Perkins & Deterrence

Perkins - I've been looking for you everywhere!

Sorry, Sir. I've been in the archives.

What on earth for?

Well, I had to look up something about CND from the 70s, and I got side-tracked by some secret Cabinet papers about the Nuclear Deterrent.

Secret papers? Nuclear deterrent? Goodness Perkins, what a waste of time; we've got work to do.

But we might learn something from the past, Sir and avoid making the same mistakes twice!

Good grief, Perkins. That's never happened before so why should you think it could start happening now?

Yes, it does seem a bit unlikely under the current government, Sir.

But what was so interesting that kept you so long?

Well, it seems that there was nearly a government decision by the Callaghan government to scrap the nuclear deterrent.

Scrap the nuclear deterrent? Are you insane, Perkins?

That's not for me to say, Sir, but it wasn't my idea!

Well, whose was it then?

That part of the records is rather vague, Sir, but apparently there was a vote in Cabinet and it nearly got through.

But what on earth were they thinking of?

Well, it seems they had got hold of some book by a potty professor, Sir. His idea was that deterrence doesn't work.

Doesn't work? Well, it seems to have deterred the Soviets for 50 years!

But they say it could have been done far more cheaply and safely!

'Cheaply and safely?' But nothing else would have stopped the Soviets except the thought that they'd have been nuked back to the Stone Age if they'd attacked the west. Did the Labour Party actually WANT the Soviets to invade then?

Well, a few of them did, but they never quite got their grip on the party.

What did they hope to do then if they abandoned the bomb? Appeal to the Soviets' better nature?

Well, it seems that they were going to rely on peer-pressure, Sir.

'Peer-pressure'? The only peers they had at that time were led by Mao Tse-tung and Pol Pot! I've never heard such nonsense! What a bunch of loonies!

Indeed, Sir. Perhaps that's why they were known as the "Looney Left".

The whole thing is ludicrous, Perkins.

But I hear the idea is making a comeback, Sir. Some people want to abandon deterrence in the criminal system completely.

But crime would go throught the roof, Perkins, if people thought they wouldn't get punished for their crimes!

But there are apparently quite a lot of closet non-deterrenters among the ruling elite and cognoscenti, Sir. And they have a lot more influence than their raw numbers would merit. And they are very persuasive, Sir. They are convinced that peer-pressure will do a better job. They seem to have multiple professors on their side, too.

Perkins! Have you seen that film "The Nutty Professor"? Where do you think they got the idea for that from? I never thought I'd say this, but sometimes I thank God for the free press and papers such as "The Daily Mail" that will whip up the mass hysteria of the brainless mob against these nutters.

Indeed, Sir. Would you like to read today's copy?