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Cutting Trident [Sep. 23rd, 2009|01:02 pm]
Today in Politics
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New York. Gordon Brown has set a few hares running by disclosing that he intends to cut the number of Trident nuclear submarines from four to three when the system is upgraded. It has been seen in some quarters as the first major example of the spending cuts needed to reduce the public deficit.
In fact, the timing of Brown's announcement has much more to do with President Barack Obama's decision to call a session of the United Nations Security Council here tomorrow to discuss his vision of a nuclear-free world. It was always an option for Britain to reduce its number of boats. The Tories were certainly looking at the idea  but now Brown may have shot their fox -- Liam Fox, the shadow Defence Secretary, that is.
Some senior Labour figures, still haunted by the  old ghosts from the party's unilateralist past, are nervous about
looking "soft" on defence. Others, however, want Brown to go much further--by delaying the Trident renewal or even scrapping it completely, as the Liberal Democrats want. Some of the £25bn cost could be switched to getting better equipment  for frontline troops--an attractive idea given what is happening in Afghanistan.
Brown looks unlikely to go that far before the general election, partly because shipyard jobs are at stake. But if Labour were still in power after the election, it might be a different matter-- especially if Labour needed LibDem support in a hung parliament.