THE obvious answer to “Why is now the time not to renew Trident?” is, I suppose, because there is no time like the present. Britain’s nuclear weapons are unsustainable, expensive, dangerous and immoral.

For any waverers reading this: they are also in the opinion of various senior officers in our armed forces “militarily useless”.

There are other reasons, of course, why now is a particularly good time to say goodbye to our nuclear arsenal. The existing Trident system is reaching the end of its lifespan and the decisions regarding the long and breathtakingly expensive process of creating a replacement are gradually being taken. A sustained campaign now against renewal could at least put an end date on the UK being a nuclear armed state.

The issue of Trident and Trident renewal is of course one with particular resonance in Scotland, not least because the largest industrial site in the country is the base where the weapons are stored.

It’s an often overlooked tragedy that so many of our most skilled workers have little alternative but to use their skills servicing weaponry rather than something more productive. Unlike government at Scottish and UK level, as Labour leader I’ll take defence diversification seriously.

I have proposed that a Defence Diversification Agency (DDA) be established – jointly between workers, industry and government to ensure that jobs and skills are not just maintained, but also expanded.

Working with those employed in the defence industry, it would identify how the skills they have and technology they work on can be put to more socially productive use.

We need a strategy to redeploy those skills to tasks that will build a stronger country for all, and these are the issues that a DDA would be tasked with taking forward in practical terms.

This task isn’t impossible. Many facilities in the US have successfully made the transition to a post-nuclear age. The government at UK and Scottish level could learn best practice from these and other experiences worldwide.

The next general election will take place in 2020. If a Labour government is elected committed to ending Trident renewal then we will enter government with a plan, as part of a wider industrial policy for protecting skills and diversifying work so that no jobs or skills are lost.

The case for a Defence Diversification Agency is a practical one, but it is made because we have a moral duty, and strategic defence and international commitments, to make Britain and the world a safer place.

As a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Britain should therefore give a lead in discharging its obligations by not seeking a replacement for Trident, as we are committed to “accelerate concrete progress” towards nuclear disarmament.

We should do so now.