Follow the Leader

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Next week, the Scottish Labour party will choose a new leader: Jim Murphy, Sarah Boyack or Neil Findlay. The three candidates took part in an online hustings for Guardian readers today.

A reader asked this question: “As Scottish Labour policy is against Trident, will you as leader of Scottish Labour advocate the democratic will of Scottish Labour members on this issue, or will you insist on pushing the UK party policy on the Scottish party?”

Their answers were as follows:
Sarah Boyack

“I’ve made my views clear – I don’t support the renewal of Trident. I’m proud of the work of the last Labour government to negotiate a reduction in nuclear warheads across the globe. Spending billions on acquiring a new weapons system would be going in the wrong direction.

We need to play our part by investing in our own UK defence and peacekeeping capabilities, supporting conflict resolution and using economic sanctions where appropriate.”

Neil Findlay

“I’m against the UK having nuclear weapons – I want the Scottish Labour party to be campaigning for the UK to cancel Trident.”

Jim Murphy

“I want a world free of nuclear weapons. There are two entirely legitimate views on what is the best way to achieve that – multilateralism or unilateralism. I’m not a unilateralist and want the UK to be part of negotiations to make the world nuclear-free.

I know that that is tougher at the moment when the likes of North Korea are trying to acquire nuclear weapons. But I don’t believe in unilaterally stopping being a nuclear power. I’m pretty proud of all the work the previous Labour government did to reduce our warhead numbers.”

So there you have it. If you’re a Labour party member who is against renewing Trident in 2016, or a union member who has a vote in the leadership contest, it’s clear, despite the obfuscating political flannel, that a vote for Jim Murphy is a vote for the continuation of nuclear weapons in Scotland.

Labour party members in Scotland who insisted they were just as opposed to nuclear weapons as we were during the indyref campaign now have a chance to do the right thing. The question is – will they?

We’ll be watching the outcome with interest.

30 Nov 2014: Biggest demo at Faslane in a Decade

Today close on 1500 people gathered in the sun at Faslane naval base in the first of three protest events planned to call on the UK government to scrap the Trident nuclear weapons system.They travelled from as far afield as Assynt in the north, from Fort William, the Borders, and in large numbers from Glasgow, Edinburgh and the central belt.After walking along the site’s northern perimeter they gathered at its north gate, filling the entry bell-mouth and the near side of the roadway. There they made a noise that could be heard in Westminster.

Penny Stone led the assemblage in singing Down by the Riverside (and study war no more), Bobby Nicolson performed his anti-Trident songs. Lisa Rigby revived the civil rights anthem Keep You Eyes on the Prize and poet Gerry Loose read poems with an anti Trident theme from his new book Fault Line while Scrap Trident’s David Mackenzie read one of his own poems.

For many this was the first visit to the operational base of the UK’s nuclear weapon submarines. The reaction of Murray Dickie from Stirling was typical. He said:
“Walking along the miles of razor wire-guarded perimeter fence you realise what a huge financial cost this place is – never mind the abomination of what’s stored behind it. Great company, huge good spirits – awful contradiction with a nuclear arsenal just a few hundred metres away!”

DSC_0633People tied messages of their hopes for peace and disarmament all along the weld mesh perimeter fence. Three Samba Bands and the Protest in Harmony singing group contributed to the Carnival  atmosphere.

Mainstream media coverage recognized the importance of this story. BBC reported that “Hundreds Protest Against Nuclear Weapons at Faslane” with a photo featuring Scottish CND’s larger than life “Big Sandy” giant puppet. The Scotsman headline read: Carnival Atmosphere at Faslane Trident Protest.” The Herald said “Nearly a thousand people gathered at Faslane.” There was TV coverage by BBC Reporting Scotland which noted that “no arrests  were made” and STV.

Scrap Trident is now planning a mass demonstration in Glasgow on Saturday the 28th of March and a blockade of Faslane on Monday 13th April in anticipation of the next general election. The next Westminster Parliament will determine whether to replace Trident at a cost of up to £100Bilion.

There are lots more photos on our Facebook page. If you have photos or know of more photos that we can add to the album please send them to scraptrident@gmail.com.  And if you are thinking of joining us for the Big Blockade in April please drop us an email and keep checking back here for more information coming soon.

 

Well done everyone for a great day.

 

Stirling Uni Student Alasdair Ibbotson said:

Stirling Uni Students Report Crime of UK Nuclear Weapons

Stirling Uni Students Report Crime of UK Nuclear Weapons

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Last week 10,000 students marched through the centre of London demanding free education- so many young people don’t unlock their full potential because of cost. Last year 1,000,000 Britons used a foodbank at least once. Yet despite the fact they don’t solve any of the problems facing the UK, the government is robbing these people to spend £100bn on nuclear weapons, and that’s unacceptable.”

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First Minister Calls on UK to Not Replace Trident – MSPs Support Scrap Trident Protest

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and more than twenty MSPs today offered their support for the Scrap Trident demonstrators who will hold the largest protest in a decade at Faslane naval base on Sunday 30 November. [1]

Speaking in support of the demonstration First Minister Nicola Sturgeon urged “the UK Government to listen to these messages, to cancel their plans for the renewal of their nuclear weapons programme and to withdraw Trident nuclear weapons at the earliest opportunity.”

MSPs Scrap Trident photocall 26 Nov 2014.  Image by Ivon Barthol

SNP, Labour, Green and Independent MSPs stand with Scrap Trident Protesters at Scottish Parliament. Photo Credit: Ivon Bartholemew

The First Minister said: “My opposition to the possession of nuclear weapons and to the basing of Trident in Scotland is absolute and I offer my full support to the Scrap Trident Coalition. It is my goal, and the policy of the Scottish Government, to secure the withdrawal of nuclear weapons from Scotland and to support the pursuit of global nuclear disarmament. The Scottish Parliament voted to reaffirm its support for these goals on 6th August 2014.

“I agree strongly with the message of this demonstration and I offer the Scottish Government’s support for a peaceful and lawful demonstration. Through such efforts, the public and civic society can demonstrate to the UK Government the democratic opposition that exists to the continued possession and threat of nuclear weapons.

“I urge the UK Government to listen to these messages, to cancel their plans for the renewal of their nuclear weapons programme and to withdraw Trident nuclear weapons at the earliest opportunity.”

Twenty MSPs from the Scottish Greens, Labour, Independents and the Scottish National Party, including Michael Matheson MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Justice, on behalf of the First Minister, Patrick Harvie MSP, Co-Convenor of the Scottish Greens, and Neil Findlay MSP Scottish Labour Party stood with the Scrap Trident banner and activists at Scottish Parliament to show support for the Scrap Trident demonstration.

Patrick Harvie MSP (Scottish Greens) said: “Many people will share my deep disappointment that the referendum outcome has not allowed us to reject Trident in the way I would have liked. However, the anti-nuclear movement is one of longevity and determination, and the case in favour of Trident grows weaker all the time. We now have an opportunity in Scotland to make Trident one of the defining issues of the Westminster election.”

MSPs Scrap Trident photocall 26 Nov 2014.  Image by Ivon Barthol

Green and Independent MSPs say Scrap Trident. Photo Credit: Ivon Bartholomew.

Neil Findlay MSP (Labour) said: “The UK should not renew Trident. The cost of renewal would be better spent creating jobs, enabling our  public services to pay a living wage to employees and building houses for rent. Trident is both morally and economically wrong”.

Brian Larkin, Coordinator of the Edinburgh Peace and Justice Centre and one of the Scrap Trident organisers said “In 2016 the next Westminster government will decide whether to replace Trident and continue to deploy nuclear weapons for the next 50 years. But now, for the first time in a generation, with the surge of political engagement in Scotland, it seems possible that the replacement will not go ahead. A raft of anti-Trident Scottish MPs could hold the key to a nuclear free UK and even a nuclear free world. These Scrap Trident demonstrations are intended to ensure that the question of Trident replacement is firmly on the agenda.”

MSPs Scrap Trident photocall 26 Nov 2014.  Image by Ivon Barthol

Scrap Trident Activists with John Wilson MSP. Photo Credit Ivon Bartholomew

According to Scrap Trident Coalition organisers the “Trident Still Has to Go Now” demonstration signals the beginning of a new phase in popular opposition to Trident in Scotland. Organisers say they expect more than 800 people to attend the demonstration, which will be the largest demonstration at Faslane in a decade. The Scrap Trident coalition has already announced a further demonstration in Glasgow 28 March and a blockade of Faslane 13 April 2015.

 

 

 

 

 

Join the Resistance and Scrap Trident!

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“If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”
Frederick Douglass

The mainstream media and professional politicians have long sought to define the limits of legitimate political protest. Those in power will always want us to play their game to their rules and when we don’t they label us as unreasonable.
They will tell us that the matter is best left to the grey careeer politicians of the establishment – it is not.
They will tell us that the matter is complicated – it is not.
They will tell us that the matter is decided – it is not.

We have the right to protest weapons of mass destruction near our homes, towns and cities in the most effective ways we can find. Never let anyone tell you otherwise.

We will not be constrained, we will not be sidelined, we will not be silenced.
We are not collaborators, we are not bystanders and we will not be victims – we are resistors. Our struggle may be difficult but doing nothing is not an option. Join us this Sunday, noon, at Faslane and become part of the resistance.

Cara Hilton MSP (Labour) supports Bairns Not Bombs

Cara Hilton, the MSP for Dunfermline,supports the Scrap Trident campaign. She told us:

1 quotation marks redIt is hard to believe that at a time when children in the UK are going to school hungry, when pensioners can’t afford to heat their homes and when the austerity agenda is resulting in cuts and challenges for our public services, welfare system and our NHS, that anyone could even contemplate spending billions on a weapons system that is largely irrelevant to the UK’s defence needs and which undermines global efforts for a nuclear free world. We always hear that with less money around, we must face tough choices and so it’s time for a public debate across the UK about whether investing billions in Trident is the best use of up to £100 billion of public money – or would we rather invest this is our schools, hospitals and fighting poverty?
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“The Vile Barracks o’ the Maisters”

Nae mair will our bonnie callants
Merch tae war whan our braggarts crousely craw
Nor wee weans frae pitheid an clachan
Murn the ships sailin doun the Broomielaw
Broken faimilies in launs we’ve hairriet
Will curse ‘Scotlan the Brave’ nae mair, nae mair
Black an white ane-til-ither mairriet
Mak the vile barracks o thair maisters bare

In the spring of 1960, the great Hamish Henderson, poet, intellectual and socialist activist, penned words to a pipe tune he had first heard played while on active service in WWII. The striking tune, The Bloody Fields of Flanders, a retreat march written during WWI by John MacLellan of Dunoon was the perfect accompaniment to Henderson’s hopeful vision for Scotland and the wider world. Henderson’s song, christened the Freedom Come-All-Ye, with its anti-war and anti-imperialist imagery was subsequently adopted by the Scottish peace movement and was for a while the alternative internationalist anthem of the anti-Polaris campaigners.

Times change, however, and just as Polaris protest gave way to Trident protest and then drifted into something approaching apathy amongst the general public so too did the great Scottish folksong revival of the 1960s begin to lose energy and gradually assume the mantle of something rather quaint and out of date.

Henderson’s words, eloquent, poignant and inspiring, would not be so easily discarded though and in the September of 2013, as the independence debate was beginning to seriously come alive, the Freedom Come-All-Ye was sung en mass at the Yes Scotland rally on Calton Hill, Edinburgh.  Suddenly, a new generation was turned on to Henderson’s vision of a nation motivated by the notions of peace, friendship and social justice.

The song was quickly adopted by the Yes movement and versions could soon be heard at Yes events and even performed by street buskers all across the country.  The most unexpected  and moving rendition was undoubtedly that performed by South African opera singer Pumeza Matshikiza at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony in Glasgow.

But what is it in Henderson’s words that still speak to us today? Why has the Freedom Come-All-Ye become our song and how should we respond to its demand for change, for something better?  Simply, its sentiments express our hopes, its ideals are the ones that have kept us moving on and pushing for change despite the setback in September. In particular, for the peace movement, the second verse, which acknowledges our own aggression and violence around the world, remains as resonant and significant as ever.

Personally, whenever I hear that last line of that verse, which exhorts us to “Mak the vile barracks o thair maisters bare”, I picture only one place. If ever a site deserved the title “the vile barracks o the maisters” then surely it is Faslane naval base on the Clyde, the home of the UK’s Trident nuclear weapons.

Those of you who have been there, whether as protestors or just as passing tourists destined for the highlands, will know exactly what I mean. Faslane is simply monstrous, an enormous ugly military base stretching along the shore of the otherwise picturesque Gareloch. As you drive north towards Garelochhead it is unavoidably apparent as miles of high fences with razor wire, electronic alarms and cameras lining the seaward side of the road.  Travel further north and you can join a military road that sweeps around the north of Garelochhead and leads to Faslane’s equally sinister twin, the Royal Naval Armament Depot at Coulport, on Loch Long. Coulport is no more approachable than Faslane and, as a depot which stores and handles nuclear warheads and missiles, has its own complement of razor wire fences, armed guards and guard dogs.

The Peace Rocks at Faslane

The Peace Rocks at Faslane

And let us never forget exactly what it is that lies within the vile barracks that demands such high security. Trident exists solely to project the threat of the UK’s psychotic military vengeance around the world. Faslane and Coulport’s only military role is to prepare daily to inflict catastrophic humanitarian consequences on some other part of the globe. Let us be clear, nuclear weapons are the most destructive, inhumane and indiscriminate instruments of mass murder ever created. They are responsible for unique and horrifying effects on people, including lethal harm to those who are not even part of the conflicts in which they are used and including those who are not even yet born. Their use, or even contemplation of their use, is morally indefensible.

All of this is undeniable and yet we host it in our country, 30 miles away from our biggest city, and we almost never talk about this aspect of it. It is time we did. It is time we confronted it and called it out for what it is – Scotland’s shame, this nation’s greatest collective moral stain. As such it is our responsibility, this generation’s to mak the vile barracks bare – and we can do it.  In 2016, the Westminster parliament will vote to decide whether to replace the current Trident system. The Scottish MPs who will vote on this will be those whom we choose in May next year. It is our responsibility to ensure that Scotland does not elect one single pro-Trident MP. In the event of a hung parliament an anti-Trident bloc of Scottish MPs will wield enormous power.

To ensure this happens, we must make the issue of Trident our priority in the next 6 months. We are starting this process by holding the largest ever anti-Trident demonstration outside Faslane this November 30th.  Hamish Henderson himself described the Freedom Come-All-Ye as “expressing my hopes for Scotland and for the survival of humanity on this beleaguered planet”.  We intend to stay true to his vision and we intend to make it reality. We hope you will join us.

 

Steven Griffiths
Scottish CND,
Scrap Trident Coalition

Elaine Smith MSP says Scrap Trident and Invest in Services that matter to People


Elaine Smith, the MSP for Coatbridge and Chryston,supports the Scrap Trident campaign. She told us:

1 quotation marks redScraping trident would help the UK achieve the aims of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Our Governments should stop spending billions on nuclear weapons and instead invest money on much needed services that matter to people. After all, it would be unthinkable to use these weapons of mass destruction so it doesn’t make sense spending billions replacing them
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