The Green Party leader and MEP, Caroline Lucas, will today highlight the cost of replacing Trident as US President Obama and Russian President Medvedev sign a new nuclear arms reduction treaty, cutting the number of warheads held by Russia and the US.
The issue is not being addressed by the larger parties in today’s election campaigning. Both the Conservatives and the Labour party have policies to renew the Trident weapons system. The Lib Dems say they would get rid of Trident, but would still keep a nuclear capability.
Different estimates of the cost have been offered between £25 billion and £100 billion. The two main parties are expected instead to focus today on £6 billion of “efficiency savings” and "waste" and the row over National Insurance contributions.
A ‘Flame of Hope’ rally will be held today in Brighton, to mark the Brighton to Worthing leg of the South Coast Relay, an initiative by Abolition 2000, a global network to abolish nuclear weapons. It will raise awareness of the crucial Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in May 2010.
In her speech at the rally on Brighton Pier at 10am this morning, Caroline Lucas, leader of the Green Party, who, despite the first past the post system which works against smaller parties, is the bookies' favourite to become the MP for Brighton Pavilion constituency, will say: "Initial estimates suggested that the cost of Trident replacement would be in the region of £25 billion. That's the equivalent of the money needed to pay for 60,000 newly qualified nurses and 60,000 new secondary school teachers for the next 10 years.
"Recent estimates suggest that when the annual costs of maintaining a replacement for Trident throughout its life are added in, we're looking at a bill of nearer £76 billion.
"To use that amount of money on a project that will make Britain and the world a far more dangerous place is politically irresponsible, morally bankrupt, and economically obscene.
"The £76 billion price tag for Trident replacement is desperately needed elsewhere, for energy efficiency, energy conservation, and renewable energy, making us more secure by reducing the impacts of climate change, and by ending our dependence on foreign oil - a key root cause of global terrorism."
Caroline will continue:"The Lib Dems tell us that they want to scrap Trident. What they don't tell you is that they would still keep a nuclear deterrent. The Greens are the only party who believe that a nuclear-free world is both necessary and possible."
"Disarmament isn't a dream. It can happen, and has happened in many places around the world. In a few short weeks, the British electorate has the opportunity to have its say too. We must send a message to all parties, that replacing Trident is immoral, irrelevant - and a cost simply not worth paying."