For want of a missile a nation was lost?

Written by Nic Wistreich on . Posted in politics and society

dr.strangelove-763806As the film industry makes record box office glorifying 'war porn' in 300, its easy to forget the reality that we as voters have some impact on. Apologies for bringing politics in, but tomorrow in a rushed vote, at least five years sooner than it needs to be taken, the government, supported by the Conservatives, are likely to vote to renew Trident, Britain's nuclear weapon. To quote an email I received tonight "The man who told us he went to war to destroy weapons of mass destruction in Iraq (there were none), at a cost of over 650,000 lives, now says he wants to spend around £50 billion on weapons of mass destruction with the potential to slaughter 40 million people."

"to the prime minister: you are going to be remembered for lots of things. You don't have to be remembered for replacing Trident."
David Blunkett
While two MPs having resigned over the issue and two thirds of government back benchers plan to oppose the vote, David Cameron's continued support for Tony Blair's defence policies looks like it will win. Even Mikhail Gorbachov, who helped end the cold war,  has criticised the plan in a letter to the Times. Asides from the fact that terrorists don't care - and can't be stopped by - the nuclear deterrent; that the best way to persuade countries that they don't need to defend themselves with nukes is to have none that could point at them; or that America supposedly is the only country that can operate Britain's nukes - is the fact that they're housed not anywhere near Westminster, but in a otherwise beautiful loch in Scotland.

For the SNP it's been a major campaigning issue, and with them now for the first time in a leading position in the opinion polls ahead of national elections, one does wonder what happens if the vote is won to renew Trident, and the SNP goes on to win in May. If the success is followed with a win at a referendum on independence, Blair's eagerness to rush an unpopular policy into parliament before he leaves could be quite devestating. It's only from living in Scotland that its become clear just how much resentment there is here to decisions made 400 miles away, not least when it leads to the deaths of locals fighting such a needless war. Tho apparently this week sees the first ever Scot to appear on a Bank of England banknote, so the winds of change are clearly a blowin'.

Minister quits over Trident plans

Nigel Griffiths
Mr Griffiths had been deputy commons leader since 200
From the BBC -

Deputy leader of the Commons Nigel Griffiths has quit the government in protest at plans to renew the UK's Trident nuclear weapons system.

He resigned "with a heavy heart but a clear conscience" ahead of Wednesday's House of Commons vote on the plan.

Although a Labour rebellion is expected the Tories back renewal of Trident, making a government defeat unlikely.

Jim Devine, a parliamentary private secretary, has also indicated he will resign over the issue.

In a statement after handing his letter in to Number 10 Downing Street, Mr Griffiths, MP for Edinburgh South, said: "I'm resigning with a heavy heart but a clear conscience.

"I intend to make a personal statement in the House of Commons to colleagues and it is only right that they hear the reasons first."

Tory backing

MPs will debate and vote on Wednesday evening on the £20bn plan to replace submarine-based Trident nuclear weapons system.

Ministers say the long lead time in developing and building the replacement submarines means a decision needs to be taken soon on replacing Trident.

I hope other MPs will follow suit and start leading the UK down the path of nuclear disarmament
Jeremy Corbyn
Labour MP

Conservative leader David Cameron made clear his support for the plans on BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Monday.

He said: "I think it needs to be done and I've always supported Britain having a nuclear deterrent, so when Trident comes to the end of its life it needs to be replaced."

The Liberal Democrats have said Parliament should not make its decision until at least 2012.

Mr Griffiths, an MP since 1987 and deputy Commons leader since 2005, previously served as a trade and industry minister.


Commons leader Jack Straw paid tribute to him in the Commons on Monday, saying: "I would like to place on record my appreciation for the excellent work which he undertook in this place."

Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn, an opponent of Trident renewal, said: "I hope other MPs will follow suit and start leading the UK down the path of nuclear disarmament, not re-armament, on Wednesday."

Alan Mackinnon, chairman of Scottish CND, said: "We welcome the principled stand taken by Griffiths on this crucial issue and we hope his example will be followed by other Labour MPs."

A survey for BBC Radio 4's The World This Weekend programme found that out of the 101 Labour MPs who responded, 22 said they supported the renewal of Trident.

A total of 64 said they opposed it, and a further 15 remained undecided.