by Fraser Dick
You might not be immediately aware of it, but a force far deadlier than the crocodiles in the Nile or the piranhas in the Amazon stalks the still grey waters of the Clyde. The United Kingdom’s nuclear ‘deterrent’, Trident is based at Faslane just 25 miles from our largest city, Glasgow. Four submarines glide silently in and out of the Gare Loch, barely hinting at the awesome power within them. That’s 200 nuclear warheads, a stones throw away from over 1 million people.
The Scottish people have repeatedly shown their opposition to these weapons being in Scottish waters, but UK governments of all parties have repeatedly point-blank refused to withdraw them.
Nuclear weapons are the most destructive objects ever devised by mankind. In their only wartime use so far, two killed over two hundred thousand people in Japan, mostly innocent civilians. Nuclear weapons make no distinction between enemy soldier and innocent child. They lay waste to cities and leave whole areas drowned in radiation for years. And with the fall of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, it is unlikely they will be deployed in the foreseeable future.
The United Kingdom first obtained nuclear weapons in the early 50s, when the Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin said: “We’ve got to have one and it’s got to have a bloody Union Jack on top of it.”
Not a great deal has changed in 60 years. The government of the United Kingdom will never give up its nuclear weapons as long as they guarantee it a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council. Weapons with the capacity to kill millions are an expensive vanity project that allow United Kingdom Prime Ministers to strut on the world stage as if the Empire never went away. Billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money are spent in service of a dead ideal and to massage the egos of those who still see Britain as a great military power.
Estimates vary, but Trident cost £12.9 billion pounds in 1996 and £280 million per year to run. That is a staggering amount of our money for an immoral weapons system that is nearing obsolescence in the post-ideological world where threats are just as, if not more, likely to come from non-state actors such as Al-Qaeda than an opposing country like the Soviet Union.
Based on population, about one billion of those costs were footed by Scotland. Think about that. What could we do if we had an extra billion to play with, and twenty million pounds extra per year? We could buy more state of the art equipment for our hospitals and schools. We could upgrade our roads and infrastructure. We could invest even more in green energy to provide the successor to the nuclear age, or afford to give tax breaks to enterprising companies and businessmen in that sector.
That’s why we need independence. To break away from the world stage posturing of the United Kingdom and concentrate, not on weapons to kill millions, but on the problems that blight the lives of our people. A country that can afford to spend billions on nuclear weapons and millions on the monarchy but claims it can’t afford to pay for free university tuition in England or free personal care for the elderly as we have here in Scotland is not one that I want to be a part of.