Trident: 8 things you need to know

As a weapons system designed for the Cold War, the case for Trident is non-existent in 2021.

Nuclear weapons are wrong – strategically, morally and financially.

Yet, despite long-standing SNP opposition, the UK government has written a blank cheque to base another generation of nuclear weapons in the Clyde – with Labour enthusiastically giving its backing.

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

1) Despite signing the non-proliferation treaty, the UK is increasing its nuclear weapons stockpile

The UK government has announced it is raising the cap on the number of weapons of mass destruction it can stockpile by more than 40%.

In an act of staggering hypocrisy, the UK government has signed up to the international treaty on non-proliferation – but have now trampled over it by increasing the number of nukes even further.

2) 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.

3) And yet, Labour is ramping up its “non-negotiable” support for nukes

Labour’s shadow defence secretary has stepped up the party’s support for Trident, declaring their support “non-negotiable” and “unshakeable” in a recent speech.

Instead of properly investing in a COVID recovery and building a fairer economy, Keir Starmer’s Labour is happy to spend hundreds of billions of pounds on weapons of mass destruction.

And as the Tories and Labour increasingly sing from the same hymn sheet on this and many other issues – it’s becoming clearer by the day that Westminster simply isn’t working for Scotland.

4) Trident is financially unjustifiable

The Commons Foreign Affairs Committee 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.

During a pandemic and continuing Tory 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.

5) 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.

Scotland has been disproportionately hit by these cuts. Looking back further to 2000, 10,170 jobs have been cut in Scotland – an overall reduction of 41%, compared to 28% across the UK.

6) 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.

7) 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 2021.

What’s more, nuclear weapons are actually now banned under international law.

The legally binding UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons has come into effect in early 2021, aiming to ban nuclear weapons with a goal of their total elimination.

8) 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 from Westminster can save billions 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 for nuclear disarmament on the global stage.