By a Newsnet reporter

A Conservative MP has admitted that Scotland drew the short straw when the UK Government decided to house nuclear weapons on the Clyde.

In an interview with the Real News website, Mark Garnier, the Conservative MP for Wyre Forest in Worcestershire, also admitted that the siting of Trident nuclear missiles in Scotland is "undemocratic", given that opinion polls consistently show that a majority of Scots want rid of the weapons system.

However the privately educated MP went on to argue that "someone is going to draw the short straw", with the implication that the defence policies of Westminster are more important than the democratic will of the Scottish people. 

Mr Garnier and his party believe that Westminster's desire to maintain a nuclear weapons capability overrides the desire of Scots to be rid of the weapons of mass destruction.

Asked for a response to the fact that a majority of Scots oppose Trident and want it to be removed from Scotland, Mr Garnier said:

"Arguably it is undemocratic.  But we have to look at the protection of the British Isles, Great Britain, the United Kingdom, as well as the Western world.

"You know, someone's going to draw the short straw in that.  That's not a very satisfactory answer, I know, to the people in Scotland, but we have to have it somewhere, and Faslane is a deep-water harbour which is where they can go safely."

Conservative MP Mark Garnier on the siting of WMD in Scotland

The renewal of Trident was a Conservative manifesto pledge in the last general election.  The party have always maintained that the UK must retain a nuclear weapons capacity.  

Labour's position on nuclear weapons is far more confused.  While in office, Labour governments have proven as enthusiastic as the Conservatives in their support of nuclear weapons, although some in the party, such as Scottish leader Johann Lamont - while a backbench MSP - have voiced their opposition to nuclear weapons.  Ms Lamont has not made a public statement on Trident since becoming Labour's Holyrood leader.

Each Trident warhead has an explosive power equal to 100 kilotons of conventional high explosive, 8 times the power of the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima in 1945.  There are four submarines in the Trident programme, each carrying an estimated 8 missiles.  Each missile can carry up to 5 warheads, giving the entire system a destructive capacity equal to 1280 Hiroshimas.

It is believed that as many as 250,000 people died as a result of the Hiroshima bomb, those killed in the blast, or who died shortly after due to radiation poisioning, and those who died later due to illnesses caused by exposure to the fallout.  The Trident missile system has the potential to kill 320,000,000 people, about half of Europe.

The initial costs of Trident renewal were assessed at between £15–20 billion in an MoD white paper published in 2006.  The plans to renew the nuclear weapons system were passed by the House of Commons in March 2007, under a Labour Government.  95 Labour MPs rebelled, but the motion was passed with the support of the Conservatives.

By May 2011, the then Defence Secretary Liam Fox admitted to the House of Commons that the price for constructing the replacement submarines alone was likely to rise to more than £25 billion.  This figure does not include the missiles, warheads or running costs of the system over its 30 year lifespan.

According to CND campaigners, once these other items are factored in, the total cost of the renewal of the Trident missile system is likely to surpass £100 billion.  The UK Government has committed itself to this expenditure even though it is making drastic cuts in conventional defences, including handing redundancy notices to squaddies and reneging on its promise to re-instate the Scottish regiments axed by Labour.  

The missile system has been heavily criticised, not just for cost-overruns, but also because it is claimed it does little or nothing to contribute to the defence of the UK.  The missile system, initially named Polaris, was originally designed for the Cold War era, whereas in the modern world the threat of all-out nuclear war between the large powers has receded, and there is a growing threat from terrorist and insurgent groups which require a conventional, intelligence-led, defence response.

The legality of Trident renewal has also been questioned.  The anti-nuclear organisation CND has claimed that renewal may contravene the UK Government's obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.  Critics of renewal additionally point out that if some states renew their nuclear weaponry it encourages proliferation elsewhere.  A number of states, most notably Iran, have been accused of seeking to develop a nuclear weapons capacity.

Even the Royal United Services Institute, a defence think tank which is traditionally in favour of strong UK defences and has links to the MoD, has expressed reservations the renewal of the nuclear weapons system.  In a report published in July 2010, the RUSI assessed "four possible options for maintaining both an effective nuclear deterrent and also reducing costs in light of anticipated budget restrictions."

The paper concludes that "given the opportunity costs for conventional capabilities that current plans for Trident renewal are due to incur over the next decade...there is now a growing case for a re-examination of whether there are less expensive means of pursuing this objective.  A key element of such a review is likely to be a reconsideration of the need to maintain a commitment to CASD [Continuous At-Sea Deterrence] in strategic circumstances that are now very different from those in which it was first introduced."

However Mr Garnier's remarks make it very clear that whatever considerations the MoD and the UK Government take into account when making decisions about nuclear weapons, the wishes of the Scottish people do not figure amongst them.


# Macart 2012-07-10 06:48
And that is the real benefit of the union right there.

"Arguably it is undemocratic. But we have to look at the protection of the British Isles, Great Britain, the United Kingdom, as well as the Western world.

"You know, someone's going to draw the short straw in that. That's not a very satisfactory answer, I know, to the people in Scotland, but we have to have it somewhere, and Faslane is a deep-water harbour which is where they can go safely."

There is NO arguably about it!!! It is undemocratic, end of story. People should not be in any doubt here, if you vote to retain the current union then you are voting to allow Westminster to ride roughshod over democracy. That weapons system was placed on the Clyde for two reasons 1. The terrain filled the technical and physical criteria 2. It was as far away from the largest population centres south of the border as they could make it whilst retaining enough local population and infrastructure as possible to facilitate essential maintenance and access.

The short straw.
# cardrossian 2012-07-10 06:58
Never mind historical facts and figures about how many of the enemy died in Hiroshima. During the cold war there was an argument for the nuclear deterrent. The fact of the matter is that that argument no longer exists.
Scotland has no reason to pick a fight with anyone, and in no way can Trident be considered a defensive weapon, given the fact that in any situation where Scotland was under attack, the Scottish government would have no control over how and if it was used. That control comes under the President of the USA.
We would all be dead long before we could retaliate.
No! An independent Scotland (or even a devolved Scotland) does not need or require these weapons. Get rid, and get rid now.
# Fungus 2012-07-10 07:32
We would not all be dead cardrossian. The politicians, royals and their lackeys would be safely ensconced in bunkers. How would dig toilets and make the tea afterwards I don't know though. Like many another thing there is only one way these abominations can be dealt with.
# Angus 2012-07-10 07:44
If we were still under the Labour Liberal admin in Edinburgh, we would be getting 3 new nuclear power stations, no renewables and plenty nuclear waste from all over Europe to dump on our doorsteps.
In 5 years we have progressed hugely from this, now its time for Trident to be removed
# creag an tuirc 2012-07-10 07:55
To add to your list Angus ...and a Scotland Bill handing back powers.
# cardrossian 2012-07-10 10:24
Quoting Angus:
we would be getting 3 new nuclear power stations,

I have no problem with commercial nuclear power. Its a damn sight better and greener than the costly white elephants currently being erected all over our countryside.
There is a vast difference between the peaceful use of nuclear power and the ability to use it for destruction. You need to learn that
# Jim Johnston 2012-07-10 12:28
Well cardrossian, you have a few people in the real world to convince, not least in Germany and Japan, that green nuclear power, i.e. non military, is a damn site better than renewable energy.

btw, I don't think the Fukushima and Chernobyl disasters were scare stories to the people who suffered them.
# cardrossian 2012-07-11 06:55
You really do need to learn something about nuclear! Chernobyl could not happen here for the simple reason that we don't build those kinds of plants, and we don't conduct experiments in commercial nuclear generating stations.
Fukushima was an old plant, possibly not built in the right place, although I wouldn't know about that, but it was hit by a Tsunami. Now as far as I am aware for a Tsunami to hit either Torness or Hunterston would require the geography of the world to change dramatically, and if that happened, nuclear energy would be the least of our worries. Germany is packed with "Patrick Harvies" who can't see the wood for the trees. They are probably the ones who will live to regret it.
If you are going to use an argument against nuclear, please use one which will stand up to scrutiny - if you can, that is.
# cardrossian 2012-07-10 10:58
Quoting Angus:
plenty nuclear waste from all over Europe to dump on our doorsteps.
In 5 years we have progressed hugely from this,

In fact reading a little further, your nuclear experience is obviously based on scare stories you have heard and not on any actual experience. Europe, nor anyone else, has ever dumped nuclear waste on us. What has happened is that sites such as Dounreay, which by the way is NOT and never has been a commercial nuclear power station, took on some contracts to process waste material from other countries, and not just from Europe either.
Now you may have arguments against that, and the transhipment of nuclear cargoes, but please at least separate those arguments out from those about the commercial creation of steam from nuclear sources in order to power generators.
# UpSpake 2012-07-10 08:22
Would an independent England be able to afford Trident as it is curently allocated to the Scottish budget and therefore like PFI, off their books ?.
Helps the mantra - too wee, too poor, to stupid to be maintained. Most of us are totally unaware of this until some saviour happens to forensicaly examine the GERS figures.
Amazing what you find when you have the desire to search.
# pa_broon74 2012-07-10 08:45
So a No vote in 2014 is a vote for the short straw then?

Some one should spread that around a bit.

# hiorta 2012-07-10 09:06
'It's no great mischief if they (Scots) fall'

The posh boys have not changed one bit - we are still utterly expendable in Westminsters eyes.
# nchanter 2012-07-10 09:33
Quoting hiorta:
'It's no great mischief if they (Scots) fall'

The posh boys have not changed one bit - we are still utterly expendable in Westminsters eyes.

As was the Western Isles during the cold war. First line of defence.
# J Wil 2012-07-10 09:10
..."Scotland drew 'short straw' over Trident"

and many other things.
# proudscot 2012-07-10 10:19
The final paragraph of the article says everything we need to know about Westminster's attitude to Scotland - the wishes of the Scottish people don't figure to our London based MPs and so-called Lords. This is the case in most things, and yet the supine unionist parties and their supporters up here, meekly accept this disgraceful state of affairs.

Another union dividend of the Bitter Together campaign, perhaps? Just one they don't mention ... wonder why?
# border reiver 2012-07-10 10:50
Some Scots are afraid of the financial consequences of independence in an oil and energy rich country because of the scaremongering from Westminster yet they are prepared to allow the most destructive weapons known to mankind sit on their doorsteps. Only independence will give us an opportunity to banish these WMDs from our country. Lets see how keen they are to accept them in any other part of the UK, (if they can find somwhere suitable) The only reason the UK government keeps Trident is to provide them with a permanent members seat at the UN, surely the billions of pounds would be better spent on our roads,education , NHS etc.
# call me dave 2012-07-10 11:24

London 2012: 50,000 free tickets for Olympic football at Hampden

This story is a give away in more senses than one.

Is that in addition to the 30,000 tickets that have already been offered to schools all over Scotland?
# Tattie-bogle 2012-07-10 15:18
Ah, nice another short straw, how many more short straws can we get?jeez i've more chance of being crapped on by the same seagull twice than all these short straws GO FIGURE
# peter,aberdeenshire 2012-07-10 20:06
Ah but Mr/ Mrs Bogle would you recognise the same seagull twice!! :-)
I agree though, at the hight of the cold war if it had kicked off Scotland would have been a molten puddle but now things are less tense they can close place like RAF Buchan, screw Rosyth in favour of Devenport etc but still the unionists persist with better together pash...
# km 2012-07-10 16:07
What really strikes me as strange, in relation to the opinion poll yesterday, is that it implies that some people who a few months ago were in favour of independence, have now changed their minds.

I have always believed, and I still believe, that no-one in favour of independence will change their mind between now and the referendum.

There have still been no positive arguments put forward for remaining in the union. If anything, I would think that all news in the past few months has emphasised reasons to leave - the LIBOR rate scandal, Trident, troop cuts, PFI, Welfare, NHS etc. etc.

So I take all opinion polls - just like those published before May 2011 which put Labour "neck-and-neck" with the SNP - with a large dose of salt.
# Legerwood 2012-07-10 17:39
It was interesting to hear Michael Portillo, a former Tory Minister for Defence, saying on This Week last Thursday, when discussing the defence cuts to infantry regiments, saying that Trident should be scrapped and the aircraft carriers. His reasoning was that the MOD was spending far too much on equipment that was unlikely to be used.
# hiorta 2012-07-10 18:30
Scotland drew the short straw? Did we indeed. When & where was this 'draw' carried out?
Only the other week Darling was patronising us with strange words like 'partner', yet this posh boy tells us we lost out in some posh boys' raffle.

The sooner this foreign muck is out of the Clyde and the Country, the better. Then these manipulators can draw straws all day, every day.
# josepy wallace 2012-07-10 20:16
Another day of the same bull crxp on the Scots cause we are so stupid for me Independance cant come quick enough, with all the debt how is it we are being told that this can be afforded I mean all these cuts must be to pay for this nonsense so why are we all in the UK putting up with this this government is here to serve the people not the people serve the government, I have a meeting on Friday with a human rights lawyer and im going to pursue suing the UK government for not looking after my rights to be represented for the good of myself and family I think you all should do the same because this UK government is just not listening

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