Senior military figure demands Trident re-think


The Defence Select Committee at Westminster has published its report into deterrence in the twenty-first century. As part of the evidence the committee heard from General (ret.) Sir Hugh Beach, who served as Deputy Commander-in-Chief UK Land Forces and Master-General of the Ordnance. From that extremely well informed position he told the committee of his deep concerns about the utility of renewing the Trident nuclear weapons programme, and has piled more pressure on Defence Secretary Philip Hammond who continues to cut the defence budget whilst still piling huge resources into weapons of mass destruction.


Commenting on the evidence of General Sir Hugh Beach, Angus Robertson MP,

SNP Leader at Westminster and defence spokesperson, said:


‘’This is yet more authoritative evidence that Trident is a totally redundant, useless weapon. General Sir Hugh Beach’s welcome evidence adds to the growing clamour of hugely experienced and knowledgeable voices who are urging a complete rethink about renewing Trident. When he says he cannot demonstrate a ‘single direct benefit to Britain from her past possession of nuclear weapons’ and that any future decision to renew would be based on a ‘notion’ of a most unlikely set of circumstances – he should  be heeded. So far, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond has refused to listen to any reasoned thinking and is determined to plough ahead and to spend  up to £100  billion pounds on these weapons of mass destruction.


“Sir Hugh warns about that massive cost at a time when defence budgets are ’under exceptional strain’ with cuts being made ‘all round’.  If Philip Hammond gets his way the new generation of Trident will be dumped on the Clyde just an hour from our biggest population centre – an immoral, useless and enormously expensive weapon of mass destruction.  Sir Hugh also points to a number of episodes where UK possession of nuclear weapons has not deterred at all and that we must no longer be ‘trapped in misleading and irrelevant 1980s rhetoric’.


“Sir Hugh’s evidence comes hot on the heels of the recent Nuclear Education Trust report on Trident, which threw a huge spanner in the works as expert after expert concluded that there is ‘no current or foreseeable threat and no military use for nuclear weapons'. In addition, that report questions the legality of Trident renewal plans – and demands that nuclear weapons must be included in the next UK Strategic Defence and Security Review. That report took evidence from senior politicians and military figures such as former Defence Secretaries Sir Malcolm Rifkind and Lord Des Browne; as well as General Sir Mike Jackson, former Chief of the Defence Staff; and Admiral Lord West. Still Philip Hammond refuses to pay any attention to the growing expert evidence against Trident’s renewal, and carries on regardless.


“Westminster simply refuses to abandon Trident. That is clear, whoever is in power. Scotland is saddled with it for the next fifty years if we vote No. But a Yes vote might help to hasten its demise altogether, as well as removing it from Scotland. The churches, the trades unions, civic society and a majority of all Scotland’s elected representatives want rid of it. There is absolutely no justification for continuing with this nuclear madness – and General Sir Hugh Beach’s evidence adds more weight to campaign against renewing it. What is clear is that the only way to stop renewal of Trident in its tracks is a Yes vote. Only with independence can we be sure we rid Scotland of Westminster’s nuclear arsenal – once and for all.’’


General Sir Hugh Beach’s evidence can be read here


General Sir Hugh Beach’s biog :


The  Nuclear Education Trust : Independent Survey and Inquiry findings --


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