15 Minutes Blog #GE2017: The Trouble with Trident

The hate filled rag that is the Daily Mail today used it’s front page to attack Jeremy Corbyn. This is standard fare for the paper, which is so Tory it may as well be publisher with blue ink.

The reason for the attack was that Corbyn refused to answer if he would use Trident, the UK’s nuclear weapons, to “defend Britain”. I’m sure to the core readership of the paper this is further evidence of the hippy’s weakness as a potential leader and he should have answered the question.

The problem is that you can’t use Trident to defend Britain. It doesn’t stop a nuclear attack on the UK, not in a weaponized sense. Trident won’t shoot Russian nukes out of the sky. It works because nobody with nukes will attack us because they know we can retaliate. 

Mutually assured destruction is how the nuclear arms situation works. Nobody fires because they know if they do, that’s all she wrote.

This always makes me wonder if perhaps we could save money and bluff. Say we’re renewing Trident, keep the subs milling about but actually use the cash to shore up the NHS on the quiet. Or fund school lunches. You know something useful that wouldn’t potentially end mankind.

Corbyn has been attacked for not agreeing with the continued funding of Trident. But it’s a reasonable thing to object to. In times of austerity why continue to pay billions upon billions for a weapon that will probably never be used. Why not sit with other nuclear powers and discuss this? Find some way to end the stalemate that has reigned since the USSR built it’s first nuke, kickstarting the tense face off of the Cold War.

A British PM would only use a nuke in two situations- if they went nuts and fired first, or as a retaliation. Neither is a defensive move. If Russia, for example, wanted to it would only take around 10 bombs of 100 megaton payloads to essentially wipe out Britain aside from a few folks in the Highlands and other remote areas. That’s every major town and city gone. (You can work all this out on the depressing Nukemap website).

At that point firing our nukes isn’t defending ourselves, it’s a final, needless retaliation. 

Who could morally justify firing at that point? We’d be down and out, and the last action of Britain in the history books would be lashing out. Condemning millions of innocents to death without hope of victory or any greater strategy beside a vengeful “f××k you” from our death bed.

In that situation you hope a leader would react with compassion and not rage. To resist the urge to fire back, to stop the death and destruction there and not add more to the radioactive pyre.

The nuke question is routinely trotted out. Corbyn wouldn’t give the “if necessary” answer because quite frankly it will never be necessary. The other nuclear powers can’t use theirs for fear of what it would unleash. So, why not just say “no, I wouldn’t use nukes”.

Well, Corbyn would have been attacked for this. Look at the lefty loony who says he won’t slaughter millions and leave countless others suffering and disease, what a wimp!

I would be far more worried of a PM candidate who could glibly answer yes to the nuke question or worse gleefully announce that they would have no remorse pressing the button. 

But thankfully none of the leaders seem that cracked. Although, has anyone asked Paul Nuttall?

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


15 Minutes #GE2017: Who to vote for?

The general election is fast approaching, and I thought I’d write about it on my blog. However, to stop it just turning into a massive rant I’m keeping it simple and to a 15 minute timer. So here we go.

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Ever since Theresa May announced the snap election a few weeks back the British press has been working itself up. The parties have been scrutinised, they’ve made announcements and they’ve started pitching their manifestos.

Now, I think voting is something everyone should do but I can understand people’s hesitation and doubts over our current system. I’m living in a different constituency at the moment, one currently held by the Conservatives and it leaves me in an odd position of not knowing who to vote for.

Under a proportional representation system it would be simple enough, and I would just pick the party I agree with the most. However, the first past the post measure that we employ in the UK means that there has to be some tactical voting, which sucks as it means voting against someone instead of for.

I’m currently inclined to vote for Plaid Cymru, as I respect their leader, agree with their policies and as we blunder into Brexit talks, would like someone to speak up for Wales in a way that I don’t think the other parties will.

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However, Plaid aren’t much of a force in the Vale of Glamorgan and so it’s likely to come down to Labour vs the Tories.

The Tories are right out of course. Their austerity push has just caused people to suffer and there is a startling lack of empathy about them. Witness how the NHS is doing in England under Tory rule. I also don’t like the “no deal is better than a bad deal” argument and the bullishness approaching Brexit.

And frankly, I don’t trust the Tories to serve the public properly. And I don’t want to see the NHS slowly fall apart until they can justify scrapping it. Look at healthcare in the States, and you realise that for all it’s flaws, the NHS is a brilliant creation and something we should be proud of.

So, to stop them do I vote for Plaid and hope they have an upswing in support? Or do I vote for Labour, a party I don’t have much warmth for.

Here’s the thing, I regard Labour as better than the Tories, but that’s taken a beating in my lifetime. It was a Labour government that lied to the public and entered an illegal war which has caused far more problems than any it solved.

And the party hasn’t helped itself over the last year or so with some monumental gaffes, infighting and by failing to stage a meaningful opposition to the Tories. Theresa May isn’t a strong PM, but she’s never really had to look like one because Corbyn has been so ineffectual on the opposite side of the house.

He seems a decent bloke, and some of his ideas are sound, but I can’t see him as a leader and I think Labour are so fractured that they would struggle to hold it together. May might have pushed the “strong and stable” line to hard, but at least the Tories all seem capable of falling in line behind a leader. Labour seem to have split, and there’s a nastiness to both factions. They’ve made it alarmingly easy for the Tories, by looking massively incompetent and disorganised in opposition.

Worse yet, Corbyn has announced that he won’t make a coalition with other parties, which seems foolhardy. If both of the parties fail to secure a majority he’ll be in an impossible position, either holding to his position and allowing the Tories to form a coalition and retain power, or else go back on his word and catch hell for it.

No, I think as a party leader you have to acknowledge that if you don’t get a majority you’ll do your best for the public and form a coalition with like minded parties.

As for the other parties? Well, there’s not much there:

  • The Lib Dems- They have a few decent policies and have cleverly set themselves up as the anti-Brexit party after Labour put up very little resistence to May’s plans. But the sting of 2010 still lingers and they don’t seem to have much of a chance.
  • The Greens- I admire the Greens for their enthusiasm, and they have some decent policies, but they haven’t got a hope, have they?
  • UKIP- Never.
  • Independents- They may be well meaning but I can’t think of one who actually made it to Westminster, and once there they are a lone voice. That being said, with the right manifesto and the right candidate it’s a possibility.

I guess I still have some thinking to do on this before I go to the polls.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Why we need a new anthem

Despite having been written off as a no hoper in the next general election, new Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is clearly worrying the Tories given David Cameron’s recent hyperbolic scaremongering and the rather desperate attempts of the press to find something to smear him.
Earlier this week Corbyn didn’t sing the national anthem at something remembering the Battle of Britain. Cue a meltdown, particularly from the right wing media.
How very dare he?! He’s dishonouring the memories. He’s snubbing Big Liz, blah, blah, blah.

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All this conveniently went down just as the House of Commons passed new cuts. Hmm.
Anyway, I feel all the fuss ignored the more important question- isn’t it about time we dropped “God Save The Queen” as our anthem?
There are many reasons it causes problems for different people and adding them all together it makes a convincing argument for a new tune.
Firstly, it’s not exactly cool that it’s a religious song, or more accurately a Christian song. Britain isn’t exclusively Christian anymore and it seems unfair that the anthem we have to sing or will have played when we win a medal doesn’t reflect our views. Why not just have a song about how great the UK is, that everyone, regardless of belief can get behind?
The second reason is similar. Not every Brit supports the monarchy, in fact many want it abolished. So, while they don’t wish the Queen harm, they’re probably not all that fussed on a song about her. Probably why Corbyn wasn’t singing.
Incidentally, you can love Britain without loving the Royals.
So, essentially we have an anthem which is rather divisive, which is the opposite of the idea.
The third reason is that “God Save The Queen” doesn’t represent the UK, because England lack the imagination to have come up with their own.
I’ve touched on this before but for Welsh people (and, as we’ll see, the Scots) “God Save The Queen” causes problems. In matches against the English we’re expected to sing respectfully to a second anthem because it’s “ours” while English fans can just boo, whistle and jeer throughout “Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau”. I’m not saying this always happens but I have observed it.
Welsh fans tend to respect “GSTQ”, but I doubt many feel it represents them. And if it did wouldn’t that be worse? That our opponent is using something which should be for all of us?
It also means that should there be any negative response by other home nations to “GSTQ” it’s viewed not only as poor form but stupidity. We’re booing ourselves, in essence.
Witness the grief Scotland got for booing the anthem compared to the lack of fuss when English fans do the same to other home nations. I think those Scottish fans were in the wrong, and deserved censure. Booing an anthem is disrespectful and not really fair. Even if you object to that nation politically the eleven or fifteen players on the field are no more responsible for that, just as we wouldn’t like to be held accountable for all of Britain’s wrongdoings and mistakes.
The Scots who booed were wrong, but doesn’t it show that “GSTQ” should go? It clearly meant nothing to those fans, just as it doesn’t mean much to many Brits.
In fact some English fans want a change, because they see being English as distinct from being British. Which it is. They want a new anthem for England, I suggest we get a new British one first and then focus on England’s themetune
When a Welsh athlete wins an Olympic medal they have to stand and listen to it. A song that represents one part of this United Kingdom, not all of it.
You can argue that it’s the anthem for the UK, but for me it doesn’t feel like that. It’s the anthem of another country, a country who is often our opposition on the field.
When “GSTQ” plays I feel nothing.
There is no stirring of patriotic feeling, no desire to sing along. It’s a song aimed at a deity I don’t believe in to protect a ruler I’m ambivalent about and a song I normally associate with a country who are our sporting rivals.

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Clearly it means nothing to Giggs wither

Also, an anthem is meant to be constant (unless a regime falls or the country changes) but this is one that will have to change. In fact, the Battle of Britain heroes that Corbyn “dishonoured” never heard “GSTQ”, for them the song was “God Save The King”. The anthem he refused to sing wasn’t even the same one they would have sung.
Yes, it’s time for a change. Get a new anthem, one that celebrates Britain and it’s people, not just one of our richer citizens.
Get one that acknowledges that we are a country of different faiths, beliefs and ideas.
Get one that is actually for Britain, not just the English one extended for the rest of us. Britain is not England and sidekicks, it’s a joining of three distinct countries, each with their own cultures and histories. Each one has its anthem, so let the shared one be distinct and illustrative of this different entity.
If England want to keep it, they can. The UK can have a different one, a better one.
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.