The True Cost of Trident

Today it’s all about Trident. A Westminster committee has declared that a “Yes” vote would cost Scotland 19,000, as moving British illegal weapons off the Clyde would require fewer Scots to work on them.

There’s a massive moral problem with Trident – it’s a weapon that is indiscriminate about who it kills, and can kill thousands. But leave all that aside, if you can.

Trident is enormously expensive. Modest estimates of how much it would cost to replace the system run from around £10bn in initial outlay to £83.5bn over the next 50 years. Obviously this varies depending on which academic, think tank or politician you quote, but it is a lot of money.

To break it down, a tenth of the initial outlay, and taking an estimate that comes in on the low side  – Scotland’s share would be – is £1bn. If you take the Tory line on the number of job losses, and the relatively low initial costs of a replacement as £10bn, then the cost per worker would be over £5 million pounds.

That’s a conservative estimate on the money, and a Conservative estimate on the jobs. I can find much higher estimates of the initial outlay at £20 billion, and Nick Clegg is quoted as saying Trident will cost £100 billion over a mere 25 years. Given that Faslane is also a conventional navy base, and would remain so under independence, the number of jobs reliant on Trident are far fewer than 19,000.

The actual sums are likely to be even more staggering, per job. And the Tories are usually the first people to rail against what they deem to be Scotland’s bloated public sector.

At the same time as the UK government is scaremongering about the possible costs of independence, the costs of the Union are getting ever higher. And it’s ordinary families that are taking the financial hit.

Poor working families, women on maternity leave and single parents in Scotland – as well as the rest of the UK – will lose out, because of the Tory welfare reform bill.

But that’s only the tip of the iceberg. The Tories are also looking at cutting welfare payments to people outside the South-East of England – a sort of “London weighting” for the dole. Mercifully, Scotland won’t be as badly hit with Tory plans to regionalise public sector pay as we would have been before devolution, but that doesn’t meant to say that we’re entirely safe, either.

So, the best scaremongering that the No side have come up with recently is an over-estimated 19,000 jobs will be lost – although these jobs are for a weapons system that’s so vastly over-subsidised, that many, many more jobs could be created in health, education and local community initiatives than could ever be used to maintain Trident.

The Yes side don’t need to scaremonger. We just need to point to what’s already happening in Westminster.


Knit for freedom alone

I recently caught myself sitting on sofa knitting and watching the sheepdog trials on BBC Alba. Then I realised that middle age had not only beckoned, but I was dangerously close to donning one of those plastic headcovers to keep out the rain and buying a tartan shopping trolley on wheels.
Or perhaps not. Knitting is cool, nowadays. More and more of my friends have taken it up, joining the ranks of those – mostly women – who have long been nimble with needles. Knitwear is fashionable and making your own fits in with these austere times. And there’s also a growing band of crafters in the SNP.
Which brings us neatly to Stitching for Independence. This is a Facebook group which originally stemmed from a post by Elaine Wylie, who posted about a “Knit Your Own Scotland” book.


The group has so far been a forum for trading “Yes” patterns and posting photos of work, and planning a meetup at conference. It’s not just for knitters, but is inclusively for those who crochet, sew, or do any other form of needlecraft. Anyone can join, even if they’re only beginning, and – yes! – blokes can join too.
If you’re on Facebook and interested, look up “Stitching for Independence”, and ask to join. If you’re not on Facebook, e-mail me via the Flag and I’ll send you out details of the meetup when it’s been organised – or I’ll write about them nearer the time.
Every stitch brings us closer to national liberation!