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.

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.