They say Warfare, we say Welfare – Scrap the Trident Bloc Imagines all the people living life in peace

Article published: Wednesday, October 7th 2015

The symbolic and universal Peace sign was flown high and proud through the sniper-chaperoned streets of Manchester as hundreds of thousands of concerned UK citizens descended upon Oxford Road to oppose the Tory Party’s austerity measures.

The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) bloc arrived with hundreds of supporters to send a clear message of defiance to the Government’s nuclear weapons programme – Trident. With ‘Scrap THE Trident’ placards spread all across the crowd, chants of ‘We want welfare not warfare’ filled the air demonstrating how the CND’s popularity has not diminished since its establishment in 1957.

“It very clear we are going in the wrong direction with this. It is an 80’s technology that never delivered,” said a Yorkshire CND member.

Trident is described as an ‘operational system of 4 Vanguard-class submarines armed with D-5 ballistic missiles able to deliver thermonuclear warheads’ and is well known as the UK’s most expensive military programme. According to the Ministry of Defence, the annual operating cost of the Trident Programme is around £2.4 billion, but the CND estimate that the renewal of the Trident programme will cost around £100 billion. A figure that does not sit well with the anti-austerity protesters.

“Trident is run by America, not by UK. Let’s not kid ourselves on here,” said one anonymous protester. “If we can’t use Trident then how is it a deterrent? How best can we spend £100 billion?”

Matt from the Yorkshire CND division insists that the money could be reallocated in hundreds of different ways and the discussion of what the money could be spent on needs to be met. “We don’t want to walk into spending 100 billion pounds on something which we’ll never use and something that we can’t ever use,” he said. “Renewable energy systems, tidal barrages, a whole range of things are future growth industries, which of course, we are hoping nuclear weapons never will be.”

There is a clear concern amongst the hundreds of thousands of anti-austerity protesters that the renewal of the Trident programme is in no way a priority for the UK’s spending at a time when the country’s most vulnerable are suffering due to Tory cuts. Kate Hudson, General Secretary for the CND stated: “The first priority for the money is the NHS – that is very popular with our members and supporters, and no cuts to education – we have a big student support building up. They don’t want their education going into bombs.” She added: “This big security claim is at the expense of our climate.”

Pro Trident supporters however, believe that the creation and maintenance of nuclear weapons is essential to provide thousands of jobs and to block Trident’s renewal would result in high unemployment. When the Mule put this point to CND’s General Secretary it was met with a big smile and an eager response. “People say you can’t get rid of trident because of the loss of jobs, when actually there will be even more jobs in the decommissioning of trident! That is that problem solved.”

A fascinating idea was put to the Mule by Scottish Nationalist Party Member Kenny Morgan, whilst attending a Jeremy Corbyn rally at Manchester Cathedral. We asked him about the potential unemployment from decommissioning Trident and he excitedly answered – “I am really glad you asked that question. You see all our shipyards that they closed down? We should use that money to do what the Scots do best, build ships! We can build floating schools, floating hospitals so that as soon as there is an international emergency the health and education of these people will not be in danger. We could accommodate the safety of the people instead of threatening them with obliteration.”

Kenny makes a good point. Aside from the issues of money and employment, the use of nuclear weapons would be so vastly destructive it would result the loss of millions of innocent lives and the greatest environmental disaster the world will ever see. With only 9 countries actually possessing nuclear weapons (more than 15,000 nuclear weapons together) with enough capacity to destroy the entire world numerous times over, the idea of Trident being a deterrent does not fill many with confidence.

Sid Pearson stood humbly to the side of the Anti-Austerity march on Sunday brandishing a homemade cardboard sign, long white beard to his waist and sadness in his eyes. “The world is one,” he said. “Get rid of the nukes, we don’t need them. Let’s live in peace. If you don’t bomb someone, they are not going to be so keen to bomb us back are they?”

Dan Ward, a member of the Tory Youth Group, disagrees however. “Trident is a necessary deterrent against the bigger countries, I believe that on the basis of retaliation or if there is an immediate threat then yes, there would be situations when it would be correct to press the button,” he said. When the Mule pointed out that millions of innocent people would die he responded: “Well if it means millions of our own survive then I don’t see the problem.” The rest of the interview was then unfortunately drowned out by cries of ‘Tory scum get off our streets’ by the surrounding protesters.

Dan Isaac

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