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Nuclear theory

Nick Robinson | 13:28 UK time, Monday, 4 December 2006

Just what were the Cabinet doing at their lunchtime meeting today? In theory they've been discussing whether to renew or replace our nuclear deterrent. I say "in theory" since it's hard to see what the point of the discussion was.

The White Paper outlining the government's proposals is being published two-and-a-half hours after the Cabinet meeting ended. An hour-and-a-half before that, journalists had been invited to read the document at a Ministry of Defence "lock-in" (so-called because you can read the document but not leave the building or use your phone or laptops until after it's published).

Is it just possible that the document had been printed before the Cabinet met? When I asked the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman, he insisted that he would not comment on "process".

This "process" matters, since ministers have made much of taking this vital and costly decision in an open, transparent and democratic way - they point out that the Cabinet have discussed the issue, there is a White Paper and there will be a vote in the Commons.

"So what?" you may ask. If you'd been around the last time a Labour government "updated" our deterrent you might think differently. Harold Wilson's government extended the life of Polaris with the Chevaline programme. Not only did he not have a vote, not only did he not even tell Parliament or the public, he didn't even tell the Cabinet. A handful of ministers took the decision which many members of the Cabinet and most MPs only learnt of when, years later, a Tory Government front bench spokesman revealed it.

Before today, Tony Blair's Cabinet did have discussion on what Number 10 calls "the context" of today's decision and Cabinet ministers have all had the opportunity to meet with the foreign and defence secretaries to discuss the likely contents of the White Paper.

There has been, however, no Cabinet debate about the government's detailed proposals. Why? Number 10 won't say. It's worth noting that the last time a decision was handled in this way was the assessment on whether to scrap the pound and join the Euro. The theory then was that it was easier to handle people's worries in individual meetings rather than around the Cabinet table.


  • 1.
  • At 02:10 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • Mike wrote:

Decision made years ago.

Replace the subs to keep the shipyards busy after the new Astute-class subs are built. Make the new subs compatible with any replacement for Trident in the future, which we can buy cheap from the Americans.

Chuck the left a sub (from 4 to 3) and 50 nukes to make them happier.

Anyone for democracy?

  • 2.
  • At 02:23 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • Terry Waiting wrote:

The debate/decision is not about replacing the trident Missile, it is about replacing the Launch Platform - the Submarine. The current Vanguard Class missile carrying submarine comes to the end of its useful life in 2020.
The decision to replace or refurbish the current platform needs to be taken sooner rather than later.

I wonder if they have the equivelent of Nick Robinson in Russia? I suspect not.

Terry Waiting

  • 3.
  • At 02:24 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • Jeff Parry wrote:

Is this how democracy works in the 21st Century? A few guys get together and decide that nuclear weapons are bought without any real debate? What about the thoughts of the public they represent?

Evidently we count for nothing in Blair's Britain. So long as we vote for them politicians think they can do anything they want.

  • 4.
  • At 02:54 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • Martin wrote:

Why are we looking to spend billions on Nuclear subs etc? Why can't we rufurbish the existing kit which should cost far less. Is this another case of the USA telling Blair what to do?

  • 5.
  • At 02:54 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • David Simmons wrote:

Nick - thank you bringing this 'process' to our attention..
Anything closer to dictatorship I can't imagine...

  • 6.
  • At 03:24 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • Mike Noakes wrote:

Do we really need the Cold War overkill provided by Trident and its successor? The rest of the defence effort seems to be going towards smart, tailored solutions, yet Tony 'I got such a rush when I first sent troops into action' Blair still wants the chgance to plant multiple-megaton 'solutions' on foreign cities, which sounds a lot like the 1,000 bomber raids 50-odd years' ago (which also didn't work).

Making the wild assumption that we aren't going to fight the Russkies, shouldn't we be concentrating on developing a more meaningful, surgical capability to give the North Koreas and Irans pause for thought rather than falling back on annihilating innocent populations for the actions of their deranged leaders?

  • 7.
  • At 03:36 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • Kenneth MacColl wrote:

Blair has clearly learned nothing from previous mistakes and displays an alarming contempt for democracy with this latest stunt.
It is clear that this decision was taken long ago and that discussion and consultation, like debate and vote , mean very little to our Prime Minister

  • 8.
  • At 03:38 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • Bob B wrote:

I think it important to remember this is just a White Paper. As you say, Nick, there is still to be full discussion and a vote in the Commons - as is right. A couple of comments about other points :-

- "Anything closer to a dictatorship I can't imagine". The government are going through the correct due process, this comment appears to be party politically motivated.

-"refurbish existing kit". The decision being taken is for subs from 2020 and potentially missiles from 2024. By which time the 'kit' will be >30 years old. How much electronic kit do you have older than 30 years. None I'd bet.

  • 9.
  • At 03:38 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • Robert McIntyre wrote:

I'm sure we've got newer, smaller submarines that can launch cruise missiles. why don't we just have nuclear warheads for those or aren't they capable of blowing the world up enough times over?

  • 10.
  • At 03:40 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • Martin Mathias wrote:

God, what a biased point of view. No wonder noone believes what the BBC reports these days. Or that there is such cynicism about politicians when its fueled by the story-driven ignorant journalstic cynics. If the BBC's leading editors think they are so know-it-all, don't they know how government actually works? White papers are developed by departments responsible, senior figures and other relevant departments, including their Secretaries of State and ministers, are fully consulted along the way. They have therefore fully contributed. the cabinet meeting is really the closure of this stage of the process. Reporting and comment such as this article is misleading and ill informed.

  • 11.
  • At 03:51 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • Derek Barker wrote:

This government has been banging on about global warming and climate change,they say everyone has to change their ways in respect of energy use and the future of our world,"THEN THEY GO AND SPOIL IT ALL BY SAYING SOMETHING STUPID LIKE,LETS REDUCE OUR NUCLEAR CAPACITY TO 150 WARHEADS? it's a case of we're green with a touch of absolute madness.

  • 12.
  • At 03:54 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • tom wrote:

sounds like this is another case of blair been bush poodle but we do need a independent deterrent. Because the prime minster does have the right to go it alone but in the case of blair gordon brown should have a say for after all he might be the next prime minster i suppose that we could refubish the vangaurd subs they where only built in the 90s but then again i am not prime minster it looks like that they are trying to cut costs in goverment spending to try and cover the blck hole in the NHS should the british defence forces be reduced to a part time army casue at this rate thats the way it going.

  • 13.
  • At 04:04 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • shan wrote:

How can a nation decide to upgrade its nuclear stockpile and impose disarmament on other nations. The concept of a rogue state in these issues is not acceptable to me when I look at the countries which have used nuclear weapons in the past and are consistently using depleted uranium warheads as well as tactical nuclear weapons.

  • 14.
  • At 04:04 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • Phil Cornthwaite wrote:

The concern here is not about whether the platform needs updating or not - the real concern is about the process from which a decision is made. In our system of government we are supposed to have a cabinet of ministers led by the prime minister: The head of those people who are equally important enough to hold the highest offices of state. Collective cabinet responsibility means they should be able to discuss any matter at great length in a meeting, finish the meeting and put on a united front. The odd exception is when a minister cannot agree with the rest of cabinet and then you have people like the wonderful Robin Cook who resign to allow them to protest publicly. This is just another example of how Blair runs the show - much more presidential in style. I wonder if Brown will be any different?

  • 15.
  • At 04:05 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • Mr S Rabb wrote:

The world has around 200 sountries. Five currently have nuclear weapons and are permenent memebers of the security council, and are signed up to the nuculear non-proliferations treaty. However, there are other countries that are not, who now have nuclear weapons.

North Korea

These are all countries a=which have significant 'trouble with the neighbours'. Who is suggesting that we shpuld let our derterant go at a time when the world is more unstable thean it has ever been? When more and more questionable states (see the states with newly acquired weapons for a taste) are gaining access to such weapons, some of whom have made it clear their intension is to 'wipe others of the face of the earth'. The go down the route of scraping nuclear weapons would be like taking guns away from police.

Nuclear weapons are unpleasent, but are a reality of our age. SHould we leave ourselves defenceless?: Or like the Catholics with condoms, refuse the protect and leave ourselves wide open?

The debate however must not be removed from cabinet, nor should it be Partisan, it wshould be national, including representitives from the Scotish assembly etc, it has to be made multi laterally, as in 18 years time, when the Vangaurd submarines are up for replacement, any party could be in power, with any threat, 18 years is an age in world affairs.

So come on everyone, debate, but armed with the correct infomation, the can be little doubting where the security for the next 3 decades lies...

  • 16.
  • At 04:07 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • David Harrison wrote:

Irrespective of whether you agree with Nuclear Weapons or not, who are we (UK, US, Israel, France etc) to tell Nation States such as North Korea and Iran that they must not develop their own Nuclear Weapons whilst at the same time we are apparently planning to update our own capability.....what hypocrisy!

  • 17.
  • At 04:08 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • Eddy Canfor-Dumas wrote:

Why is it that of the 192 states in the UN, 184 judge that their security can rely on conventional weapons, and only nine - the USA, UK, Russia, France, China, Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea - insist that nuclear weapons are essential for their security? What makes them so special, other than the very fact that possessing these weapons makes them a potential target of nuclear attack? On the other hand, if the UK got rid of Trident would it be any more vulnerable than Germany or Italy, say?

There is a strange, delusional psychology at work in the most powerful states in the world that argues that their security depends on nuclear weapons, while weaker states absolutely must not have the same weapons...

  • 18.
  • At 04:13 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • Simon wrote:

Did someone mention the word democracy? Isn't that what left these shores long ago? The methods of our "government" get more like those of the old Soviet bloc with each passing day. We are expected to do - and believe - what our leader says without question or debate!

  • 19.
  • At 04:22 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • Ed wrote:

I'm not bothered about Trident being updated - I'd rather a safe modern weapons delivery system than an elderly hard to maintain one - after all, these are nuclear warheads and submarines!

What amazes me are the commentators griping about the projected cost over it's lifespan, which is a fraction of the amount of money which is and will be wasted by the Government on other schemes. A classic example is the 12 billion recently spent on useless IT projects.

Also to those making comment on the overkill of multiple warheads, I'm sure there are single warheads of a much lower yield mounted on missiles for tactical rather than strategic use.

  • 20.
  • At 04:24 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • Andy Foster wrote:

Deterrence only works if your enemy is dettered. Suicide bombing mentality terrorists don't think in these terms, total destruction is their aim, so deterrence is a meaningless stick to wave. Italy, Spain, Norway etc. all "survive" without nukes, why does Britain think it needs them? Maybe because of the way we conduct foreign policy?

  • 21.
  • At 04:25 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • Greg Cole wrote:

Hi Nick,

Just a thought but it seems even if we do have a public debate (Iraq) the government has already distorted the truth or blatantly lied so as to make sure they win anyway - whatever happens afterwards they can just apologise and blame it on their intelligence...

  • 22.
  • At 04:26 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • Robin wrote:

What happens if there is a political shift in the US and they decide not to sell us nuclear weapons? Or is the present for toadying to the US every whim that we get nice new shiny missiles and to build out own submarines to carry them about in? Why don't we fib about the warheads? We could say we had them, put a bit of radioactive material in the warheads so they make geiger counters go buzz, and move them about as if they might go bang, but in reality, we'd be bluffing. Then in the submarine fleet we could keep a handful of nuclear tipped cruise missiles just to be on the safe side. Save a fortune if nothing else, and still have the ability to kill lots of innocent people in a country most of us have never been to or never will.

  • 23.
  • At 04:29 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • Jake Maun wrote:

One of the reasons that the government cites for the need to replace Britain's nuclear deterrant, that we "don't know what kind of threat we may face in the future" is somewhat misleading. The threat from international terrorisom is not what is worrying the government, and it is certainly not the reason that they have decided to embark on a long and costly process of overhauling the nuclear submarine fleet.

The biggest threat that we face today is not terrorism, or even a nuclear Iran, but extreme climate change, and the consequences of climate change. If, as some of the forcasters have predicted, we do see rises in global tempratures over the next 50 years of 2 or 3 degrees celcius or more, we will be faced with a refugee crisis the like of which we have never seen.

In that context, and with the likelihood of there being more nuclear-armed countries in the future, the government's decision doesn't seem so irrational. But you won't see any minister or Whitehall official saying this.

  • 24.
  • At 04:31 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • Anton Hoenderkamp wrote:

I think the building of a thousand new schools and hospitals would be more morally justified instead of spending wasted money on an old age war deterrent.
Surely we can switch soley to the using land nuclear deterrents. We have land nuclear deterrents surely this would be enough to defend our great country.

I think its time to be more advanced and lead the world in a newer form of defence and put the old nuclear deterrent to sleep.

  • 25.
  • At 04:32 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • A C Allsopp wrote:

can Britain launch their 'independent deterent' Trident missiles without the American Presidents agreement? If not where is the independence?

  • 26.
  • At 04:39 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • aborkwood wrote:


Tony Blair apparently suffers from Goody-itis, the chronic thinking condition which goes like this: I have good intentions, therefore I'm a good guy; since I can't be certain of others' motivations, I'm the only certain good guy; since I'm the good guy, it's vital mine is the only opinion that prevails; being the good guy obliges everyone to trust me who the bad guys are; as the good guy I'm allowed to claim everything I've done was done with the best of intentions, though of course bad guys aren't allowed to claim this; as the good guy I can't ever be accused of acting in bad faith, but anyone who obstructs me is either inadequately informed, deranged - or acting in bad faith; persisting in this means they're bad guys.

And unbelievably, right upto the last, his cabinet and party persist in agreeing with him.

  • 27.
  • At 04:42 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • David Hewitt wrote:

The Main problem with disscusions like this is that the majority of people that are passionate about this subject are those who are against it and so therefore you get a biasd view when viewing comments on this area. Mostly it is people that are passionate about the topic will seek out oppourtunities to comment like this hence the amount of anti nuclear and government sentament on this area. In realality the majority of the public are in favour of this proposal as they always have been in the issue of nuclear weopans although it is an area which has a strong minimalist opposition which like all issues the smaller opposed group tend to be more vocal. The majority of us sit back however and say yes we need this system the threat in the future is an unknown one we have tactical small arms ability already that is constantly reviewed and renewed this is another specific area of our defence force which like our smaller tactical areas also needs reviwed and updated. most the people opposed have no expertise on this area and we should leave it to our democratically elected parliamentary representatives visa ve the government Ministers to rely on expert reports for their decision instead of activist jumping on thier high horses with distorted facts opposing it.

  • 28.
  • At 04:44 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • Rob wrote:

Run that by me again...using tactical nuclear weapons. wha?

Anyway, these systems need updating, the platform (the sub) and the weapons themselves. Although we do NOT need bunker busting where a nuke lands being in a bunker wouldnt help much at all.

The way the government did this.. hey im glad its not me having to make the choice, cos nukes give me the creeps as it is.

One last note i never want to these birds fly...

  • 29.
  • At 04:44 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • Jez Gee wrote:

What a total waste of money - the Trident technology will be totally obsolete by 2024. Any half competent foe will be able to swat it out of the sky with ease.
£25 billion could do so much good in this country, and instead we waste it on weapons to kill people in other countries.
How can we now tell other nations that they can't possess nuclear weapons to ensure their own security? It's another case of the 'do as we say, not as we do' attitude that is making us increasingly unpopular the world over.

  • 30.
  • At 04:54 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • Jesus Florez wrote:

As a foreigner I am no able to comment on the internal political question. What I wonder is if our countries are spending enough in defence and if their are spending well. I think that a nuclear ballistic missile is not a good deterrent in today's world and will probably not be the most needed weapon in Afganistan. Meanwhile Europe has not a credible force projection capability without the US' help

  • 31.
  • At 04:56 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • R J Sharp wrote:

I completely agree with the comment in Reply 10.Nick robinson ex I.T.V has for some time now been putting his own biased view on the political situation and does not report what"IS SAID" but what he thinks should be said,or should have been said.He continually puts his own political view to the media.This was NOT the BBC way for most of my life but now it seems to be the norm.The other things that grieve me is how politicly naive some posters are,bush's poodle,dictatorship,etc, when the time table for debate in the sovereign body "parliament"has been agreed.Look to your laurels Nick.

  • 32.
  • At 05:02 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • Saqib Javed wrote:

Every Nation has the right to defend its self. We the British make ourselves the target. This all due to sheer stupidity of our politicans.

Lets upgrade the existing arsenal and delivery system, and spend the money else where. North Korea or Iran do not possess the capability of striking Britain. So lets be real and not waste money on deadly toys

  • 33.
  • At 05:03 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • Geraint wrote:

The money would be better spent building hospital ships which would allow us to have a much more benign influence in the world.

  • 34.
  • At 05:08 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • Dave wrote:

In a galaxy far, far, away....

"I've just had Fotherington-Thomas on the phone, asking if we've made our minds up yet."

"Yes, Prime Minister?", I replied, doing my best to raise my right eyebrow in Roger Moore approved fashion. We looked at each other.

"Very well, then", I said. "The short answer is: no. You do understand the problems involved, don't you?"

"Perhaps," he replied cautiously, "it would be best if you ran over our options again."

"Basically, if I may be permitted a crude analogy, we are in the situation of a small company that bought a small fleet of four Austin Allegro's in the 1970s. By utilising the fourth vehicle, which never worked very well in the first place, we still have a three car fleet. They may be rusty through and through, with the exhausts hanging off, but provided we never have to use them in anger they perform their task admirably. That, Prime Minister, is why Admiral Fotherington-Thomas is so keen to have a replacement. Our decision is whether to grant him his Christmas wish or just soldier on by patching up the old Allegros."

"What's the cost going to be?" the Prime Minister asked warily.

"That, as they say, is the 64 billion dollar question", as you can see inflation is taking its toll, despite the best efforts of his nextdoor neighbour. "We currently have the capability to design and build world-class subs at Barrow. We could probably look back in the archives at Aldermaston and cobble together the warheads, but our real problem is the solid fuel rocketry required for the missiles. As you'll know, the UK abandoned rocket technology in 1970, handing the designs over to the French for use in the Arianne. But these were liquid fuel vehicles, requiring at least an hour's careful preparation before launch. This is time we just wouldn't have if push came to shove."

"Who does solid fuel rocketry then?" he asked me.

"The Americans, obviously. Russia and China, too. Which reminds me: if you want to be really brave we could try to get the rockets from the French".

"So," he mused, "what you're saying is that we pretty much have to go to the Americans cap-in-hand? Doesn't this rather give the lie to our having an `independent' nuclear deterrent?"

"That, Prime Minister, is one of the Great Unmentionables of Post War Diplomacy. I'll inform Fotherington-Thomas that we're going American; he will be pleased! It's what he's wanted all along."

  • 35.
  • At 05:09 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • Michael Pryce wrote:

Even before today all other (air/land) options had been abandoned, if they were ever really considered. What was left to discuss apart from 'New Trident', yes or no?

A smaller scale weapon system, to replace the tactical nuclear weapons New Labour replaced with Trident in a sub-strategic role, could have been much cheaper to buy for the 'rogue state' scenario.

And of course, on July 7th 'nuking' Beeston was not really an option, so are they any use at all, big or small?

  • 36.
  • At 05:12 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • Neil Brown wrote:

These BBC blogs are getting worse. It's fantastic that they give a voice to anyone who cares to use it...but their primary purpose, as far as I can tell, is to highlight just how myopic, reactionary and lacking in cognitive powers the average "poster" really is. Filtering anything useful from the general background noise of information is getting harder and harder in this age - surely Mr Robinson's job is to facilitate that process rather than making blog entries that instigate such a torrent of mindless drivel.

  • 37.
  • At 05:18 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • John Wilson wrote:

£20 billion to set 3 new submarines floating around the oceans with probably only one actually operational at any one time? How many miles of new high speed railway line could we get for that? We are now not a big player in world domination terms. How much less would it cost to ensure that our troops and airmen are equipped properly unlike the present problems they encounter in Iraq and in Afghanistan? Where will the £20 billion come from? Is that a likely destination for road pricing charges as no-one really believes these will be properly ring fenced to improve our transport systems.

  • 38.
  • At 05:20 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • Kim Harris wrote:

And they wonder why we increasingly dont bother to vote?.

  • 39.
  • At 05:22 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • Rhys Jones wrote:

Do we really need nuclear weapons?

When was the last time one was fired in anger?

Fundamentally, nuclear weapns are useless as the outcome is so catastrophic. What will we do with our nukes? They're useless against the terrorist threat or to help promote democracy in the middle east.

I'm no leftist pinko Guardian reader but consider how we could spend the money elsewhere - NHS, Education, Management Consultants.

The world has moved on from the playground style argument of my nukes are bigger than your nukes! TB considers that world security is at stake in Afgahnistan and Iraq and, if TB genuinely believes this, should we not beef up that force, rather than build some expensive paper tigers.

What's all the fuss about democracy? That went years ago. Why do you think no one votes anyone....?

  • 40.
  • At 05:25 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • Ian wrote:

Just an observation. Many correspondents appear to be making the false assumption that the 'future' Trident MUST have a high-yield nuclear tip. This isn't so. The missile could be fitted with a very low-yield or even high-explosive warhead if we so desire and if the situation dictates. By having a range of warheads we would have the capabilty to hit 'National' targets [high yield] or point targets [low-yield or HE]. It's an expensive way of removing terrorist training camps, but it would work. The bonus of the submarine/missile combination of course is that it is undetectable and highly accurate.

  • 41.
  • At 05:26 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • Iain S Gerrard wrote:

I'm not sure if we need these shockingly destructive weapons systems any more. I was never against the nuclear deterrent when I felt it was needed. But I now would question this.
The bottom line, it seems to me, is whether we would ever use these, no matter what the provocation, and if we wouldn't then our enemies would presumably know this and act accordingly.
Perhaps some of the money saved could be put into our conventional forces which I keep hearing are seriously overstretched?

  • 42.
  • At 05:27 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • David Norris wrote:


You are wrong in one fact. Chapman Pincher was briefed about Chevaline and did a centre fold disclosure in his newspaper, complete with illustrations many years before the Tory disclosure. Some of the facts were wrong about it, but this was released whilst it was still being developed.

I cannot remember the date, but a search of the archives will show you this centre-fold.


  • 43.
  • At 05:28 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • m wrote:

decommission both the missiles and the submarines and let's make friends with iran and north korea. before anyone calls me naive, i have a lifelong interest in military history (weapons systems and politics) and am a politics graduate. it's the only way forward for a civilised society if it is to remain that way.

  • 44.
  • At 05:29 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • Tom Amos wrote:

If Germany - a country that is wealthier and has a far more developed manufacturing base than the UK - can survive without nuclear weapons, why do we need them? And we have the advantage of being an island.

We seem to maintain an air of arrogance in the UK which we can no longer justify. We are just a comparatively small state and comparatively not that wealthy. Why do we need to spend such a large sum of money on something that we will never use? The money would be better spent on the NHS or pensions. I'm sure that if you told the pensioners that we were putting up their pension by £20 a week that the government would have their support.

Or do we really need Trident's successor because we have made so many enemies around the world?

  • 45.
  • At 05:34 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • James Segan wrote:

It would be irresponsible for Tony Blair to abandon this country's nuclear deterrent at precisely the time when potentially hostile and unstable states such as North Korea and Iran look likely to acquire them. There is far more risk that these nations will use or threaten to use nuclear weapons than there ever was from the Soviet Union. Civilised and democratic nations such as the U.K. will not achieve the peaceful world that we all want to live in by leaving themselves defenceless in the face of tyrannies.

  • 46.
  • At 05:36 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • Roger Smith wrote:

Why spend £20B "just in case" on a missile system that we can't test and will never use in anger? As if there weren't more pressing needs - like servicable ammunition for troops under fire.

I don't think it has anything to do with defence. Our seat as permanent member of the UN Security Council? Maybe, but then we can veto any attempt to remove us.

Or has the UK got itself into a position where, for reasons that we can only guess at, it has no choice in the matter. Not so much Blair's legacy - more like his death duty!

  • 47.
  • At 05:38 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • andy iddon wrote:

total waste of money and effort - we could never actually use the damned things anyway - odds on the next nuke will be a ground attack by terrorists - who are you going to launch a missile at? If we didnt have nukes, what reason would any state have to attack the UK with them? The whole nuclear thinking is past its sell-by date - it's based on the kind of thinking that was going on immediately post-WW2.

  • 48.
  • At 05:39 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • Neill wrote:

I feel that this conversation is being hi-jacked to scare monger people into speaking out against the Blair government.

These weapons are used as a deterrant, Not as an aggressive first strike weapon. They would only be used in the event of the UK coming under nuclear attack from a foreign power.

No doubt everyone will jump on the band wagon and say "but they could be used aggressively...."

I would then ask those people to find a reason why we are not all radioactive dust already given that we have lived through the cold war for 45 years with all the associated political tensions, government and regime change, invasions and wars.

The answer is simply that those making the decision are aware of the possible horrors of nuclear war and that they are not filled with enthusiasm at the prospect of seeing their loved ones brushed up in a pile of radioactive dust by soldiers in special suits.

THe deterrant is a safety measure much like a fire alarm. You never want to use it but it just might save your life. Perhaps if we discard Trident we might do away with the fire service next, or maybe the NHS??

The deterrant underpinned our freedom that ultra communist politicians wanted to take away for almost half a century. Lets keep the deterrant, and lets keep the debate going without blinkered eyes.

  • 49.
  • At 05:41 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • jeff wrote:

In the late 70's it was determined that we did not need to replace our aircraft carriers. Then the Argentines invaded the Falklands and our defence of the islands centred on aircraft carriers.

I don't have a problem with reducing the numbers of warheads but it is folly to throw away the deterrent completely when, like the aircraft carrier, it is such an asset to the nations defence.

  • 50.
  • At 05:48 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • Peter wrote:

David Hewitt wrote: "In realality the majority of the public are in favour of this proposal"

Err, where is your data to demonstrate this pal?

  • 51.
  • At 05:59 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • Simon wrote:

The threat is unknown so we had better carry on doing what we did during the cold war, (which incendentaly has ended) presumably because we know that threat, so hey, we may as well carry on defending against it (er, even though it has ended..). Great reasoning that !

And I suppose in 20 years time when the 'unknown threat' turns out to mean that the 20bn they spent on Trindent was a total waste of money and we are unable to defend ourselves from this new 'unknown threat', we can just look back and say, oh well it was unknow, how were we to know !

Absolutley unbelievable.

And I haven't even started on the point that by continuing the Nuclear Arms race you are actually creating more of a threat as more state try to get their hands on nukes to defend against us.....

...Oh and that fact that by upgrading we are in breach of the NNPT, so if we are, why can't (Name country of your choise)....

It really is a sad world in which we live.

  • 52.
  • At 06:00 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • john kersley wrote:

Blair, Brown, Browne (Des), Beckett and Reid, are likely to be the ones at the centre of the decision. 4 Scots 1 English. Give England independence and we would probably vote for a nuclear update, let Scotland be independent and they can vote against. We can then pay for it from the savings in the Scottish subsidy. Everyone's happy.

  • 53.
  • At 06:01 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • Paul wrote:

This all boils down to perceptions of risk and type of threat. The sole origin of nuclear weapons was to protect 'the state'. What possible reasons are there to be believe that the UK state is under threat? None. The fall of Communism in Europe and the ensuing democratic peace has meant that the UK 'state' is the safest it has ever been. Terrorism and the environment are the two biggest risks that we confront today. These do not constitute a threat to 'the state', but a threat to our immediate security and health. The UK's political institutions are here to stay for a long, long, long time, where as our ability to prevent environmental catastrophy and achieve immediate security from terrorists are undermined when government implies that the future of the UK state is at risk. By framing the political agenda in such terms, the real risks are sidetracked. So in reality, with nuclear weapons, who are we ACTUALLY deterring? Can someone who is gung-ho about nuclear weapons please answer this?

The naysayers are at it again, even on this page. Although Tony Blair presented a measured, calm and dignified proposal to parliament, there are many on here who can see nothing of any good in what he or his government say or do.

I've been watching the debate and it is clear that no matter how much yelling from the wings the antis do the government will win the day. Why? Two reasons - because the case is so strong AND because the Conservative party will support them.

It just makes me wonder what planet some of your commenters are living on. The very idea that we, unilaterally, should choose to remove the "ultimate insurance" (Blair) of our nuclear deterrent for following generations puts their arguments on this as on so many other issues into focus.

Please stop the nonsense about "democracy". In a democracy we assign to our governments the right to take the big decisions for us. It is schoolboy politics to think we can have a referendum on every political issue and certainly not on such as this! People would vote against the government not from informed judgement but because they are unhappy over something else - the same as they frequently do in local elections!

Widespread consultation is now in the public domain. The PM and the government have allowed more debate on this than on previous governments' nuclear debates. And a future government, if the world is a less dangerous place, or multi-lateralism is in full flow, can change its mind at any time.

For 50 years we have had an independent nuclear deterrent. We all hope it is never used. That's why it is called a deterrent.

And until we can be certain that a major nuclear threat can be discounted from others or indeed rogue states harbouring terrorists, who are we to head for the exit door?

The Prime Minister has convinced me, but then he didn't need to try too hard. I agreed in the first place.

  • 55.
  • At 06:14 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • realbean wrote:

"Eddy Canfor-Dumas wrote:
Why is it that of the 192 states in the UN, 184 judge that their security can rely on conventional weapons, and only nine - the USA, UK, Russia, France, China, Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea - insist that nuclear weapons are essential for their security?"

I think the answer is that few others can both afford the cost and have the technical resources to get nuclear weapons. This may be one reason Libya gave up its efforts.

These weapons are only a threat to a government that cares for its own people so not North Korea. They are only worth using if the alternative is national anihilation. Foreign occupation for 5 years (say France and the Nazis) or domination for 45 years (Poland and the USSR) might still be preferable.
In such circumstance which friendly nation would defend the UK? I see these weapons as a sort of insurance policy: but study the clauses carefully. Perhaps a second rate, but fully national system, would be better than one dependent on help from friends. This seems to be the French approach.

  • 56.
  • At 06:19 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • eric wrote:

The real question is does the UK really need nukes ? , Since the UK will probably never be allowed to fire nukes without Washington's consent it's really become nothing more than a means to keep the UK on the security council table and help prop up the US defence industry , Otherwise if the UK is serious with having a truelly credible deterrent it would partner with France and have a totally independent system from the US .

  • 57.
  • At 06:21 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • Tracy wrote:

Will these be classed as weapons of mass destruction? If so, we could get invaded by a middle east country. Let's face it, they'd have more grounds than we did because the world has been publicly informed. No UN security council need come looking.

  • 58.
  • At 06:32 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • Owain Antcliff wrote:

There are some things which involve such historical links and staggeringly complicated political/economical consequences - they require non-democratic solutions. Rarely, I'm quite happy this isn't being decided by left-wing "love will see us through" voters.

20 billion is small change over the lifetime of this project, and will be more than paid back in the jobs and resulting recycling of spending/tax that it will create.

With 3 new Super-Powers on the horizon, and the inevitable violence which will ensue from Global Warming and energy conflicts in 20 years time (Iraq anyone?!) it would be farcical to cut our deterent... as that is all it is. No matter how horrific it is, try convincing someone in 1918 that they would be doing it all again in 1939 - you couldn't.

  • 59.
  • At 06:44 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • F. M. Lake wrote:

One key factor that is missing here is a recognition of the duplicitous semanticity that actually underlies the British government's insistence on maintaining a strategic nuclear capability.
Recourse to the quasi-pacific term "deterrent" obscures from view the power projection motive that actually lies at the core of the desire to possess a ballistic nuclear missile force. The disingenuous shift in nomenclature of the MoD from its previous title of the War Office is another example of the smoke and mirrors erected to obscure the actual role of the British armed forces as a leverage tool in imposing British foreign policy. Trident and its replacement have very little to do with deterring a remote nuclear assault on the mainland. They have almost everything to do with the role Whitehall perceives Britain to have in the intimidation of recalcitrant states who resist Anglo-American capitalism.

  • 60.
  • At 06:47 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • Martin wrote:

We're treated like subjects, not citizens: I'd like to know the scenario that the MOD envisages requiring a British nuclear capability to be deployed in support of America's deterrent.

Please notice I did not say British nuclear deterrent. There is no such thing. We cannot launch Trident without America's permission - the system depends on an American satellite guidance system over which Britain has no control. Therefore, there IS no independent DETERRENT, even with Trident - and it is inconceivable that America would allow Britain to launch Trident unless it was itself launching nuclear missiles. To do otherwise would be to make itself a target of OUR enemy's nuclear weapons by allying itself to OUR nuclear strike at a time it was not itself already committed to (and involved in) nuclear war. So an INDEPENDENT BRITISH DETERRENT is simply not credible. Our role is simply to fund an additional American nuclear deterrent/capability.

When can we stop being the poodle?

By the way, is this the only place I can debate our potential participation in an illegal and immoral nuclear strike by America? At what point does it become my moral (and legal) duty to break the law to prevent such a war crime?

  • 61.
  • At 06:52 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • Anonymous wrote:

What's the point in spending the £15-20Bn on hospitals and schoools (instead of updating the submarines) if Kim Jong-Il just comes along and nucs the lot in 10 years time?

Also, what about when the Iranians decide it's "good business" to sell nuclear warhead and rocket technology to Osama? Yes people, the "Bin Laden" is still out there, and he's loaded £££. I'm sure the results of this scenario would make 9/11 seem like a bloody nose.

Of course both these guys find it much easier to do this because we would have decided to get rid of our deployable nuclear deterrant - i.e. no comeback on them.

Oh, and don't think the Americans and/or Chinese would be up for a nuc fight. They won't.

  • 62.
  • At 07:03 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • JR wrote:

So many in Britain think that the Trident missile is the only American component; wrong! Trident is a complete system. Although you are allowed to construct the submarines and the warheads in Britain they are done with American Technology and a comprehensive American presence in your country at Aldermaston etc. Your government does not give you all the facts because as usual they want you to think it is an independent British nuclear deterrent, based primarily on British technology.

  • 63.
  • At 07:18 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • Paul Hanson wrote:

What surprises me, is that anyone should be surprised by this state of affairs.

This is the world according to Tony Blair. We don't matter, nor do our opinions.

The poodle has so debased political debate in this country by his past actions, that there cannot be a sensible discussion whilst he remains in charge.
Unfortunately, by their unquestioning following of him, none of the present governement are qualified to decide upon this matter either.
Is the upgrading of Trident to be another legacy that the poodle leaves us with?
This matter should be decided by a public referendum only. Politicans, by their past actions, are not to be trusted with such an important matter.

  • 65.
  • At 07:46 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • Jerry L. White wrote:

Since the announcement and construction of the US Virginia class to eventually replace the Ohio boats, and the announcement from Putin that they were "reluctantly" embarking upon updating their nuclear fleet, this was inevitable I believe. I would also add that most likely few people if anyone at all truly know what China or North Korea are doing in this regard.

  • 66.
  • At 07:50 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • Paul wrote:

First of all, since when does any politician ask the public what it wants, it doesn't. The government thinks because we voted them in then we will just nod our heads and agree with what they say because 'they know better' Do we know for sure that the public isn't against the idea, same for most other views, it is assumed that we don't know what is good for us therefore we're not capable of having a view on the issue because 'the public are not experts' So where are the politicians we voted in? Do they ask the public our views on the important issues such as this other than just before the elections? Voting in parliament has become a voting game, on the nuclear subject, it was clearly said that they were confident enough to win the vote to bring it in as the conservatives agreed with them on this. Have the conservatives asked the public that voted them in? Where is the democracy then if we are not being given chance to help shape decision making in this country other than to vote a party in and hope that they will stick to what they promise or do the right thing on issues that were never discussed prior to elections. If the government was doing its job properly it would be getting opinion polls done on important issues and topics such as this instead of 'who is likely to win the next election' type polls. We need to find our voice again, and its about time we was heard.

  • 67.
  • At 07:50 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • Nick Thornsby wrote:

Is it any wonder that people are becoming increasing dissillusioned with poltics when we have a group of MP's that are drowning so much in their own importance that they feel it is necessary to spend tens of billions of pounds on something which they went to war to prevent another country having and are telling North Korea they can't have any and then they go the whole hog and want to throw away even more hard earned public money with a 66% pay rise. This govt is increasingly becoming the height of hypocricy and I despair when I hear of these kind of situations. The amazing Mrs Pritchard situation looks ever more appealing- I simply can't express in words the amount of anger I feel towards politicians in this situation- and it is not just the govt- 'call me dave' is just as bad- since when did the official opposition stop being the official opposition?!!!

Do you not feel the despair that the majority of the public are increasingly doing Nick or does your superior knowledge of the situations allow you to overcome this??!!!!!

  • 68.
  • At 08:06 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • Robert Willmott wrote:

A deterrant maintained, not only on behalf of the United Kingdom, but of all members of the Commonwealth of Nations, makes sense to me. What doesn't make sense to me is the fact that the Prime Minister is determined to continue to act as our sovereign until he's presumably dragged kicking and screaming from Downing Street. It also concerns me that once again a massive defense contract may be shipped out to the lowest bidder - rather than paying British builders to do a decent job; sometimes you do indeed get what you pay for.

  • 69.
  • At 08:11 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • dougal chestnutt wrote:


How is it ok for us to protect ourselves with a Nuclear deterrent yet wrong for North Korea or Iran to want to do the same?

  • 70.
  • At 08:27 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • mike murphy wrote:

America calls the tune, Britain pays the piper. Tell us something new.
Trident is the petard on which successive UK governments have been hoisted.
The latest charade which is being played out says it all about this lying, hypocritical, bullying bunch of incompetent,grovelling,self-pitying misfits that call themselves a 'government'.
Disorder, public poverty and sleaze follow a Labour government as surely as night follows day. Always has. always will.
The awfulness of it is the pitiful state of HM(Don't make me larf) Opposition.

  • 71.
  • At 08:27 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • Chris Vallis wrote:

The complexity of the nuclear deterrent debate thus far seems to have overlooked a basic consideration towards the future political game.

Assuming future circumstance favors that Britain possess a nuclear deterrent, what are the ramifications in pursuing it THEN?

Britain will never have the opportunity to pursue a nuclear deterrent with as little international consequence than now.

So long as you end up with fewer nuclear weapons than before, you can always call it an arms reduction!

  • 72.
  • At 08:40 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • James thoams wrote:

It seems to me that this is a total waste of money. I don't understand what purpose thiis government could have to bolster its nuclear stock. If other nations like Spain and Germany etc don't need them than why do we? I guess it's because other nations are relying on us to protect them aswell? But will this be a deterrent or will it just raise the stakes of the poker game? My view is we should totally disarm . If someone fires a nuclear missile at us , could it be stopped? If not then were all dead anyway.

  • 73.
  • At 09:05 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • D C Wilkinson wrote:

Nick, it is essential that all of these deliberations are as transparent as possible, and given the widest possible publicity. Please use your (undoubted) influence with the BBC's editors to ensure these matters are at the top of every news bulletin so us poor voters can form a view of how the decision process works - especially highlighting how the pro's and con's of the argument have been discussed. If indeed they have; or have they just been presented to us as a 'done deal' (Mrs Becket on BBC Radio 4 PM programme this evening). Or, are the cogitations of the cabinet not suitable for the great unwashed?

  • 74.
  • At 09:25 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • Martin Hopkins wrote:

If Blair and his cronies think that nuclear weapons are a deterrent they are missguided! Any country or person determined to attack our British Isles will attack anyway, what ever the arsenal of weapons we have available.
What good use can we put a nuclear warhead to if our attacker puts a few simple homemade bombs under two or three selected 400kv pylons?
The whole country would be paralysed.
The money Government will waste on this new deterrent would be better spent on newer surveilance systems and better protecting the country from the unwanteds who slip through our security nets.

  • 75.
  • At 09:58 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • Frank wrote:

Ha!Never mind debating whether to replace trident or not(it's obvious that it's going to get replaced even if the entire population of England were to protest in the streets agaisnt it) if Blair really wants to give the UK a strong deterrent against foreign threats than rather than spending 20bn on "weapons of mass destructions" wouldn't that money be better spent on giving our troops better equipment(modern helicopters,weapons that don't jam and perhaps even protective vests, helmets and boots).At least we know that money would be put to good use immediately.And it's the least we could do for our brave boys involved in these stupid wars.

  • 76.
  • At 10:25 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • roughampark wrote:

On this very same BBC News page, You are asked to vote - 64.20% in favour of a replacement.

Now this is the BBC allowing a vote !

Those who vote always seem to be the silent majority.

  • 77.
  • At 11:24 PM on 04 Dec 2006,
  • Danhopeless wrote:

You can't nuke climate change. Or suicide bombers.

  • 78.
  • At 12:49 AM on 05 Dec 2006,
  • James Murray (Oxford) wrote:

Britain can really hope for one of two outcomes.

1/ We maintain a minimum nuclear deterance in case the some screaming weirdo foreign leader decides we should be ended.

2/ We repudiate nuclear arms and disband our armed forces, to show others how it could be done. Then we hope that our friends stop any foes walking on our heads.

This debate is a bit silly really. We have as much chance of repudiating cuclear technology as we have of outlawing the AK47.

Focus on reality please..

  • 79.
  • At 01:33 AM on 05 Dec 2006,
  • Dominic McDonough wrote:

This nation needs an active deterrent. In an increasingly mad world surely now more than ever we need the weapons to deter rogue states. North Korea, Iran etc. People should be moaning about the £198 billion a year that is wasted on social security rather than moaning about £25 billion which is being invested to protect our country and enable it to remain a world player.A good buy mr blair just upgrade the rest of the navy which youve wrecked while your at it and il be a happy bunny.

  • 80.
  • At 01:39 AM on 05 Dec 2006,
  • Phil wrote:

What interests me is that no-one points out the abstractness of Britain's "nuclear deterrent". Compared to the USA and Russia, Britain's nuclear arsenal is pittance, we might as well rely on US security guarantees. Nevertheless, the lack of democratic involvement in the decision-making process is well highlighted, thanks.

  • 81.
  • At 02:22 AM on 05 Dec 2006,
  • Kevin Ritch wrote:

Spend billions on nukes instead of the aged and the homeless?

Let's not and say we did.

  • 82.
  • At 02:43 AM on 05 Dec 2006,
  • Peter Barber wrote:

Re. Martin Mathias' comment:

Of course Cabinet ministers will have discussed Trident replacement before today (alright, yesterday now). and I doubt anyone but the crankiest cynic believes that they haven't, and nowhere does Nick Robinson suggest that.

However, the Cabinet did meet to discuss replacement of Trident, unless NR and dozens of reporters all got that wrong. Given that the White Paper was ready for reading 60 minutes after the meeting concluded, it must have been written beforehand.

Therefore, the meeting was most probably either a recapitulation of the content of the White Paper for ministers, or a briefing on how to deal with particular questions from the press (or both) - or about something entirely unrelated to Trident. Whichever it was, it would have cost the Government nothing to say so, and forestall the suspicions of NR and other reporters.

Many current Labour MPs have historically advocated nuclear disarmament, including present and former ministers. Hence a justifiable suspicion that the apparent Cabinet unanimity in favour of replacing Trident is actually Blair and friends stifling dissent. One can be in favour of replacing Trident and still decry yet another example of Blair's presidential style.

  • 83.
  • At 08:22 AM on 05 Dec 2006,
  • ken from Glos wrote:

Just read Polly Toynbee in The Guardian (free on line so you dont have to pay apenny for it) and you will see this is all about His Legacy and looking like a member of the Tory Party.!!

Labour are too scared about their old legacy and 'Ban The Bomb' Its that simple.

  • 84.
  • At 11:09 AM on 05 Dec 2006,
  • David Lee wrote:

The cold war has gone? China will be the superpower of the 21st century and I'm not sure we entirely agree with their views on running the planet?! And don't forget the last european gas and oil will be Russian. We will need some global projection for the forseeable future!

  • 85.
  • At 12:34 PM on 05 Dec 2006,
  • Steve wrote:

The nuclear deterrant comes down to the simple question - 'does an agressor believe that you would respond to an attack with the nuclear option?'.

If the answer is yes its a deterrant to that threat. If the answer is yes but we will attack anyway its useless, if the answers no its useless.

This is independent of the question 'would TB (or whoever is in charge) respond to an attack with the nuclear option?' to which the answer is almost certianly no.

Thus it all boils down to whether nuclear weapons are a deterrant or not. ITs a waste of money as a weapon, but it does secure alot of jobs, US goodwill and membership of the nuclear club.

Why don't the Government ever do the right thing and spend that money on the rubbish transit system I have to use everyday? The old clishe is right, they can always find money for war and this is what is going to happen here. Just invest the money in hospitals and schools and put it to better use. We don't need a re-newed tridant system which will just go to waste anyway. We don't need such force, and it is too dangerous to have nukes nowadays when terrorists can get hold of them!

  • 87.
  • At 01:31 PM on 05 Dec 2006,
  • Nick wrote:

People must be naive if they thought that this process would be democratically accountable (I think some people would be so naive as to suggest that the process should have involved public exhibitions in their local parish hall!).

Personally, I disagree with people like CND - no one is going to give up their existing nukes or plans to develop nukes if we give up ours - anyone who suggests that is hiddeously out of touch with the reality of international relations and human nature. Unless the world magically came together and everyone rejected nukes (i.e. scrapping their existing or planned programmes), then fair enough - but that will never happen!

No, this issue is only relevant in terms of Britain's standing in the world - we pay £25b for a seat at the top table, nothing more and nothing less. Militarily, there should hopefully never be a need to use them. They won't be a deterrent to countries wanting their own nukes, but they are a deterrent in a dispute between two nuke powers (i.e. Cold War, India and Pakistan). If we could turn back the clock and 'de-invent' nukes, then wonderful. But that isn't going to happen, and we should just face up to the fact that we may as well have them as they are not going away.

  • 88.
  • At 04:34 PM on 05 Dec 2006,
  • billy wrote:

At 11:24 PM on 04 Dec 2006,

Danhopeless wrote:
You can't nuke climate change. Or suicide bombers.

Maybe not the first but you certainly can the second.

  • 89.
  • At 10:37 PM on 05 Dec 2006,
  • Robbo wrote:

I'm glad you've at least touched on this subject today Nick. In the meantime you and the Beeb seem to have joined in a cynical new Labour bashing campaign on David Cameron. The style and tone of your piece on the 10 oclock news was one of the most breathtakingly cynical pieces of political reporting i have ever seen. The cartoons and the jokey style were derisable for mainstream public service broadcaster. It makes me long for the days of Andrew Marr. One of these days Nick you are going to come within reach of a great big clunking fist of a political editor and you will be carried out of the bbc on your feet - whatever that diamond of political commentary means...

To those decrying Blair's call for the nuclear option, remember this: the first responsibility of government is to protect its people.

Social care, health, education, industry and jobs all follow that protection. Not vice-versa!

Thank your government FOR ONCE for seeing the bigger picture!

Or if you can't bring yourself to thank the government, just leave the judgement of the nuclear option to the next generation. And that means retaining and upgrading.

Perhaps our children and grandchildren will see things more clearly than some here who seem to view everything through the haze and bitterness of their views on Iraq.

  • 91.
  • At 08:59 AM on 06 Dec 2006,
  • Michele wrote:

What independent nuclear deterrent? We have to ask the Americans first if we can use it.

  • 92.
  • At 01:24 PM on 06 Dec 2006,
  • Adam wrote:

I would be utterly outraged by this if it weren't for the fact I realised years ago that we don't actually live in a democracy any more.

I guess Blair realises that he can do what he like when it comes to pointless and dangerous warmongering, because he's safe in the knowledge that whatever his own party thinks, the Tories will support him.

  • 93.
  • At 03:42 PM on 06 Dec 2006,
  • stephanie wrote:

Re: comment 52-Oh goody, then you can locate Trident somewhere in England instead of 5 miles across the water from me! As for open discussion, why was this topic not allowed to be debated at the Labour Party conference?

  • 94.
  • At 09:58 PM on 06 Dec 2006,
  • Ragnar wrote:

As with all major decissions, "democracy" is only a process by which the let us THINK we have a say in what they are going to do any way.

They want a nuclear power station at Lime Street station (Liverpool)? They want to build a coal mine in your back garden? Extend an airport through your front room?

You can bet your bottom dollar, that THAT is EXACTLY what will happen.

It does not matter HOW many public enquiries (at OUR expense) they "allow" us to attend, or HOW many signatures you get on a petition. The Government want it? YOU will have miners tramping through your kitchen next week.

"democracy" PLEASE, DON'T make me laugh.

  • 95.
  • At 01:24 PM on 07 Dec 2006,
  • George Duttong wrote:

"Nuclear theory" = Nuclear madness.

Robbo wrote to Nick:

"It makes me long for the days of Andrew Marr. One of these days Nick you are going to come within reach of a great big clunking fist of a political editor and you will be carried out of the bbc on your feet - whatever that diamond of political commentary means..."

You're changing the subject, Robbo, but since you are, can I take the opportunity to correct your quote of Blair? The PM actually said to the slumped-down-in-his seat Cameron:

"..he'll be out on his feet, carried out of the ring, the fifth Tory leader to be carried out..."

Inspirational! Almost makes me wish I was a Labour supporter ;0)

And here's the link to watch the Maestro in action.

  • 97.
  • At 08:22 PM on 12 Dec 2006,
  • Mark wrote:

Since Britain is America's poodle, I think a Congressional committee should be set up to study the matter and make a recommendation to President Bush. When we reach a consensus, we'll just jerk Britain's leash and they will bark to our tune. The American patriot Thomas Payne said in his pamphlet "Common Sense" that it was illogical for an island to rule a continent. He never said anything about the inverse. We'll let you know once we've decided.

  • 98.
  • At 03:13 PM on 14 Dec 2006,
  • Bryan Dawson wrote:

In all of the time that Britain has had a nuclear capability of any sort, we have never had a government with the political will to use it. Our potential enemies know this, so a nuclear force is not any form of deterrent.
If it's a case of keeping UK jobs alive, spend the money on something we are actually going to use.

  • 99.
  • At 04:59 PM on 14 Dec 2006,
  • Peter Hayward wrote:

Don't expect a 'democratic' decision on this because we don't have a fair democracy. We have a 'delegated democracy' where large decisions are delegated to leaders of groups, without direct reference to the people they represent. I think large decisions like Trident should only be made by referendum. The consequences of the Trident decision are world wide - international deterrence or provocation (effective or not), diversion of efforts for a fairer world, diversion of funds for direct use in public services. This decision is too important for a few delegates to take on their own.

  • 100.
  • At 10:38 PM on 19 Dec 2006,
  • nick wrote:

i believe that our nuculier deterent should be replaced, as it plays a key role in defence but also to show the world that briton can and has the meens to produce advanced wepons and to show that it is not a small insignificant nation but one to be taken seriusly

  • 101.
  • At 12:09 PM on 01 Mar 2007,
  • Bob wrote:

We still have not learned from the last big conflict. Scrapping nuclear weapons means returning to the Neville Chamberlain era when he tried and failed to negotiate with a tyrant from a misguided idea that it could be stopped by talk alone. What will happen when the nations trying hard to get nuclear weapons if we scrap ours. Negotiate with a ballon on a stick is about all we will be left with.

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