Consultation on the Westminster government’s National Security Strategy and the Strategic Defence and Security Review will close this Wednesday.
Is it worth the time and effort to respond? What’s the point of spending any precious time on something that is a lot like trying to cool a volcano with an ice cube? Nuclear disarmers tend to think that no chance of putting our point of view should be missed, especially if the response can be widely shared. Hammering out a response can help an organisation refresh its stance and re-affirm its values.
This time around there is an additional weight pressing down on the negative side. A few months ago there was a sort of consultation called a General Election. We know who was elected from Scotland. We know that an important plank in their manifesto was a matter of more than minor relevance to the Review – the excising of nuclear weaponry from the defence of the UK. We also know that this crystal clear expression has not made a single dent or scratch in the UK government’s determination to continue with a shiny new version of its vicious weapon system. There’s consultation for you.
Over the years disarmament organisations have resourced the public and political understanding and knowledge of the issue, by monitoring, researching and describing the nuts and bolts, by teasing out the implications of international law, by producing more credible estimates on expense and employment, by engaging with the global disarmament network to lobby at the UN. But the UK government remains stubbornly deaf.
This time a fresh line has been crossed. The disregard of our heartfelt longing will no doubt be soon confirmed by the rubber-stamping of the already rolling Trident replacement programme through the Main Gate decision. We will be further sickened by the usual fantastical and chilling justifications – produced by the same mind-set that does not care how much it tramples on the poor or mortgages the future of the planet.
In this scenario it’s all too easy to fail to register the wide room we have for manoeuvre. For one thing there is the increased impetus for a global ban of nukes via the Humanitarian Pledge which has already attracted 119 national signatories. Touching that wave is like flying into sunlight after a steep ascent from some dreich rain-drenched airport. Main Gate is likely to trigger a renewed interest in Scottish independence as the route to essential change. And whatever impact the Corbyn stir will have on the Labour party it already has had a significant effect on public understanding, not least by focussing on the reality of what our nukes are designed to do. Corbyn’s stand has put the important but minor arguments about money, jobs, “deterrence” and strategy in their place. He does not want to kill millions of his fellow humans and does not want to pretend that he would. And, who knows, the whole edifice may be ready to crumble at one further push.
And we can still act even if we are not being listened to. The pervasive tendrils of the UK’s nuclear weapon system present a huge range of opportunities for demonstration, protest and non-violent direct action. There are the Trident bases themselves, the roads the warhead convoys travel on, the political and governmental heartlands, the corporations that build the pieces and the financial institutions that bankroll the project. And there are the streets and squares of our towns and cities.
If and (as likely) when Trident 2 is given the parliamentary green light our gentle anger must be evident. The Scrap Trident Coalition is already working to identify key contacts across Scotland who can mobilise reactive protest events where they are. If you can help with this or just want to be kept abreast of the plans do contacts us