Philip Hammond arrives in Glasgow today to visit a Drones factory and champion Weapons of Mass Destruction.
En route he was keen to spread the usual selection of apocalyptic stories. Let’s not focus on the shambles of his negotiating message but just correct some of his wilder assertions.
A quick fact check’s in order.
1. Lindsay McIntosh at The Times reports that “Removing the submarines and weapons from Faslane and Coulport would lead to ‘many if not most’ of the 7000 workers losing their jobs. This is an old story that has been repeatedly disproved. Writing in the Herald in 2012 Rob Edwards wrote (‘Labour and Tories under fire for inflating Trident job losses):
“Figures released by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) under freedom of information law reveal that only 520 civilian jobs at Faslane and Coulport near Helensburgh are directly dependent on Trident. This contrasts with the 6000-11,000 jobs that pro-Trident politicians claim are at risk.”
2. Secondly, Hammond is due to say: “Alex Salmond knows, as I know, that the future of our naval base at Faslane would be just one of many defence issues that would be the subject of long and protracted negotiations if there were to be a yes vote in the referendum.
“Because if they insist that it has to go, there would have to be complex talks about the costs and timescales involved. Any notion that it would be quick and easy is just plain wrong.”
Yet the truth is this is just posturing.
In 2012 Professor Richard Garwin, a member of the JASON’s panel which advises American governments on nuclear weapons issues, said:
“The missiles and nuclear weapons can be disabled within weeks and removed within two years and dismantled within four years”.
“It accurately describes the essential steps needed to remove Trident submarines from alert status, de-activate the weapons systems and remove them from Scottish territory. It anything the timetable is somewhat conservative. My studies have determined that some of the steps could be taken at a pace that is nearly twice as fast, though the more leisurely pace in the SCND timetable ensures a completely safe process of disarmament”.
Let people understand this is about private commerce and supporting arms manufacturers.
Last month, BAE Systems said a continued union between Scotland and the rest of the UK offers “greater certainty and stability” for its business.
Meanwhile, Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope, former first sea lord and chief of naval staff, sent a letter to Mr Salmond co-signed by former heads of the Army, Navy, Air Force and intelligence warning that proposals to remove Trident “would cause huge practical problems and upheaval for the Royal Navy and require massive additional expenditure”.
If it’s the democratic will of the Scottish people is to remove Trident then we will remove Trident, never mind the commercial disadvantage to BAE or the ‘practical problems’.
We’re getting used to big business acting to distort and scare the populace but from today it looks like the military will be stepping up. Military interference in Scotland’s democratic referendum is outrageous and should cease immediately. When it happens in other country’s its rightly denounced.