When Jeremy Corbyn was elected to lead the Labour Party, Conservative Campaign Headquarters (CCHQ) launched an impressive and apparently effective campaign to seize the initial narrative and establish him as a threat to the national security of the UK. The main argument then was that he met with terrorists and seemed to be at least not discouraging of Hezbollah and Hamas.
Sweep all that aside – that stuff only makes someone a threat to citizens’ security and endangers our international diplomatic existence – it doesn’t really pose a threat to the existence of the nation. When he said that, as Prime Minister, he would not give the order for a nuclear missile launch however, he became a real and extant threat to the whole nation. Jeremy Corbyn is in danger of comparison to Robert Lundy, the Governor of Londonderry who sought to hand over the city to Catholic forces during its storied siege.
The entire UK nuclear weapons system is referred to as Trident – a system comprising four Vanguard class submarines, their Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles and their warheads. They are an intensely powerful tool of international diplomacy and defence, patrolling undetected beneath the waves, occasionally popping up to check Northwood is still broadcasting and that Women’s Hour on Radio 4 is still there. They are our citadel’s walls.
The Prime Minister can, in consultation with the armed forces, decide whether or not to launch nuclear missiles. In the event that the UK is wiped out, it is understood that a submarine commander will open a safe and extract a secret letter written by the Prime Minister, giving instructions to the Trident fleet. It is understood that the instructions will fall into the range:
- Launch at predetermined targets
- Do not launch and surrender to enemy forces
- Seek to join up with the US Navy and receive orders from there
- Seek to join up with the navies of Canada, Australia or New Zealand and receive orders from there
The principle of the secrecy and uncertainty approach is designed to reinforce the idea of Mutually Assured Destruction – the idea that any nation seeking to do ours harm can expect the harm to be repaid – if you wipe out London, you lose Moscow, etc – and there’s nothing you can do about it.
But if you have a potential Prime Minister whose approach is to rule out ‘Launch’, then you have a very peculiar and abrupt end to the principle of Mutually Assured Destruction. You in effect have a clear run to invade or simply destroy. Without the nuclear risk there is practically no risk to any nation strong enough to take on our armed forces.
Further to this comes the political risk. If an enemy power could find a way to develop political influence in the UK, they would have to be quite literally mad not to seek now to support Jeremy Corbyn, the chap who decided he wouldn’t use the tools of defence at his command.
The big questions now will take a Corbynologist to answer. Does Jeremy Corbyn simply dislike the idea of using nuclear weapons, or is he, in the manner of Robert Lundy, intent on subjecting the nation to the will of its enemies. Is Jeremy Corbyn now not just a danger to the nation, but an enemy of it? And which will be the first bonfire to burn him in effigy?