Does Trident announcement mark a new Lib Dem broken promise?

Posted by Louise Edge — 18 May 2011 at 4:32pm - Comments

A while back I got a letter from the Lib Dems telling me "Trident will not be renewed this parliament - not on a Liberal Democrat watch”.

This ran though my mind today as I watched Defence Secretary Liam Fox stand up in parliament to pronounce ‘thunderbirds are go’ on the next phase of building a replacement for Trident.

It’s not the full replacement mind – just £3bn worth. Just some nuclear reactors, a bit of steel for the hull, the electrics, bits of the combat system…and only for three submarines…

And in the small print of today’s announcement the MoD admit that these submarines are going to cost not £11-14bn, but a stonking £25bn. (Download MoD pdf document, see section 6.1) 

The government’s spin doctors are apparently at great pains to say this isn’t an increase in the actual cost of the project. It’s inflation. Yeees well back in 1960 you could probably get a lovely detached house for £5,000 but that is kind of irrelevant…its 2011 and given all the cutbacks we are all pretty interested in what things actually cost!

So did we see another Lib Dem commitment fall today?

The other main announcement was that there’s going to be an 18-month assessment into whether there are any alternatives to Trident replacement. Interestingly the study will report jointly to the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister. So looks like the real test of whether the Lib Dems really do have some influence on this issue is yet to happen. Will Nick Clegg yet intervene and ensure he keeps his election promise?

Utterly unbelievable. Do the Lib Dems have nothing left that they hold dear or true to. Spending 3 billion quid on a new generation of nuclear weapons, and the subs to deploy them is bonkers.

The Lib Dems should stand up to their Tory taskmasters and break the coalition now, or they should resign en masse in disgrace.

In fairness to the Lib Dems, a) the key decision on Trident will not be taken until after the next election, and b) they are the smaller party in the coalition, so the best they can ever hope to do is take the edge off the worst Conservative policies.  And remember that Jim Murphy, Labour's Defence spokesperson, got up in Parliament to give Labour's full support to the plans to replace Trident, so we'd be just as badly off under a Labour government.

More importantly, the announcement that there will be a review to look at alternatives to Trident is significant.  It puts some important policies up for grabs - like do we need to have nuclear weapons permanently deployed through continuous at-sea nuclear submarine patrols, and could we get by with a minimal number of nuclear weapons.  The review will report before the next election, so it will inform the debate during the election and also before the decision on whether to commit to spending is made in 2016.

So it's not all bad news - no-one ever expected that Liam Fox's announcement would do anything other than give the green light to the next stage in the Trident programme. 

@PBPeter that may be a very pragmatic, and probably a spot on  analysis, of the political situation but sometimes these things are a matter of principle, of doing what's right morally, economically and strategically (in the military sense).

The Lib Dems have turned out to be a bunch of spineless cowards, I feel kind of dirty from voting for them (despite having a progressive Labour MP) and at some point they need to either discover a backbone, and stand up to the Tories, or fade into obscurity.

In any case, as a preliminary decision (which apparently isn't a full commitment to build these bloody things) 3 billion quid is still an awful lot of money.

"So, after some genuine consideration and reconsideration, I opted to renew it. But the contrary decision would not have been stupid"

This is what Tony Blair said about Trident replacement in his memoirs, "A Journey" page 636.

He also admits that Trident is really about staus rather than defence.  Please write to your Labour MP and urge them to reconsider their support for Trident.

Thank you.





The lib dems are useless just hope next May they lose even more seat at council levels so they have to force Nick Clegg out!

Most politicians of all colours still practice the 'old politics' - i.e., the politics of 'acting in the [narrow] interests of this country'. This has led to conflict and war for centuries at enormous cost in lives and resources. It is time for them to realise that we are part of a global community, and that the real decisions are about how to exist in peace with other nations, how to share the world's food and energy resources, how to protect endangered species and how to tackle global warming. The UK's recent history is littered with military adventures in a large number of conflicts around the globe, far more than most countries. While this may serve the kudos and hubris of our politicians, it does not serve the public who pay for them.

Let's face it, the Trident programme is about power and control - for politicians. It is not about defence or deterrence. Expensive, useless toys that enable our guys to sit at the big table.

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