As one of Ian Murray’s constituents in Edinburgh South, I welcome his principled contribution to the debate regarding the renewal of the Trident system. As someone who is undecided about the need to renew Trident, it is heartening to see an opinion which goes beyond the opportunistic use of empty party political slogans such as “bairns not bombs”.
Leading the campaign against Trident in Scotland we now have the SNP who estimate that Scotland contributed £100m to the system last year and that cancelling it will fund everything from nursery places to bus passes. The reality is that £100m is not significant compared to the Scottish Government’s underspend last year (£444m), Scotland’s deficit (£9.8b) or even the SNP’s Full Fiscal Autonomy blackhole (£7.6b). Furthermore, it is entirely likely that any savings associated with canceling the Trident renewal (£200m-£300m per year) will largely be recycled within the defence budget.
Other anti-Trident arguments focus around the morality of the weapon and the environmental risk it poses. However, one could argue that no weapon is “moral” and that the environmental risk posed by the SNP Government “sweating” Scotland’s ageing nuclear plants well beyond their design lives poses a far greater risk.
Futhermore, the notion that we Scots can take a moral stance on Trident by moving it elsewhere in the UK and remaing in NATO is nonsense on stilts.
The arguments for retaining Trident are equally unconvincing and focus on the uncertain future the world faces over the lifetime of the system (up to 2080). However, it is inconceivable that the UK would consider the use of the deterrent outside a wider NATO action – what difference would we make? The second argument for retaining Trident is that it is a net benefit to the Scottish economy. Whilst this is undoubtedly true, is this really a good thing?
It is within this uncertain context that I welcome Ian Murray’s comments. In my contacts with him I have always found him to be frank and industrious, so I therefore look forward, if he is re-elected, to hearing his contributions to future Trident debates in the House of Commons.