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Monday, 11 February 2013

Scrap Trident - Scotland's April 15 moment!

Most people with an active interest in Scottish politics will now be aware that this April we will see an unprecedented weekend of protest and action in this country, demonstrating the opposition of the ordinary people of Scotland to nuclear weapons.
There have been protests in the past, of course, but I deliberately suggest that this particular weekend of action, from the 13th to the 15th of April, is unprecedented for two reasons.

Firstly, in responding to the fact that the Scottish independence movement has put Trident in the forefront of political debate in Scotland and beyond, the Scrap Trident protest is being organised by a broad and diverse coalition movement that brings together virtually all of Scotland's radical, grassroots, political activists into one united movement. Some of the organisations currently involved include:

Scottish CND,
Trident Ploughshares,
Faslane Peace Camp,
Edinburgh Peace & Justice Centre,
Stop the War Scotland, (Edinburgh site), (Glasgow site),
Radical Independence Campaign,
Scottish Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom,
Scottish Greens,
Scottish Socialist Party,
Socialist Workers Party, and the
International Socialist Group (Scotland)  

The second and, to my mind, more important reason that this weekend is unprecedented is that this weekend of action has been deliberately designed to demonstrate to the people of Scotland the power that currently lies with them, and not the politicians, in deciding the future of nuclear weapons in Scotland and, beyond that, throughout the world. 

The people of Scotland are in a privileged position right now as they have the ability to create an extra-parliamentary, mass movement, that can not only act definitively on Trident removal but can decide, away from the corrosive influence of self-interested party politics, on their own vision for the future of this country. 

And they don't have to wait until next year's referendum, they can start to show, as soon as this April, that power resides with the people and not the parliamentary institutions by, not just attending the national demonstration in Glasgow on April 13th, but by signing up for the workshops, meetings and direct action training on April 14th and then the mass blockade of the Trident base at Faslane on Monday 15th.

In this writer's opinion, it is this aspect of the weekend which holds the greatest promise. For here, is an opportunity to solidify our message in the most positive and empowering way. Those people who, as a very first experience of direct people power, take part in this blockade will never be the same again. For with participation will come the realisation that they can begin to write their own political agendas, that they can find a nurturing, encouraging place that gives voice to their concerns and, that they never need seek the permissions of unyielding self-serving elites again. Only with that sort of entitlement can the people of Scotland, and the people of the whole world, begin to make the changes that allow us to become a society united in trust, compassion, hope and generosity rather than one riven apart by fear, greed and deceit. 

So, Scotland stands on the brink of great change and this small country can seize the opportunity to lead the whole world in nuclear disarmament. That in itself is momentous and significant. But, as students of the global anti-war movement may know, there is an extra significance to the date of the blockade - April 15th. By accident or design the choice of that particular date ties our anti-war struggle firmly into the rich, world-wide anti-war tradition. I'd like to take you now on a little trip, illustrated throughout by some of the iconography of the past, that highlight the connotations of the April 15th date.

April 15th 1967, in the US saw the first mass burning of draft cards as 400,000 anti-war activists marched in New York City and 80,000 marched in San Francisco to oppose the Vietnam War. These mass marches were the culmination of the Spring Mobilization Committee's April 10-15th Vietnam Week of protest. This protest saw draft card burnings and turn-ins and anti-draft recruiter demonstrations all over the country. In New York, the speakers at the rally included Martin Luther King, Jr., Floyd McKissick, Stokely Carmichael and Benjamin Spock.

The preparations and plans for the historic April 15th demonstration brought many new organizations and forces into action and the student wing of the antiwar movement really blossomed into a powerful force for change and radicalisation. Moreover, the April 15th action had a tremendous impact on American opinion. Half a million Americans, from all walks of life, made dissent from the war and opposition to the government legitimate. April 15 was a demonstration by the antiwar movement of the breadth of mass opposition to the war and the possibility of organizing it. Furthermore, it convinced previously uninvolved groups, tendencies and individuals to participate in and build the antiwar movement.

Once the antiwar movement had helped to make dissent legitimate, public confidence in the government was shaken. The precedent for aggressively disagreeing with and challenging the government had been established. That there now existed in the country a large movement, encouraging, even demanding, that people speak out and act in a radical manner, had a profound effect on the political consciousness of the American people. Indeed, it had the potential of preparing and promoting a mass radicalisation of almost the entire populace. 

The Spring Mobilisation Committee, and associated groups, held further mass demonstrations on April 15th almost every year subsequently, right up until 1972 where, between April 15-28, the US experienced a wave of antiwar protests on campuses and outside military and defense-industry installations resulting in hundreds of arrests across the country.

And it isn't just in the US that April 15th carries no little significance for the anti-war movement. In the 1980s, Australia experienced a significant growth of nuclear disarmament activism. On April 15th 1984, 250,000 protesters attended nuclear disarmament rallies all across the country. That same year, The Nuclear Disarmament Party was formed and won a Senate seat.

Unfortunately, the Australians rather missed a trick on the old iconography front by failing to include the date on their badges. Ah well, here are a couple of examples from the period anyway:

So, where stands Scotland now?  Can we build a mass anti-war movement that will bring thousands on to the street? Yes, I believe we can, and we will, this April. What is more, we can do something that the protesters, unfortunately, couldn't achieve despite their heroic efforts in the US and Australia - we can unilaterally disarm a nuclear power.

The menace of Trident has been with us for too long. We now have a unique and unmissable opportunity to end our complicity in the active deployment of these abhorrent weapons. To that end, ordinary people who hope for a peaceful world have to keep the pressure up and ensure that this issue is at the forefront of everyone's mind as they decide on the future of Scotland.

We now need to be be mobilising for this event in every corner of Scotland to create a mass movement, extra-parliamentary, insurance policy to ensure that Holyrood has the impetus to act definitively on Trident removal, whether we get independence or not. Together, we can make the Scrap Trident weekend shake the very foundations of the establishment and, together, we can make our very own April 15th moment echo long and proudly down through the ages of history. 

And here's a little something I put together to inspire us:

Supporting the weekend:
You can add your name or the name of your organisation to the list of individuals and groups supporting this demonstration at the Scrap Trident website or by contacting

If you have a blog or website, you can show your support by getting a blog badge like the one above by visiting 'here' to get the code you need.Even better, you could write a blog in support of the Scrap Trident weekend.

Getting involved:
Please get in touch to find out more or get involved. Come to the Plenary Meeting in Glasgow in the STUC Building, between 7-9pm, on Tuesday 12th February or help mobilise for the event at stalls in town centres across Scotland this Saturday, 16th February.

If you want to take part in the blockade, you can request free direct action training any time between now and the event. Also, everything you need to know for the blockade will be covered during the workshops on Sunday 14th and there will be a detailed blockade briefing pack available on the Scrap Trident website

Basic accommodation and catering will be provided in Glasgow for all three days of this event, for the price of a donation. There will also be transport arranged to Faslane for the blockade for a small fixed price. If you are planning to come, you need to register for the accommodation and transport. Please see the contact details below to request a registration form.


Leonna O'Neill Faslane Peace Camp 07511793227

Keir McKechnie Stop The War 07773815073


Mobilising to create this mass movement and action against nuclear weapons is an expensive operation and every little helps! If you wish to contribute financially, please send donations to: 

Edinburgh Peace & Justice Centre,
 St. John's Church, 
Princes Street, 
EH21 2DP. 

Please indicate clearly that your donation is for the “Scrap Trident” event and make cheques payable to “Trident Ploughshares”. You could even hold a fundraiser or do a collection in your work place or amongst friends.


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