Osborne opts for Trident renewal

CHANCELLOR George Osborne took advantage of the bank-holiday weekend to launch his announcement for a £500 million upgrade for the Royal Navy base at Faslane in Scotland — “to make it ready for the replacement for the Trident weapons system”.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon attacked this “arrogant decision” when MPs in Westminster will not vote on the Trident replacement until next year.

Osborne denied he was jumping the gun, saying that the majority of MPs in Westminster had been elected on a manifesto committed to replacing Trident

But he warned the political consensus that Britain needed a nuclear deterrent “risks being shattered again by an unholy alliance of Labour’s left-wing insurgents and the Scottish nationalists”.

That political consensus does not extend beyond the boundaries of Westminster. As CND pointed out in January this year, poll after poll shows that a consistent majority of the British population are against nuclear weapons. Here is a selection of polls from the last few years:

So when Osborne speaks of “political consensus” he is not talking about the views of the majority of people in Britain but of the ruling class political elite.

It seems that Osborne believes not only that Jeremy Corbyn will win the Labour leadership but that within a few months Corbyn will be leading a popular campaign against Trident renewal that stands a real chance of success.

So he wants to nail down as many commitments as he can before that happens. The spending on improving Faslane’s infrastructure will start in 2017 and last 10 years, safeguarding 6,700 jobs and creating thousands more.

Osborne told BBC Radio Scotland: “The vast majority of MPs in the House of Commons were elected on manifestos to renew Britain’s nuclear deterrent and we’ve had votes in the past in Parliament on this.

“But I would go to the bigger argument that in a very uncertain world, are we really content to throw away Britain’s ultimate insurance policy? These new Trident submarines, when they come, are going to be with us for decades.

“If you can tell me, or indeed Nicola Sturgeon or Alex Salmond can tell me, what the world is going to look like in 2050 or 2060 — because that’s when we’re making this decision for — then I don’t think we can.”

Writing in the Sun newspaper, Osborne said the Labour leadership contest was “deadly serious” because “the new unilateralists of British politics are a threat to our future national security”.