Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Run out or stumped ? Trident and Ashes

What a dreadful week !

On Monday, Tony Blair announces that he wants to spend £20m (Do I hear 30 ? Do I hear 35 ?) and Ming Campbell comes up with the Liberal Democrat Housemaid's Baby (more later). On Tuesday England throws away a test match.

The arguments about Trident are not as complex as they appear. For once I agree with Tony Blair - in the end it comes down to political judgement - in his speech on Monday. Killing millions of innocent civilians is wrong. Poisoning the environment for generations is wrong. Using nuclear weapons is wrong. Saying that you will keep but never use them but the enemy must believe you might is either a lie or not a deterrent; it's a balmy contradiction. Saying Trident is independent when it depends upon American technology and goodwill and cannot be maintained for more than 18 months without their co-operation is a lie. Saying we need it to protect ourselves from the unknown and the unlikely whilst keeping our armed forces overstretched and under-equipped is like insuring your house for very high premiums against a tsunami in Chard, whilst not locking the door or repairing the fence (which I need to do).

Ming's response was rightly jeered in the Commons as sitting on the fence. I prefer the old Punch cartoon of the housemaid who is going to be sacked for having a baby and says, "But it's a very small baby !" It's right that there's no need to make a decision yet but postponing it until 2014 won't change the arguments. The future will still be uncertain and the use of nuclear weapons will still be wrong.

And England will still have lost the Ashes.

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