Whilst supporters of the Trident nuclear weapons system continue to claim that 10,000 jobs will go if Trident submarines are not replaced, a different picture is painted by a report which was re-launched at a joint STUC/CND conference held on 6 June in Glasgow.
The report, sponsored by the Scottish Trade Union Congress (TUC) and CND, shows that less than 1,600 civilian jobs are directly or indirectly dependent on Trident and that spending the money on any other area of the Scottish economy would create 3,000 jobs.
In addition, the money spent on Trident is at the expense of other public spending, including local services and jobs, at a time when they are already under severe pressure because of the recession and the increase in national debt.
The effect of the banking rescue on Scotland’s economy will be profound and far-reaching. It will be felt particularly from 2010-11 onwards, with expected reductions in Scottish public expenditure of £850m – at least 7% of total spending.
The amount of money spent on Trident is escalating year on year. In 2009 it will be £2.1bn (£400m of this on replacing Trident and £1.7bn on maintaining the existing system). This is twice the 2004 figure and £400m more than the figure estimated by the ministry of defence in 2006. This has led to the Public Accounts Committee publishing a damning report stating that: “the department’s existing cost estimates do not provide an accurate baseline against which to measure progress.”
The report recommends the immediate creation of a Scottish Arms Conversion Agency, responsible to the Scottish Parliament. It suggests that there are strong reasons for the people of Scotland to demand their legitimate right to a share of savings if Trident replacement were cancelled, with funds being transferred to provide an equivalent number of jobs in the area.
In particular, the money could be transferred to harnessing marine power, as major energy companies have recently cancelled agreed renewable energy projects in Scotland.