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Monday, 18 January 2016

Dr Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

There are lots of blogs out there dedicated to politics: mine's not one of them. So I'm wondering why I'm starting to write about Jeremy Corbyn- the leader of the Labour Party. A man loved by its members, hated, not trusted or generally disliked by many of its MPs.

Much has been said about leader Corbyn. Principally, that as leader he appears to oppose many policies that the Labour Party's signed up to. Many (right wing) commentators think he's useless; that he hasn't a clue; that he's a bigger disaster than Ed the Undead and if he's not got rid of Labour is doomed as a Her Majesty's official opposition.

I don't know. What I do know is that Jeremy is anti - nuclear weapons: the party that he leads has a policy of supporting the UK nuclear deterrent. Which is up for replacement - or not. Leader J would not replace Trident, his party on current policy would.

Nuclear bombs, missiles or rockets are a bad thing. If they go off they can do a lot of harm. If a lot go off around the same time then it's a very, very bad thing. Which is why, paradoxically, lots and lots of counties have these highly undesirable pieces of munition. The threat to your enemy of you unleashing a few hundred megatons of annihilation on his country is seen as a pretty good way of getting him to think twice about attacking you. There's lots of caveats and exclusions but that broadly is why we have our nuclear missiles. We ratchet up the counter threat by having our nuclear bombs at sea, under water and undetectable. One of our nuclear Trident submarine fleet is always at sea.

They're hugely expensive to build and maintain; and that provides a lot of work and money for parts of the country where work and money would otherwise be in short supply. Not surprisingly, therefore, the unions are in favour of maintaining our submarine fleet and its Trident missiles.

If Comrade Corbyn is to change his party's pro Trident policy he'll have to win over the unions or spike their guns. A non nuclear policy is unlikely to be attractive to Len  McCluskey the leader of Unite, the UK's biggest union and major supporter of the Labour Party. Decimating what remains of our ship building and maintenance industry by supporting a non nuclear future for the UK is unlikely to be seen by Unite's members as a good wheeze.  

This is where I can't make my mind up about JC. He's suggested that we keep and replace the submarines but don't have them carry nuclear warheads. Genius or what? You get rid of the bomb but keep the jobs - brilliant - the Wisdom of our Beloved Leader.

A few people have pointed out that the whole point of these submarines is that they carry a nuclear treat. Remove the nuclear threat - well what's the point of having these submarines in the first place. Why not go the whole hog and save loads of money by scrapping the subs and spending the money saved on unemployment benefit for the thousands made redundant when their ship yards close down.

I suppose we could get rid of the Trident missiles and not tell anyone. The submarines could still paddle up and down the oceans of the world - undetected - carrying nothing more than a packet of sparklers or roman candles. Our enemies wouldn't know we hadn't any nuclear devices. Although I suppose we'd have to tell our Allies - the Americans at least. It would come as a pretty nasty surprise to them if, in the event of a nuclear attack, our response to an all out blitz was a pretty display of coloured lights over Moscow or where ever.

Luckily I don't have to work out that particular conundrum. Labour's defence review is, however,  going to have to try to square the circle. Unfortunately it was rigorously proved a while back that that is an impossibility.

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