Joyce: Trident not primarily a matter of defence

Labour MP, Eric Joyce – who resigned earlier this month as parliamentary aide to Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth – has called for the future of Trident to be considered as part of a defence review. Writing for Compass, Joyce says:

“to leave out from a strategic defence review the thing which is supposed to be our major strategic asset suggests to many that the arguments for the status quo might not truly stand up to close scrutiny.”

Joyce also questions whether Trident is, in fact, a serious deterrent since:

“it seems inconceivable to most people that we would ever really destroy a developing country – and do that, remember, wholly independent of the United States.”

And in response to the prospect of the loss of 15,000 jobs if Trident were scrapped, Joyce writes:

“Yet while jobs are important, as with all major procurement projects, it’s hardly possible to argue that this of itself can justify the maintenance of a capability to immolate tens of thousands of people and despoil the environment for decades.”

Joyce goes on to say that, “Trident is not really primarily a matter of defence at all. Rather, it’s both a symbol which is perceived to give us bigger geopolitical clout when it counts, and an ace up our sleeve when it comes to multilateral disarmament talks.”

Joyce’s carefully considered words come in the week that Left Foot Forward published a widely cited opinion poll setting out that two-thirds oppose the renewal of Trident. On Monday, online civic organisation 38 degrees launched a petition calling for Brown to “reopen the decision to replace the Trident nuclear weapons system.” The petition has been signed by nearly 5,000 people in just three days.

8 Responses to “Joyce: Trident not primarily a matter of defence”

  1. Will Straw

    Eric Joyce MP says Trident not "primarily a matter of defence" and calls for rethink http://bit.ly/VGVbF

  2. Will Straw

    RT @wdjstraw Eric Joyce MP says Trident not "primarily a matter of defence" and calls for rethink http://bit.ly/VGVbF

  3. Wes Streeting

    RT @eftfootfwd RT @wdjstraw Eric Joyce MP says Trident not "primarily a matter of defence" and calls for rethink http://bit.ly/VGVbF

  4. Rory

    I don’t really understand his last comment. If it’s an ace up our sleeve when it comes to multilateral disarmament talks then surely it is still a matter of defence. Our very large and powerful army is also an ‘ace up our sleeve’ in many instances.

    I think Major Joyce should read up on his Clausewitz again. ‘War is a continuation of politics by other means’ etc.

  5. Richard Tebboth

    It has been suggested that if we were to give up our “independent” deterrent, this lead to the loss of our permanent seat on the UK Security Council.

    Would that matter?

  6. Richard Tebboth

    Correction:

    It has been suggested that if we were to give up our “independent” deterrent, this lead to the loss of our permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

    Would that matter?

  7. eric joyce

    Rory, the way I see it the NPT is a matter of foreign relations more than truly Defence. The Clausewitzian analysis would only apply if you believe that we’d deploy Trident, which I don’t. And, Richard, it would seem to me practicable to extend the life of Trident and, over the next 20 to 30 years, move towards a more coherent European security relationship with the US.

  8. Rory

    Well, I would say foreign relations and defence are closely linked, just like war and politics.

    I suppose your comment about Clausewitz depends on what your definition of ‘would’ is, to paraphrase Mr Clinton. I think our possession of nuclear weapons has helped create a situation where their use seems inconceivable.

    On a different subject, have you ever walked through the car park outside the Falkirk cinema? It’s a frightening experience.

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