A clear and present danger

Able Seaman William McNeilly has done the state some service.

In fact, we all owe him.

For if only a fraction of his allegations about the Trident nuclear submarine fleet turns out to be true then the people of these islands face an existential threat.

McNeilly’s report alleges 30 safety and security flaws on Trident submarines.

As I have written here before the concept of the ‘independent British nuclear deterrent’ is a fiction.

The system is as American as James Dean and drive in movies.

The UK is the only nuclear-armed power that does not build its own nukes.

That the weapons are of American manufacture gives Uncle Sam a crucial level of control.

The idea that Britain is an independently armed nuclear state like , say, France of Pakistan is risible.

When the USA had arms talks with the USSR back in the Cold War days, the Polaris missiles were included in the American inventory.

The idea that these weapons that are controlled by Uncle Sam in British boats deter anyone from attacking the UK is darkly comedic.

Ironically despite the ruinous cost of Trident and the white elephant aircraft carriers (planes not included) the United Kingdom has a very small navy and is rather ill-equipped to provide a naval defence force to likely threats.

It is a given among defence experts that the current Trident system is an expensive status symbol that contributes nothing to the security of the UK.

The replacement for Trident (estimated cost £100bn) was an issue in the recent General Election.

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon made it a ‘Red Line’ issue for supporting a minority Labour Government under the hopeless and hapless Ed Miliband.

If we owe Able Seaman McNeilly a debt of gratitude and we most certainly do, then we also owe the folks at the Sunday Herald.

They too have done the state some service.

Regular readers here are fully aware for the failures of the Scottish mainstream media over the years of the Ibrox shambles.

Professor of Journalism Roy Greenslade even coined a term for these loyal presser poodles, ‘stenographers’.

However, the value of a muscular free press is to hold the powerful to account and report what is in the Public Interest.

The up caps are entirely intentional dear reader.

Where the tabloids often go wrong is that what the public is interested in is not necessarily in the Public Interest.

Nuclear submarines colliding in the North Atlantic IS in the Public Interest as opposed to the chaotic private lives of self-absorbed broken people called ‘celebrities’.

Similarly, the story that a paedophile ring may have more or less openly operated at the higher levels of the Thatcher government in the 1980s is of Public Interest.

McNeilly has alleged in an 18-page report that the Trident boats have a dockside security regime that wouldn’t pass muster at a night club.

A source in the newspaper told me that the Sunday Herald did not rush to print with this story, but had the sailor’s allegations verified by independent experts.

It is what I would expect of a quality operation.

During the recent election campaign, the replacement for Trident was a redline issue for the Scottish National Party.

It is now clear that the presence in Scottish waters of these submersible disasters in waiting is a red flag issue.

In Ireland even when the 26 County state came into being in 1922 the ‘Treaty Ports’ remained extant.

Britain had military access to Cork harbour and maintained a naval presence in Lough Swilly here in Donegal.

That would take the negotiating skills of Eamonn De Valera in the first Fianna Fáil government to remove them.

Last September the people of Scotland just had to put a mark in a piece of paper to be rid of Trident, but some of them were apparently frightened.

Now the courageous Able Seaman McNeilly and the Sunday Herald have revealed a real reason to be fearful.

They have done the state some service, and we know ’t.

No more of that.

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