212016Jul

Charity support and recent events

Click HERE to read my latest column in the Wiltshire Gazette & Herald and Wiltshire Times
Michelle Donelan's Gazette and Herald Column 21/7/16
1.2 million people are members of Rotary worldwide with hundreds of them in Wiltshire. They come together to create positive, lasting change in our communities by organising events and raising millions of pounds for charity.

One of the crown jewels in Wiltshire’s charity events calendar is the annual Dragon Boat racing organised by Chippenham’s Wiltshire Vale Rotary Club and it was a pleasure last weekend to attend and present some of the prizes to the winning teams.

I made a small contribution by helping sell raffle tickets to raise funds for local charities and enjoyed giving the medals to the best fancied dressed team. Hundreds of local residents enjoyed the sunshine, stalls and friendly competition which was won by the team from Corsham based 21 Signals Regiment. Well done to all the organisers and volunteers.

After the boating concluded, many people headed to Melksham for Party in the Park, another fantastic volunteer-led charity event which not only provides some great entertainment but also showcases the amazing talent of local artists and bands.

In stark contrast to the enjoyable weekend of community events, my focus on Monday turned to national security.

The first priority of any government is the safety of its citizens and this is never more important than at this time.

We live in an increasingly dangerous and volatile world and the threats that the UK is facing are growing in number, diversity and complexity. On Monday Parliament was asked to vote on whether or not we maintain our Trident Nuclear Weapons. I believe that we should.

There are three main concerns that I receive from constituents regarding nuclear weapons; 1. It is too expensive. 2. It would not stop terrorist attacks. 3. We would never use it.

On the issue of cost, £31billion is a very large figure, but this represents approximately 6% of our overall defence spending, which is itself 2% of GDP. It is just 0.12% of total Government expenditure and I think that is a price worth paying for a strong and capable nuclear defence system that guarantees our security in an ever more uncertain world.

On point two, it is true that the attacks on the World Trade Centre, the 7/7 bombings, recent attacks in France, or any other recent terrorism, were not stoppable with nuclear weapons, but who is to say that in 5, 10 or 30 years’ time the threats are not vastly different to those we face today? North Korea is continuing to carry out nuclear and ballistic missile tests whilst Russia are increasing its nuclear investment. We simply do not know what the future holds.

On the third point, to address those who say that we would never use it, we are constantly using it. Our nuclear weapons are a deterrent designed to do just that. Deter anyone from launching a nuclear attack on us. A nuclear deterrent is the most effective way to deal with the most extreme threats imaginable and I believe it is vital that we retain that capacity.