Trouble over Trident has struck deep into the souls of disaffected Labour politicians, from those who say they ‘disagree with Jeremy’ to those making clear they will go to the stake for the ‘independent’ deterrent. Their belief in it turns on three considerations, spelled out three years ago by Luke Akehurst in Progress. First, jobs: the renewal of Trident is a jobs-protection scheme, worth £100 billion (Akehurst asks ‘what Barrow, or for that matter Derby or Aldermaston, are supposed to do to replace the highly skilled engineering jobs dependent on Trident renewal’). Second, ‘punching above our weight’ to ensure a ‘place at the table’, most notably as a member of the Permanent Security Council of the UN, a politically bankrupt arrangement if ever there were one. Third, insurance, a policy with a very high premium but worth every penny when heart-wrenchingly packaged: ‘I support Trident renewal because I want my children and hopefully their children to have a country in 50 years time which is still protected by a deterrent so powerful that no other power that arises in the intervening five decades, however hostile or malign, would risk bullying us with nuclear or other WMD threats.’ This is the family-man doctrine of deterrence.
The Oxford Student recently ran – and later retracted – a story about a Bullingdon Club initiation ceremony which allegedly included burning a £50 note in front of a tramp. Whether or not the story’s true, it pales beside Baudelaire’s narrative prose poem ‘Let’s Beat Up the Poor’.