It will cost the UK some £100bn to renew the Trident nuclear deterrent. Do we still need Trident, or should the money be spent some other way?
The question of whether the UK needs nuclear weapons never fails to arouse opinion, and our poll last week attracted almost 800 respondents representing a wide spread of standpoints. The largest group, 31 per cent, opposed the renewal and indeed the Cold War concept of nuclear deterrent, as Britain no longer faces the type of threat that Trident was intended to counter. The next largest, perhaps inevitably, was pro-Trident, with 27 per cent saying that we simply don’t know what sort of threats might emerge, so security demands that we renew the system. Another large group, 22 per cent, said that Trident was an expensive option and the UK should look for cheaper ways to deploy a nuclear deterrent. Smaller numbers went for the other options, with 8 per cent saying that Trident is still the best way of deterring nuclear attack, and that international prestige, rather than security, is the main reason for renewing Trident.
Even the great Jim Hacker had problems rationalising the reasons for renewing Trident, and relied on the impeccable logic of Sir Humphrey Appleby to explain it, as this clip from Yes, Prime Minister shows. And incredibly, this was transmitted in 1986.