Early bird at Parliament

IssueDecember 2008 - January 2009
Feature by Rosie Hopkins

The Big Blockade Faslane 365, street demonstrations are familiar lively, colourful, noisy campaigning experiences.

Lobbying MSPs to get rid of Trident, leafleting their staff and the civil servants at the Scottish Parliament, was quieter and greyer. It was accentuated by the day – 11 November, Remembrance Day – and by being a soberly-dressed, placard-wearing group of seven anti-nuclear campaigners from around Stirling.

Standing at the two Canongate entrances at 8am, the first wave of people going into the Scottish Parliament seemed grudging early risers uninterested in the UK’s weapons of mass destruction.

By 8.30am purposeful men and women returned our greetings and invitations to take a leaflet about the presence of nuclear warhead convoys that regularly travel Scottish roads and pass through residential areas of Stirling.

We handed out 100 or more leaflets over the next hour with only a few people stopping to talk, argue or encourage. Politeness seemed matched with acceptance; limited engagement seemed matched with a reluctance to be disturbed or to take responsibility.

They were hurrying to attend to more important issues. We were hoping to raise the level of urgency relating to Trident.

Our small placards were pithy and poignant, calling on the imagination and encouraging action. Only one man challenged a placard statement, pointing out that Trident wasn’t in the First World War, and missing our intention to prevent a future Remembrance Day for the victims of nuclear war.

Maybe the message of potential nuclear holocaust and the horrors of the Somme got through to many, several people asking for extra white poppies, several asking the significance of the White compared with the red poppy [whitepoppy.org].

We ran out of white poppies, and celebrated our choice of day, a day significant in its connection to the cost of war and the cost of lives. Hopefully, some made the connection with the cost in terms of public money and alternative spending.

It was only an hour and a half of mostly brief and occasionally extended contact with people at the heart of our government, and yet we felt elated. We had not been ignored, our stance against Trident was noticed, and our offerings of information on the nuclear convoys had been mostly graciously received or politely refused.

MSPs and their policy advisors might actually make a difference using the Scottish Parliament’s devolved responsibilities for Transport or Health and Safety. The Early Bird anti-nuclear weapons campaign is worthwhile and worth repeating to keep the issue in the minds of those in the parliament.

We headed for hot coffee, tea and toast in a mood of solidarity and hope that one day in some way change might come to Scotland and Trident’s nuclear weapons would leave our shores and our roads.

Topics: Nuclear weapons
See more of: Scotland