Trident opposition in Scotland puts UK under pressure

IssueApril 2008
Feature by Rebecca Johnson

In May 2007, Scotland elected a minority government committed to getting rid of Trident.

Opinion polls showed that opposition to Trident was the foremost reason cited by people who transferred their votes from the Labour Party to the Scottish National Party (SNP). It is important to recognise that the outcome was not due to an upsurge in nationalist opinion, but reflected disgust with Tony Blair's government, not least over Labour's decision to renew Trident for a further 30 years.

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon acknowledged this when she paid tribute to Faslane 365 for mobilising public opinion and providing the impetus for rejecting the imposition of nuclear weapons.

After holding a Summit for a Nuclear Free Scotland in October, the Scottish Government, led by the SNP, has now appointed a 12person Working Group, chaired by the Minister for Parliamentary Business, Bruce Crawford MSP, to assist in creating “a Scotland Without Nuclear Weapons”. It also let the international community know that Scotland seeks to become an observer to the meetings of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as it prepares to become a nonnuclear country. Maintaining that nuclear armaments are neither necessary nor useful for security and that Britain should take the lead in turning away from these weapons of mass destruction, Scotland is also pursuing legal strategies to counter the UK position that defence and foreign policy are “reserved” for London.

Faslane 365

By organising a year of non-violent blockades at the UK's premier nuclear base, Faslane 365's approach was to challenge militarism directly whilst building a broader, stronger community of activists to share ideas and learn from each others' struggles and campaigns. The intense year of blockading Faslane may now be over, but the campaign to prevent the replacement - and, indeed, continued deployment - of Trident is building in other ways.

Faslane 365's strategy has enabled Scotland to take the lead, but we will not succeed in getting rid of Trident without further grassroots action and international pressure to denounce and devalue nuclear reliance, as part of a broader campaign for the abolition of nuclear weapons worldwide.

Trident Ploughshares and Scottish CND need to plan further direct action at Faslane and Coulport, while activists round the world should intensify pressure on the UK government to match its actions to its disarmament rhetoric, reverse its decision to renew Trident and take the lead in building a more secure world without nuclear arms.

Topics: Nuclear Weapons
See more of: Scotland