Nation 148

Scotland should be Nation 148 out of the 193 UN member states supporting the statement initiated by Costa Rica in New York this week to attain and maintain a world without nuclear weapons. But we live in a constitutional monarchy in which we have no effective voice or choice.

There is a growing global understanding that nuclear weapons are a terrifying anachronism, standing in the way of the world’s developing capacity for urgent and universal legal and technical responses to conflict, migration, hunger and the climate emergency. But Scotland is in the grip of a fever of privilege that has us lose our senses in a grotesque adulation of the absolute control to which we consent like lemmings, whatever the cost, inconvenience and perils to which it exposes us.

Even as the war in Ukraine calls out nuclear deterrence as a dangerous fiction that increasingly and terrifyingly demonstrates the enormous deficit in the UN Security Council’s energy or capacity for effectively delivering any response to security threats except different forms of violence and force, even with the input of the non-nuclear-armed non-permanent members, there is an ongoing debate about the value (or otherwise) of military alliances. In Scotland, it expands to include who would be our future allies and how we would negotiate cooperation as the constitutional question arises again.

The UK Government’s flagrant disregard for the opinions or the safety of the people who live here (Scotland cannot change UK Government policy) is seen in our relationship with the EU, the UK’s modernisation of the nuclear weapons deployed from Scotland, their immigration policy and choosing to go to war. They don’t need to bother about what we think in Scotland.

Our close neighbour Ireland is committed to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons along with the other UN WMD prohibition agreements, ensuring that the global community will protect their government’s ability to say no to nuclear weapons. Similarly, a Scotland that accedes to the TPNW could not allow any nuclear weapons activity on its territory, whatever relationship it had with another state. It is time that Scottish Government officials and politicians explore practical steps and opportunities arising.

Scotland would be better served by contributing to the global good by making a clear commitment in the realpolitik to the UN rules-based process, upholding the UN’s sustainable development goals, signing all the prohibition treaties on weapons of mass destruction, and observing the UN legal instruments to uphold and protect human rights.

Formal education criteria (a devolved responsibility) that included a commitment to literacy on UN processes and transnational responsibilities could produce, within five years, a generation of young adults with confidence in themselves and their country’s capacity for intergovernmental advocacy.

Through devolution, Scotland is recognised as a cogent cultural and legislative entity. Its parliament is elected every five years through a system of proportional representation meaning that those elected far more fairly represent the wishes of the electorate than the first past the post and devil take the rest system utilised at Westminster. At Holyrood, it is practically impossible for a dominating political party to form a government without the inclusion of members of other parties.

Legislative powers devolved to Scotland were set in the Scotland Act, by the UK Parliament at Westminster but could benefit us all by being extended and strengthened to reflect the views of the people.

The presence of nuclear weapons sited in Scotland unfairly impacts the people of Scotland’s human right to life – unfairly because the UK’s nuclear arsenal is based here despite legitimate opposition.

We are not talking here about opinion polls by YouGov, we are talking about the actual votes cast by the electorate for those who represent them and form the Scottish Government. In the UK Parliament the overwhelming majority of Scottish MPs have also consistently rejected the upgrading, replacement or maintenance of the Trident system, but without effect, because we are always outnumbered (the number of Scottish MPs at Westminster was even further reduced by 13 to 59 out of a total of 646 after devolution in 1998).The people of Scotland are particularly discriminated against because we carry greater risk than other UK citizens of being impacted by accidents or attack involving the weapons store and the submarine base, even though we have no meaningful representation in decisions about them.

The weapons are not based, and the warheads are not stored, in the territory over which those who make the decisions can reasonably claim any mandate other than might is right.

As in so many matters, The UK Government acts with an impunity that highlights its real and lasting disregard for its citizens, including particularly the elected representatives of people in Scotland. We in Scotland hope for at least understanding and ideally solidarity from citizens in the rest of the UK.

The increased risk to the environment and to human health arising from the discharged waste from nuclear-powered and nuclear-armed submarines at Faslane since 2020 is not scrutinised by the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency or the Scottish Government, and the information regarding these dangers is not made available to Scottish agencies or individuals.

This is also the case for the impact of the 200-plus nuclear warheads stored at Coulport. The cap on the exact number increased last year, three months before the Scottish elections delivered a parliament with an increased majority of members who have signed the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) Pledge for global prohibition and elimination. Amongst the world’s countries, there is  huge support for Scotland to be able to contribute, rather than be misrepresented at the UN. 147 UN Member States supported Costa Rica’s statement in New York.

We could be welcomed as Nation148 through a contribution to external relations and through modelling an alternative to patriarchal, neo-colonial, extractive and elitist policies that threaten our survival. Scotland’s support for the TPNW is working towards that, not merely as a tactical move, and independence will not reduce overall resistance to the UK Government as though Scots were the rats deserting a sinking ship.

By highlighting and resisting the affront to Scotland’s democracy that the UK Government’s nuclear policies present, the UK’s so-called mandate can be called out, and a start made on dismantling entirely the system upon which it relies.

Comments (6)

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  1. jim ferguson says:

    Good piece thanks for that.

  2. dave says:

    Janet Fenton. Forget Scottish devolved powers. The only way to get rid of Nuclear weapons is to get rid of British F.M. Sturgeon and the ‘leadership’ of the NU-S.N.P. party. The problem is with F.M. Sturgeon, Ian Blackford and etc. When are Scots going to wake up to the fact that Ms. Sturgeon will never stand up for the Scottish people. She never has because she is opposed to our independence. As ALBA and any level headed Scot kept saying that her half heartly verbal comments against Boris would do nothing but have another eejit Englander replace him.
    THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENED. Her strategy was to cause yet another delay and deflect attention away from declaring independence.

    BARBADOS declared independence. F.M. Sturgeon just kept on begging Boris and now the English supreme court for permission to hold a referendum thereby telling we Scots that we need England’s permission and confirming to the English aristocracy that we will abide by their decision. As a SOVEREIGN NATION we do NOT need any foreign nation’s permission. WE NEED A BARBADOS ACTION.

    Now is the time to hammer F.M. Sturgeon’s DO NOTHING RECORD and her BLACKOUT OF Scotland’s very wealthy economic, history and culture true situation.

    1. Ann Rayner says:

      Agree with all the above.

  3. Squigglypen says:

    Excellent and honest assessment of the disregard of the will of the Scottish people by an arrogant and corrupt English government. We need more Scottish media..The National and Bella do a brilliant job but more is needed so that the working Scots trying to pay their bills and feed themselves see what is happening. I found the National hidden behind other newspapers in Tesco and had to pull out the copies so that they could be seen. I complained to the management …but staff are fearful of losing their jobs..even if they do agree with me.
    So why did we say NO to independence?…I suspect devious games were at play…how did that monster Davison know results before they were announced?…police investigated but found nothing untoward..but then the police( as do the army) take an oath to protect the crown…not us.
    I’ve kicked SNP into the long grass..told Sturgeon what I thought( they didn’t care) and joined Alba and am now looking at RIC.
    The latest game of sobbing and breast beating about the loss of ye grinning top lizard is driving me round the bend. Honest Scots actually saying ..’well she did a good job’..what job? off us for 96 years and having a brilliant life of entitlement…and now we have another dumbshit to replace her..were you asked about having Charlie chimp to lord it over you?
    Excuse me going mental..hard to watch the Scottish nation being hypnotised into mass obedience ..and that’s what is happening..
    For Scotland

  4. SleepingDog says:

    Well, I agree. The British monarchy has been sustained by an unholy symbiosis with nuclear weapons, which fall under royal prerogative powers, and I make no apologies for repeating my recommendation of Thermonuclear Monarchy: Choosing Between Democracy and Doom by Elaine Scarry, which explains how the centralised command-and-control systems needed for nuclear war demand and support anti-democratic hyper-centralised governance which extends into non-military areas of policy. There’s a shorter version of the book now, I guess the original had a couple of quite academically-intense chapters.
    Because NATO continues to threaten the use of nuclear weapons in first strike scenarios, a frightened foreign govenment might seize the chance to do something desperate when our nuclear weapon systems are compromised. Or any number of other catastrophic errors or panics or evil world-ending intentions might spark global nuclear war.

    Another noose of our nuclear policy is that it enslaves the British Empire to the USAmerican one, and surely every sane and informed person can see how deranged and dysfunctional USAmerican politics is. Military alliances are the opposite of democracy (especially here as again, foreign treaties are a royal prerogative). You cannot defend democracy through such military alliances, only kill it, like you kill it with nuclear weapons, which in political reality are more turned by governments against their own people, who they hold hostage with them, than at the ‘enemy’ (as well as every living creature on the surface of the Earth, and all of future human history).

    Or to put it another way, declassified documents routinely show that the ‘enemy’ UK governments fear is their own people. Nukes help keep them in check, not least by their security and secrecy requirements.

  5. Mr E says:

    The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) Pledge is laudable, but pointless when the Nuclear non-proliforation treaty is not signed by Isreal, Pakistan, India, and N. Korea (and who knows who else in future).

    In order to start to rid the world of nuclear weapons, really difficult things would have to be achieved, principally the resolution of the Middle East unpleasantness, the resolution of the situation in Kashmir, and an end to the N Korea / S Korea war. Russia would have to stop invading places. The USA and NATO would have to stop invading other places. (And climate change has great potential to get people armed to the teeth).

    Unless they are all achieved there will be nuclear weapons. So, that’s where to start.

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