THE BLOG

Standing Up Against a Colossal Waste of £100bn on Trident Replacement

31/03/2013 19:15 BST | Updated 31/05/2013 10:12 BST

What are nuclear weapons? Cold War relics? Necessary evils? Indiscriminate bombs? The ultimate insurance policy? The answer of course depends on your personal outlook.

But here's another way of putting it: for the UK, nuclear weapons are over £100billion of taxpayers' money.

With that money we could:

• student scrap tuition fees for the next 30 years,

• or fully fund all A&E services in hospitals for 40 years,

• or quadruple our annual investment in renewable energies

• or employ 150,000 new nurses and teaches every year for over 30 years...

If want some more ideas, have a look here.

A majority of the British public would rather see this money spent on some of the alternatives above. That's why we're protesting at the Atomic Weapons Establishment in Aldermaston this Easter Monday - April Fools' Day - to say "stop fooling with nuclear weapons".

But for those who believe in the security or military efficacy of nuclear weapons, I understand that economic arguments alone (or humanitarian ones) won't stand up. That is why a serious look at the strategic uses of a 'successor' to the Trident nuclear weapons system is essential.

Fortunately, there are many experienced military and political figures who can tell us exactly what the uses are: nil.

Former Conservative defence secretary Michael Portillo has described Trident as "completely past its sell-by date" because it is "neither independent - because we couldn't possibly use it without the Americans" nor is it "any sort of deterrent" due to the kinds of threat we face. He concluded that any plans to replace it would be "entirely for reasons of national prestige" and, worse than that, would be "proliferatory" and a "tremendous waste of money".

Senior military figures, including the former head of the British Armed Forces, agree, describing our nuclear weapons as "completely useless" and "virtually irrelevant, except in the context of domestic politics".

Opposition to ploughing more than £100bn into something we just don't need is growing across the political spectrum, with Labour and the Liberal Democrats both open to alternatives to like-for-like replacement of Trident - and senior Conservatives now openly questioning the rationale for replacement.

With a parliamentary decision not due until 2016, now is the time for the public to make clear its refusal to waste these colossal sums on a Cold War weapon.

That's what we're doing this Easter Monday - April Fools' Day - as we join thousands of others in protesting at the Atomic Weapons Establishment in Aldermaston to say 'Time to scrap Trident: stop fooling with nuclear weapons.'