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Freedom from the shadow of nuclear arsenal

BILL KIDD MSP joined anti-nuclear campaigners on the march toward a Scotland without Trident

On a really miserable day outside the Scottish Parliament, a sturdy band of around 50 mostly older anti-nuclear campaigners gathered along with myself and a number of other well-wishers and, with the rain bouncing up to their knees, they headed off up the Royal Mile on a six-day march to the gates of Faslane naval base.

I next met up with them in George Square in Glasgow where a couple of thousand gathered for a march round the city centre and back for a rally addressed by a platform of all-women speakers. Among them was the Deputy First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon. 

To resounding cheers Ms Sturgeon reiterated the words of Alex Salmond a few days earlier that under no circumstances will the Scottish government’s commitment to have Trident nuclear weapons and all nuclear-powered submarines removed from Scotland be part of a horse-trading deal over the continued use of sterling, or indeed for any other shoddy deal.

Indeed Ms Sturgeon stated that ending the stationing of nuclear weapons in Scotland was part of the DNA of the SNP and that she herself had joined SCND before she became a member of the Scottish National Party. 

Again people in attendance from all parties and none cheered this commitment, before Cllr Martha Wardrop, of the Scottish Green Party, followed up by stating clearly that the only way Scotland’s people would see the back of Britain’s nuclear weapons system on the Clyde would be by voting Yes for independence in the referendum on September 18.

The Deputy First Minister stayed for around 40 minutes after the rally to mix with the crowd, signing autographs and talking anti-nuclear politics with anyone who wanted to hear more about the approaching end of Trident in Scotland. 

Indeed people were delighted to hear again that the removal from Scotland of Britain’s so-called independent nuclear deterrent would most probably result in it having nowhere to go. 

My third meeting with the walkers was a couple of days later at the gates of Faslane where songs were sung, sandwiches eaten and I made a speech in which I once again emphasised the international dimension of our cause. 

It was here that Scots, whatever their national origin, as well as some visitors from abroad nodded and applauded the concept that independence for Scotland can mean freedom from the shadow of Trident and the nuclear menace it holds. 

This way we can make our contribution to UN secretary-general Ban-Ki Moon’s Five-Point-Plan for a world without nuclear weapons.

Members and supporters of all political parties and none can work together for a safer nuclear-weapons-free world and, even after Scottish independence, that work will of course continue. 

But many people can see that if an opportunity is presented and snubbed then maybe, for some, the journey is more important than the arrival.

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