nuclear submarine HMS Vengeance at Faslane
WMCND sent a link to an article in the Yorkshire Post, drawing attention to the plan of Jeremy Corbyn’s Shadow Peace Minister, Leeds North East MP Fabian Hamilton.
His defence diversification strategy shows how high-skilled military engineering workers can be retrained to work in industries like health technology, transport and education. He pointed out that the skills and technologies used in the nuclear weapons and wider arms industry can be put to use in the civilian sector, for instance components used in ballistic missiles are also used in heart monitoring machines. Some of the money saved by would be spent on improving substandard accommodation and offering better post-combat support for veterans.
Under the proposals a Labour government would initially fund retraining schemes to help workers transition into different industries and within a few years the shift to civilian industries would be far more lucrative for the British economy.
Mr Hamilton said he hopes his proposals will eventually convince the unions and party to change policy and support scrapping the Trident submarine replacement programme. As yet, Labour’s policy is to renew Trident and protect the jobs of thousands of workers employed in the nuclear sector.
The MP stressed that his proposals would not mean an end to the arms industry in Britain, which would still be tasked with aiding defence of the country.
The defence diversification plan will form part of a “peace doctrine” currently being worked up by Mr Hamilton. The wider peace doctrine aims to build upon former Foreign Secretary Robin Cook’s “ethical foreign policy”. Under the doctrine the number one priority of the armed forces would still be the defence of the realm. But the military would also be tasked with a “responsibility to protect” people around the world from suffering.
The SNP’s defence spokesman Stewart McDonald told The House magazine: “I hope that if Jeremy’s in the position to form a government, perhaps with an arrangement with the Scottish National Party, then that [scrapping Trident] should be one of the key planks of any discussion that we have”.
Mr Corbyn put the 25-page initial framework for the doctrine to Shadow Cabinet Ministers including Shadow Defence Secretary Nia Griffith (left) and Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry for consultation. Politics Home reported that the formidable Shadow Defence Secretary Nia Griffith rejected calls for a rethink of Labour’s backing for the nuclear deterrent, saying that the “defence diversification” review aimed at finding alternative jobs for people in the defence industry would not lead to Labour ditching its support for the multi-billion pound nuclear deterrent: “It is absolutely part of our policy to keep the deterrent. And that is our settled policy. And that was in our manifesto last year, which was agreed by everybody.”
She is on record as criticising the proposal for a policy review if Labour won the next election – supported by Emily Thornberry – saying that for a nuclear deterrent to be effective it was essential that “you are prepared to use it”, including a ‘first strike’ attack if necessary, though Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has previously said he would never launch such an attack as prime minister.
The Times reports that the Trident submarine replacement programme will take up an extra £400 million of the Ministry of Defence’s budget this year. Four Dreadnought submarines are being built to replace the Vanguard-class boats that host the Trident nuclear deterrent. The new submarines are due to come into service in 2028.The extra money for the submarines, announced yesterday, has been brought forward as part of their £31 billion total cost, estimated in the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review.
An updated government briefing paper released in January explains that the Dreadnought programme, commonly referred to as “the renewal or replacement of Trident”, is about the design, development and manufacture of four new Dreadnought class ballistic missile submarines (SSBN) that will maintain the UK’s nuclear posture of Continuous at Sea Deterrence (CASD)
BAE Systems, Rolls Royce and Babcock International are industrial partners in this project. As the programme moves forward, BAE Systems has estimated that 85% of its supply chain will be based in the UK. potentially involving around 850 British companies.
Spending on the Dreadnought programme in 2018/19 is currently forecast at approximately £1.13 billion. However, HM Treasury has also granted the MOD access to £600 million from the Dreadnought contingency fund during this period, again to keep the programme on track and reduce risk.
The National Audit Office reported the expected total spend on supporting the Enterprise as being £50.9 billion between 2018 and 2028. The wider portfolio of programmes that underpin this includes the design, production, maintenance and operation of submarines and nuclear warheads and providing the estate and people to support capabilities. NAO raised concerns over the impact of spending on the MOD’s nuclear programmes, including Dreadnought, on the affordability of the Department’s overall equipment plan.