I’d been to Faslane – both the peace camp and the nuclear submarine base – a few times over the years to join in peace camps or protests at the base. I’d always found the base one of the most disturbing, sinister places I have been – the beautiful setting of the Loch and the Forth in stark contrast with the dark monstrous presence of nuclear submarines that could easily destroy us all.
My main anti weapons activities have been with the Campaign Against Arms Trade- especially since the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Nevertheless, I have followed anti- nuclear work in recent years and strongly support the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) and the work around that, which includes the very useful work on divestment being done by Don’t Bank on the Bomb (DBOTB) – part of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) network. ICAN and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) and others are very active in encouraging and raising awareness about the Treaty around the world. WILPF have led in highlighting the gender related impacts of the use of nuclear weapons.
I attended the launch of a guide to divestment from investment in nuclear weapons in Scotland the day before September’s big ‘Nae Nukes’ event at the Faslane Peace Camp. This inspired me to go to Faslane and represent CAAT Scotland – especially as many of the arms companies CAAT campaigns against are also involved in the business of producing or maintaining nuclear weapons. And, in June 2018, CAAT had worked closely with Scottish CND, Medact Scotland and others to stop further arms fairs taking place in Glasgow – a successful coalition.
So, I took up the kind offer of a seat on the Medact bus. My partner is a longtime member of Medact Scotland (Medact is a collective of health professionals working on issues causing inequality and damaging health – and is an affiliate of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) and a partner of ICAN). We left Glasgow on the morning of 22 September in high spirits. We were all excited by the fact that there would be a significant international presence at the rally – international campaigners from many of the nuclear armed states who had come to support Scotland in standing against nukes – and to show that the UK government is out of step in not supporting the TPNW adopted in 2017 at the UN.
The bus ride was great – people added final touches to placards, and donned scrubs to make clear that the medics involved see nuclear weapons as a serous danger to health – and believe that there is no possible response other than the elimination of these weapons. We sang and had a laugh – arriving at Faslane to a sea of hundreds of faces, lining up and getting off buses ready for the march to the North Gate and the rally.
As we got off the bus, very earnest police were asking everyone not to pin things on the railings as they were electrified. This assertion appeared to be patently inaccurate and alarmist, as we saw many items pinned and no sign of anyone getting shocks.
I unfurled the CAAT banner and started walking. Very shortly afterwards a woman approached me to help carry the banner – saying she had been in CAAT elsewhere in Scotland for years and was delighted to see us there. We pinned the banner on a fence during the rally.
It was a beautiful day – and people, children and dogs walked together singing and chanting. People from Scotland, the US, Germany, Holland and Israel spoke out against nukes and for the Treaty.
Although the March and rally won’t immediately change anything, it was a step in the right direction and an opportunity to network and share ideas.
People in Scotland don’t support replacing Trident (the UK’s nuclear weapons programme), and want rid of Trident altogether. 127 member states agree, including the 70 that have already signed or adhered to the TPNW and an additional 57 states that voted to adopt the treaty at the UN but have yet to sign (the objective is for the Treaty to enter force by 2020). The Scottish government supports the Treaty too. This is an issue that Scotland can play a key role in – and should be high on the agenda for Scotland.
CAAT can play our part too and can also be guided by the approaches and principles outlined on the Don’t Bank on the Bomb guide.
Melanie Scott, member of Edinburgh CAAT.