Saturday, 20 July 2013

Financial Times letter: The case for keeping Trident is far from settled


Published in the Saturday 20 July edition of the Financial Times and online.

The case for keeping Trident is far from settled

From Mr John Slinger.

Sir, 

One might be forgiven for thinking that by confidently asserting that “the argument for Trident is settled” (Editorial, July 17), you are seeking to obscure the fact that the opposite is true.

This supposedly robust argument is flawed on many levels. You state that Britain must retain the ability to inflict “unacceptable damage” on a potential aggressor and that “the possession of nuclear weapons is critical to the status of Britain and France ... and as members of the Security Council." Trident is a weapon of mass destruction designed to kill millions of civilians and as such it is inconceivable to imagine a British prime minister ever being justified in firing it. Our status as Europe’s pre-eminent military power, and our position at the fabled ‘top table’ of diplomacy, would be bolstered by reallocating the money saved by not replacing Trident on reversing the cuts to our conventional forces. After all conventional forces can, and sometimes must, be used in an increasingly dangerous world.

The public must be engaged in an open debate about this crucial issue and not told that the decision is a fait accompli. In January 2007, my father David Slinger organised a debate on the future of Trident. The main speakers were Michael Meacher MP and Bruce Kent from Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament against Trident, and local MP for the Forest of Dean, Mark Harper (now Immigration Minister) and Dr Lee Willett, a defence and weapons analyst, in favour. In this Conservative-voting village, the hall was packed, a gripping, informative and passionately argued debate ensued and the outcome of the vote was 125 people voted against renewing Trident, 15 voted in favour of retaining it and 10 people abstained. Perhaps the argument for Trident is not as “settled” as your leader assumes.

John Slinger, Rugby, Warks, UK


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