Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Nuclear free?

Carwyn Jones wants to welcome nuclear-armed submarines into the deep waters of Milford Haven. They’re not on offer yet. No, any decision will have to wait for the Scots to make their minds up as to whether they  stay in or out of the Union.
Despite the Westminster’s protest that no decision has been made on whether to deploy Trident with ballistic missiles carrying nuclear warheads or not.
The announcement to place a contract with Rolls Royce in Derby earlier this week for a £1.1bn to develop reactor cores provides a pretty broad hint that Cameron is only waiting until a more convenient political time before he sinks his defense budget into the project. 
So the chances are that Trident will be developed despite it not making much sense in strategic terms and despite Liberal Democrat objection.
So when it comes on stream will the Scots want it? The SNP government could theoretically after independence negotiate a defense agreement with the rump UK government. But the SNP have said they want the fleet removed from its base on the west coast of Scotland so an agreement with them on Trident is unlikely. So Faslane naval base on the Clyde would likely close.
So where then would HM government move the four Royal Navy Vanguard submarines and the naval base that services them. 
At a guess, despite Mr Jones’s dearest wish, the base is unlikely to come to Pembrokeshire. The UK government are unlikely to put all its strategic eggs in the one haven.
With a fifth of the UK’s energy and gas being handled in the deep waters of the Haven it’s difficult to imagine that our “so called” nuclear deterrent would be placed in the area as well. 
So why then is the First Minister raising the issue now, after all even the decision on Trident is not due to be taken until 2016. 
The decision has less to do with Wales and more to do with the campaign to keep Scotland within the Union.
Mr Jones, who will be in Scotland for a meeting of British and Irish ministers on Friday, his remarks will be latched on there. He will no doubt be saying how he wants these prime jobs. The dog whistle message to the Scots “vote for the Union if you want to keep these jobs.”
Although Carwyn Jones claims to have the support of his cabinet on the issue  he is unlikely to get the backing of ordinary Labour members. Many of these  have been active in the peace movement and are unlikely to endorse a leader that wants to bring nuclear weapons to Wales. 
After all the Welsh Labour party in one of its conferences voted to abolish nuclear weapons. At a guess that policy has never changed. It will be interesting to see if there are any moves to change the settled view of the comrades. Unlikely, me thinks.  It might make for a less anodyne Welsh conference if the issue was to be debated.


  1. Labour members will always put the labour party first, first above Wales.

    Despite all the CND background, they'll still vote Labour, like they did with Iraq, PFI, privitasiation, widening gap between rich and poor etc etc. It's a tribal thing. Carwyn Jones knows this. It has nothing to do with policies, except anti Tory jingoism.

  2. First of all, Labour conference does not set policy and have not done so for decades. Secondly, Carwyn may well be playing games but do not write off Milford Haven so lightly. It is one of only two alternatives to Faslane and the other (Devonport) is already fairly full and has a lot of housing very nearby.