Is it finally time for us to talk about nukes?
Carine Bambara has been an Ambassador for WMD Awareness for 2 years and her previous writing on Trident has been published on Huffington Post. Here she outlines her thoughts on Jeremy Corbyn and has some suggestions for the current government.
After the election of Jeremy Corbyn as the Labour Party leader we were right to think that we would at least hear more about Labour’s policy on the Trident nuclear weapon system. Heaven forbid we actually get to hear different opinions on the subject rather than successive governments’ one liner on deterrence, we couldn’t possibly be expected to think for ourselves on this one!
However, despite Corbyn’s position, we still have not had a true and open national discussion on this as of yet, while at least £100 billion of UK tax payer’s money is likely be ploughed into renewing Trident over the next 30 years. Such a big investment on a weapon unlikely to be used may be questionable at a time when we are experiencing deeper cuts to the NHS (with doctors’s recently talking about taking strike action), a declining steel industry and benefits being cut. Yet the government believes that spending this money on an out-dated, indiscriminate weapon, designed for the Cold War period would be a good use of money and does not feel the need to discuss it with us. It is yet to be decided whether parliament will even vote on the renewal of Trident or whether they will see this decision as one that they should take without public consultation.
Let us remember that there was a rise in the number of young people voting at the last Labour leadership election and these same young people are not part of a status quo that would like ‘business as usual’ in Westminster.
People elected Corbyn based on the values he outlined during the leadership elections, values he still clearly holds dear and if the government believes that most people agree with their policy on Trident anyway then what is the problem in having a clear and open discussion on the subject to inform people?
Is it not time that the government stopped assuming that the public aren’t capable of having a clear and proper discussion on our current defence capabilities and how much safer they actually make us? Particularly in light of the current situation where our government has decided to bomb Syria, this decision could have a huge impact on us.
The wider part of this discussion is the aim of getting rid of nuclear weapons once and for all, something that the UK is committed to since signing the Non-Proliferation Treaty. If we put forward the legal instruments to make nuclear weapons illegal as is now being proposed by 121 nations it would help stop any new countries from amassing nuclear weapons and encourage existing nuclear powers to disarm.
This is the kind of discussion I would like to hear from the government. Instead of whether or not to renew Trident, they should be talking about taking a lead in getting rid of all of these weapons for good.
At the moment we have been told that we need these weapons and that’s all, no discussion, no options, no consideration of what we do if there is a proliferation of states increasing their nuclear capabilities, no discussion of the harm they could cause in accidents and no alternative opinions taken seriously.
I don’t think that is good enough. We are starting the conversation. Join us at the UK’s first Nuke Film Festival in spring this year and get involved in the conversation too.