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", David Cameron will lead Tory MPs into the same lobby as Tony Blair tomorrow "

Very, very, very disappointing. Thats about all I can say without breaking into a stream of four letter words...............

Call yourselves an opposition???

Surely £23 billion could be used in a more effective way to the benefit of the population as a whole. Are we in reality likely to bombed by the likes of Iran and North Korea? If we have to spend some of this huge amount of money on defence why not use it to give our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan decent equipment. That in turn begs the question as to why we should act as Europe's only meaningful representative in the areas which are really nothing to do with us. As always it is up to good old Britain to send the troops. What is our real link with Afghanistan?

Personally I would prefer this type of money to be used PROPERLY in the NHS - the waiting list times and standards of some of our hospitals are completely unacceptable.

I think the case that is especially compelling is that the system is going to be covering us for the next 50 years. Even if you (in my view unwisely) dismiss Iran and North Korea, not to mention an increasingly bellicose Russia, can we seriously claim to know there will be no threat to us in 2050 that is presently unforeseen?

In 1900 who could have forseen the rise of Nazism? In 1916 who knew the Cold War would happen? In 1945 who could have foreseen the scale of the Al Qaeda threat or a nuclear armed North Korea or Iran?

Dr Lewis is absolutely spot on when he says we would not scrap the Army, Navy or RAF just if there was currently not a war on or an obvious threat. The nuclear deterrent should be exactly the same.

(As it happens, we seem to have a govt that wants to scrap the armed forces WHILST fighting wars, but that peculiar logic is a whole other topic).

With Trident renewal and an Anti-Ballistic Missile umbrella we will be belt and braces prepared for what the future might throw at us. Those opponents who think we should just drop our guard and assume there will be automatic and guaranteed peace 50 years in the future are as misguided, naive or disigenuous as those that used to claim that if we disarmed then the USSR would have followed suit instead of steamrolling us.

What is our real link with Afghanistan?

Many reasons; some historical and some practical but for me one big reason - the same sort of link that the western world has with Colombia. We should be fighting the world drugs trade as vigourously as possible by tackling it at source.

I concede that we aren't doing it very strongly in Afghanistan at the moment for fear of losing the support of tribal leaders, but at least we are doing more than Belgium ever has.

£23 billion to give us the potential to bomb Iran and North Korea properly has got to be a big plus too.

This writing off of using a cruise type system instead of Trident is nonsense.
If we are talking of 10/15 years time, it is feasable that hyper-sonic cruise sytems will be operational by then, i.e. capable of speeds of 3/4000mph, with much longer range. Most targets would be in 20mins or one hour from launch, slower than an ICBM, but acceptable. The warheads carried would be more than adequate to deter any potential agressor. Cruise would be cheaper, and much more flexible, offering a variety of launch platforms, land/air/sea both surface and submerged.

Watching TV last night and seeing interviews with Kinnock and Bruce Kent took me back to the '80's and the the realisation that these two jokers have learned absolutely nothing in the last 25 years. Still at least they have principles unlike the Lib Dems who have taken the most opportunistic stance that they could. 'Let's just put off the decision until we find out what is going to be popular 'seems to be their stance.What an absolute shower.
Bit of a cheap shot Comstock and completely unworthy of you.I'd take it seriously if I didn't know that you had voted for a party led by a man utterly without principle so voting for something that is in the interests of the country rather than the interests of the Conservative party would be a concept you wouldn't be familiar with.

Julian Lewis is one of the most principled, thoughtful and hard-working people in the Conservative Party. His arguments for Trident are cogent and persuasive.

As for idiots like Comstock, presumably he'd have us voting against the Government on everything, even when we agreed with a policy.

It's a shame really because now we have to agree that Iran and North Korea are equally justified in arming themselves. How are they to know what the next 25 or 50 years hold?

The cost of replacing Trident should be put in perspective. Whether it's £20 billion over several decades, or £100 billion over several decades, that's not a huge cost compared to some others we swallow year after year without a murmer. Most notably several studies have estimated the net cost of our EU membership as £50 billion a year, and NB that's £50 billion each and every year, not £50 billion spread over several decades. Other estimates range up to five times that, £250 billion a year, each and every year. If we weren't saddled with this burden we could easily afford to improve the NHS, etc, and also afford to replace Trident.

I whole-heartedly endorse the plan to renew the Nuclear Deterrent, but a doubt nags; what if Gordon Brown has employed the same person to estimate the Trident replacement cost as he did for the Olympic bid?

Why, Mark? We don't "have" to agree on any such thing...

In fact, I have always advocated pre-emptive strikes. I'd not let any of their leadership see the next 25 years. But it isn't going to happen and everyone is going to go limply appeasing once again until it all goes The Way Of The Pear and it is too late.


"Drew SW London", are nuclear weapons subject to (forgotten) VAT just like the Olympics?

I can't remember the exact list of exemptions: food, childrens' clothes, books, intercontinental ballistic missiles....

You are right - it will be like any MOD project. Take the initial price. Double it. Add a "0" on the end - and then hope for the best when it turns up 15 years late.

"Just as it makes no sense to scrap the Army, Royal Navy or RAF when no obvious enemy is in sight, it is vital to retain a minimum strategic deterrent as the ultimate insurance policy against aggression by any future opponent armed with mass-destruction weapons. No amount of conventional forces can protect us in such a situation, and no conventional campaigns can be risked against an aggressor possessing even one or two nuclear bombs if we abandon all of ours."

But where do we draw the line in determining which states should be allowed a 'minimum strategic deterrent as the ultimate insurance policy against aggression'?

Mark Fulford is absolutely right to imply that it would be hypocritical in the extreme to use this excuse to justify this grand folly and then seek to prevent other states acquiring a nuclear insurance policy too.

Don't usually disagree with you about much DVA but I do about this. A couple of points,since when has our foreign policy been free of hypocrisy? It is not in our interests for Iran and N.Korea to have nuclear weapons so we should do everything in our power to prevent them.Our foreign policy should be determined by British interests, period. Being 'fair' has nothing to do with it.
Secondly N Korea is a totalitarian state and Iran is a theocracy I don't see how they can be treated on an equal basis to a western democracy,I sincerely doubt that they would take a gesture of goodwill be us in not replacing Trident as anything other than weakness.

From PA:

"Opposition to renewing the Trident nuclear missile system was growing
today as more than 100 MPs backed moves to delay making a decision.

An amendment put forward last night by politicians wanting more time to
discuss Trident had attracted the support of 105 MPs this morning,
including 62 Labour MPs.

The Labour MPs putting their names to the amendment included Jon
Trickett (Hemsworth), Peter Kilfoyle (Liverpool Walton) and Joan Ruddock
(Lewisham Deptford), as well as Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies

Malcolm, with Britain's ethical/moral integrity in foreign affairs further compromised, the remaining credibility Britain has as an arbiter in resolving international disputes/crises would be even further diminished.

We would not be able to lecture other states about nuclear proliferation if we insist on not practising what we preach - it's no wonder that when we wag the finger at North Korea, Iran etc, they respond with a one-fingered salute of their own.

As for foreign policy being determined by British interests, I agree up to a point (although I would argue that the wider interests of the global community need to be considered too) but I really don't see how throwing away vast amounts of our money on a misty-eyed anachronism harking back to a bygone era when Britain had a significant role to play on the global stage - instead of investing that money in realistic measures to address the contemporary problems and threats the country faces - is serving British interests.

£23 billion to give us the potential to bomb Iran and North Korea properly has got to be a big plus too.

Geoff you frighten the life out of me. Please say you are "joking"?

Trident makes us feel really important because we are in the Nuke club, period, it has little or no , (additional), deterent over Nato/USAs capabilities.

Do you honestly believe we would dare to fire a missile without the express permissionof Nato/USA? Spend the money on conventional forces, house US missiles here, but we don't need our own big toy.

A third own goal for Cameron.

Supporting te invasionof Iraq 1-0

Not dissmissing Iraq invasion after no WMDs 2-0

Trident 3-0

Airline taxes 4-0 oops missed one out

DVA lecturing anyone about anything rarely achieves anything in international politics including nuclear proliferation. We tried this with India and Pakistan with absolutely nil success. A mixture of threat and incentives has a much better chance of success.This worked with Libya and may work with N.Korea.
No sure that the world situation now is much safer now than it was in the '80's. Trident was not a 'misty eyed anachronism' then, I really don't see that it would be now. That is unless you buy the arguments of people like Bruce Kent but as Conservative that's highly unlikely isn't it?

It's a shame really because now we have to agree that Iran and North Korea are equally justified in arming themselves.
Iran is committed under the NNPT not to develop nuclear weapons and only to enrich uranium to a grade neccessary for civilian uses, also Iran's Supreme Leader has issued a Fatwah and reaffirmed it with more fatwahs a number of times that bans all development, acquisition and use of nuclear weapons - such programmes require the Supreme Leader's permission before they can go ahead and in fact he not the President is the most powerful person in Iran - in fact the position of President is really more that of a sort of Chief Minister, as such any development by Iran of nuclear weapons or even the capability would destroy any credibility as a leader that Ayatollah Khameini has.

North Korea has done a deal with the USA and agreed to dismantle it's nuclear weapons capability.

I think that the UK should be working on devloping it's own missile launch systems and the Hafnium Device that uses far smaller quantities of material but can produce explosions at various yields including the same yields available with Hydrogen Bombs - unlike with nuclear weapons it is believed that there would be no fallout but only an initial Gamma Ray burst at the time of the explosion. The Pentagon was given authorisation to start work on developing such devices by Dubya a few years ago and believes they could be ready in a couple of decades time.

"Iran is committed under the NNPT not to develop nuclear weapons"

Iran has every right to be just as committed as we are...

Nuclear weapons can only possibly be used against states, and even then only against the ones without close neighbours. They do nothing to combat terrorism.

Our continued development of nuclear weapons is unnecessarily provocative, and against the spirit of the NNPT. We nuclear weapons states should be mothballing our nuclear capability. This would reduce threat, show that the NNPT isn't just about double standards, yet allow us to put weapons into service relatively quickly if a genuine need arises.

For all the focus on the cost, having the Trident system really isn't that expensive. However many billions is specified as the cost, that is spread over decades.

Malcolm, I'll hold my hands up and admit that 'lecture' was the wrong word to use but I stand by my point that without integrity and credibility, what remains of our authority in international affairs is greatly diminished.

Britain has no need for this vainglorious "me too" grandstanding and adopting an "up yours, Jack" attitude to nuclear proliferation actually serves as a detriment to our national interests, rather than protecting them.

I didn't argue that the world is safer now than the 1980s but our security concerns are different now. Mobile non-state actors cannot and will not be deterred by a nuclear 'insurance policy' in the same way that a territorially-defined adversary like the Soviet Union theoretically could (although I seriously doubt the Red Army would have been marching down Pall Mall if we hadn't had Trident in the 1980s...).

A hypothetical attempt to deploy a nuclear weapon against a terrorist group would be an act of such unutterable stupidity and recklessness that it could only be described as criminally insane.

Trident would also be impractical for resolving any serious disputes or security threats posed by Russia and/or China to the point that it would effectively be rendered useless.

North Korea is a minor regional nuisance of little concern to Britain, and Trident would be superfluous to any action to restrain Iranian aggression in the Middle East.

The only conceivable potential serious international crisis I can think of where Britain's possession of a nuclear 'insurance policy' might possibly be justified would be the introduction of an aggressive hardline Islamic fundamentalist government in Pakistan.

As for Bruce Kent, he is somebody who has acted as a significant and consistent voice of reason in the nuclear proliferation/disarmament debate and whom I have the utmost respect for, but I am capable of independent thought too, which is why I would still consider myself a Conservative, despite clearly being far removed from the traditional stance of others.

I'm afraid your arguments smack of pacifism DVA. Unilateral nuclear disarmament on our part will have no more beneficial effect on other nations than George Lansbury's proposal to scrap the RAF would have had in the 1930s.

Weakness, however, is always a provocation to one's enemies.

"I'm afraid your arguments smack of pacifism DVA."

Guilty as charged, m'lud, if thinking threats to British security and national interests are best addressed by non-nuclear solutions counts as pacifism.

"Unilateral nuclear disarmament on our part will have no more beneficial effect on other nations than George Lansbury's proposal to scrap the RAF would have had in the 1930s."

Maybe not, but that's a moot point really, isn't it? I don't see how nuclear rearmament will benefit other nations either, but the point at hand is what's in Britain's interests surely?

"Weakness, however, is always a provocation to one's enemies."

Our enemies... like whom? I repeat the point - terrorist groups and other mobile non-state actors cannot and will not be deterred by Trident.

If weakness is a provocation, we should be investing in equipping ourselves with realistic means of dealing with contemporary threats and problems, not frittering away obscenely huge amounts of public money on a white elephant motivated by rose-tinted strategic thinking based upon clinging on to former glories and a long-gone status as a significant global power.

I would say that Iran is likely to be an enemy and Russia could easily threaten us too but the point is that who really can guess what will happen in 20-30 years time.
I think we'll just have to disagree as I have never thought of Bruce Kent as a voice of reason at all. At best I've thought of him a a very niave fool or at worst in the '80's he seemed to hate Western ideals far more than communism.

Sorry, when I said "beneficial" (not a good choice of words) I meant it in the sense of encouraging them to follow suit.

I agree with Malcolm. It's quite conceivble that a nuclear-armed power will be hostile towards us at some point during Trident's life.

"Weakness, however, is always a provocation to one's enemies."

In the playground, maybe. On a national level, I don't think there's a shred of evidence for your argument.

"On a national level, I don't think there's a shred of evidence for your argument."

The fates of Czechoslovakia, Poland, Denmark, Belgium, Holland, and France from 1938-40 suggest otherwise.

Ok, some brief final responses as I think it's clear we're not going to agree on this.

Trident will be an utter irrelevance in relation to any threat of Iranian aggression in the Middle East and with respect to you both, it is ridiculously delusional to pretend otherwise.

The extent of hostility in Iranian foreign policy will absolutely not be determined by whether Britain has a nuclear 'insurance policy' or not, and Britain's nuclear 'insurance policy' would be superfluous to any (almost certainly US/Israel-led) action against Iran.

With regards Russia (and the same would apply to China), Trident would be an inappropriate and hopelessly inadequate response to any hostility from that quarter, thus rendering it worthless in terms of deterrence.

It is obviously true that we don't know what the future holds but past trends, contemporary developments and informed speculation would suggest that likely inter-state conflicts will either be small-scale and/or not be of immediate concern to Britain (i.e. conflict in Asia or the northern Pacific region).

Well Daniel successive Chiefs Of Staff would very much disagree with you with regard to Russia and/or China.With respect, I would take their advice rather than someone like Bruce Kent.
Regarding Iran if they are so aggressive there is no alternative to war I would suggest that the only way we could win is by using nuclear weapons.Let's hope it doesn't come to that and the Mullahs see sense.

Well Daniel successive Chiefs Of Staff would very much disagree with you with regard to Russia and/or China.

Malcolm, they must be the intelligent militarists, because as we all know Military Intelligence is merely an oxymoron!

From PA:

"Opposition to renewing the Trident nuclear missile system was growing
today as more than 100 MPs backed moves to delay making a decision.

An amendment put forward last night by politicians wanting more time to
discuss Trident had attracted the support of 105 MPs this morning,
including 62 Labour MPs.

More than enough to wipe out the government majority.

Is it definate Cameron will support Blair?

My understanding is that the Conservatives, with the exception of a handful of objectors will vote to replace Trident. The argument of keeping our WMD in an uncertain world makes a great deal of sense.

Julian Lewis is our expert on these matters and as he is my MP I know he speaks with great conviction.

A cheap joke Robin Clash and total rubbish of course.

could be interresting - say 60 Labour rebels vote against plus the 62 Libs plus the Nats 9, not sure what SDLP or DUP/UUP will do. So 131 against. Probably 30 abstentions? That still leaves 266 loyalists on Labour benches - so likely Government victory without Tories. All but a very few Tories will vote for so expect it will be around 420 for (allowing pairing/illness) v 130 against with 30+ deliberate abstentions.
If however the certainty of the arithmetic makes some Labour MPs feel they can display their "consciences" then could be a larger rebellion perhaps even the majority of the non-payroll vote. Ructions in the activist base?

"The fates of Czechoslovakia, Poland, Denmark, Belgium, Holland, and France from 1938-40 suggest otherwise."

But you forget that Germany attacked the USA and Russia too.


Please remind me of some of the militaries/MODs sensible decisions, and perhaps you can explain why we need a submarine based deterrent, if a nuclear deterrent at all?

Geoff you frighten the life out of me. Please say you are "joking"? - RobinClash

No I'm not. I would press that button myself if necessary.

The point of a deterrent is to deter, but you only deter if you are also prepared to use it.

As I understand it, we share our pool of missiles with the US, right?

So they can stop us using the things, right?

If so, they'll only be used against US enemies and we may as well leave it all to the US, no?

If I've misunderstood this and it is an independent nuclear capability that we're talking about, I'm in favour. But why pay for something which requires the assent of the US to use?

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