Scrapping the UK’s nuclear missiles and submarines could be the price Labour could pay for a coalition with the SNP, according to party officials.
The SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford has signalled that getting rid of Trident would be a key issue on the negotiating table. It has been reported that Blackford said his party have been “pretty consistent that they don’t wish to see nuclear weapons”. Blackford also said:
“We want to make sure of course that we take our responsibilities for defence seriously. But we don’t believe that we should be investing in those weapons of mass destruction. These are not the answer for the needs of defence and security for the United Kingdom.”
However, GMB union warned that removing nuclear weapons and nuclear submarines from Faslane were risking the livelihoods of 6,800 service personnel and civilian staff at the site.An estimated 5,000 extra jobs are linked to the base in the supply chain and local economy in Argyll.
GMB’s Scottish secretary Gary Smith said:
“Given the Scottish Government’s record on creating jobs in the sectors that are held up as an alternative to Trident such as so-called green jobs this is nothing short of a campaign for mass unemployment. Where does it stop? We are making tubes for the Trident renewal programme at Rosyth. Is that work and those jobs to go?”
Labour’s shadow defence secretary Nia Griffith has stated that the party was “absolutely committed” to keeping Trident:
“We feel it’s a very important part of our defence, particularly now as we see a resurgent Russia and the US being a bit lukewarm about Nato. It’s very important the UK takes a leading role there.”
How many jobs depend on Faslane?
Faslane is the second largest single-site employer in Scotland, after the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow.
Faslane is one of the Royal Navy’s three main operating bases, alongside HMNB Devonport and HMNB Portsmouth. It is best known as the home of the UK’s four Vanguard-class nuclear-armed submarines which carry Trident II D-5 ballistic missiles.
Figures released by the Ministry of Defence detailed how many civilian jobs at Faslane and Coulport are directly dependent on Trident. Asked for the number of civilians working on the programme, the Ministry of Defence said it was 520.
“There are 520 civilian jobs at HM Naval Base Clyde, including Coulport and Faslane, that directly rely upon the Trident programme.”
It’s important to remember that the 520 jobs mentioned are civilians and strictly those working on Trident missiles.
However, the base does not just support Trident armed submarines. In addition to the nuclear submarines, the base is home to 10 conventional surface vessels of the Sandown class mine countermeasure and Archer class patrol vessel fleets.
Counting people supporting the Trident programme and the four submarines which host the missiles, the number comes to around 6,500 jobs.
The MoD say that around 3,500 of those are uniformed Royal Navy personnel, 1,700 are contractors and 1,600 are other civilian employees.
All 11 Royal Navy submarines will be based on the Clyde at Faslane from 2020, seeing the number of people directly employed at the base rising to 8,200. It is also understood that Scotlands ‘share’ of Trident is around £163 million a year and the annual spend generated by the base in the local area and the wider region is estimated to be more than £270 million per year, this includes spending by the 6,500 personnel based at Faslane in the local economy.
The number of jobs directly and indirectly supported by Faslane is just under 11,000; this comes from the 6,500 military and civilian personnel employed at HMNB Clyde and a further 4,000 created through the supply chain and the local economy according to an EKOS report commissioned by Scottish Enterprise Dunbartonshire.