Monday 15 March 2010

Cut Trident, Not Jobs

Despite desperately clinging to the idea of staying in bed, I got the train through to Edinburgh on Saturday morning to join the Cut Trident, Not Jobs march organised by Scotland's for Peace.

It was a lovely day for a march, up the hill from the Parliament, along the Royal Mile, then down into the Grassmarket for speeches.

The timing was also appropriate, as the town was busy with rugby fans and tourists. I was particularly struck by the numbers of fans clad in red and white heading into the Parliament for a visit; I hope they found it interesting. The day and location meant that the rally was heard not only by the usual, very committed peace activists, but by those taking in the atmosphere in the pubs in the Grassmarket, and locals hanging out their flat windows. It's these casual observers that must be reached to get across how wrong-headed trident renewal is. Right now is the perfect moment to get that message across, with trident replacement sucking vast sums of money out of Government coffers.

Scotland's distinctly anti-nuclear stance is, as Hythlodæus points out, a strong reason for voting SNP and supporting independence. For me, these issues go hand in hand. Trident-armed submarines parked on our shores against our will represents everything that we cannot do under devolution, and how our nation will always be held back from achieving our potential in the world by the dead weight of the baggage we carry within the union. We can be a force for peace and international cooperation, but only when we remove our own weapons of mass destruction.

Alex Salmond got the privilege of speaking first, and gave what I felt was a particularly rousing address. He made the point that there exists a majority in the Scottish Parliament to be rid of nuclear weapons, but no power to make it so. I think that's a point that can't be made often enough. Representatives from the Greens, Labour, Lib Dems, churches, trades unions and others all gave their perspectives on why nuclear weapons should be an election issue; morally and financially, there's no justification for spending money on weapons we don't need and can't use.

Addressing the crowd, Mr Salmond said that Trident would be a central issue in the General Election campaign, and that the decision to waste £100,000 million on new nuclear missiles while public services are under threat was "indefensible and obscene".

Mr Salmond said:

"There is massive opposition to dumping a new generation of weapons of mass destruction in Scotland. The Scottish Parliament has voted against the 'son of Trident', a majority of Scottish MPs reject it, and it is going to be a central issue in the General Election campaign.

"At a time when Westminster is imposing cuts in public services to deal with Labour's recession, with much deeper cuts planned in the future, and the Scottish Government's budget is falling in real terms for the first time since devolution, to waste £100 billion on weapons of mass destruction is indefensible and obscene.

"Any way you look at it - on moral, financial, or defence grounds - renewal of Trident is completely untenable, and I believe that position can prevail in the General Election.

"The tide has well and truly turned on Trident - and the General Election offers the opportunity to ensure that weapons of mass destruction are banished from Scotland forever."

1 comment:

Hammer said...

I nearly went along to this, unfortunately being out late at fundraiser with the Edinburgh North & Leith branch got the better of me. Rather poor show on my part.

It sounds like a good speech.