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How Britain lives with the Bomb

An ex-Trident submarine captain considers the evolution of UK nuclear deterrence policy and the implications of a previously unacknowledged, enduring aversion to military strategies that threaten civilian casualties. This book draws on extensive archival research to provide a uniquely concise synthesis of factors affecting British nuclear policy decision-making, and draws parallels between government debates about reprisals for First World War Zeppelin raids on London, the strategic bombing raids of the Second World War and the development of the nuclear deterrent to continuous at-sea deterrence, through the end of the Cold War and the announcement of the Dreadnought programme. It develops the idea that, in a supreme emergency, a breach of otherwise inviolable moral rules might be excused, but never justified, in order to prevent a greater moral catastrophe; and it explores the related ethical concept of dirty hands – when a moral actor faces a choice between two inevitable actions, mutually exclusive but both reprehensible. It concludes that, amongst all the technical factors, government aversion to be seen to condone civilian casualties has inhibited government engagement with the public on deterrence strategy since 1915 and, uniquely among nuclear weapon states, successive British governments have been coy about discussing nuclear deterrence policy publicly because they feared to expose the complexity of the moral reasoning behind the policy, a reticence exacerbated by the tendency of policy and media investigation to be reduced to simplistic soundbites.

Don Leggett

7 Re-engineering naval power The finishing years of the nineteenth century witnessed the final scenes of the passing of the old Navy and heralded the birth of a new service – a service old, indeed, in tradition and esprit de corps, but new, not only in material and the fruits of invention, but also in ideas, in greater vision, and in the fuller knowledge of the value and the uses to which that material could be put for the furtherance of our strength afloat and our assured domination of the seas and oceans. Reginald Bacon, first captain of HMS Dreadnought

in Shaping the Royal Navy
Winston James

practical sense of the term for the first time in his life. He was an active member of the Central Branch of the Workers’ Socialist Federation (WSF), the very first time that he became a disciplined party activist. Three groups and institutions were crucial in the process of his accumulating this ‘radical knowledge’. The first was the group around Sylvia Pankhurst, the WSF, which she founded and led, and its organ, the Workers’ Dreadnought ; the second was the Hoxton-based International Socialist Club (ISC), in

in The Red and the Black
Claude McKay’s experience and analysis of Britain
Winston James

the Workers’ Dreadnought Soon after his arrival, McKay made contact with Sylvia Pankhurst and before the end of 1919 began to work with her party, the Workers’ Socialist Federation (WSF), and on the newspaper she edited, the Workers’ Dreadnought . The following summer he attended the historic Communist Unity Convention in London, which laid the foundations for the formation of the Communist

in West Indian intellectuals in Britain
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Dirty hands and the supreme emergency

unable to articulate the complex ethical factors associated with these policy areas in a suitable public environment, governments have tended to avoid occasions where extempore intervention might be necessary, and official intervention has tended to be either by proxy, formulaic or more usually not present at all. The current process for procuring Dreadnought is symptomatic of this lack of engagement. Since the 2006 White Paper, however, the Labour government, the 2010–15 Coalition and, it appears, the 2015 Conservative

in Supreme emergency
From movement to dictatorship, 1919–26
Keith Hodgson

nor the CPGB’s critique. A contributor to the WSF’s paper, Workers’ Dreadnought, even gave an ironic welcome to the news that Mussolini had come to power, arguing that the March on Rome should finally dispel any faith in parliamentary methods and herald ‘the beginning of the last fight … Fascismo destroys the great illusions of democracy … [Mussolini] has purged the revolutionary organism of the rot of centuries of weak-kneed temporising … He has brought the class war. Let it spread.’30 The Dreadnought also printed an article by the exiled Hungarian communist Georg

in Fighting fascism
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Richard Taylor

ELF should be expelled from the WSPU. This decision was confirmed when Sylvia, accompanied by Norah Smyth, met with Christabel and Emmeline Pankhurst in January 1914.31 Pankhurst’s response was to amend the name of the ELF to ELFS – the ‘S’ signifying Suffragettes – much to the irritation of her mother and her sister. Sylvia also launched her newspaper, The Woman’s Dreadnought. In an early article she reiterated her belief in the necessary connection between the struggle for the vote and the struggle for socialism, and she confronted directly the elitist, class

in English radicalism in the twentieth century
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The defence budget
Michael Clarke

is operated by the Royal Navy in its fleet of Vanguard submarines, but as the strategic deterrent force, this was previously built with ‘Treasury money’ – it was a national asset, not a navy one. After 2007, however, the £41 billion costs of building the Dreadnought successor that will replace the existing Vanguard force in the 2030s have been put into the main defence budget (House of Commons Library, 2017a : 15). 2 The costs of the new Dreadnought programme during its peak spending years in the early

in The challenge of defending Britain
The Royal Navy’s image problem in War Illustrated magazine
Jonathan Rayner

reflection of the popular appeal of and public interest in the navy in the decades leading up to the war (a period distinguished by highly competitive naval construction in Britain and Germany2), images of and stories about the wartime activities of the Royal Navy occurred frequently in the magazine throughout the conflict. Indeed, evidence of the importance of naval rather than military imagery was manifested in the front cover illustration of the very first edition, a portrait illustration of the dreadnought battleship HMS King George V.3 This chapter concentrates

in A new naval history
Comparing Mary Macarthur and Sylvia Pankhurst
Deborah Thom

restructuring state welfare. She set up her offices in a pub, once the Gunmakers Arms, renamed the Mothers Arms. Lenin’s criticism of her in Left Wing Communism: An Infantile Disorder alongside German socialists was based on his assertion that revolutionaries should always work for the class rather than the system. He famously said they should support Labour ‘as the rope supports the hanged man’.44 Her journalism, especially in her own newspaper, the Women’s Dreadnought45 until the Russian revolution when she renamed it the Workers’ Dreadnought, increasingly reflected

in Labour, British radicalism and the First World War