So it's cuts across the board - except for Trident

Posted by jossc — 23 June 2010 at 12:37pm - Comments

While George Osborne was busy launching the most swingeing budget cuts in a generation yesterday, he went out of his way to stress that he was being "tough but fair" – and that the pain of his austerity measures would be shared by everyone.

But hey - apparently companies involved in nuclear arms building wont be sharing the pain. This was made clear by new Defence Secretary Liam Fox when he presented his plans for a Strategic Security and Defence Review (SDSR) to parliament.

MPs repeatedly asked him whether one of the most expensive decisions facing the MoD - proposals to replace the Trident nuclear weapons system - is part of the review.

The answer was no. But wait, it's okay because there is a 'value for money' review being done. Fine, except that we're not allowed to know who gets to provide input to this review, what questions it's asking, or even when it's happening. Fox declined to answer any of these questions, apart from saying it would all be done and dusted by the end of July.

It was left to Lib-Dem Nick Harvey, now Armed Forces Minister, to fill in the gaps. He told MPs that "I have to stress that it is not a review in which we look at all the possible alternative ways in which we might provide a successor, and see which works out the cheapest."

Hmmm – is this Nick "Britain should not be committing to the renewal of an outdated, cold war nuclear deterrent" Harvey speaking?

His fellow Lib-Dem Sir Ming Campbell commented: "I do not see how one can have a value-for-money assessment unless one considers what alternatives are available." Agreed - if you shave a few million off a project you never needed in the first place, how can that be 'value for money'?

So it seems that Mr Osborne's position is that 'the economic situation is dire, in fact it's much worse than I thought it was - but it's still not bad enough to even re-consider Trident replacement.'

Which begs the question: How bad do things have to get before a £97bn cold war doomsday machine (which many senior military figures agree has no practical value to our armed forces) is fundamentally reconsidered in the same way as every other state-funded project?

About Joss

Bass player and backing vox in the four piece beat combo that is the UK Greenpeace Web Experience. In my 6 years here I've worked on almost every campaign and been fascinated by them all to varying degrees. Just now I'm working on Peace and Oceans - which means getting rid of our Trident nuclear weapons system and creating large marine reserves so that marine life can get some protection from overfishing.

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