I had a conversation a while back on Nogs Blog regarding the expense of keeping the military and what would happen if the leaders of the US and UK woke up one morning and just scrapped our armed forces.
I half joked that America would be invaded by lunchtime that same day and Britain before dinner if we didn't keep the big stick but what with all the belt tightening going on and Gordon landing us £100bn in debt, there is one part of our military arsenal that could quite easily be scrapped and not only wipe out our debt but have no averse effect on our military at all.
Our Trident nuclear program is estimated to cost £75bn but in these days where the biggest threat comes from men armed with hand held weapons and backpacks full of explosives, doesn't it seem a very indulgent and expensive piece of weaponry? Fact is we don't need it and the chances of us ever using it is negligible so it seems the height of indulgence to keep bankrolling Trident while everything else goes spinning down the gurgler.
The only possible excuse anyone could making for remaining a nuclear power is the deterrent factor but that argument left the building a long time ago when the Soviet Union stopped being and terrorist cells, infuriatingly unbowed by our big, shiny nuclear missiles, became the focus. Nuclear America, Britain, Israel and now India have all been victims of these cells so being the owner of a handful of silo's holding weapons that could kill millions is meaningless so why keep them apart from to make ourselves feel big on the World stage.
My guess would be that if Gordon Brown went to the country and asked if we would prefer he spend £75bn on a patently useless weapon against today's threats or to spend £75bn building hospitals or schools he would be concreting over the silos by the weekend.
Of course he won't and will spend the money on retaining our nuclear status so we can all sleep safely in our cardboard boxes under the flyover knowing that the £75bn dust collector won't keep the bad men away but Gordon will still look good at summit meetings.