Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Trident Renewal: Where Do Our Spending Priorities Lie?

The Defense Secretary has announced £350m in more spending on replacing the unnecessary Trident nuclear submarines:
The Defence Secretary also announced a test launch of an unarmed Trident ballistic missile in the Atlantic Ocean last week which [The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament] branded "profligate and unnecessary", at a cost of over £25 million per missile and at least that for the test itself.
£25 million for a single test- that's over twice as much as the funding provided by the Home Office to address gang violence in problem areas (£10 million). For one test. Of a program that may end up costing £130 billion (!) in the long-term. That's over one-hundred times the cost of benefit fraud (£1.2 billion), supposedly so costly to the country as to be a governmental priority. So what's the purpose of Trident? Even Tony Blair admitted renewal was only for political expediency, and that Trident's efficacy was non-existent militarily. The spending priorities of the Coalition are quite striking. Some of the biggest social cuts have been so far.

These are just a few of the major policy proposals of the past two years, and not an exhaustive sample, but you get the point. Conversely, the top rate of income tax was reduced from 50% to 45% because the top rate was raising a mere £1.1bn in revenues. Not that this isn't a sober assessment of the relationship between a high income tax rate, market competitiveness and growth - contrasted with the figures above, in fact, it's an uncharacteristic appreciation of the bigger picture when it comes to Coalition (Tory) fiscal policy. The point is that when it comes to tax cuts for wealthy people, £1.1bn in revenues is a paltry sum, yet when it comes to paying for children to go to school, funding University students or NHS reform, it's the price of the world and then some. And notice that the combined sum of the above figures - £7.5bn, is just one seventeenth of the long-term cost of Trident. If this were a government serious about UK monetary policy - if deficit reduction, (as opposed to political grandstanding) were really the number one governmental priority, then this outmoded, cold-war relic would have been scrapped the day after the election.

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