Scottish CND discussed the next stages in the campaign against Trident renewal at their AGM on 12 November.
SCND Chair Alan Mackinnon argued that taking Trident replacement along with the military spending on the war in Afghanistan the UK is spending £7bn per annum that could be diverted elsewhere at a time of deep cuts to social services, so there are real possibilities for lobbying disaffected Lib Dems and raising Trident replacement on the political agenda. Alan also described how replacement warhead deployment has been delayed by four years from 2024 to 2028.
Whilst the design phase is continuing as planned, this puts off the crucial “main gate” decision until 2015, making Trident replacement potentially a live issue at the next general election. Guest speaker Mike Arnott brought out more of the complexities of the UK spending cuts agenda, suggesting a complicated picture for anti-militarists in Scotland.
Cuts in conventional weaponry are affecting the Scottish economy, particularly the planned closure of RAF Lossiemouth and Kinloss which thousands gathered to demonstrate against on 7 November. Also, two new aircraft carriers (minus planes!) are still due to be built on Clydeside, where the existence of the shipbuilding industry is now entirely dependent on military contracts. These jobs issues are highlighted in trade union policies which commonly oppose nuclear weapons, but support conventional weaponry. Mike also noted that assertive trade unionism in France, demonstrated in the recent direct action response to changes in pensions arrangements, hasn’t as yet included support for anti-militarist or even anti-nuclear weapons agendas.
Turning to campaigning possibilities, he suggested that the delay to Trident replacement might mean increased maintenance to existing warheads and therefore more nuclear convoys on the roads, adding fuel to existing campaigns against the convoys and for nuclear-free local authorities.
Also, current campaigns have tended to neglect the uranium trade and how most uranium, for civil or defence uses, originates in the indigenous lands of Australia and Canada where there are easily-forgotten fair trade and justice issues to be addressed.
The question remains as to how to raise the profile of the anti-nuclear weapons agenda in Scotland so that it might translate into tangible actions by a Scottish government whose working group on nuclear weapons appears to have kicked the issue into the long grass.
Scottish first minister Alex Salmond has excelled at leading anti-Trident demonstrations through the streets of Edinburgh, but what about leadership that challenges Westminster on this issue? Answering this one can’t be left until the 2015 general election.