Gordon Brown expressed his determination to replace the Trident nuclear weapons system in a speech made in the heart of London’s financial district last week.
Peace activists and many trade unions expressed their outrage at his comments.
Keith Sonnet is deputy general secretary of the Unison union, which recently passed a motion condemning Britain’s nuclear weapons. He told Socialist Worker, “We don’t see any external threat to this country.
“The government talks about a terrorist threat, but Trident does not help with this. The system will be based on US support – it can’t even be fired without their permission – so it’s not an independent deterrent either.
“The money could be better spent on public services. It will cost £25 billion to replace Trident. The government’s recent Gershon review looked to save almost exactly the same amount.”
Sonnet was also shocked that Brown spoke before the completion of a review into a possible replacement for Trident, announced by the government last year.
“The papers go to the next meeting of the Labour policy forum, so the issue has not been properly debated yet,” said Sonnet. “I would have preferred it if Gordon Brown had not said that.
“He probably thinks it’s going to improving his standing with ‘Little Englanders’, the military and the right wing establishment.”
Kate Hudson, the chair of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), told Socialist Worker, “An opinion poll commissioned by CND found that 81 percent of people thought MPs should decide if there is a replacement.
“Then Gordon Brown, who sees himself as a prime minister in waiting, made his announcement which seems to pre-empt discussion in parliament. Perhaps he wants to prove to the US that he will be a safe pair of hands.”
Hudson added that former foreign secretary Jack Straw was removed from his post – apparently because he was not seen as reliable enough by the US.
“Britain is committed to abolishing nuclear weapons under the non-proliferation treaty,” said Hudson. “The government condemns Iran for trying to acquire nuclear weapons – while preparing to start a new nuclear arms race. It is gross hypocrisy.
“The money could be better spent elsewhere. The existing Trident system costs £1.5 billion a year just to maintain.
“That’s more than double the NHS deficits that mean the closure of hospitals.”