30 November saw the biggest protest against nuclear weapons at the UKs nuclear weapons base in a decade as nearly 1500 people converged on the Faslane naval base on the Gareloch, 30 miles north of Glasgow. The Peace and Justice Centre played a key role in organising the Scrap Trident coalition demonstration.
The protest had the full support of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and 25 MSPs. Nicola Sturgeon said ““I agree strongly with the message of this demonstration and I offer the Scottish Government’s support.” “I urge the UK Government to listen to these messages, to cancel their plans for the renewal of their nuclear weapons programme and to withdraw Trident nuclear weapons at the earliest opportunity.” The support of MSPs and Nicola Sturgeon was obtained by the Peace and Justice Centre on behalf of the Scrap Trident coalition.
After embarking from each of the 17 buses that arrived from as far afield as Assynt in the north, from Fort William and the Borders people walked from Faslane Peace Camp to the North Gate, accompanied by the sounds of the Rhythms of Resistance and She Boom Samba bands. They tied messages of their hopes for peace and disarmament all along the weld mesh perimeter fence. As they arrived at the gates the unexpected Blocko Drummers welcomed the walkers. The Protest in Harmony singing group contributed to the Carnival atmosphere.
People poured into the bell mouth at the gateway and spilled out into the roadway so police had to close half the roundabout. There they made a noise that could be heard in Westminster.
Between performances of music and poetry individuals made one minute statements of why Trident should go and their hopes for the future. Penny Stone led the assemblage in singing Down by the Riverside (and study war no more), Bobby Nicolson performed his anti-Trident songs. Lisa Rigby revived the civil rights anthem Keep You Eyes on the Prize and poet Gerry Loose read poems with an anti Trident theme from his new book Fault Line while Scrap Trident’s David Mackenzie read one of his own poems.
For many this was the first visit to the operational base of the UK’s nuclear weapon submarines. The reaction of Murray Dickie from Stirling was typical. He said:
“Walking along the miles of razor wire-guarded perimeter fence you realise what a huge financial cost this place is – never mind the abomination of what’s stored behind it. Great company, huge good spirits – awful contradiction with a nuclear arsenal just a few hundred metres away!”
Mainstream media coverage recognized the importance of this story. BBC reported that “Hundreds Protest Against Nuclear Weapons at Faslane” with a photo featuring Scottish CND’s larger than life “Big Sandy” giant puppet. The Scotsman headline read: Carnival Atmosphere at Faslane Trident Protest.” The Herald said “Nearly a thousand people gathered at Faslane.” There was TV coverage by BBC Reporting Scotland which noted that “no arrests were made” and STV. And the inaugural issue of iscot magazine’s lead article featured the demonstration.
Earlier in the week 20 MSPs including Greens, Labour, SNP and Independents showed their support for the Scrap Trident demonstration in a photo call at Scottish Parliament. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and several other MSPs were unable to attend the photo call due to the release of the Smith Commission report and other commitments on the same day.
The Scrap Trident Coalition is now planning a mass demonstration in Glasgow on Saturday the 28th of March and a blockade of Faslane on Monday 13th April in anticipation of the next general election. The next Westminster Parliament will determine whether to replace Trident at a cost of up to £100Bilion.
There are lots more photos on the Scrap Trident Facebook page. If you have photos or know of more photos that we can add to the album please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you are thinking of taking part in or supporting the Big Blockade in April please email email@example.com and keep checking scraptrident.org for more information coming soon.
Well done everyone for a great day.