Hardly had I posted on the potential lobbyfest that might accompany any thought of ditching the Trident Missile System than some more detail was laid out – with the strong suggestion that Trident could indeed be for the chop.
Perversely, one factor that may score against Trident replacement is that the new and improved two-headed donkey could paint it as part of the New Labour past. Of the coalition partners, the Lib Dems are firmly against renewal, and the Tories may decide to bodyswerve the decision, claiming no ideological linkage, and leave the military to figure out their priorities from whatever budget is allocated.
So far, so logical, but the elephant in this particular room is the Royal Navy and their formidable lobbying capability. Together with weapons manufacturers, their agents, and a wide convocation of hangers on, the Senior Service will fight to the bitter end to retain this jewel in its crown. And in so doing, it will have the support of most of the Fourth Estate.
Of the print media, only the Mirror, Independent and Guardian could be expected to treat the issue of Trident replacement on its merits. All of the Murdoch, Rothermere and Desmond papers will come out for replacement: their tone towards any move to abandon the system will be uniformly hostile. This will be used by the Navy to browbeat the coalition into finding the money to keep Trident.
Meanwhile, the lobby group that loves to harp on about “waste”, the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance (TPA), will remain silent, even though the savings from cancelling Trident replacement would dwarf many of their other pet hates. Why so?
Well, the success of the TPA lies in its ability to get its stories into the papers. If its stories ceased to chime with the agenda of those papers, the stories would not get published. Worse, those papers that had previously treated TPA propaganda as established fact might start to treat that propaganda strictly on its merits – or lack thereof.
There’s waste. But, also, there is good old fashioned patriotism, married to self interest. This can be used to gloss over the inconvenient fact that the country cannot afford, and does not need, the Trident Missile System.