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No more important issue than Trident

In a letter to the Herald, Brian Quail responds to a recent article by David Torrance.

DAVID Torrance rehashes the hoary distinction between multilateralism and unilateralism beloved of Tory nuclear apologists ("Losing Trident just too big a blow to 'prestige' obsessives", The Herald, March 23).

The indisputable fact remains that no British nuclear weapon has ever been negotiated away at a disarmament conference. They have never even been put on the table. Hence, as Bruce Kent said, "a unilateralist is a multilateralist who means what he says".


We have always upgraded our weapons, decreasing the numbers yes, but increasing lethality, accuracy and usability. Thus, the obsolete free-fall W177 was replaced by the superior Polaris missile; Polaris upgraded by Chevaline; Chevaline by Trident, and so on. We have taken no steps towards de-escalation and elimination, but operate a "new lamps for old" policy. 

Mr Torrance quotes Margaret Thatcher's adage "you can't dis-invent the nuclear weapon, any more than you can dis-invent dynamite" as if this were obvious common sense. However, you can't dis-invent gas chambers and concentration camps either, but you can outlaw them by international law. Either that, or every country in the world follows the inevitable path of acquiring nuclear weapons, and we're all on a handcart to hell.

Mr Torrance admits that opposition to Trident doesn't define his political world-view. I don't know what does, but I do know that while I write a young man sits at a control panel waiting for the order. He is here and now, ready to launch H Bombs bringing hell on earth to untold thousands of our fellow human beings. I know that we have already consented to this atrocity. In fact - morally speaking - we have already done the deed. We have already signed the nuclear blank cheque and wait in the pious and hypocritical hope that it won't actually be cashed.

I find it an intolerable anguish that I live in a community that has agreed to this, the ultimate evil.

I don't know what issues he does choose to define his world-view, but I do know that, compared to this, all other issues are relatively insignificant.

Brian M Quail,

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