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Scotland, NATO and NIMBYs

Bruce Kent, London

ImageOn the strength of a long departed great aunt from Inverness may I offer a comment on David Mackenzie’s article in the June PN.

During a recent series of three public meetings on the west of Scotland, I came across no sign of what David describes as NIMBYism (not in my backyard) in relation to Trident.

John Ainsley, the secretary of Scottish CND, has shown very clearly, in his recent publication 'Trident- Nowhere to Go', that there is nowhere else for Trident in England or Wales for that matter.

Getting rid of Trident was seen by all at those meetings as a step towards the elimination of nuclear weapons globally. So it would be. There was great interest in the abolition draft convention which is being pressed by many countries even though resisted by Westminster up to now.

Certainly it would be contradictory to remain as part of a nuclear-threatening NATO. But how best to get the public support needed to rid of NATO and its nuclear weapons is exactly the problem which faces us down here as well.

What the Scottish government can do, here and now, is to use its powers over education. In the Final Report of the First Special session on Disarmament of 1978 clear commitments were made (paras 100-106) by Britain, and all other signatories. Britain promised, but never kept that promise, to develop ‘programmes of education for disarmament and peace studies at all levels’.

Getting rid of Trident and NATO, requires a substantial shift in public perceptions. On Trident that shift has, to some extent, already happened thanks to CND, SCND and other related movements.

There is no need to wait for an election for such major educational work by the Scottish government to start now.

Topics: Nuclear Weapons

Mind games

Jim Huggan, Knodishall

ImageThe Olympic Shenanigans reminds me of an Olympic year in the 1970s when an alternative olympics was held one afternoon on Clapham Common in London.

Events included the Short Jump, (the winner of this event I recall successfully jumped over a human hair), the 100 yards (yes - yards in those days) metaphysical analysis in which contestants had to walk - slowly - 100 yards, thinking very deeply - the winner being decided not only on the slowness of the walk but by the quality of the thought - as this latter was found to be impossible to quantify - any result was declared null and void. Also the sack race was suggested - for the fastest redundancy - but was not included as it was felt that it would discriminate against students and the already unemployed. I also recall the “Hop, Step and Fall Down” and the “ego on spoon” (contestents holding just an empty spoon of course). Other events mercifully evade fading memory grasp. Just a suggestion - in case anyone reading this might feel like getting together - with light refreshments - adding a few new events - and having fun somewhere.

Heigh Ho.

Topics: Culture | Olympics

Penny-wise oaks

Ross Bradshaw, Five Leaves Publications, Nottingham

ImageI was interested to read the article by Milan Rai about radical philanthropy (PN 2546) though I worry slightly that readers might think you have to have a lot of money to create something useful.

This year Five Leaves Publications was involved, with Housmans in particular, in setting up the Bread and Roses Award for Radical Publishing – a national award which received publicity in many places, including of course PN.

This cost us £1,000 and we hope to pull in other funders this year to enable us to reduce our commitment. Similarly, three years ago we set up States of Independence, an annual East Midlands book fair-cum-conference for the independent publishing sector, at a cost of a few hundred pounds.

Both Bread and Roses and States of Independence have the potential to grow, and become a permanent part of the infrastructure of independent publishing, at low cost and low maintenance. Yes, if would be great if well-off people used more of their resources ‘for the revolution’ but those acorn things work quite well too in creating oaks.

Editor Response: 

Thank you, Ross for making an important point. Whatever our financial situation, we can make a difference.

At the Edge Fund meeting referred to in the article, a Caribbean participant urged activists to use ‘sou-sou’, a West African informal savings system. Each member of the ‘sou-sou’ contributes a certain amount weekly. Every week, one new person from the group is chosen by lottery to empty the pot into his or her bank account, until everyone has ‘won the lottery’. Then the order of payouts from the first round is followed indefinitely. Everyone was very taken with the idea (though there are downsides: you lose out on interest, and there’s no legal contract to back up your agreement). – Eds

Topics: Activism | funding