The Trident Test 310

The Rochester By-Election further destroys the intellectual case for the BBC’s decision that only male party leaders who support Trident can debate on TV before the UK general election.

The Greens got five times as many votes as the Lib Dems in Rochester, and are ahead of them in several recent national opinion polls. I do not posit the support of Trident as the criterion for inclusion, in any sense as a joke. Support of Trident stands as a good marker for adhesion to the neo-con establishment consensus. The establishment is simply not prepared for more radical views to be put before the public as a serious choice. UKIP is the chosen right wing vehicle into which disillusion with politicians should be channelled.

The BBC justification for including UKIP is that they have shown a “substantial increase in electoral support”, and the BBC argue that the Greens have not done so. There are two major problems with this argument.

The first is that UKIP’s “massive increase in electoral support” has been massively boosted by a huge amount of publicity given to UKIP for the last two years, especially by the BBC. The BBC is citing the effect of its own propaganda as justification for continuing that propaganda. If the Greens had been given as much publicity as UKIP, the electoral climate would be very different.

The second is that this appears to be a one way argument. If UKIP’s massive increase in electoral support can get them included, surely the Lib Dems total collapse in electoral support should get them excluded? The injustice of including the Lib Dems and not the Greens, when the Greens are beating them not just in opinion polls but in real polls, cannot simply be brushed aside.

We then have the SNP. There is a very real possibility that the SNP will have more MPs than the Lib Dems after the next election. Indeed, one recent opinion poll put them ahead of the Lib Dems in polling across the entire UK, even though all those SNP voters were just in Scotland. For the BBC to push so hard the line that we are “Better Together”, and then exclude the party supported by the plurality of Scots from UK debate, is an irony only the BBC cannot see. That some viewers of a UK debate would have no opportunity to vote SNP, would not remove their very real interest in understanding and questioning the views of what will be a major component of the parliament which governs them.

The Greens, Plaid Cymru and the SNP have female leaders and are anti-Trident, a symbol of their broad radicalism. All are, to use that crude measure, to the left of the parties which will be included. To be in, you have to be led by an identikit posh male and support Trident. That is the BBC test.

310 thoughts on “The Trident Test

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  • Ishmael

    “he’s against the parties who have pretended to run this country for the last few decades”

    Is he though? or simply a worse continuation of the worst aspects. He is empty, just openly doing what the rest do anyway if you ignore the rhetoric.

    My pockets have more content and they have nothing in them.

  • MJ

    “Is this a modern youthful progressive party?”

    I’d say it was an old-fashioned, middle-aged reactionary party, so it has a large demographic to target.

  • Robert Crawford


    Is there any English people on this site prepared to welcome Trident subs in England?

  • Ba'al Zevul

    ‘He’s apparently against…’. Will that do you? I’m talking about perception here, not fact. Just like any politician, indeed.

  • Geoffrey

    Are UKIP in favour of Trident?-I doubt it.
    They have been and are against acting on behalf of America in the anti Islamic invasions of Iraq,Libya and Syria. It is therefore very unlikely that they would support a weapon over which the USA controls the on\off switch.

  • MJ

    “Is there any English people on this site prepared to welcome Trident subs in England?”

    Not me. I totally oppose Trident.

  • Uzbek in the UK

    Not to support nuclear arms and things like that, but I think many here do not realise (or do not want to bear attention) to the fact that Cold War remained Cold (between major powers) mostly because of nuclear arms. It is true that millions have died in proxy wars around the world but if WWIII broke out at that time it would have killed at least 10 times more and also mostly white Europeans (including Russians and Anglo-Saxon Americans). Considering standoff between US and USSR in Europe it is likely that Germany and other Central European nations would have suffered the most. Considering existence of ballistic missiles it is unlikely that UK could have suffered with minimum casualties just like they did in WWII.

    So want it or not, peace in Europe and in the world (at large) was secured by nuclear arms. Cold War has ended for a while but as we see imperialistic ambitions that drove Cold War participants have not evaporated. So, probably it is just a bit early to get rid of this security guarantee?

  • Ishmael

    “It is therefore very unlikely that they would support a weapon over which the USA controls the on\off switch.”

    I’d like to see that in writing, in blood (but i’d still rather die than vote for them). IMO there whole focus on the EU is simply an obfuscation of ties to US that have absolutely no change of being changed in any real way.

    In short I think that statement is total nonsense.

    In fact I think the focus on the EU is a US policy they are carrying out.

    “You are transparent, I see many things. I see plans within plans.”

  • Ba'al Zevul

    Is there any English people on this site prepared to welcome Trident subs in England?

    The Minister of State for (a) Portsmouth, (b) Business and Enterprise, and (c)Energy* would probably enthuse about the idea. Even though his constituency’s West Suffolk.

    *One wonk, three hats.

  • Robert Crawford

    Uzbek In The Uk.

    Trident is protecting England, therefore, store them in England.

    Anywhere you like, but not my back yard,eh?

  • Ishmael

    I feel the same way about crazy weapons held by the state as I do people carrying guns in the uk. I’m not against a measure of self protection, it’s not a perfect world. But civilized progressive people will go for the least harmful and threatening options, and promote good relations by not having threats and fear behind everything.

    I think it makes the UK a far less safe to be involved in such uncivilised activity. And as Noam has pointed out, they are always used, just the same way as threatening people always use the fear of violence.

    Most iv known who do this come to some kind badness sooner or later. They are certainly not popular.

  • Republicofscotland

    How can the BBC demand licence fees when it won’t even give the third largest political party (SNP) in the UK a proper voice.

    Norway the Netherlands, Sweden and even Ireland include all parties in mass debates

    IT must be deeply disturbing for the Lib/Dems, to know that they outpolled the Monster Raving Loonie party by just 198 votes.

  • Clark

    Uzbek in the UK, 3:02 pm; I appreciate your point to some extent. The nuclear weapons of the three superpowers US, USSR and China, together with their political/diplomatic counterpart the UNSC Veto, probably did discourage escalation that could have led to all-out world war. I think that the much smaller nuclear arsenals of the less powerful countries were probably irrelevant, or even counterproductive and destabilising.

  • Ben-9260th dojo katana

    “Would Wales be a good place to put Trident subs?”

    Port of London…better.

  • Vronsky

    Craig, you still haven’t responded to my request to speak at a meeting. Accept or decline, but not answering is the ugly option.

  • Republicofscotland

    The First Minister has announced her new cabinet.

    John Swinney. Finance the Constitution, Economy & DFM

    Keith Brown Infrastructure,Capital Investment & Cities

    Shona Robison Health Wellbeing & Sport

    Angela Constance Education and Lifelong Learning

    Michael Matheson Justice

    Roseanna Cunningham Fair Work Skills and Training

    Alex Neil Social Justice Communities and Pensioners Rights

    Richard Lochhead Rural Affairs Food and the Environment

    fiona Hyslop Culture Europe and External Affairs

    Nicola said of her team:

    “The aims of my government are clear: to create a nation that is both socially democratic and socially just, a nation that is confident in itself and governed effectively and a nation which will address poverty, support business, promote growth and tackle inequality.

    “The new cabinet team I have announced today will pursue these priorities with verve, vigour and determination.

    “Every member of the cabinet is part of this government’s top team on merit, on the basis of the excellent work they have already done as ministers.

    “The cabinet line-up is also a clear demonstration that this government will work hard in all areas to promote women, to create gender equality and it sends out a strong message that we will start the business of redressing the gender balance in public life right here in government.”

    I look forward to the rest of the ministerial team being announced.

  • Ben-9260th dojo katana

    “Craig, you still haven’t responded to my request to speak at a meeting. Accept or decline, but not answering is the ugly option.”

    Craig is good at responding to email. He doesn’t camp here.

  • Uzbek in the UK


    At the height of the Cold War nuclear arsenal of France and UK was larger than that of China but of course no match to that of either US or USSR. By military spending and military capacity both UK and France were ahead of China at that time. Chinese of course had 14 million men with Kalashnikovs (China made) but it did not help them a lot when war broke out with Vietnam (nor did US almighty military help them of course). But Chinese war with Vietnam highlighted urgency to the Chinese government of military modernisation and kick started economic reforms (because military modernisation needed a lot of money).

    I am not supporting trident in particular but just pointing out onto the fact that nuclear arms (despite having the most distractive power) had actually saved a lot of lives.

  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)


    “Robert Crawford

    Do you not live in the UK?”

    Sure he does. Same address as Republicofscotland.

  • Ben-9260th dojo katana

    “I am not supporting trident in particular but just pointing out onto the fact that nuclear arms (despite having the most distractive power) had actually saved a lot of lives.”

    I think that was Edward Teller’s argument. Einstein and Oppenheimer had some doubts.

  • Phil


    Drawing the line at Trident rather than NATO membership is a party political compromise.

    And so soon in your election campaign. Just think of all the towing the party line to come! You’ll be back supporting sanctions against Iraq before you house flip.

  • Uzbek in the UK

    “Einstein and Oppenheimer had some doubts.”

    And so far history proved them wrong. History does not of course like conjunctive tense but what would be your odds on WWIII if there was no nuclear arms? 1950th or 1960th?

  • Republicofscotland

    Emily Thornberry has resigned from Labour’s front bench after sending a tweet during the Rochester and Strood by-election which was branded “snobby”.

    The shadow attorney general apologised for the message, which showed a terraced house with three England flags, and a white van parked outside.

    UKIP said she had “sneered, and looked down her nose at a white van in Strood with the cross of St George on it”.

    Labour leader Ed Miliband was “angry” at her, a senior figure told the BBC.

    The resident of the house, Dan Ware, said Ms Thornberry – the MP for Islington South and Finsbury – was a “snob”.

    Labour have shot themselves in the foot with this one, they really are out of touch with the people, of the UK


    Meanwhile Mark Reckless like Nicola Sturgeon,had to swear his allegiance, not to the people but to old saddle bag face Queen Lizzie, its high time this practice was changed.

    I for one don’t want any public official swearing an oath to Droopy Chops or any of her inbred brood.

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