 6:18pm

    LibDems Against Trident was set up as a Facebook group at the end of October. It currently has 521 members. There has been considerable discussion about the motion and its wording, and the motion before Conference was put to a vote and agreed by 91% of members. Subsequently, 128 Conference Voting Reps and the Cumberland Liverpool Local Parties put their names to the motion. There will be a Rally against Trident at 1pm in the Connaught Hotel on Monday 21st Sept before the debate beginning at 3.25pm. Please come along, if only for the day.

  • Chris Johnson 12th Aug '15 - 6:19pm

    Excellent opinion piece there and focuses on the huge cost of a replacement that would be tactically redundant. Can’t be at the conference but wholeheartedly support the motion.

  • jedibeeftrix 12th Aug '15 - 7:49pm

    “But the spending must go beyond the Ministry of Defence. We face both short- and longterm threats from British born groups and individuals as well as those who infiltrate our border”

    Have you considered the possibility that our armed forces are not a uniformed pension scheme, but in fact a fighting force designed to carry out hmg’s activist and interventionist foriegn policy? Perhaps you would prefer a continental style defence force, but that is an entirely argument to make….

  • John Minard 12th Aug '15 - 7:53pm

    advert (can’t obviously upload a jpeg draft) ‘she (new born baby) needs a free NHS NOT a Trident replacement’

  • Leekliberal 12th Aug '15 - 8:27pm

    I am a member of the Facebook Group and note that Norman Lamb MP is listed as a member so it seems that both Tim Farron and Norman hopefully reject the ridiculous and almost as expensive fudge we put forward at the General Election of having the Trident replacement but not funding it to have a submarine always on station at sea.

  • Mick Taylor 12th Aug '15 - 8:41pm

    @Eddie Sammon. (It’s MICK) Armed forces are only necessary if you want to go to war. Conflicts can be resolved by sitting down the two (or more) parties and talking till a resolution is achieved. What is needed for that process is facilitators not soldiers. Once you are prepared to kill to get your way (and that’s what soldiers do in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, the West Bank etc) you have lost. Yet the UN allows people to go on fighting and killing and refusing to sit down to make peace.
    What we need are peacemakers, not warmongers.
    As a Quaker, I refuse to fight. Peace will come only when we all refuse to fight.

  • Eddie Sammon 12th Aug '15 - 8:49pm

    Thanks Mick. Sorry it is predictive text on my phone.

  • Does anyone seriously believe that the british people will elect a government that wants to scrap our nuclear deterrent or seriously weaken it? If this motion is carried and Corbyn gets elected to lead the Labour party – which looks likely – the Tories are in for a very easy time for years to come.

  • Douglas McLellan 12th Aug '15 - 10:57pm

    Trident is a pointless weapon in that its role as a deterrent no longer applies. Threats on this scale to the UK now come from people who are willing to use WMD for terrorist reasons as opposed to geopolitical ones as seen in the past.

    Basically anyone who wants one of these weapons has to be able to clearly state that they are happy to kill innocent people in a retaliatory strike.

  • Douglas McLellan.

    “Happy” isn’t the right word, but the great majority of our population are prepared to kill innocent people with a retaliatory strike – that’s how you win wars. When the RAF destroyed German cities in World War 2 and killed thousands of civilians the British population cheered. It was the same in Russia when they destroyed Berlin and America when they dropped the bombs on Japan. You do everything you can to avoid war, but if attacked by a powerful enemy you don’t hold back.

  • Let’s join with the SNP and Jeremy Corbyn probably the new Labour Party leader and get rid of Trident, now that Nick is no longer the leader and we are no longer joined at the hip with the Tories perhaps we can get back to being a progressive party for the people.

  • Russia’s economy is in decline but wars are often started by countries with economic problems. Libya and Ukraine show what can happen when a country abandons Nuclear deterrence. We cant rely solely on the US, they often turn up years late if at all. The reality is we have some of the worst least efficient military procurement processes in the western world. We are building two massive carriers at a time when more and more missions are carried out with remotely piloted drones that dont need carriers, and these carriers are unsuitable for cost effective manned aircraft so may simply be floating targets.

  • Douglas McLellan 13th Aug '15 - 9:11am

    @jedibeeftrix All of that is fine as long as you are someone is not hypocritical enough to tell other states that they cannot think along the same lines. Which is what we tend to do to Iran and North Korea. After all, both countries are currently states that cause some worry re nuclear weapons but who knows, perhaps they will eventually become stable democracies (i.e. the SDSR content in reverse). If we want them for our security, we cannot say to others that they cannot.

    @malc – I regret the combined point of my post was a little unclear. Basically I was saying that it won’t be a state that is a powerful enemy. It will be a rogue element, lawless and probably across several states. For example, what if ISIL detonated a nuclear bomb somewhere. Where would you bomb in your righteous response with the crowds cheering? Syria? Iraq? Egypt? Which people, already suffering, do you want to kill as a response?

  • Jenny Barnes 13th Aug '15 - 9:11am

    jedibeeftrix: SDSR “we cannot dismiss the possibility that a major direct nuclear threat to the UK might re-emerge … we cannot rule out a major shift in the international security situation which would put us under grave threat.”
    Wolf!,wolf!.
    Remember, the point of an “independent” nuclear deterrent was to ensure that in the event that Russia (say) decided to blow up a UK city, and then threaten massive retaliation on the USA should they respond on our behalf – which might mean they didn’t – then we in the UK could counterstrike anyway. Is that still a need? I don’t think so.
    None of the potential nuclear states : n. Korea, Iran, Israel, India, Pakistan have weapons of a suitable range , nor a particular interest in attacking the UK. Take precautions against wolves, why not, but let’s make sure that what we spend on wolf precautions does not impact on other, more urgent and cheaper needs.

    Alistair “massive carriers” No, they aren’t. They are roughly half the size of a Nimitz class, and oil powered, which means they are vulnerable to fuel deprivation (3 or 4 days running time) as well as massive targets in their own right.
    What they are is pork barrel politics for Labour in Scotland. How did that work out?

  • Too late! Trident will be well on the way to replacement by the next election. Why waste breathe?

  • Richard Stallard 13th Aug '15 - 9:25am

    “If we want them for our security, we cannot say to others that they cannot.”
    Of course we can! That’s the point of having them. Away from fluffy bunny politics, it’s an ever-changing, dog-eat-dog world out there.
    Si vis pacem, para bellum

  • Richard Underhill 13th Aug '15 - 9:34am

  • Jenny Barnes 13th Aug '15 - 9:37am

    Nelson at the battle of Trafalgar “”No captain can do very wrong if he places his ship alongside that of the enemy.””

    The “maritime doctrine” in jedibeeftrix’ comment above is 83 pages long, and includes many interesting anecdotes, for example how a submarine under the Arctic ice caught fire, and the crew put it out and proceeded with their mission…
    The SDSR is 50+ pages long and also seems very waffly.

    Nelson’s exact orders are probably not appropriate for modern maritime warfare, but surely our senior servicepeople could do better in terms of brevity and focus. 10k words should be more than enough.

  • If we want them for our security, we cannot say to others that they cannot.

    Of course we can!

    This argument is like saying we can’t have police armed response units unless we also allow criminals to carry firearms.

    In an ideal world, nuclear weapons would not be physically possible. But as they are we need to make sure (a) nobody who might pose a danger to us makes them, and (b) we have some, in case (a) fails.

    Happy is the city which in time of peace, prepares for war.

  • malc 13th Aug ’15 – 12:06am
    “…. You do everything you can to avoid war, but if attacked by a powerful enemy you don’t hold back. ”

    The logic of this approach is that any country with nuclear weapons should use them if attacked by a powerful enemy.

    I am not sure that The Falkands would be a better place today if Thatcher had nuked Argentina, or even if she had bombed Buenos Aires with “convention” means. She held back.

    Or perhaps the truth is that The USA told her not to.

  • What Tom Lehrer said!

  • What Tom Lehrer said!

    ‘We’ve got the missiles, peace to determine, and one of the fingers on the button will be German!’

  • Richard Underhill 13th Aug '15 - 11:08am

    Dav 13th Aug ’15 – 10:34am “What Tom Lehrer said!”
    ‘We’ve got the missiles, peace to determine, and one of the fingers on the button will be German!’
    His satire was successful against that scheme.

  • Richard Underhill 13th Aug '15 - 11:13am

    Jenny Barnes 13th Aug ’15 – 9:37am Yes.
    That is about the range of artillery, which came from the sides of Nelson’s ships.
    It was different in the Battle of Jutland in World War I and for the Bismarck against the Hood in World War II.
    As for brevity, the PM told the navy “You must sink the Bismarck!.”

  • Richard Underhill 13th Aug '15 - 11:30am

    We should recognise the relative success of the German and Japanese economies, partly based on low defence spending.
    We should also note that Labour’s Defence Secretary partially funded UK defence spending by a policy of selling arms to other countries, but third country policies can change and French Exocet missiles were used against us by Argentina.

  • Christine Wills 13th Aug '15 - 11:52am

    Consider yourselves lucky I probably won’t be at conference this time round. Having joined a party that was in favour of scrapping of Trident altogether, I remember (to my disappointment) sitting in the Glasgow auditorium back in September 2013 while the majority of those present voted in favour of simply reducing the fleet!

    What will this kind of ‘about turn’ show the public about us? For that reason I would not support the motion.

    Unfortunately, I think this is probably only the first of a string of policy reversals we may have to endure with your choice of new leader.

  • Richard Stallard 13th Aug '15 - 11:54am

    “Unfortunately, I think this is probably only the first of a string of policy reversals we may have to endure with your choice of new leader.”
    And policy reversals – lots of them – will be the only way back into government.

  • John Tilley

    Argentina was never a powerful enemy. Thatcher gave the order to sink the Belgrano, which to some seemed over the top, but it drove the Argentine navy back to their ports never to be seen again, The rest – once we got a foothold – was fairly straightforward. Argentina was never a threat to the UK. However, by showing strength in the face of aggression Thatcher became one of the most popular leaders this country has ever had and she won easily at the next GE. If the next Labour leader and the LibDems go into the next GE with a policy of scrapping trident without a decent replacement the Tories will win by a country mile.

  • I shall be at conference. I agree that we really cannot afford Trident, but to vote to get rid of it,, I need assurance that we would come under the American nuclear umbrella. This is the case for Germany, Japan, Canada, Australia etc.. All these countries rely for their nuclear defence on America. We could then build up our conventional defences and spend the rest on education and the NHS. However if we are to leave NATO and become neutral as proposed by Jeremy Corbyn, I would reluctantly have to vote to keep a reduced Trident force

  • Richard Underhill 13th Aug '15 - 10:46pm

    John Tilley 13th Aug ’15 – 10:22am
    “I am not sure that The Falkands would be a better place today if Thatcher had nuked Argentina, or even if she had bombed Buenos Aires with “convention” means. She held back. Or perhaps the truth is that The USA told her not to.”
    John, Is there any historical evidence for that?
    Certainly Ronald Reagan wanted to be friends with both Argentina and the UK and Hague tried to negotiate something “do-able”.

  • Unfortunately, comrade Putin is a real threat (although vaning), while the Chinese comrades are a waxing one. And if you look at the recent historical events, it is the countries that have the bomb that don’t get molested. Trident or something else, it’s better to have something. Cost-efficiently, of course.

  • Richard Underhill 13th Aug '15 - 10:49pm

    On nuclear weapons we should recall that US President Eisenhower published a lot of information about the technology.
    He was a top general in World War II, but our friends and allies are not always wise.

  • Richard Underhill 13th Aug '15 - 10:56pm

    The Russians are believing their own propaganda. Freedom of information is essential to healthy decision making. Glasnost was supposed to provide FOI. Where has it gone? We should remember the statisitics on cotton production in Kazakstan. Moscow wanted higher figures. Cotton farmers could have asked for more water, more land or more money, but did not need to. They just increased the figures. Dissidents such as Vaclav Havel in Czechoslovakia adopted a life-style policy to “Live in the truth”, difficult as that was under communism.

  • Neil Sandison 14th Aug '15 - 12:13pm

    Is it time to burst the bubble that Britain does not actually have an independent nuclear deterrent ? .That in reality it is in fact part of NATO s nuclear deterrent umbrella .If that is the reality why is HMG shelling out 100 billion for this system when the costs should be shared by all of those under that umbrella ? .A policy of mutually assured financing ? .Why is the British tax payer picking up the tab for all the other European countries with equally well developed economies all more than capable with the exception of Greece of funding their own defence procurement .
    Selling the policy of the non replacement of Trident will be difficult unless we have a thought out a policy on NATO and its funding .I support not replacing the current system which no pun intended amounts to overkill but the public may perceive this as the Liberal Democrats unilaterally disarming Great Britain commitments to NATO and an independent deterrent .or that’s how the Tories will play it. What emphasis will we be putting on multilateral nuclear arms reduction ?.

  • Richard Underhill 13th Aug ’15 – 10:46pm

    Richard,
    Some evidence was published after the 30 year rule allowed publication of UK government documents.
    This report from the NYT does not give evidence of the USA saying “Do not nuke Argentina” but  it does not require too much reading  to come to the obvious conclusion as to what the Reagan administration was saying.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/29/world/europe/falklands-war-caused-rare-friction-for-thatcher-and-reagan.html?_r=0

    The final para is instructive —
    “…  ..  the hardest-edged document was a diplomatic cable from Britain’s ambassador in Washington at the time, Sir Nicholas Henderson, fulminating against Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, Reagan’s United Nations ambassador, who supported Argentina’s claim to the Falklands. 

    The cable described Ms. Kirkpatrick, a former Georgetown University professor, as “more fool than fascist” for her support of Argentina’s military dictatorship, and added, “She appears to be one of America’s most reliable own-goal scorers: tactless, wrong-headed, ineffective and a dubious tribute to the academic profession.”

    I guess that is what they call “The Special Relationship”.     🙂

  • John Tilley 14th Aug '15 - 1:18pm

    Malc
    Not everyone would agree with your recollection of 1982/83.

    My recollection is different. Whilst there was no doubt a boost to the Conservatives in the 1983 General Election, because they wrapped themselves in the Union Jack, that was not the whole story.

    Dr David Owen during the debates in Parliament tried to outgun the Tories on the right and be even more jingoistic than Thatcher. An approach which was a huge embarrassment to many in the Liberal part of The Alliance and indeed to some in the SDP. ( It was an approach that got him nowhere in the long run.)
    The Tories were thus able, with the help of the Murdoch media and the BBC, to create a political climate in which opponents of the war and those who asked legitimate questions were labelled as the ‘enemy within’ and pilloried.

    The fact is that this was a ridiculous use of the UK Military. Lives were lost and ever since £ Billions have been wasted – not on UK Interests but merely to hang on to a population of 1,800 people (some of Argentine descent) along with a few sheep farms and the prospect of maybe one day discovering oil.

    We are still waiting for the oil to be discovered or for anything which might be used to repay the UK taxpayer for this flagrant abuse of governmental power. I was intrigued that during the Coaition years Jeremy Browne in his position as a junior minister at the Foreign Office said what a wonderful thing the Falklands War was. He seemed to have forgotten that he was a leading proponent of the “small state” and reducing government expenditure.

    It would have been much, much cheaper to have given each of the 1,800 Falkland Islanders £3,000,000 in cash to move anywhere else in the world rather than hang on to this colonial leftover.

    Whatever our personal recollections I think we are agreed that nuclear weapons would not have helped?

    Indeed they did not help deter Argentina in the first place. Perhaps because the USA is really in charge of UK nuclear capacity and the much trumpeted “independent deterrent” is neither independent nor a deterrent?

  • Paul Walter Paul Walter 14th Aug '15 - 1:42pm

    John Tilley

    You’re right to make those points about the Falklands, which are very valid, but I would raise a few qualifications:

    You forgot to mention fisheries – in particular squid – which are very lucrative in the Falkland Islands.

    I would also suggest that the islands are of strategic importance to the UK particularly when considered alongside South Georgia, the South Sandwich Islands and the British Antarctic Teritory.

    “Jeremy Browne in his position as a junior minister at the Foreign Office said what a wonderful thing the Falklands War was”

    You’re unfair on him (Shock! Horror!). What he said is here:
    https://falklandsnews.wordpress.com/tag/jeremy-browne/
    including:
    “I was just twelve years old when the Falklands conflict ended. I remember vividly watching the pictures on television. Thirty years is a long time, but for people across Britain those images will still be powerfully clear. And the reasons why the war was fought and won remain clear today too. The principles of freedom and self determination remain just as vital now as they were then.”

    No mention of “freedom and self determination” in your analysis John I see, and no mention of the likelihood that capitulation to Argentina would have endangered the rest of our dominions and dependencies across the globe either leading to us hoisting a default white flag or having our military spending all their time running from pillar to post to defend them.

  • David Allen 14th Aug '15 - 2:30pm

    “capitulation to Argentina would have endangered the rest of our dominions and dependencies across the globe”

    Didn’t “dominions” disappear along with the British Empire and our ineffable superiority?

  • John Tilley 14th Aug ’15 – 1:18pm ………… Not everyone would agree with your recollection of 1982/83…………

    Thatcher needed the Falkland’s war (Operation Corporate)…What has been ignored by history is “Operation Journeyman”…Which prevented any invasion without a shot being fired…..

  • John Tilley 14th Aug '15 - 2:54pm

    Paul Walter
    I followed your link and read through the cuttings from ‘Falkland News’.
    Nothing there contradicts what I said in my last comment.

    Forgive me if I am not too impressed with the value of the Squid assets. I do not think they justify expenditure on Trident to protect them.

    I suggest a bit of realism and a measure of prioritisation before making grand gestures and committing significant public expenditure on the ‘Freedom and Self Determination’ of some far-flung islands with a population about one third of the number of refugees camped outside Calais today.

    What next — an invasion of Calais to protect the Freedom and Self Determination of these people who are extremely keen to be British? After all Calais once belonged to this country and for longer than The Falklands.

    Or maybe Norfolk Island (population 2,196) might like to pull a fast one and invite Argentina to invade them ? They could then spend the next 30 years pocketing the £ Billions that a foolish bunch of UK politicians might be unwise enough to shell out to protect their “self determination”?

    I am sure an agreement with Argentina to give them a small percentage would suffice and everyone would be happy. The Norfolk Islands would have not only their self determination but a few billion quid, Argentina would get their percentage, and a few UK politicians could parade themselves like something out of Gilbert and Sullivan.
    The very model of a modern colonial administrator.

    The only people who would lose would be the UK Taxpayer and anyone with a sense of proportion.

  • jedibeeftrix 14th Aug '15 - 3:35pm

    @ john tilley – “It would have been much, much cheaper to have given each of the 1,800 Falkland Islanders £3,000,000 in cash to move anywhere else in the world rather than hang on to this colonial leftover.”

    Cheaper, yes, to give a cheque with the message that we have no intention of defending their rights. More liberal…?

  • Paul Walter Paul Walter 14th Aug '15 - 3:49pm

    He didn’t say the war was “a wonderful thing”, John.

    David – sorry – you’re right. What’s now known as British Overseas Territories nowadays, is what I meant. And we should remember that Hong Kong was still a British Dependent Territory (as they were then known) at the time of the Falklands war.

    I do think the right to inhabitants to self-determination is an extremely important principle, which was a large part of the valid justification for our defence of the islands. Once one starts caving in on that problems never end.

    I should make clear that I am completely against any form of Trident or nuclear warhead replacement (indeed I voted against the “part-time submarine” nonsense at Glasgow) – I was just arguing on the point of the Falklands War and its justification. And I appreciate your points John – the justification for the war is a moot point. We nearly didn’t have the capacity to fight the war, and the announcement of the withdrawal of HMS Endurance, by Conservative John Nott, was a significant event in the lead-up to the war. In the previous Labour government, David Owen had reportedly staved off an Argentine threat by sending a submarine and ships down there. The failure of the foreign office to read the runes of Argentina were also a factor. It’s also worth pointing out that Argentina couldn’t mount an invasion these days if they wanted to. But I digress.

    By the way, there’s a raft of other economic activity such as banking and tourism, so that the Islanders have a per capita GDP well above that of the UK.

    As a Tilleyesque diversion, I would mention the glorious “Island Parish” series which came from the Falkland Islands recently. The governor at the time, Nigel Haywood, spoke fluent Cornish. There’s not many of those sorts of governors around…

  • David Allen 14th Aug '15 - 4:18pm

    Jeremy Browne: “I was just twelve years old when the Falklands conflict ended. I remember vividly watching the pictures on television. Thirty years is a long time, but for people across Britain those images will still be powerfully clear. And the reasons why the war was fought and won remain clear today too. The principles of freedom and self determination remain just as vital now as they were then.”

    John Tilley: “Jeremy Browne in his position as a junior minister at the Foreign Office said what a wonderful thing the Falklands War was.”

    That seems a perfectly reasonable paraphrase to me!

  • Mick Taylor 14th Aug '15 - 8:57pm

    There has been talk both in our party and outside it of the necessity for multilateral disarmament. In fact people have talked about it longer than I have been alive. Yet nothing has happened and proliferation has continued. Until someone makes a start and actually abandons nuclear weapons, nothing will happen.
    There is this presumption that people in the UK won’t vote for a policy of unilateral nuclear disarmament. Yet we actually did better as a party when it looked as though we might scrap Trident than after we adopted the rather stupid compromise on having Trident but not always keeping it at sea.
    There are two groups who want to keep nuclear weapons: 1. The manufacturers and their employees and 2 the jingoistic right wing press barons who love to stoke up fear and hatred. On the first Jeremy Corbyn is actually right. Promote alternative industries and employment that utilise the skills of those in the weapons industry. On the second we have to find ways of getting different views across.
    If we don’t want to scrap Trident because some people wouldn’t like it, then why are we in politics at all. All our policies are disliked by some, but that doesn’t stop us promoting them. Why is scrapping nuclear weapons any different?

  • A Social Liberal 14th Aug '15 - 10:07pm

    First I should say that in 2013 I voted to get rid of Trident altogether as the cost exceeded the amount of protection needed given that so much of the threat throughout the world had gone. However things are much changed in 2015. Not least Putins actions in the Ukraine and Pakistans development of a nuclear driven submarine.

  • @Richard Underhill:
    “Cotton farmers could have asked for more water, more land or more money, but did not need to. They just increased the figures.”

    The virtual disappearance of the Aral Sea (and its replacement by a poisonous saline wasteland) is pretty good evidence that the Soviet cotton farmers were not starved of water.

  • Richard Underhill 16th Aug '15 - 1:00pm

    John Tilley 14th Aug ’15 – 1:18pm
    Just to add that David Owen had come second out of two in the SDP leadership election.

  • Richard Underhill 16th Aug '15 - 1:05pm

    David-1 15th Aug ’15 – 3:13am
    Yes, thank you, an enviromental disaster, but maybe better engineering might have made a success of the project to divert northbound rivers southbound., cancelled by Gorbachev.
    My point was mainly that all they needed to do was to increase the figures.

  • Richard Underhill 20th Aug '15 - 11:59am

    malc 13th Aug ’15 – 7:12pm ” … Argentina was never a powerful enemy. ” Before the falklands war the navy was a bit depressed because their role was diminishing and their importance and careers with it. They did an analysis of other countries. Powerful friends, such as USA. Powerful enemies, such as USSR. Peaceful neighbours in the democracies of western Europe. So, if there is a war in which the navy has a role and the UK can win, who would it be against? Please do not say this is a conspiracy theory. The answer was Argentina.
    The budget cuts led the multi-disciplinary Junta in Argentina to think that the UK did not care much about the Falklands, which may have been true compared to some biiger problems. Peaceful negotiations are one thing, armed force is another, affecting national pride on both sides. The Foreign Secretary resigned with his entire team, which was described as the “last honourable resignation” in UK politics.
    The UK’s Defence Secretary said that we did not have a large airport near the Falklands and could not provide the air cover which was essential to the fleet. Top naval officers went to see the PM, wearing uniform and said we should sent a fleet anyway. The Defence Secretary repeatedly said that “She likes men in uniform”.

    Since then a large airport has been built to defend the Falklands against democratic Argentina. The expense of the war and the expense after the war are each much larger than the cost of prevention. Paradigms lost.

  • Richard Underhill 20th Aug '15 - 12:11pm

    Bob Jones 13th Aug ’15 – 8:26pm ” … we really cannot afford Trident, but to vote to get rid of it,, I need assurance that we would come under the American nuclear umbrella. This is the case for Germany, Japan, Canada, Australia etc.. ”
    Be careful with the etcetera. Nuclear proliferation might mean that nuclear weapons could be used without either the UK or the USa being attacked. Pakistan and India both have these weapons and have fought wars. China has these weapons and disagrees with Japan, which does not and uniquely has been bombed in this way. Whether Israel has nuclear weapons is probably a military secret, but maybe they have. Saddam Hussein attacked Israel with missiles from Iraq. We need negotiated nuclear disarmament worldwide..

  • Neil Sandison 20th Aug '15 - 1:10pm

    Richard Underhill .We need negotiated nuclear disarmament worldwide .Finally we got there .This is the point I have been raising throughout this discourse .be it through a revised strategic arms limitation talks .outlawing nuclear weapons and their use as a form of state genocide ie a war crime . That they should be banned alongside chemical weapons and land mines all of which cause untold collateral to civilian populations .That would have to be by its very nature multilateral negotiations with each side reducing and then putting those weapons beyond use. This objective needs to be spelt out in the policy document but supported by a continued commitment to NATO.

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