Hiroshima, Nagasaki and the future of Trident

On the 75th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima, Eileen Cook highlights the danger of Trident remaining in Scotland.

Nicola Sturgeon at the CND Stop Trident March and rally, Central London, 27 February 2016. Photo by Steve Eason.

Many will be aware that on 6 and 9 August we will be remembering the final great tragedy of the 1939-45 War: the dropping of the ‘Atom Bombs’ on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This year is the 75th anniversary.

Given the horror of what happened and that the ‘Nuclear Nations’ now have many times the nuclear firepower, it should be a no-brainer that the UK should rid itself of its (USA-controlled) nuclear arsenal based in Faslane, Scotland.

The UK government, however, doesn’t see it that way. Nuclear weapons are associated with standing on the ‘world stage’ and special status on the UN Security Council. The main UK parliamentary parties all support the continuation, and renewal, of the Trident system. This includes the Labour Party, despite frequent anti-nuclear motions being passed at conference and Jeremy Corbyn’s membership of CND (the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament). Starmer’s Labour party is now indistinguishable from Johnson’s Tories on the issue.

But what of the Scottish National Party (SNP)? Scotland is in a special position because Faslane, 40 miles from Glasgow and close to a large proportion of Scotland’s population, is the only place in the UK where the Trident submarines can be situated. Present SNP policy is that it should go.

The issue of Faslane/Trident featured heavily in the 2014 Scottish independence referendum, with anti-nuclear campaigners (including the author) throwing their energies into the independence campaign and the hope of a nuclear-free Scotland.

Some of us, however, remained wary. Just before the referendum, the SNP leadership had used the annual conference to push for the party to change its anti-NATO position. They were successful, so the SNP committed itself to membership of a nuclear alliance. It seemed likely that this would supply the window through which Trident would remain at Faslane, at least for an unspecified time period. Some of us even feared a ‘Guantanamo option’ where Faslane would remain part of the UK. We prepared ourselves for a battle, should the independence referendum be won.

In the event, we lost. However, independence remains the goal of many Scots and we hoped ‘Indyref2’ would come soon.

2020 has seen big changes. Coronavirus and Brexit have combined to produce a surge in the demand for another referendum and the UK government has dug in to fight this. There is no chance that they will agree a Section 30 order which would allow a new referendum to go ahead legally. The pro-independence movement is split on the way forward and new pro-indy parties and umbrella organisations are multiplying. Trident appears only as a passing issue, if at all, in most of their manifestos. Added to this, the SNP itself is split between the ‘left’ and ‘right’ groupings centred on Nicola Sturgeon and former leader Alex Salmond.

Trident continues to be deeply entangled in the relationship between the British State and Scottish independence. The UK government will never concede on Trident and will use bribes and threats to keep nuclear weapons in an independent Scotland.

If the rightward drift is to be reversed it is essential that the pro-independence left makes the removal of Trident central to the campaign.

Join the anti-nuclear movement and support our activities. Starting with the events next week around Hiroshima and Nagasaki.



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