This story is over 5 years old.


Would You Authorise a Nuclear Strike Killing Hundreds of Thousands of People?

We asked some people in the street if they're as ruthless as Theresa May.

A picture of Theresa May's night terrors. In fact: Castle Romeo – an atmospheric nuclear test carried out by the US on the 1st of March, 1954, at Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands. It was the third largest test ever detonated by the United States

"You know what some people call us? The nasty party." Theresa May's not really helping the cause, is she? Case in point: on Tuesday she said she would order a nuclear strike that would kill 100,000 men, women and children. She didn't just come out with it randomly, though. MPs were set to vote on the renewal of the Trident nuclear weapons programme, estimated to be approximately £40 billion.

Parliament was debating it, and Scottish National Party (SNP) MP George Kerevan asked the former home secretary: "Can we cut to the chase? Is she personally prepared to authorise a nuclear strike that can kill 100,000 innocent men, women and children?"


Without batting an eyelid and with unnerving certainty, she stepped up to the despatch box and said, "Yes." Previous prime ministers have avoided answering this hypothetical question, but Theresa was refreshingly open about her willingness to rain death on innocents.In the end, MPs overwhelmingly backed renewing by 472 votes to 117, meaning mass death on this scale remains a possibility.

Does May's ease with the thought of eviscerating hundreds of thousands of souls make her a bit weird? Or is that pretty normal and totally fine? We took to the streets to find out if you would "do a May" and be up for killing 100,000 people at the touch of a button.

Graham, 23, Recruitment Consultant

VICE: So would you do it then?
Graham: I would never want to be the one that has to make that decision. You have to live with that for the rest of your life, knowing that you pushed that button. It's a horrible decision. 100,000 people is a lot. Just think of Hiroshima. A lot of innocent people died.

Where do you stand on Trident?
I think that we should have nuclear weapons. Although, if it was up to me, no country would have nuclear weapons – 100 percent. America wouldn't, North Korea wouldn't, Russia wouldn't. But if countries like Russia, North Korea – countries that are a bit questionable – have nukes, we would need to. We need to be the number one country. You need to protect your country. I don't agree with the amount of money to renew Trident right now, especially when our country's gone to shit a bit. That money could be spent wisely elsewhere. But we need to keep the nuclear weapons.


You've got 24 hours on earth before you have to push the button. Last thing you'd do?
I would call the girls who I know are a sure thing. I've got 24 hours to live – I'm going to get a fucking bang out of it.

Aimee, 24, Marketing

Would you be up for launching a nuclear strike if you absolutely had to?
Aimee: How can you have that on your conscience? I think it's a horrible legacy to leave. I'm meant to be a Quaker; I'm meant to be a pacifist.

Even if pushing the button means that we'd be totally safe?
Safe forever? Safe from who? Okay, if you kill a 100,000 terrorists and everyone else is safe, then obviously.

Michael, 18, Apprentice

Tempted to push the button?
Michael: It'd have to be a dire situation, a last resort. Until you see proof that there's some threat of danger. Unless it was a nuclear war, an absolute emergency. That's the only time I'd do it. The guilt would get to you, though – you'd be taking so many lives.

Last 24 hours to go wild. What would you do?
I'd probably steal a Ferrari. In the last hour, I'd probably go church.

Abi, 24, IT Support

Would you do it then?
Abi: It's disgusting, isn't it? It's unacceptable. No. Under no circumstance. It's murder, at the end of the day, no matter what. No one should have the responsibility to do it. If they wanted to take their own life to rescue someone else, then that's good. But not this. Who's the 100,000 people anyway? It's like a hostage situation, killing all the hostages to make sure everyone's safe.


Not even if a Russian missile was on its way right now and you could save the UK?
Unfortunate! I wouldn't be tempted, not even 1 percent.

Marina, 28, hair stylist, and Gavin, 21, singer/songwriter

What do you guys think?
Marina: We've got a little Maggie Thatcher, haven't we? Which is just the worst thing for women in this country, isn't it? To have such a hard-nosed woman is just good for us. Who allowed her to say that? Is it going to be like Hilary Clinton taking over America then fucking Theresa May having cups of tea talking about how they're ruling the world? It's ridiculous.

So would you push the button?
Gavin: I would only push if the threat was a legitimate thing.
Marina: People pressing buttons on each other is just how this world has got to such a shit place. I wouldn't at all want to take the responsibility of people around me being hurt. I'm not going to slag off Jeremy Corbyn for being a pacifist, but I don't think I could do it.

What kind of scenario would it take for you to do that?
Gavin: Besides from my mother? I would press the button if it meant I could save my mother's life. Other than that, I wouldn't push it, morally speaking.
Marina: I think the only thing that would make me hit the button would be if it meant that I would die and be the only one and everyone else would be saved. That would be the only thing that'd make me want to push it.

Lauren, 22, Production Co-Ordinator


Push comes to shove, would you press the button?
Lauren: Jesus. What a difficult question. I'm definitely a pacifist, so definitely not. I don't think there'll ever be enough time to make a decision that has that much of an impact. That's huge. So I'd rather just be the chicken. That's why I'm not the Prime Minister; it's why I never will be and have no interest in it.

What kind of person do you think it takes to push the button then?
It'd take someone strong, hard, lack of emotion – the typical traits in a person. My dad would probably have to do it.

You haven't pushed the button and now we've got 24 hours left. What would you do?
I'd be around all the people I love; I wouldn't care if we're not on good terms.

Well you probably wouldn't be on good terms if your dad just pushed the button.


More from VICE:

Who Is Owen Smith, the Man Who Thinks He Can Topple Corbyn?

The World Is Stuck in an Endless Death Spiral

Reasons Why the Nuclear Destruction of Life on Earth Is Good for the British Economy