Where now for the campaign to scrap Britain's nuclear weapons?
The Scrap Trident Coalition includes Scottish CND, Stop the War, Trident Ploughshares and a number of other organisations.
Saturday 4 April 2015 saw the biggest demonstration in Scotland against Trident nuclear weapons for many years. Eight thousand marched from George Square in the heart of Glasgow. The demo was loud, colourful and militant.
Opposition to Trident and anger over the British state’s role as the US’s junior partner in wars around the world was a thread that ran through the debate and discussion leading up to the referendum in September 2014.
As soon as the referendum was over the Scrap Trident Coalition, which includes Scottish CND, Stop the War, Trident Ploughshares and a number of other organisations, started to organise around a strategy to ensure that Trident and opposition to Trident replacement remained high up the agenda in the run up to the General election.
Step 1 in the campaign was a symbolic demonstration at the Faslane nuclear base to make it clear that we were not going away; two thousand attended.
Step 2 was the 4 April demo.
Ironically the Scottish National Party began the referendum campaign at their autumn 2013 conference by backtracking on their position of opposition to NATO membership.
But since the referendum there has been a huge influx of new members into the SNP who are predominantly anti-Trident and strongly anti-Nato. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon agreed to be on the platform for the demo. On the day she reiterated a commitment to scrapping Trident and opposition to its replacement.
Nicola Sturgeon’s ability to articulate positions held much more widely on the left has contributed to her huge popularity and she received a fantastic reception at the rally.
But the marchers were much more than just an audience for a popular politician. So for example, disability rights activists Nualla Watt and Sasha Callaghan received huge applause for trenchant attacks on austerity.
Stop the War Coalition placards and leaflets linked Trident with opposition to NATO and imperialist wars were well received. The Labour Party’s support for Trident attracts derision but Labour MP Katy Clark was well received as a principled and consistent opponent of nuclear weapons.
Anne Henderson from the STUC brought labour movement support and Green MSP Patrick Harvie and Cat Boyd from the Radical Independence Campaign made passionate calls for mass direct action at the next step in the Scrap Trident Campaign, the blockade of the Faslane base on 13 April.
We should look forward to the impact that a large contingent of Scottish anti Trident renewal MPs will have on political discussion after the election. But the MPs, even if they hold the balance of power, will only be effective if there is a mass campaign outside parliament. 4 and 13 April are important steps in building that movement.
Source: Stop the War Coalition