Quotes of the day

The signpost says "Hell, 50 miles". There’s a man by the side of the road selling handcarts…

Heard on the radio this morning, a Labour MP from Brighton (may have been Des Turner, can’t quite remember) explaining why he would be voting against Trident. It’s not a deterrent, apparently; especially when the main threat to national security comes from terrorists ‘and we don’t know where they are’. Yes, yes. Because the main, crucial, reason we haven’t been using nuclear bombs in Afghanistan is because we can’t locate the right people to nuke.

Also, there’s a new initiative to impose a kind of national curriculum on babies, from birth to starting school. Children will be assessed on whether they can play with their toes, make random marks with their fingers and hold tools and books. Beverley Hughes, the children’s minister, has "rejected suggestions that a 92-page set of practice guidance featuring
513 skills and attitudes children should acquire which accompanies the
framework was excessively detailed".


12 responses to “Quotes of the day

  1. Nick March 14, 2007 at 8:54 pm

    Bernadette Duffy is the best name ever!

  2. Pete March 15, 2007 at 10:33 am

    Sounds like that MP managed to weakly articulate a very valid flaw in the argument for Trident.
    Regardless of the insanity of the cold war and how silly it is for two parties to invest in mutually assured destruction, everything changes completely at the point where groups claiming independence from a nation state start having access to nuclear weapons. Things get very murky – I’d argue you can’t retaliate against a nation state for security failures allowing a terrorist plot to succeed, else the U.S. would have to nuke itself.

  3. Rachel March 15, 2007 at 10:52 am

    And would we have nuked Beeston for the 7 July bombers? (Mind you, that would probably only improve Beeston.)
    Even with or without Trident (and I always fail to come up with any justification for nuclear weapons, other than the fairly pathetic “well we’ve got to have them cos they exist and other people would if we didn’t” *rolls eyes*) invading a nation state for ‘harbouring’ terrorists is always quite dodgy; the invasion of Afghanistan was only done because the US needed to throw its toys at someone. The Taliban are a bunch of fuckers, but you can hardly blame them for the September 11 hi-jackings.

  4. Pete March 15, 2007 at 1:08 pm

    The argument for and against nuclear weapons is a moot point here. It’s a fair line of argument for a politician to recognize the historical precedent, yet point out that a change in circumstances renders it mostly invalid.
    Playing devil’s advocate, rolling your eyes may be a bit premature. The threat of nuclear sabre-rattling from nation states hasn’t completely evaporated yet, and certainly not to the point where the US can decomission everything. You only have to look at the deal North Korea just made to see what can be gained by developing a minor nuclear capability and then using it to extort money. No wonder Iran wants some of that action to bolster its position.
    What I’d like to have heard and haven’t is a plan to scrap trident and replace it with a hugely cheaper European deterrent and/or treaties with the US. We should have enough economic co-dependence with the rest of Europe to share the burden and between that and a long standing alliance with the states the insistence on owning our deterrent looks a lot like boys with toys.

  5. Will March 15, 2007 at 1:55 pm

    That’d be fine as long as the missile sites aren’t located in France, or Germany, or Italy, or…. hmm. I’m wrestling trying to think of a European country who hasn’t either tried to invade us in recent history or hasn’t buckled like a cheap patio chair in the face of an aggressive adversary.
    I say give all the nuclear weapons to Switzerland. Then if someone starts beating shit out of some other country the Swiss can dole out some punishment. Rather like your mum, but with a penchant for chocolate and cheese. Ok, that’s quite like most people’s mums.

  6. Rachel March 15, 2007 at 2:02 pm

    “You’re not having any nuclear weapons, you’ve all been very naughty boys! Here, have some multi-took knives instead and try hand-to-hand combat.”
    I love it.

  7. Pete March 15, 2007 at 2:38 pm

    See – problem solved.

  8. kate March 15, 2007 at 7:30 pm

    there’s a further problem with renewing Trident; it breaks our commitments under Article VI of the the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. oops. let’s hope nobody notices, eh.

  9. Will March 16, 2007 at 12:57 am

    Speaking as someone who maybe knows how big organisations work, and is quite troubled by that knowledge, I can tell you that no one has looked at that treaty since it was signed.
    It’s like any contract signed by a big company. It takes months to get in everything both sides want and then once it’s signed no one ever looks at it again.
    Is that cynical? Or maybe that’s just MEGA insightful…?

  10. kate March 16, 2007 at 8:46 am

    I’m sure you’re right. However, there’s one group of people who are most certainly still aware of the NNPT and that’s countries that have refrained from developing nukes because of it. And that includes some countries we’re not particularly best buddies with.
    So actually, there is a counter-argument to all this talk of renewing Trident being important in national security terms.

  11. Rachel March 16, 2007 at 4:34 pm

    ‘Nobody’s looked at the treaty’, have they? I believe countries have been using it to bash Iran over the head recently… and as someone else who knows how big companies work – cos there’s quite a few of us around employed by big companies, it’s kind of the nature of big companies – I can also tell you that people look at contracts when it suits them to look at the items it suits them to use at any given moment. It always helps to be aware of contractual details, so you can use them to argue your way out of something you don’t want to do. Your own contractual obligations, you tend to hope either nobody remembers, or is too afraid of you to bring them up.

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