Friday 29 June 2012

Not a very well-made point

Apparently, Carwyn Jones wasn’t really serious when he suggested that Trident should come to Milford Haven.  He was just making a point.  And the point that he thought he was making was, apparently, that independence would cost jobs.
It seems to me that, far from making a point, he’s actually missing one, and rather spectacularly so.  Whilst it is true that the SNP have said that they would want to remove Trident from an independent Scotland, and whilst it is true that removing Trident from Scotland would mean that Scotland lost those particular jobs, it isn’t the process of becoming independent itself which leads to that outcome.  There’s a step missing from our First Minister’s thought processes here.
What we can say is that IF Scotland becomes independent, AND IF the SNP then form the government of that independent Scotland, then the Scottish Government will ask the owners of Trident submarines to remove them from Scottish soil (or should that be Scottish waters?).  But if Scotland becomes independent and then elects the Labour Party or the Conservative Party to govern it, then the probability is that the Scottish Government would be happy to keep Trident.
(For completeness, we should also consider the theoretical possibility that the Scots would elect a Lib Dem government, in which case the government would probably be both for and against on alternate weekdays, and agnostic on weekends.)
It’s clear to me that the key event in deciding whether Scotland loses Trident jobs isn’t whether the Scots vote for or against independence; it’s what sort of government they elect if or when they become independent.  I suspect that SNP will be mildly pleased (insofar as they care at all what Carwyn Jones thinks) that such a senior member of the Labour Party is unable to conceive of anyone other than the SNP governing an independent Scotland, but the rest of us certainly can conceive of such an outcome.
The only real conclusion that Carwyn Jones or anyone else can draw from what the SNP is saying is this – if the people in a country elect a government opposed to the siting of nuclear weapons on its territory, then those weapons will be removed, and the jobs of the people involved in manufacturing, deploying, and maintaining those weapons and their delivery systems will be lost.  Well, duh! 
Of course they will.  And those of us who are opposed to nuclear weapons whether pre or post independence have always known that those particular jobs would be lost by disarmament.  But diverting expenditure from nuclear weapons into peaceful purposes will almost certainly generate more jobs in total than it loses; and will certainly be more sustainable.
There are plenty of people, even in Carwyn Jones’ own party, who understand that.  And there are plenty of people who would like to see the rest of us having the sort of choice over nuclear weapons which the SNP would give to Scotland.


Welsh not British said...

I don't believe for a single moment that Carwyn was making a point.

He saw the opportunity to bring a certain amount of jobs without any effort at all and it backfired rather spectacularly.

There are many people in Scotland who will be voting yes just to get rid of Londons rule and or/WMDs who aren't SNP members or voters.

Much like there are many people in Wales who see Plaid as a means to an end.

Anonymous said...

Carwyn is evidently miss-informed over the jobs issue. All the nuclear missiles and avionics are made and maintained at the Atomic Weapons Establishment, Aldermaston in Berkshire. There are no proposals whatsoever to relocate this to Milford Haven. In fact the government announced a we're-all-in-this-together £2billion investment at Aldermaston in November 2011, specifically for the Trident renewal and maintenance works. Of course, there is the fitment and extraction works and servicing of the submarines, but this is done at the joint SSBN facility at Brest, in France. This only leaves re-fuelling jobs, which is not required, as the subs are nuclear powered. So what is this jobs bonanza to be claimed for Milford Haven ?

Anonymous said...

Matt Wither disagrees and ended his column for the Wales on Sunday saying 'It’s not hard to see why – issues like this are within Plaid’s comfort zone, and the influence of MEP Jill Evans, a former chair of CND Cymru, on Ms Wood cannot be overstated.

But it keeps them busy campaigning on the fringe issues, which is exactly where elections aren’t won from and exactly where Mr Jones wants them.

What sounded ludicrous two weeks ago now, strangely, sounds like some kind of political sense.'