People’s movement still essential to dump Trident

There is no planet B-banner-simon whittle

TIME FOR ACTION: blockade the Faslane nuclear base on 13 April. Photo: Simon Whittle

by David Mackenzie, Scrap Trident Coalition Those of us who have spent years in the nuclear disarmament effort are rubbing our eyes. The UK’s nuclear weapon system is publicly centre stage in a way that it has not been for years. The temptation is to think that the job is done—that it is all down now to that elite we call the decision-makers. That would be a huge mistake.

For one thing, Trident is not riding the turbulent waves of the great Scottish Stir by accident. Getting it there has depended, among other things, on focussed efforts by the peace movement in Scotland and indeed the whole of the UK, efforts that can be traced back to the almost daily blockades of Faslane during the Faslane 365 campaign and, more recently, to the work of the Scrap Trident Coalition (morphed from the No To Nato Coalition), and the factual, myth-busting output of Scottish CND.

We know, too, that a topical concern can fade from public view in next to no time; that elected political leaders are ever open to the temptation of watering down or abandoning their manifesto pledges; that the scenery can and will change rapidly. In this framework it is essential that we see ourselves as the decision makers on Trident and as providing the critical leadership for elected politicians rather than the other way around.

Yesterday we were reminiscing over what it is like to take part in little pieces of civil resistance—especially against nuclear weapons, acts which are scorned by some as futile political gestures or meaningless stunts. There is something transforming about putting your body in the way. It firmly places little local codes in their place in the framework of a more universally relevant way of being human.

You gain a proper disrespect for authority. Above all, you discover some sort of agency, some sort of personal power. If the whole indyref experience meant anything at all—it was about so many people discovering and re-discovering at least the potential of people power in relation to their communities.

To fold our arms now and leave it to the generals would be to fritter away a momentum that may be only for once in a lifetime. Right now the conventional political ether is filled with speculations, promises, manoeuvrings, what-ifs and maybes. This makes distraction all too easy if you try to fit a strategy for change to a snowflake on the river.

In fact, the anti-Trident movement has a set of imperatives that will match every new flicker. At the most basic level, in spite of poll after poll showing that a majority of Scots reject Trident, there remain folk in Scotland who know very little about the UK nuclear arsenal or its malign implications.

There are even more folk who have swallowed the myths, such as that Trident’s removal will lead to critical job losses or that there could be a home for the UK’s Trident outside of Scotland. More need to get the point that the question of the UK’s nukes is not capable of isolation from the whole fabric of concern about social justice, care for the planet and human solidarity across the globe. Public education remains vital.

Public education is best primed by citizen action. The Trident question, which has been so visible even in the conventional media in recent months, must also remain visible on the streets. This is why the Scrap Trident Coalition is calling a national demonstration in Glasgow on 4 April, and, in the lead up to that, a series of days of action with street stalls and eye-catching stunts.

On 13 April there will be a peaceful blockade of the Faslane base when people will actively disrupt the ongoing business of that key centre of organised crime. The concept of non-violent civil resistance includes a thorough measure of care for those who will take part, with preparation workshops, detailed briefings, an outline of the likely consequences of arrest, and attention to immediate and practical welfare.

To provide that framework of care and to make the event effective we also need lots of people who will not risk arrest but will instead be the close support for those who do, or be legal observers, liaison with media, takers of film and photos, social media posters, drivers, tea-makers, banner-hangers, cooks, etc.

The third event is the vote on 7 May with the simple plea to people to give their positive vote to an anti-Trident party. And yet, while the general election is a key moment, it is not an end date. We must remain alert and active until the nukes are gone, every hair and feather. We hope you can join in somewhere in all of this. Our website—scraptrident.org—will soon be crammed with the necessary information.

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