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CON SP: Believing in Britain - The Future of Trident
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Believing in Britain
The Future of the Trident Nuclear Deterrence Programme
Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria - December 2012

Catherine Willoughby, the Shadow Foreign Secretary, gave her first major public speech at Devonshire Dock Hall, Barrow-in-Furness, outlining the importance of renewing Britain's nuclear deterrent.

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, and thank you all very much for this opportunity to speak to you all today. Before I say anything else, I would like to take a moment to pay tribute to all the brave men and women of Her Majesty's Armed Forces, who serve and who have served our country with poise and courage, and risk their lives to keep us safe. Their values of sacrifice, duty, and patriotism are ones to which we must all aspire in our own way. We salute them for their service, and to those currently serving overseas, we pray for their safe and swift return.

There is an oft-quoted, and indeed oft-unheeded, Latin saying by the Roman author Vegetius, who warns ever so presciently, "Si vis pacem, para bellum" - he who desires peace must prepare for war. Simply being peaceful on one's own is not sufficient to the maintenance of the peace; in fact, it is contrary to the cause it seeks to promote, because for every good, kind person who simply wants to get on, there is a bully who would use violence and coercion to get what they want. Their ability to do so is only strengthened when the good people refuse to stand up to them, for fear of confrontation. 

The very same principle that applies to human interaction applies to international affairs and global security: for all the liberal democracies like ours who are interested in ensuring the welfare of our own people and maintaining the peace, there are dictatorial aggressors who have no qualms about using the bullet and the bomb to attain their desired ends. We reject aggression in all its forms, of course, but it is not enough to simply condemn such it; one must show the aggressor that can, and will, resist, and that they will not give an inch. One must demonstrate to the bully that their aggression will not only be fruitless, but will cause harm to be inflicted upon them.

It is this principle applied on a grand scale that is the foundation of nuclear deterrence. We possess these destructive weapons not so that we may use them, but so that we may never have to. It is a strategy that has been endorsed by leaders across the political spectrum for over half a century. Nuclear deterrence is not a partisan issue; it is not a question of right vs left, but a matter of good sense versus naïve idealism, irrational fear, and shameless political expedience. Our nuclear programme was developed under both Churchill and Attlee - two men with little in common, but united in their belief in providing for our national defence and maintaining British leadership in global affairs - and has been continued by every Government ever since. That is, until now.

The Government have broken that consensus, and threaten to jeopardize our national security, global peace, and British leadership in world affairs as a result. In order to get a taste of power, they have gone to bed with the Scottish National Party, a party that for years shamelessly has used Trident and our national security as a political crowbar to attempt to pry apart the Union. Let us never forget what their endgame is - to use whatever means necessary to break our country apart. They have stoked irrational fears about our nuclear programme for political gain. Now, the Liberal Democrats have sold their principles for power, and jeopardise our long-term leadership in foreign affairs and our central security strategy for short-term political gain.

Not only is the policy fundamentally flawed, but the specifics are vague and undefined, as if the Government had no plan at all. They have no idea of where exactly they are going to relocate the programme, saying only that they would consult military experts. But those experts have already said before that there is no where else that Trident could be moved without hindering its operational capabilities. Trident is integral to our national security, and Faslane is integral to Trident. 

I, too, would like to live someday in a nuclear-free world, but we must not allow these dreams of grandeur to distract us from reality. This nuclear-free world that the Government describes at length and seems to root its policy in is nowhere on the horizon, nor is it even in the far distance; in fact, it is as fantastical as Narnia, for one simple reason - we cannot un-invent the atomic bomb. We must resist the temptation to walk through the Wardrobe and remain in the real world, succumbing not to naïve idealism or irrational fear, but to a principled realist security strategy. Because for all the good-hearted idealists who strive for disarmament and peace, there remain just as many, if not more, who would happily use violence and coercion to attain their ends, invoking even the most destructive and terrible force to get what they want.

The Cold War may be over, but real nuclear threats still loom. North Korea grows increasingly belligerent and has never equivocated about its intention to develop a nuclear weapon and delivery system. If successful, a nuclear North Korea would be a severe destabilising force through the Asia-Pacific region and threaten our allies, friends, and trading partners. Iran, meanwhile, continues to make progress towards their own nuclear programme, and given enough time and resources will be able to develop a weapons system capable of reaching targets throughout the Middle East, South Asia, and even Europe. Without the steely resolve of the free people of the West, without the truculence and determination of the United Kingdom, NATO, and our allies, these rogue nations with nuclear ambitions pose a grave threat to world peace and stability. I shudder to think of a world in which Iran and North Korea possess nuclear weapons, but the United Kingdom does not.

Let us also not forget the central role that nuclear deterrence has in staving off conventional war. While a nuclear war would be unthinkably destructive - hence the need for a strong and credible deterrent - we must not forget the tremendous destructive propensity of conventional warfare, which does not pale in comparison to nuclear war. The World Wars, the most destructive in our history, took the lives of almost 100 million people. It cost the states of Europe the accumulated wealth of a century, and resulted in political and social upheaval throughout the world. Indeed, it is estimated by some that Europe remains less wealthy than it was in 1914.

Since 1945, nuclear deterrence has ushered in one of the most peaceful and prosperous times in Europe's history. Even when ideological and political tensions between East and West were at their height in the midst of the Cold War, even in the heat of a cataclysmic clash of ideologies, between liberty and oppression, and freedom and tyranny, not a single shot was fired on the continent. We British, alongside the United States and our NATO allies, kept the peace for a generation, not by rendering ourselves impotent unilaterally, but by showing strength and determination. In a nuclear war, there are no winners; when the cost of war is so unthinkably high, even the strongest of enemies will be forced to find a diplomatic resolution to their disputes. Our nuclear programme has been instrumental in the maintenance of peace from war, both nuclear and conventional. To abandon it now would be to put all that work at risk.

Make no mistake, the UK's nuclear programme alone is not sufficient to stave off these threats; after all, we only have four nuclear missile submarines, one of which is at sea at any given moment. The United States still remains the keystone to the global nuclear deterrent apparatus. As a result, some may be inclined to say, as our force is already so small, what is the point in having it at all? To those people, let me ask this: What sort of message does it send to our allies that Britain is unwilling to pull its own weight in ensuring global security and stability? And even more importantly, what message does it send to our enemies, that Britain will not contribute to the defence of democracy, freedom, and liberty and the opposition against tyranny, aggression, and violence? 

Trident also has an economic component, which, while hardly the primary purpose of the programme, is tremendously important to the people who rely on it for their livelihood. In Clyde, Trident supports up to 7,000 jobs, including uniformed Royal Navy, private contractors, and others involved with maintaining and operating our nuclear deterrent. In an area with few other economic opportunities, Trident is an integral part of the local economy. These people perform an instrumental role in our national security, the defence of the free liberal order, and should not have their livelihoods pulled out from under them, as the Government proposes to do.

But the Trident missile programme is about more than our national defence, it is about more than jobs in Clyde, it is about more than nuclear weapons. It is a fundamental question: do we still believe in Britain? Do we believe she still has a role to play in global leadership, in defending the free world against the forces of tyranny, and in protecting the rights and freedoms we hold so dear from those who would take them away from us? While the Government have made their stance clear, we Conservatives answer that question with an unwavering, absolute, and unequivocal, "Yes."

Under a Conservative Government, Britain will always believe in itself. The last time our country disarmed unilaterally, the most destructive war in human history ensued; we as Britons must never make that mistake again. We will do our part in the maintenance of peace, law, and freedom. 
We will renew the Trident programme to keep it viable through the 2060s as an integral part of our national security strategy, keep jobs in Clyde, and send a clear message to both our allies and our enemies that Britain will never shy away from the defence of democracy, nor will we shirk our role as leaders of the free, open, and liberal order that we ourselves helped to establish. 

Not only will we renew the Trident programme, we also will make our deterrent stronger and upgrade it to replace the existing Vanguard-class submarines, introduced in the 90s and intended to last for 25 years, with the more modern, more capable Dreadnaught-class submarine, to be produced right here, at Devonshire Dock Hall, creating shipbuilding jobs to sustain families in Cumbria. Under the Liberal Democrats' plans, those jobs would not be created. The upgraded deterrent will ensure that Britain can honour its duty as a member of the Western alliance, a nuclear weapons state, and a defender of the free world.

We will root our national defence not in naïveté, irrational fear, and political expedience, but in convictions of honour, courage, and good sense. And most importantly, we will never be afraid to stand up the values we believe in, and muscle to back up our principles. Thank you all very much, and have a good evening.
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The Hon. Catherine Willoughby MP
Shadow Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (2012-present)
Member of Parliament for Windsor (2008-present)
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Trident, not many people have spoken about that...

My flippant nature aside the speech is good, you batter the Lib Dems a bit on an issue they sport several scars and you deliver some strong policy ideas. Basically if there's a checklist for speech writing you nail most of the points on it, strong work.

Tories: +8
Lib Dems: -3
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