waterlooIn 1815, harried across continental Europe, driving on through rain and storm, suffering the beginnings of a fatal stomach cancer and facing improbable military odds on the field at Waterloo, Napoleon, once the proudest and most brilliant leader of his age, had finally exhausted a very good run.

A few years ago, this article could have taken as its starting point a very different hackneyed metaphor. The British state’s ‘Achilles heel’, perhaps, with Trident’s (mis)fortunate confluence with the Scottish national question representing an unusual weak-point in the body of the famously robust British regime.

But as everyone already knows, the detonation (or at least triggering) of the UK’s multiple social, economic, class and national antagonisms by the Brexit vote leaves the UK staggering on in agony, carrying more than one or two tumours (perhaps in the grotesque forms of Messrs Gove and Johnson among others) in its rotten belly.

To recap the situation as it stands an overwhelming majority of MPs, 477, voted to renew the weapons system. The only Scottish MP to vote for renewal, David Mundell, is of course also the only Tory MP in Scotland, and a member of the government supposedly (laughably) representing Scotland.

The upshot of all this is that the new weapons system will have to be painstakingly installed on the Clyde, 20 miles from Scotland’s largest city with the Scottish Parliament, Scotland’s contingent of MPs, Scottish civil society and the nation’s population firmly in opposition. Needless to say the outcome of this is farce, the most likely product of which will be that Scotland is pushed yet closer to independence.

The upshot of all this is that the new weapons system will have to be painstakingly installed on the Clyde, 20 miles from Scotland’s largest city with the Scottish Parliament, Scotland’s contingent of MPs, Scottish civil society and the nation’s population firmly in opposition. Needless to say the outcome of this is farce, the most likely product of which will be that Scotland is pushed yet closer to independence.

The contradiction of the impasse is so sheer that it folds back on itself – the chief condition for the ending of Trident being Trident renewal, the doing of Trident the undoing. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine the UK being disarmed of WMD any other way (which is why Scottish CND policy remains implacably for independence).

We cannot know what figures like May and Michael Fallon discuss in private, but it is curious that so far the Conservatives seem to be marching with vigour into yet another national catastrophe unaware at least of the extent of the danger. During the parliamentary debate, May called not renewing the useless nuclear weapons system a “reckless gamble”, in a speech aimed at Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour party, when the real danger to re-armament comes from elsewhere.

But then for now at least the myopia seems panoramic, with many of the forces pushing for autonomy, anti-militarism and a fruitful confrontation with the British state also seemingly underestimating the potential of the Trident clash.

I’m not talking here about the longstanding organisation of the anti-nuclear weapons movement, CND (and its autonomous Scottish branch), which marshaled an historic demonstration in London in February, nor the scrap-Trident coalition, brought together by veteran and young activists in recent years to face the specific threat of renewal, nor organisations which have kept up non-violent direct action against the nuclear weapons over many years such as Trident Ploughshares and the Faslane peace camp.

Nor even am I talking about Scotland’s governing party. On the eve of the last Scottish CND conference before the expected vote for renewal in November 2015, the SNP’s Westminster Defence Spokesperson, and the MP for the constituency that houses the weapon’s system, Brendan O’Hara called for a “people’s movement” of resistance against Trident renewal, and said that it was only a matter for the people to decide whether to deploy direct action.

Rather, the people who must become roused to the golden opportunity for forcing perhaps the final confrontation over the UK’s nuclear weapons are the much broader movement in Scotland for independence and against Trident. These forces, swelled considerably by the independence movement of 2012-14, have driven subsequent political developments including the historic decision of the Scottish Parliament to oppose Trident and the election of a large majority of anti-Trident SNP MPs.

This is the constituency that can not only launch a new resistance to Trident renewal, but invite those from across the UK and around the world who want to deal the first major blow against the global proliferation of nuclear weapons. A new generation of nuclear weapons means a new generation of resistance.

That means resistance on a greater level than before, and all the requisite opportunities now present themselves.

As alluded to before, the process of actually implanting the new weapons system in Scotland could, and should be agonising.
Imagine every convoy blockaded, at several points on the road.

As alluded to before, the process of actually implanting the new weapons system in Scotland could, and should be agonising.
Imagine every convoy blockaded, at several points on the road.

Imagine a permanent, encamped, ring of steal that could be constructed around the nuclear weapons base, with hundreds or thousands of demonstrators from around the world maintaining a permanent vigil.

This could involve not only a physical presence – but constant online monitoring and citizen journalism, with a new network of correspondence opening up from the Clyde to Japan, India and France, the US and Russia, and everywhere else where the scourge of nuclear arms threatens world security and gobbles up valuable resources.

Of course, any obstacles that the Scottish Parliament can throw in the way of Trident renewal, such as withdrawing permission for the MOD to use Scotland’s roads, would be welcomed. But the most vital conflict is not the one between parliaments or parties, but the conflict that ultimately transpired in 2014, between the moral justice of the people and the arrogance and brutishness of the British state.

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