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     Scottish CND      Magazine


Instead of Trident we could:

spend more on health

pay every nurse in Britain an extra £1000
every year for the next 26 years


spend more on education

put £1000 extra money into every classroom in Britain
every year for the next 26 years

Together this would costs less than the £26 billion the government are planning to spend on Trident

George Robertson says that Trident is cheap. This seems to be using the old Nazi propaganda trick that if you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe that it is true. Many other politicians try to side-step the moral arguments about whether Trident is right or wrong by saying that we have already paid for it - so we might as well keep it.

The reality is that it will cost a lot more to keep Trident in service than it cost to build it. The ongoing cost will be over £1 billion every year. The government plans to keep the submarines in service for another 26 years, which would cost over £26 billion - a small sum to Mr Robertson. This is more than double the official cost of building Trident - £12 billion.

We have heard in the past the government promising to place their emphasis on health and education and no doubt we will hear more of this in the months ahead. But we will not hear them explain how much is diverted away from schools and hospitals in order to fund our weapons of mass destruction.

For the cost of Trident the government could put an extra £1000 into every classroom in Britain, every year for the next 26 years AND pay an extra £1000 to every nurse in Britain, every year for the next 26 years.

The work which is done by nurses is universally held in high regard, yet their wages have fallen well behind other sectors. Dr Carole Thornley of Keele University wrote a report, “A question of fairness”, which showed nurses are now in the bottom 25% of earners in the local economy. She warns that falling wages creates difficulties in recruiting and keeping nurses and could lead to worse patient care. She also says that the government is aggravating sex inequality by holding down the pay of a largely female workforce. UNISON head of nursing Malcolm Wing said: “Nurses have been denied pay justice for a decade. The most exploited are nursing auxiliaries who, despite a shift in the boundaries of the profession, remain unrecognised, unrewarded and unseen.”

Meanwhile all local authorities in Scotland are finding it difficult to finance education to the standard they would like. Many schools have been closed in an attempt to cut costs.

Cancelling Trident could have a significant impact on our health service and on the education of our children. It is appalling to think that this government is spending our money, not on these vital services, but on indiscriminate weapons of mass destruction.

The annual cost of Trident

Operating Trident submarines [1] £277 million
Nuclear Warhead programme [2] £410 million
Conventional forces [3] £308 million
Other costs [4] £ 60 million

Annual total £1055 million (£1 billion)

Trident is costing the taxpayer over £1 billion every year. The government plans to keep Trident in service for 26 more years, until 2025, so the total cost would be over £26 billion.


[1] The average annual Trident operating cost is given as £277 million in the Strategic Defence Review (SDR), July 1998. This is a low estimate, the equivalent average annual cost for Polaris from 1981 to 1991 was £400 million (Hansard 13/11/97)

[2] The cost of the nuclear weapon programme in 1997/98 was £410 according to the Srategic Defence Review. [3] The government have said that the average operating cost of conventional forces committed to protecting and supporting Trident is £125 million (Hansard 2/11/98). To this has been added £53 million, 30% of the operating cost of contingent forces (Hansard 2/11/98), plus an annual element of the cost of procuring the vessels and aircraft, over £3 billion.

[4] The basic operating cost figure underestimates the proportion of Coulport/Faslane running costs attributed to Trident by £30 million. Also at least £30 million should be added to allow for major modifications. The experience of Polaris shows that major upgrades would be required to keep Trident in service for 30 years. These are only some of the costs which are omitted from the official figures.

John Ainslie

Scottish CND      Magazine