The issue of Britain's nuclear deterrent is a one that shows our political class at their most base and deceitful. For once, Comrade Corbyn is bang on the money in his opposition and, in what is becoming par for the course, Theresa May seems just incapable of telling the truth.
Back in the 1980s there was a compelling case for the UK hosting US nukes and having our own missile system.Under the leadership of Thatcher and Reagan we squared up to the Russians and brought an end to communist rule, to the Evil Empire that dominated Europe then, we brought down the Berlin Wall. In the 1980s and before, comrade Corbyn was like many others wrong on the issue of nuclear weapons.
But times have changed. For starters Britain is still running a massive Budget deficit and our national debt is heading towards levels that are unsustainable. Merely buying new submarines for Trident will cost £30 billion over 20 years. But the total cost of upgrading and then maintaining an independent nuclear arsenal will be around £205 billion over 40 years. That money could be far better spent elsewhere or just not spent at all if we actually want to eliminate the deficit and not go bust. Corbyn is right on that, many of his fellow Labour MPs and Prime Minister Theresa May are just in denial about the cost implications. I am not a deficit denier, I accept we cannot afford to maintain Trident.
But this issue is also about willie waving, that would be willies draped in the Union Flag. For folks like May who is willie waving more than most today, it is a chance to suggest that Corbyn and others are somehow not patriotic or do not care about protecting our nation. May wants a big stick and wants you to know that only she, not the bearded loon, can protect you May has noted:
"We cannot compromise on our national security. We cannot outsource the grave responsibility we shoulder for keeping our people safe. The nuclear threat has not gone away, if anything, it has increased".
Mrs May neglects to tell us how the threat has increased and how having Trident will make us safer. So let's look at the options.
Russia. It is not conceivable that in the, incredibly unlikely, event that Russia threatened Britain that we would use our nukes without US sanction and that effectively means a world war. If we don't really have an independent deterrent in that scenario why pay for one? What is the point? We might as well rely on the yanks and if they are late for the 3rd World War as they were for the last two we might have to learn to speak Russian for a while. But in reality, President Putin is far less likely to attack the West than was Russia in the cold war era. It is just not going to happen.
Rogue states/ISIS are far more likely to launch a nuclear attack on the UK than the Russians and could do so without missile technology using a dirty bomb. Who would we nuke in response? Which land area? Do you think that the insane folks who run North Korea, Iran or ISIS would in any way be deterred by the threat of such retaliation. For some, notably ISIS, the idea that we might launch a missile on the civilians in Raqqa so pitting the whole Muslim world against Britain would actually be an incentive to act.
Mrs May might just be correct in saying that the nuclear threat to Britain has increased since the Cold War but the idea that an upgraded Trident makes us safer against what is a new kind of threat is patently ludicrous.
Trident will not make us safer and we cannot afford it. Having been wrong on nukes for most of his life, Comrade Corbyn finds himself actually getting it right for once. For that he will be portrayed by the media and political elite as cowardly, unpatriotic and reckless and the forces of Mrs May will win the commons vote.
As the UK drowns in a sea of debt over the next two decades, having weapons that we could not conceivably use and which make no-one in this land any safer, will perhaps be a consolation to those who today ridicule the Labour leader only to repent in poverty in the years that follow.