Money to Burn


In the midst of ‘austerity’, the Coalition has gone shopping for new submarines, from which to launch WMDs against the morally challenged. The purchase price comes to at least £20 billion: that’s £3 billion already spent, £3 billion committed and £14 billion awaiting clearance as the ‘now too costly to cancel’ argument. On top of this, there are annual running costs of £1.5 billion.

The Coalition’s challenge is to explain why this makes sense, to anyone but their own armchair A-bombers. Why an ‘independent’ nuclear deterrent achieves anything. Why grown men should patrol the oceans awaiting a surprise attack by an ‘enemy’ we no longer have, or maybe haven’t invented yet. Perhaps occasionally crossing paths with subs from other countries engaged in the same pointless activity. Protecting jobs in the defence industries – in this case largely outside Wessex – is clearly a significant political consideration but protecting jobs that do more harm than good only inhibits their replacement by better ones.

We’re told that replacing Trident is an ‘investment’. We’d like to know the annual rate of return then. Or some quantification of the extra security we gain that the Swedes or the Swiss lack, with such obviously devastating consequences for their quality of life. Given the resources the planet is called upon to sacrifice to this and similar projects, might it not be better value, as well as safer, just to heap the money in the middle of the street and set fire to it all?

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