Letter sent to The Guardian:
I am very pleased Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has opened a wide-ranging debate in the Labour Party over nuclear WMDs, andI share his opposition to these deadly weapons. But I think he is misguided in proposing going ahead with building the missile-carrying nuclear-powered submarines as replacement for Trident, but deploying them without any arms. (“Corbyn proposes third way on Trident,” 18 January; http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/jan/17/labours-defence-policy-review-given-third-option-for-trident-stance)
This would be a massively expensive make-work programme for the existing and future workforces at Barrow shipyard, and the manufacturing supply chain, serving no purpose other than appeasing his trades union backers, who themselves, after decades resisting defence diversification, ought now to wake up to its merits for their members.
Your security expert Richard Norton-Taylor is correct to point out the ship-building expertise of the Barrow workforce could be much better deployed in building surface ships and perhaps conventionally powered -and-armed submarines.
In my personal submission to the Government’s Defence and Security Review last year, I argued the main security threat facing the UK this century will come from climate change-enforced mass migrations of populations from regions hotting-up and chronically losing water supplies.
I proposed building dual-purpose surface ships for the Royal Navy, to permit evacuations, medical care and emergency aid to these stricken populations, or else face a growing refugee threat that makes the current one from Syria and Libya look like a tea party.
Also, shadow defence secretary Emily Thornberry is totally misinformed if she thinks Japan has the capability to build and deploy a nuclear weapon. (same report, 18 Jan) As a lawyer, she should be aware Japan has a constitutional prohibition against owning, development or deployment of nuclear weapons.
Additionally, Japan has never tested a nuclear weapon, and could not deploy one untested, however smart the designers- in- the- basement.
I think Mr Corbyn should take encouragement from Labour’s election-winning 1964 manifesto, the New Britain, which asserted
“We are against the development of national nuclear deterrents.”
So am I.