Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Jeremy Corbyn & Trident

Out of Step

‘SOME of Corbyn’s positions are flatly unpopular,’ Tom Crewe writes (LRB, 11 August).  ‘On Trident especially he is way out of step with public opinion.’  He supplies no evidence in support of this wild statement.  The CND’s website lists 11 different polls over the last ten years that have indicated majorities against renewal of Trident:  63 per cent in the Mail on Sunday in June 2010, 58 per cent in the Independent in September 2009 and so on.  Stop the War cites data compiled by Nick Ritchie and Paul Ingram, who reviewed all the polling data between 2005 and July 2013.  They found that ‘13 representative polls have offered a straight choice between renewing Trident or not. Opinion has varied from poll to poll and from year to year, but seven surveys have found more opposition to renewal than support.’  The average was 39.4 per cent in favour of renewing Trident and 44.4 per cent against, with the rest unsure.  When the cost of Trident is mentioned, support tends to drop significantly.  In a study conducted by Greenpeace in 2005, for example, 44 per cent supported Trident and 46 per cent opposed it, but if an alternative spending proposal was mentioned – the number of schools that could be built instead – just 33 per cent remained in favour and 54 per cent against.  A YouGov poll in 2009 that offered alternative spending proposals found that just 30 per cent opted to spend the money on nuclear weapons.
What’s more, these polls were taken when the costs of Trident were estimated to be much lower than they are now.  The lifetime cost of Trident is currently estimated at £205 billion and, according to the Conservative MP Crispin Blunt, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, could rise exponentially.   ‘This is a colossal investment in a weapons system that will become increasingly vulnerable,’ he has said, ‘and for whose security we will have to throw good money after bad – in fact tens of billions more than already estimated – to try to keep it safe in the decades to come.’
Frank Stone
Great Yarmouth, Norfolk
Letter in London Review of Books / Sept 2016
Letter sent to NV from Trevor Hoyle, Rochdale.

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