Trident: what you need to know

As a weapons system designed for the Cold War, the case for Trident is non-existent in 2020.

Nuclear weapons are wrong – strategically, morally and financially. Yet, despite long-standing SNP opposition, Westminster has written a blank cheque to base another generation of nuclear weapons in Scotland’s waters.

Here’s what you need to know about Trident renewal.

1) Scotland opposes Trident renewal.

Nuclear weapons have been based in the Clyde for over half a century. This is despite the opposition of the people of Scotland, civil society, the STUC, Scotland’s churches, the Scottish Parliament and most of Scotland’s MPs.

In 2016, 58 of Scotland’s 59 MPs voted against the decision to renew the Trident nuclear weapons system.

A poll from Survation found that, excluding people who don’t know, 56% of people in Scotland oppose the renewal of Trident – and according to YouGov, the majority of Scots think the Scottish Government, rather than the UK government, should have the final say over Trident.

2) Trident is financially unjustifiable.

The Tory Chairman of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, Crispin Blunt, has calculated the total cost of the next generation of Trident at £179 billion over its lifetime. CND have estimated that the cost may even be as high as £205 billion.

In times of imposed austerity, this money could be far more effectively used on improving healthcare, education and building a better future for our children, as well as investing in conventional armed forces.

3) At the same time, the UK Government has cut defence jobs in Scotland – year after year.

The Ministry of Defence’s own jobs figures show that while the Tories have been preparing billions of pounds for Trident renewal, defence personnel in Scotland has been cut by 3,300 – that’s an 18.7% reduction.

And, if we go back further to 2000, 10,170 jobs have been cut in Scotland, with an overall reduction of 41%, compared to 28% across the UK.

4) Trident doesn’t address modern threats.

The biggest threats we face won’t be deterred by new nuclear weapons. Security threats like terrorism, cyber-attacks and the climate emergency are not, and can never be, addressed by Trident.

The gaps that need to be addressed are in areas such as maritime patrol, in ships and aircraft to patrol our waters, as well as conventional defence personnel and equipment. These gaps have emerged as a result of under-investment and cuts by successive UK governments.

5) Possession of nuclear weapons is the exception, not the rule.

It is the norm in today’s world to be nuclear-free. Of all the countries in the world, just nine possessed nuclear weapons at the start of 2020.

UN member states have voted overwhelmingly to begin negotiations on a treaty to ban nuclear weapons. In a vote in the UN Disarmament and International Security Committee, 123 nations voted in favour – with just 38 opposing and 16 abstaining.

6) With independence, we can get rid of Trident in Scotland

Independence will give us the power to remove nuclear weapons from Scotland, and being free to make different decisions than Westminster can save hundreds of millions of pounds – money that can deliver direct benefits for the people of Scotland.

We want to see a world free from nuclear weapons, and an independent Scotland will be a principled advocate on the global stage.