We say good bye to former head of the British army Lord Bramall, who has passed away aged 95.
Few of Bramall’s obituaries report what we knew him for: his powerful opposition to Britain’s nuclear weapons system.
In retirement he joined some of the British military’s leading figures to speak out against Trident, something he considered an ‘irrelevance’.
Bramall, General Lord Ramsbotham and General Sir Hugh Beach wrote in The Times on the 16 January 2009 that ‘the issue of a world free of nuclear weapons [is] firmly on the public agenda. But it is difficult to see how the United Kingdom can exert any leadership and influence on this issue if we insist on a costly successor to Trident that would not only preserve our own nuclear-power status well into the second half of this century but might actively encourage others to believe that nuclear weapons were still, somehow, vital to the secure defence of self-respecting nations.’
Columnist and ex-Conservative MP Matthew Parris said in response that their voices ‘were the visible part of an iceberg. Submerged, and still serving within the Armed Forces, are scores of silent experts and silent military leaders among whom the doubts expressed [about Trident] are widely shared, and have been for years.’
Bramall continued to campaign against Trident until the very end of his life. He said in May this year that ‘Trident has lost its credibility. It no longer deters any perceivable threat to the United Kingdom and it could not be used or even threatened under any circumstances. I believe the country would obtain more credit and respect from making a positive contribution to the much sought-after multi-nuclear disarmament debate.’
Bramall confirmed what our movement knew from decades of research and campaigning that there is no security case for Trident.
Kate Hudson, CND general secretary, said: ‘As well as dismantling pro-Trident arguments about security, he addressed the argument Tony Blair favoured, that Trident is an important status symbol.’
According to Bramall: ‘The much cited “seat at the top table” no longer has the resonance it once did. Political clout derives much more from economic strength. Even major-player status in the international military scene is more likely to find expression through effective, strategically mobile conventional forces, capable of taking out pinpoint targets, than through the possession of unusable nuclear weapons. Our independent deterrent has become virtually irrelevant except in the context of domestic politics.’
Hudson continued: ‘We can see in this general election how Trident operates at the level of domestic politics. “Are you ready to kill millions of people with nuclear weapons when you become Prime Minister?” is the idiotic new ‘virility test’ for prime ministerial hopefuls that has emerged since 2015.
‘It is sad that Bramall isn’t here to confront this dangerous idiocy with his authoritative voice.’