Let's Talk Merton is our monthly informal political discussion, which takes place on the 2nd Monday of the month.
In March, the theme was a world free of nuclear weapons - and the future of Trident. See below for the full review of the meeting.
A world free of nuclear weapons - and the future of Trident - the Let's Talk Merton view
A narrow, binary choice between renewing Trident and adopting unilateral disarmament is not ideal. The debate should consider our broader defence policy and our desired role in the world. Historic choices do not need to define our future path.
Trident represents the current gold star for first strike capability, but Britain’s defence doctrine has only ever been one of deterrence, not first strike - does national prestige, and keeping-up with the Americans, justify the huge extra expense?
To renew Trident will cost up-to one-third of our defence procurement budget (2018-35); this will significantly reduce the funds available for conventional defence procurement and the development of cyber defence capacity.
A commitment to unilateral disarmament could provide a powerful moral voice in the world, but it is not (currently) supported by a majority of the electorate, and may make our defence police more dependent on an increasingly isolationist USA.
A third choice is possible: for example, plane-carried nuclear weapons would have 50% lower yield but sufficient destructive power to meet long-standing British deterrence criteria at much lower cost – if the Government chose to act now.
A renewed commitment for multilateral disarmament should also be energetically pursued.