Step back from the brink

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Stephen Lloyd, Eastbourne’s MP, will have joined the gathered LibDems in Brighton recently when they heard former Defence Minister Sir Nick Harvey speak.

He revealed details of the next government review of the Trident submarine nuclear missile system.

Delegates were told about the serious possibility of locking the warheads, unscrewed from their missiles “in a cupboard” for a rainy day.

No longer would our submariners be continuously patrolling the oceans with the means of inflicting instant mass death.

Most of us know about hanging on to something “just in case”.

About 50 years ago I had a fantasy of maintaining our car myself.

It was the sort of thing blokes did. So I bought a hefty aluminium syringe to inject grease into engine nipples.

Soon this found itself in the shed where it languished unused for decades. A couple of years ago I finally chucked my nipple greaser, albeit with a little sigh.

It was a final farewell to the delusions of youth.

This is how nuclear disarmament could happen; not with a ringing announcement, but by way of virtual disarmament, and a gradual forgetting.

It would dawn on us that we are never going to use the warheads, or even think of using them. An absent-minded step away from the abyss. That would be good enough.

Meanwhile, virtual disarmament is a step in the right direction.

There would be barely a whimper from the public. Much of the military would certainly be in favour of full nuclear disarmament – they want gear they can actually use.

Ministers could then concentrate on our real security problems – financial challenges, climate change and the need to nurture our planet’s resources.

We hope that the Government will, indeed, lock their nuclear white elephants away somewhere safe; and that Stephen Lloyd will heartily welcome this.

GEORGE FAREBROTHER,

Summerheath Road, Hailsham