Monday, 30 May 2011
Sold To The Lowest Bidder
It's common knowledge the Ministry of Defence have to save money and now they've dealt with sacking members of the military, changing military personnel terms and conditions and cancelling orders for equipment badly needed, what was left?
How about Britain's nuclear bomb base at Coulport on the Clyde?
The SNP is opposed to a nuclear fleet and I concur with their policy, however I understand Angus Robertson's concern when it was announced the running of Coulport is to be handed over to a consortium of multinational private firms led by the controversial Lockheed Martin. That's the same US based Lockheed Martin which analysed the data of the recent Census and which was the recent target of a 'significant and tenacious' hack.
Another multinational involved is Jacobs Engineering which purchased the Gloucestershire based Sula Systems last year although the company website states 'Sula is an independent consultancy with no vested interests'. There is no mention on the website that Sula is no longer a British company but owned by a US business.
Also involved in the managing of more than 200 Trident nuclear warheads will be Serco - the British government's favoured destination for outsourcing - which is unable to keep Scottish hospitals clean.
Despite official reports which have highlighted the dangers of outsourcing vital safety posts such as Coulport, the MoD plan to have the contract finalised in August and for the newly formed company ABL to take over in February 2012.
The MoD insists it will remain in overall charge, with Naval Base Commander (Clyde) retaining overall responsibility for nuclear activities, explosive safety policy, security and emergency management planning although it's highly questionable if they will have enough people to carry out this role as up to 200 Coulport workers have been told that they will be seconded to the newly formed private sector consortium.
Angus Robertson, the SNP's defence spokesman in Westminster said:
“Weapons of mass destruction are the most sensitive areas of military technology and should not be put in private hands,”
William Hartung from the Centre for International Policy in New York and author of a book on the Lockheed Martin said:
"A nuclear weapons depot was much too sensitive to be handed over to a private firm. This is particularly true in the case of Lockheed Martin".
Furthermore, Peter Burt from the Nuclear Information Service in Reading urged the Scottish Government to ensure that the new operational and safety arrangements at Coulport are subject to the highest standards of independent scrutiny and regulation.
As Defence is not a devolved issue I fail to see what influence the Scottish Government can have, particularly when Peter Burt remarked:
“As with virtually every aspect of the Trident nuclear weapons programme, this decision has been taken in secret and we have no idea of the costs or risks associated with it.”
Secret decisions? No surprise there. The sooner Scotland can rid itself of these weapons the better.