It is a common view in Scotland that the high road to the removal and dismantling of the UK Trident system is Scottish independence. Alex Salmond has recently given a “100%” guarantee that Trident will go once Scotland can make its own decisions.
There are concerns about this. Independence may not happen. SNP leaders are adamant that there is no question of a dirty deal where Scotland would be granted a form of independence in return for continuing to host the business end of Remnant UK’s WMD, but who knows for sure what will take place during negotiations?
It’s a “jam tomorrow” scenario, like so many we have faced before. The problem with “jam tomorrow” promises is that they carry an implicit message that in the meantime we must calm down and keep rational outrage in the background.
A related worry surrounds the refusal of the Scottish government to take a stand on the legality of Trident. They have told us that they are constrained from doing so by the Scottish high court’s ludicrous opinion on the validity of the Maytime Three decision and also by the Scotland Act.
The Three boarded the Maytime barge on Gair Loch, damaging military equipment. They were acquitted in 2001 by sheriff Margaret Gimblett who accepted the defence that Trident was illegal because it couldn’t discriminate between military and civilian targets. Though the Scottish high court could not overturn this decision, it judged that the basis of the defence case should not have been admissible.
In terms of the Scotland Act, if the Scottish government has already declared its general opposition to Trident, it is far from clear why this should stop them from speaking out on its illegality. Is the real reason a fear of rocking the boat at a time when all the currents are heading in the direction of independence? Whatever the reason is, the silence is unsettling.
The bottom line is that the point of driving Trident out is not merely to rid Scotland of the WMD stain. Since there is no other likely or acceptable base for the Trident subs anywhere else in Britain it will be a huge step towards nuclear disarmament for the UK.
More, if the expulsion of Trident is firmly grounded in its illegality under international humanitarian law then we will have made a big contribution towards a universal legal ban.
Bill Bicksell, the veteran US campaigner who has just gone back to prison in the US after trespassing at the Y-12 nuclear weapons factory, told us a year or two ago: “Scotland is the key (to worldwide nuclear disarmament)”.
In the light of that challenge and opportunity this is no time to be sheepish about the obvious criminal nature of the UK’s preparations for mass murder.