Scrap Trident! Invest in Progress, Not Destruction
By Aaron Spiers, UU Coleraine Socialist Society
Ahead of a vote on the renewal of the Trident nuclear weapons programme at some stage this year, the need to build a movement to scrap the £3 billion-a-year status symbol and for full reinvestment has never been greater.
The growing realisation that Trident is an outdated and unnecessary programme was, at least in part, reflected in the electoral success of the anti-Trident Scottish National Party and that of Jeremy Corbyn to the position of Labour leader. A growing section of the population refuses to buy into the narrative that British possession of nuclear warheads is a deterrent to external threats and are calling out for their voices to be heard. In a time when global terrorism, cyber-attacks, and even natural disasters pose greater threats to our security than conventional war between states, a renewal of Trident is little more than an expensive vanity project for British imperialism. Subsequently, we should be demanding its immediate decommissioning.
According to the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, the warheads are eight times as destructive as the one that was dropped on Hiroshima – a devastating attack that killed as many as 166,000 people. With this in mind, the prospect of deploying even one of these warheads would have to be viewed as genocidal.
Against the wishes of the membership, the leadership of Unite the Union – which organises Trident workers – cite potential job losses as the reason for their ongoing support for a renewal. This highlights the need for a genuinely socialist programme. Jeremy Corbyn proposed that the submarines be disarmed, but continue their patrols; this is not enough, and we should not accept this compromise.
The renewal of Trident would cost £100 billion over its lifetime – enough to fully fund A&E services for 40 years; build 1.5 million homes; quadruple annual investment in renewable energy; or create 150,000 public sector jobs every year for 30 years. The money earmarked for Trident should be invested in socially useful jobs, with those currently employed in connection with the nuclear programme given priority in reskilling and redeployment, with their pay and conditions guaranteed. With our communities continually decimated by austerity, Trident is a slap in the face to the working class and we must fight for these kinds of reinvestments in our society.