Letters: Scrapping Trident

The Lib Dems and Trident

Saturday 24 April 2010 00:00

Just in case anyone gets confused by Nick Clegg and the Lib Dem claim of "no-like-for-like replacement of Trident", what he's not saying is that Lib Dems are in favour of doing away with nuclear weapons, scrapping ballistic missiles or stopping building submarines to deliver them. Quite the reverse in fact.

So how he'll save the £100bn cost of Trident to put towards the national debt is far from clear, since he'll be spending much of it on some unspecified alternative nuclear delivery system.

Nick Clegg doesn't believe in scrapping nuclear weapons in Britain, though many prominent military leaders have warned against wasting money on weapons systems irrelevant to modern conflict. He wants another nuclear delivery system, which he hasn't yet decided on, which he knows Britain can never use.

Only Plaid Cymru seems to have come out with a straightforward view on Trident: scrap it.

Alwyn Evans

Penarth, Vale of Glamorgan

It took Britain 60 years to finally pay off its Second World War debt to America and if we renew Trident we will again become indebted to America for another generation. It is surely absurd that the only reason Gordon Brown can cite for Britain needing to borrow the estimated £100bn to buy and maintain Trident is the nuclear potential of both North Korea and Iran.

When will our politicians acknowledge that Britain ceased being a world power a long time ago and that the role of world security rests with the United Nations?

Patrick Lavender

Taunton, Somerset

The leaders' debate was to focus on international issues and should have provided a golden opportunity to discuss key areas such as international development, foreign aid, debt relief, international trade and the UK's role as peacekeepers in conflict-affected areas. Unfortunately, this did not happen

A low-key World Poverty Day in London on 18 April was the only opportunity we had to see the three main parties re-stating their commitment to giving 0.7 per cent of income to international development. Charities and non-governmental organisations welcome this recommitment.

Just five years ago, a quarter of a million people took to the streets of Edinburgh to demand that world leaders make poverty history. Where has this political interest gone?

Admittedly, the economic landscape has changed in the past five years, but the UK remains one of the richest nations in the world with a responsibility to meet the commitments made 10 years ago at the Millennium Development summit.

This is the UK's Government's chance to do something really great, to truly change the world. And yet they forgot to mention it.

Andy Stockbridge

Bletchley, Milton Keynes

A friend in the media has tipped me off so I am able to pass on some of the headlines we will be seeing in the Tory tabloids over the next fortnight: "Nick Clegg ate my hamster", "Lib Dem focus leaflets found on Moon", "Elvis wrote Lib Dem manifesto", "Clegg in pact with Satan to fix election", "Lord Ashcroft – 'I will quit UK if Clegg elected' ".

You couldn't make it up. Or perhaps you could. Or as Tony Benn once said, "It's the same each time with progress. First they ignore you, then they say you're mad, then dangerous; then there's a pause and then you can't find anyone who disagrees with you".

Nigel Scott

London N22

If David Cameron truly believes that a hung parliament would be such a disaster for the country, then surely it is his patriotic duty to withdraw all Conservative candidates to avoid this possibility.

Chris Burrell

Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire

Fewer criminals to be sent to prison? Trident to be cancelled? An amnesty for illegal immigrants? Is it possible Nick Clegg doesn't understand the concept of deterrence?

Keith Gilmour


Children stuck with our debts

Susannah and Alan Spencer are not the only "young pensioners" with major concerns over paying off the UK debt (letter, 19 April).

Also troubling are comments sometimes heard that, since inflation is merely "a flat tax that shifts resources to borrowers from lenders", the massive UK debt that has built up because of Gordon Brown's profligacy and the banking shambles can be paid off in some benign manner through "the erosion of inflation", and without the inconvenience of due legislative process required for other taxes.

Others might consider that "solution" simply as theft, committed by a few borrowers from many lenders (aka savers) through a general debauching of our currency, the borrowers to a large extent being this generation's wildly overpaid top brass throughout both private and public sectors (primarily, but not just, bankers), and the lenders being our children and grandchildren.

John Birkett

St Andrews, Fife

I hope Alan and Susannah Spencer won't have to scrimp and save in their old age. But I would remind them that a decade ago it was predominantly savers of their generation who had it in their power to keep as much as possible of Britain's wealth in the mutual sector, and out of the hands of the banks.

They didn't do it, and they lost their money. In no small degree, the debt we've all been saddled with represents the shifting of that loss from them to all of us.

I hope they will forgive me if I find their outrage at the level of public borrowing almost offensive. I'm afraid that in the coming election I will not heed the advice of a generation with such a record of imprudence.

David Woods

Hull, East Yorkshire

Why airlines should pay up

Before accepting the airlines' claim that the government should compensate them because of a "natural disaster", start by considering the plight of the scientist who has to decide whether a plane is safe through a cloud of volcanic ash. Detailed analysis will likely produce a curve showing the amount of ash in the air versus probability of engine failure, and the scientist's job is to say where on the curve the current eruption lies.

If he is too "optimistic", hundreds, possibly thousands of people will die and it will be his fault; if too pessimistic, it will cost the airlines, but that's not really his problem.

The one thing he will absolutely require to make his recommendation is data, detailed observations of the effects of various sorts of dust at a range of densities over a variety of conditions. He needs somebody to do the experiments to get the data. It wasn't until three days after the closure of airspace that BA started these experiments.

Airlines have experienced engine failures because of volcanic dust. The numbers and locations of volcanoes are well-known. It was up to the airlines to recognise the risk, and pay for the experiments. Why should we pick up the bill for their failure to do proper risk mitigation? There was no natural disaster, only the short-sighted pursuit of profits by airlines.

Sean Barker

Horfield, Bristol

As evidence in favour of increased high-speed rail links throughout Britain and Europe, the recent volcanic events put the case far more persuasively than any mere mortal (or even a god such as Lord Adonis) could ever hope to do.

There is a certain delicious irony that it is the railways that are coming to the aid of stranded travellers, extending operating hours to cope. Given the kicking the railways get for once-in-a-generation bad-weather operating problems, surely there is a similar case for deriding the airlines for not being able to deal with "the wrong sort of ash".

Gordon Martin

Prees, Whitchurch, Shropshire

After the ridicule heaped on the railways, it is curiously gratifying when the airline industry is incapacitated by the wrong kind of air.

Richard Harvey

Frating Abbey, Essex

The sky has returned to its old milky-blue, not the deep blue of plane-free skies, and the birds have gone into a sulk.

Steven Calrow


Could we please have a list of airlines that continued to provide passengers with food and accommodation throughout the closure of airspace, and those that did not, so we can decide which to fly with, and which not to fly with?

Ian East

Islip, Oxfordshire

As you like it

I have always had great admiration for Shakespeare, but my estimation of him has increased exponentially. For, writes Charles Nevin (Notes, 23 April), "Today is the 446th anniversary of both the birth and death of William Shakespeare". To have written so many plays in such a short time, and at such a young age, is truly prodigious. Can the Government continue to deny that educational standards have plummeted?

Nigel Halliday

Liss, Hampshire

Your correspondent may be reassured about marking Shakespeare's birthday in Scotland (letter, 23 April). This year, for the first time, there will be great celebrations, including performances, dancing and children's fun and games in John O' Groats and many points south. These form part of Shakespeare United's build-up to 2012 when we intend to have the greatest historic celebration in UK history; Northern Ireland is also on board. All ages, religions, cultures, and regions are welcome to join us.

Ian Flintoff

Convenor, Shakespeare United, Oxford

Fast answer

You don't have to run faster than a charging boar ("How road hogs became the scourge of the autobahn", 22 April), just faster than the person next to you.

Fabian Acker

London SE22

Perspectives on blood sports

Tory contempt for animals

When every vote counts, it is astonishing that David Cameron flaunts his contempt for animal welfare.

The Conservative election manifesto includes the following: "The Hunting Act has proved unworkable. A Conservative government will give Parliament the opportunity to repeal the Hunting Act on a free vote, with a government Bill in government time."

This will bring back fox-hunting, hare-hunting and hare-coursing, stag-hunting, some form of summer riverside hunting and all the havoc associated with these cruel pastimes.

Some hunters have easily flouted and ignored the Hunting Act but surely that is reason to close the loopholes and better enforce the Act, not to repeal it and thereby reward the criminals.

This plan for a return to bloodsports is not in the environment or animal welfare sections of the manifesto; it is in the "civil liberties" part. So it is the hunter's "right to be cruel", in opposition to the wishes of the vast majority, that David Cameron appears to support.

Hunting can thrive without the pursuit of live quarry, so why return to the cruel old days?

M J Huskisson

Halesworth, Suffolk

Mutual joys of the hunt

There is a saying in horsey circles that there is no secret as close as that kept between horse and rider.

One such secret is the mutual pleasure, fired by human and equine adrenalin, felt by this ancient symbiotic partnership in following the trail of an elusive and unpredictable quarry. No one who hasn't ridden to hounds could ever understand what it feels like to sit on a horse fired with enthusiasm, his eyes fixed on the hounds, his whole body bursting with energy.

The laziest pony, the sourest racehorse, bored and depressed with routine, will take on a new lease of life if taken hunting.

Only a tiny percentage of their riders will care in the slightest whether the fox is killed. The joy of the chase lies with the horse, the countryside and the pleasant human company around.

P A Reid

Wantage, Oxfordshire

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