Tuesday, 24 January 2017

A Trident Without Prongs

I have always thought that Michael Fallon is one of the most obnoxious and dissembling of Tory MP's.  Very little that emanates from his lips is more than weasel words.  His performance in Parliament yesterday did everything to reinforce that long held impression.  But, his weasel words this time were so weaselly that he, in fact, undermined his own objective.  Everyone in the world and their dog, as well as their dog's friends knows that, last year, a British Trident missile failed in a test firing.  The real questions that Fallon had to answer, therefore, had nothing to do with the detail of that technical failure, and everything to do with who in government was first told about that failure, when were they told about, and why did they cover it up?  By failing to answer any question about that failure, Fallon has now called into question the actual reliability of the Trident missile system itself, because the question that now must be answered is if the government are prepared to lie, by omission, to this extent, what else are they trying to cover up about the functionality of Trident.  A missile that is more likely to head for the US rather than Russia is hardly a deterrent to Putin or anyone else other than perhaps Donald Trump!

The idea that Fallon and the government could not tell Parliament, and the rest of the country about this failure for "security reasons" is absurd.  Firstly, on every previous test firing, they have been quick to publicise a successful test, and telling the world about successful tests tells them as much about the missile as does telling them about an unsuccessful test.  By publicising the successful test, it also implicitly tells everyone that if you don't publicise a test, then it was likely to be because it had failed.

But, worse than that.  The government has to inform all civil aviation authorities in advance that it is going to undertake such tests, telling them, where, when and on what trajectory the missile test will take place.  Otherwise, it would pose a danger to civil aviation.  What then happens is that as soon as such public notification is given, the Russians, and any other country interested in obtaining information about Britain's Trident missile system send their own navy and spy ships, to surveill the launch, and to monitor the test.

According to The Silent Deep, by Peter Hennessy and James Jinks, the Russian commander of one warship, observing the 2012 test launch, sent a message afterwards saying, “Bravo November, this is Russian warship. We sincerely congratulate crew of your ship with the successful completion of the ballistic missile Trident II launch exercise.”

So, everyone else in the world can no about the failure of Trident missiles, but the British public who pay tens of billions of pounds for this failing deterrent have to be kept in the dark about it, and so does the british Parliament.  

There is a pattern here.  For the last 7 months, Theresa may's government has kept the British parliament and British public in the dark about what her plans for Brexit are.  She claims that we cannot be told for disclosing her objectives to the EU.  That is nonsense.  The Tories would be up in arms if a trades unions negotiators went into negotiations with employers without first getting the backing of the union's members for the terms of the negotiations.  Moreover, as soon as the negotiations open, May and the Three Brexiteers will have to set their demands on the table for the EU to discuss!

In both cases, the real reason that May does not want to be open about things with the British public is because they have no faith in what they are defending.  They have no real plan for Brexit, they know they have no bargaining chips, as her ridiculous threat to turn Britain into an equivalent of Batista's Cuba, if she didn't get her way demonstrated.  And given their reluctance to discuss the well known failure of Trident, we can only assume that for all their assurances, they have something more to hide about this hugely expensive white elephant.  The same thing applies to the other expensive white elephants they are asking the British taxpayer to pay billions to fund, such as HS2.

In Parliament, Tory MP's lied once more, as they did in the debate last year over its renewal.  They openly lied when they said that Britain's nuclear deterrent had prevented the country suffering any aggression since 1968.  In 1969, the campaign of bombing by the provisional IRA began, lasting for another 30 years; in the 1970's, Britain was engaged in, and lost the "Cod Wars" with tiny Iceland over fishing rights; in 1982 Argentina invaded and occupied the Falkland Islands, leading to the loss of hundreds of lives of British troops in trying to regain them; more recently, Islamist terrorists have attacked the London Transport system and elsewhere.  In none of those instances of aggression did the massively expensive nuclear deterrent act as any kind of deterrent, nor could it have done so.  It has proved to be as useful as a chocolate teapot, but far more expensive.

It appears that the missile headed for the US rather than the South Atlantic, because of faulty information sent to it.  That is worrying.  The test took place under near perfect conditions for such a test, and yet it was sent faulty information.  Imagine the situation where not just one missile is being fired under test conditions, but where dozens of missiles are being fired under the conditions of duress and high tension that would exist in a period of war!

But, of course, Fallon did not want to answer any questions for a further reason.  Its not just a matter of an ineffective Trident missile system.  Fallon produced his stream of familiar weasel words for another reason.  Answering the question of who knew about the failure, when they knew, and why they decided to cover it up has nothing to do with discussing operational information about Trident.  It is purely a question about process, about the mechanism by which government itself operates, and in this instance the way it operates to deny vital information to Parliament and to the British public.  So much for their claims during the EU referendum about the desire to restore parliamentary sovereignty.

They are lying bastards.  We should trust nothing they say whether its on Trident, Brexit, the economy, HS2 or anything else.

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