Scotland against NATO

Letter by David McKenzie

ImageBruce Kent says (letters, PN 2547-48) that in a recent speaking tour in Scotland he came upon no sign of the Nimbyism about Trident that I had mentioned (PN 2546).

I would not have expected him to do so, given that he was meeting with CND members and supporters. And, yes, as John Ainslie’s report so convincingly demonstrates, there is nowhere else in the UK for the horror to go.

Scottish National Party (SNP) defence spokesman Angus Robertson is to put before the party’s October conference a motion to change the SNP’s long-standing anti-NATO policy. He has SNP leader Alex Salmond’s full backing to do so.

I suggest two reasons for the change. One is the referendum on Scottish independence, and the attendant conviction that Scots will be more likely to affirm if the intention is to be in NATO. The SNP leadership see it as vital that a new Scotland lines up unequivocally with NATO and the US. The possibility of Scotland stepping back from the conventional alignment is regarded as the idealistic dreaming of, as George Robertson has put it, ‘a few oddballs, extremists and communists’.

In a coherent exposition of the pro-NATO stance, veteran political worthy Jim Sillars suggests that a government of a new Scotland will settle with a five- to eight-year interval for Trident’s removal.

The shortest independence timetable gives 2024 as Sillar’s year for a Trident departure – the same year as the current Vanguard boats are due for decommissioning.

That gives us a further 12 years in which the UK’s weapons of mass destruction are actively and threateningly deployed.

All of which rather explains why the SNP leadership and the Scottish government have been reluctant even to begin to explore the legality of Trident. There are SNP MSPs [members of the Scottish parliament] who will say it is illegal, but ministers remain tight-lipped.

They are aware that once you publicly accept the obvious – that Trident breaches international humanitarian law – you are committed to its urgent removal and therefore no longer have the wiggle room you think you will need when the hardball negotiations start.

Which is why Trident Ploughshares have taken the lead in forming a ‘No to NATO’ coalition with the aim of sharing and raising public concern about what NATO means, and to act in solidarity with the many SNP members (and surely some MSPs) who are opposed to the change.