Owen Smith's failed pitch to the Labour selectorate was basically "Corbynism with bonus weapons of mass destruction", so the people who voted for Jeremy Corbyn may now want to ask for a refund, because it looks like Corbynism plus Trident is exactly what they're going to get anyway. A few months ago, I defended Corbyn when he was met with affected bewilderment over his statement (which was really an affirmation of the bleedin' obvious) that he would never authorise the use of nuclear weapons as Prime Minister. "This buffoon doesn't understand that a nuclear deterrent is already defunct without the credible threat of its use!" was the cry. The reality, of course, is that -
a) undermining the nuclear "deterrent" is kind of the object of the exercise for any lifelong opponent of nuclear weapons,
b) Trident is not, unfortunately, rendered useless simply by one Prime Minister at one particular moment at time saying that he would not fire the missiles. Unless he actually disarms, the weapons are still there in working order for his successor to use after he departs the stage.
So Corbyn's position was perfectly logical and consistent, but I suspect it's going to be much harder to justify now that Labour's collective stance is apparently that "we must get behind" a weapons system that their leader considers to be abhorrent and unusable. In view of which, let me make a modest suggestion.
We all know that the 'deterrent' theory is utter garbage anyway - does anyone seriously think that Switzerland is more at risk than we are of nuclear annihilation over the next twenty years because it doesn't have a 'deterrent' and we do? If anything, the reverse is true. But just for the sake of argument, let's look at the issue from the perspective of someone who truly believes that we are somehow being kept safe by a deterrent effect. That person would surely have to acknowledge that, like it or not, the deterrent would indeed temporarily cease to exist for the duration of a hypothetical Corbyn premiership. Corbyn would never authorise the use of nuclear weapons. He would ensure that his named 'second person' is someone who would never authorise the use of nuclear weapons. His handwritten 'letters of last resort', to be opened by Trident submarine commanders in the event of the government being wiped out, will order that nuclear weapons should never be used. What's more, any theoretical enemy of the UK will know all of these facts to be true. That ensures there will be no deterrent whatsoever from the moment Corbyn takes office until the moment he resigns, and yet Labour are currently proposing to waste huge amounts of money by having the non-deterrent redundantly at sea during the whole of that period, for every hour of every day of every week.
So why not simply pledge to take Trident out of operation (apart maybe from the odd training exercise) for the duration of Corbyn's tenure as PM, and save the fabled "hardworking families" of this country a lot of cash? What exactly would we be losing? Perhaps Owen Smith can explain.
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Fanciful notion though it may seem, I genuinely went to a "separatist dinner" earlier tonight in Glasgow. I think the common factor linking the people who were invited is that they are all active on Twitter, so I was kind of an odd one out, because I'm not really a heavy Twitter user (leaving aside the odd epic slanging-match with Duncan Hothersall and Neil "Alligators" Lovatt, naturally). But I did know a few of the people there. Not a huge amount to report from the evening, although my jaw dropped a tad when I learned that a prolific nationalist Twitter user who I had always assumed (with a certain amount of justification) to be a man is actually a female of the species. And for the first half of dinner I was sitting next to Katie McGarvey, who brandished a flick-knife and then flung a large quantity of alcohol onto my trousers. I'm sure you get the picture. (Actually, the weapon came with dinner, and she apologised profusely for accidentally knocking over her drink.)