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I absolutely endorse that statement. I find it ironic that we are debating this as we head out of the most effective peacekeeping organisation in Europe, the European Union. When we sit down with representatives of foreign countries on a day-to-day basis to discuss all things political, that breeds understanding and co-operation. It generates trade and mutually beneficial outcomes. We can travel and experience life through others’ eyes. We can experience their culture and values. We gain better understanding of them and of ourselves. That is a deterrent; that leads to peace.
Threats just lead to the escalation of threats. That is why some feel the need to replace and upgrade our WMD systems, but all that does is to put us into an upward spiral of mistrust and an ever increasing cost to maintain and develop our deterrent. We have 20 submarines that require decommissioning at an estimated cost of £7.5 billion. Since the end of the cold war, the ballistic missiles that would carry the nuclear payload have not been targeted at any specified location, which raises the question of the legality of the commanding officer giving the go to launch the missile when he does not know the target, and so does not know if it is legal—yet we ask him to do that.
We must ask serious questions of the existing system and its proposed replacement. The advent of underwater drone technologies and cyber-capabilities could render submarine-based nuclear systems obsolete. Can we guarantee that those weapons could not be turned on us by advanced cyber-attacks?
It cannot be denied that manufacturers of submarines, missiles and ancillary components of the Trident programme have created and supported many jobs over the years, and that people employed in the sector have a right to express concerns about their employment futures. However, those people should not be held to ransom or financially blackmailed. It is not beyond the wit of man to utilise some of the existing skillsets and to retrain others for a conventional navy, one that is fit for purpose to defend a unique coastline and the waters of the United Kingdom—currently, we do not have one.
That is what we shall do in an independent Scotland: remove the Trident programme and replace it with a military base at Faslane and Coulport, one that fits the needs of a small independent nation situated in northern Europe in the 21st century and employs the same workforce. We would actively work towards creating a more stable planet, where peace, love and understanding are valued more than weapons of mass destruction.