Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Friday, May 14, 2010

Cutting costs in the UK

Alan Carter wrote from Oxford about one of the issues the new coalition in London will be wrestling with: the Lib Dem money-saving proposal to eliminate the submarine-based nuclear deterrent.

He offers these definitions for us Yanks and others outside the UK:

Trident = UK nuclear deterrent, guarantees our seat at UN Security Council....
(coalition govt. has now agreed to look at efficiencies but not cancel...)

Experts back calls to axe Trident

By Jim Pickard

Published: June 28 2009 22:20 | Last updated: June 28 2009 22:20

Axing the new Trident nuclear deterrent would help fill a growing “black hole” in the defence budget, according to a report by senior military figures to be published on Tuesday.

The radical proposition will be put forward by Lord Guthrie, former chief of the defence staff, Lord Ashdown, former head of the Liberal Democrats, and Lord Robertson, the former Nato secretary-general.

EDITOR’S CHOICE (of Financial Times articles you can look up)

Dannatt queries need for Trident subs - Feb-23
Ministers ready to cut nuclear subs fleet - Sep-15
Brown urged to review Trident plans - Jun-14
Rebellion fails to halt Trident replacement - Mar-14

The trio of influential ­figures wrote the report for a “national security commission” put together by the Institute for Public ­Policy Research, a think-tank.

It comes after the Ministry of Defence was forced to deny claims on Sunday that the government had put the £20bn Trident replacement programme under “review” in an attempt to cut costs.

Trident’s upgrade, involving replacing four nuclear submarines, was agreed by Tony Blair in 2006.(surprise, surprise...)

Scrapping or downgrading Trident, a move advocated by Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg last week, could save billions of pounds at a time of severe Whitehall belt-tightening.

Des Browne, former defence secretary, said on Sunday that the MoD was facing tough financial decisions: “There is an order book which outstrips the department’s capacity to pay for it – that’s no secret,” he said.

It was reported on Sunday that the MoD was considering options for the Trident upgrade.

This could mean a ballistic missile system operating from mainland Britain or an aircraft fitted with a nuclear bomb that could be launched from an aircraft carrier.

One government source said ministers were still committed to renewing Trident because it was the “cornerstone” of Britain’s defence strategy.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2010.

What You Need to Know

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