An opinion poll by ICM for Scottish CND at the end of January 2007 found that 73 % of Scots are opposed to spending billions on replacing Trident. We believe the presence of these weapons is central to the case for independence. Here, in the run-up to Scotland’s for Peace – National Demo 13 March opposing Trident Replacement, guest writer Brian Quail writes for us on our WMD.
The presence of Trident on our lands and in our waters is a national disgrace, a matter of shame. A normal, self-respecting and mature democracy would not meekly tolerate this obscene WMD imposed on it…
On the 3rd of February this year the UK Government published a Green Paper as a preliminary to the Defence Review which will take place shortly after the next general election. Conspicuous by its absence is any mention of the “T” word. This document makes one unspoken assumption, viz., that we will retain and renew Trident. This is simply not regarded as a matter for discussion.
Meanwhile. US President Barak Obama, speaking in Prague on April 5, 2009 has said: “The existence of thousands of nuclear weapons is the most dangerous legacy of the Cold War……As a nuclear power, as the only nuclear power to have used nuclear weapons (twice), the US has a moral responsibility to act. We cannot succeed in this endeavour alone, but we can lead it, we can start it”.
There is manifestly a huge chasm between these political positions. Obama has said that he wants to see a world free of nuclear weapons within the time of his presidency. Assuming it takes two presidencies to do this, this means he aspires to see a world freed from the threat of nuclear terrorism by the year 2017. On the other hand, Gordon Brown and the Tory opposition want to replace Trident when it reaches its “use by” date in 2025, with a newer, more accurate and more efficient “Son of Trident” system. They clearly envisage nuclear brinkmanship as lasting forever. These policies are totally opposed to one another. They can not be reconciled.
If Obama can sell nuclear disarmament in a society which is so markedly to the right of us in the UK that even the modest proposal for extended health-care can be attacked by conservatives as naked Bolshevism, why do we in the UK still cling to our nuclear fetish so blindly?
I think the answer lies in the psychological role played by Trident in British society. Because The Bomb is not a weapon – battles cannot be fought with nuclear bombs. It is an intensely symbolic icon of the British State. It keeps the “Great” in Britain. Guarantees us a place at the Top Table. Allows us to “punch above our weight”, and so on, ad nauseam. This is our great national shibboleth, a sacrosanct token of our imperial status, the holy idol of Britishness.
Implicit within the UK’s nuclear posture is the supposition that the world will continue for the foreseeable future to divided into states which are permitted nuclear WMD (us) and those which are not (the rest of the world).
This blatantly racist policy may please the ultra-nationalistic supporters of the British state, however it is decidedly unconvincing to the rest of humanity. “Don’t do as I do, do as I say” never persuaded anybody. The idea that because we are British, our nuclear bomb is merely an “independent British deterrent” and not an actual WMD, may satisfy our warped self regard, but it doesn’t fool anybody else.
Meanwhile – of course – it’s business as usual here in Scotland. Trident, and its successor, will continue to be dumped on us; we are destined in perpetuity to be the UK’s nuclear arsenal, as Brown envisages. So people will continue to drive past the gates of Faslane and Coulport with unseeing dead-fish eyes, as if it were a marina or a boating club. Just as German farmers ploughed their fields within sight – and smell – of the ovens of Belsen. And thus it will be, as long as we continue to cravenly accept our assigned role within the UK, as long as we buy into the mythology of the Great British state. The presence of Trident on our lands and in our waters is a national disgrace, a matter of shame. A normal, self-respecting and mature democracy would not meekly tolerate this obscene WMD imposed on it.
In demanding the abolition of British nuclear WMD, we in Scotland are not only striking a blow for sanity, and for our own freedom. We are offering our friends south of the border a chance to escape from what William Blake called the “mind-forged manacles of man” – from delusions of imperial British grandeur, and from a crippling nostalgia for lost imperial status. We will invite them to rediscover the simple pride in being just plain English.
The frustrating thing, is the deep rooted hold that Labourism has on the Scottish psyche. “Ah’ve always voted Laybir” is all too often the response to any criticism of the Labour government, and to the tentative suggestion that it is time for a change. Our servile acceptance of our status as the UK’s nuclear dumping ground is the most obvious result of Labour’s buying into the myth of Britishness.
I believe in independence, because I don’t believe in dependence. Independence is the normal condition for a modern democratic state. If Estonia, which has a smaller population than Strathclyde, can find acceptance as a state within the European Union, then why on Earth should Scotland not also follow suit? This infantile desire to cling to the imagined superior status of Britishness is stunting our emotional, psychological and economic growth.
The fact that our independence will bring with it the freedom from nuclear terrorism is a huge plus factor, which will be of enormous benefit to the rest of the world.
Change is possible. It really is up to us.
Scotland’s for Peace – National Demo 13 March opposing Trident Replacement
We will assemble at 11am Holyrood, with First Minister Alex Salmond MSP (SNP) at the Scottish Parliament and set off up the Royal Mile at 11.30.
Rally in the Grassmarket with Protest in Harmony and Commotion drummers
at 12.30 when Alex Salmond will speak, along with Mark Lazarowicz MP (Labour), John Barrett MP (Lib Dem), Alis Ballance, candidate, (Greens), Rev Ian Galloway (Church of Scotland), Kate Hudson (CND Chair) and a Trade Union representative, chaired by actor David Hayman.