Bairns not Bombs, a Legacy
So Nicola Sturgeon has resigned from her position as First Minister of Scotland. From in Scotland – and from outside – we can offer our congratulations and thanks for her unwavering support for Scotland’s commitment and action for nuclear disarmament. She always points out that she was a member of Scottish CND even before she joined the SNP.
Advocates of support for what she has done for The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) are reflecting on her rock solid commitment and remember what she did to help create a treaty that is now supported by an overwhelming majority of UN member states. The Ukraine war has put us all at terrible risk of nuclear escalation, with catastrophic humanitarian consequences and potential impacts on the climate and environment. The remaining opposition to the TPNW comes from the nuclear-armed states and those who choose to rely on them. If they chose instead to sign the TPNW, that risk would be removed.
Bill Kidd MSP was Nicola’s envoy, bringing her message of hope and support to the Elayne White Gomez at the start of the Treaty negotiations in 2017. Later that year, at the Scottish National Party conference in 2017, after ICAN won the Nobel Peace Prize, Nicola said
“We will never accept that a limit should be placed on the contribution Scotland can make to building a better world. Strong voices for peace and justice are needed now more than ever. Last week, ICAN, the global campaign against nuclear weapons won the Nobel Peace Prize. Our party stands proudly as part of the global movement for peace. So let us restate this today. No ifs, no buts from the SNP. We say NO to weapons of mass destruction. We say NO to nuclear weapons on the River Clyde, or anywhere else.”
The key is in that final phrase, ‘or anywhere else’. Nicola has brought an international gravitas to Scottish politics through her action and commitment on the world stage to realise a Scotland that can and will contribute to a more peaceful and cooperative world, where the security of one is understood to be the common security of all.
The TPNW is groundbreaking in its recognition of the disproportionate impact of nuclear weapons on women. Nicola fully understands that, and in the need for women to always be involved in conflict resolution and peace negotiations.
To the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, before the first meeting of the states who had joined the treaty held in June this year, Nicola Sturgeon wrote:
“I share the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom’s (WILPF) opposition to nuclear weapons – they are morally, strategically and economically wrong. They are indiscriminate and devastating in their impacts; their use would bring unspeakable humanitarian suffering and widespread environmental damage. The Scottish Government is firmly opposed to the possession, threat and use of nuclear weapons and we are committed to pursuing the safe and the complete withdrawal of all nuclear weapons from Scotland. While the Scottish Government is unable to become a Party to the Treaty, as First Minister I strongly support the principles of the Treaty and the work of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. An independent Scotland would be a keen signatory and I hope the day we can do that is not far off.”
She will be a hard act to follow, but she has put Scotland on a path to acceding to the TPNW as the first act of a newly independent nation, and this would mean the end of the UK’s nuclear weapons policy. John Ainsley’s research, conducted before his death in 2016, into how the UK’s nuclear weapons – all based in Scotland – would have to be scrapped if an independent Scotland demanded their removal has been re-published in The Spokesman 153: Bairns not Bombs – John Ainslie dissects Trident – Spokesman books, by Spokesman. His work is internationally recognised and the publication of the reports together provides a timely and useful resource.
Nicola Sturgeon has put the elements into place for Scotland to develop a feminist approach to transnational relations, and an unequivocal position in upholding human rights and the values of peace and justice. A significant and admirable legacy.