The Curmudgeon


Friday, November 17, 2006

Mushrooming Conflicts

In a genuine democracy, should such a thing ever come to exist among our thug-bedazzled species, there will be debates over matters of controversy. In our present Mother of Parliaments, the prospect of debate is itself a matter of controversy. Should the elected representatives of the British people, however dishonest or vertebrally challenged, be permitted to diverge from the Government under circumstances when, as some of Tony's chums have admitted in connection with the matter of Trident, the debate must "be carefully managed to avoid deep fissures opening up inside the party at the time of leadership and deputy leadership elections"? The party is permitted to disagree over what flavour filling will occupy the grey suit that will impose Tony's legacy upon us; but the last thing anyone wants is an appearance of disagreement over an actual issue.

Trident is Britain's "independent nuclear deterrent", which, before the rules of the game changed, protected us from attack, invasion and annihilation by somebody or other. Presumably this protection was independent in the sense that, should NATO and the non-canine partner in the special relationship decide that Britain was not worth the trouble of starting a nuclear war, Britain's democratically elected government would be able to start one for us. Somehow, despite the presence of an independent nuclear deterrent, we have managed to become entangled in a war which could last a generation, and it seems that this has increased scepticism about the deterrent's value. The talking-up of the "threat" from Iran's nuclear programme, which so far seems immune to deterrence, may also have backfired a bit in this regard. Public opinion, it appears, is narrowly in favour of retaining a deterrent until voters are informed of the cost, which at present is estimated at twenty-five thousand million pounds and, if Trident's replacement is anything like identity cards or the 2012 Olympics, can only go up. All in all, it's probably a jolly good thing that Tony's coalition partners, the Conservatives, are still numerous enough and right-wing enough to keep our Mother of Parliaments from doing anything silly, like trying to fulfil the country's obligations under the non-proliferation treaty.

The replacement will have to be ready in twenty years' time or thereabouts, and will be chosen on the basis of decisions by a government whose idea of forward planning is to legislate for tomorrow's newspaper headlines. The Foreign Office last week claimed that al-Qaida is "seeking to acquire a nuclear bomb", which presumably means we need something bigger and better than a nuclear bomb in order to deter them - perhaps, if only We could lay hands on it before They do, the famous something none of us are thinking about at the moment. Once we have that, and depending on how the rules of the game change over the next couple of decades, we can then sell our nuclear weapons to al-Qaida and recruit them against the atheistic menace of China.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home