The Trident debate will and does provoke strong emotions in people; you are either pro or anti-nuclear weapons.
War isn’t a game, people die, and some people die in the, most horrible fashion, what keeps us safe is being strong, building alliances and having have the conviction to see things through to the end.
Everyone doesn’t want nuclear weapons to be used in the world, but they exist, some time ago, I commented how the US and others should abandon the use of depleted uranium shells.
I see their use as contrary to what we are and what we should stand for; it isn’t just the firing of the weapon which creates a problem but also the aftermath which can result in medical problems which can last generations.
We cannot uninvent nuclear weapons, it would be great if we could, but we cannot, so like it or not, we are stuck with them. One of the things which are critical to a country is of course, defence of the realm. To do that we need people who are willing to stand up and join our armed forces, we expect a lot from them, but they rightly expect a lot from us, people and politicians.
People in the armed forces expect that we will not put them in harm’s way without good reason, we supply them with what they need to protect them on the battle field and that they have our total support.
Lots of people in politics put a lot of weight on expert opinions, General Sir Nicholas Houghton is the Chief of Defence Staff; his business is warfare. Most politicians know nothing about the military, but in a democracy you don’t need to, there are experts like the General to assist in giving tactical advice on deployment of the armed forces.
General Sir Nicholas Houghton has spoken out as the head of the armed forces and warned that Jeremy Corbyn’s policy on Trident would undermine the credibility of Britain’s nuclear deterrent. Normally, servicemen and women don’t comment publicly on political decisions such as this but such is the strength of feeling that the issue of Trident provokes.
I believe strongly that Trident should be renewed, it costs a huge amount of money and the results of its use speak for themselves, authorising the use of nuclear weapons is a last resort, and if it comes down to it, a leader of a country may be required to sanction such use.
When General Sir Nicholas Houghton spoke out, this has urged Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to write to Defence Secretary Michael Fallon, he regards what the comments as an unacceptable breach of the principle that the military do not interfere in politics. Corbyn is right, it is unacceptable; this is a discussion that needs to happen internally. And it is a discussion that Jeremy Corbyn needs to listen to if he wishes to be the next Labour Prime Minister.
Trident isn’t going away, and it can’t be a yo-yo policy that Britain has a nuclear deterrent only if there is a Conservative Government in power. So, like it or not, Jeremy Corbyn is stuck with Trident, the issue as I keep saying is more than just the actual weapon. It is a symbol of the status that Britain holds in the World and in international bodies, we are a nuclear power.
Downing Street has responded to the row by saying that head of the armed forces will not face disciplinary action.
David Cameron’s spokeswoman said:
“The chief of the armed forces... made a point about the credibility of the deterrent. He made clear he wasn’t talking about a personal thing. He was asked about the deterrent. He made a point about the credibility of the deterrent. And as the principle military adviser to the Government, it’s reasonable for the Chief of Defence Staff to talk about how we maintain the credibility of one of the most important tools in our armoury.”
I seriously wouldn’t expect anything to happen to Sir Nicholas Houghton.
In a BBC interview, the General expressed concern that Mr Corbyn had declared there were no circumstances in which he would press the nuclear button should he become prime minister.
Jeremy Corbyn has a chance to change the Labour Party and Britain for the better; he could shift the Labour Party back towards the founding principles that many who voted Labour in the past hoped for, but he needs the public, and the public want Trident replaced. Even within Labour there are deep divisions on this issue of Trident, and electoral success isn’t handed to leaders who are seen as weak.
It is always country before party, and party before personal ambitions or desires, sometimes a leader needs to step back and listen to outside advice, on this issue, Jeremy Corbyn needs adopt a different world view.
When it comes to supporting our troops, no politician can win on a platform that puts their safety in danger, especially when applying for the job as Prime Minister of Great Britain. If he wants to ban British use of depleted Uranium weapon systems, he will have my total support, this type of weapon use should never have been allowed to be used..
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University