Q&A in Helensburgh Advertiser
The Helensburgh Advertiser approached the Steering Group with a proposal to run and Question and Answer session with us in the paper. We readily agreed. Their 15 March issue asked for people to write to the Advertiser with questions for us. The Advertiser selected five questions which they passed on to us to answer. Our replies, copied below, were printed in the 29 March issue of the Advertiser.
From Graham Barr, Cove:
The Trident missile system and its predecessor Polaris are a deterrent but they also create massive employment in the area. Can protestors really justify the loss to the local economy and impact on employment if the system were scrapped? How would they suggest how to combat job losses both in the facility and in support roles as well as the wider impact on the local economy?
The cancellation of Trident would more likely have a positive than a negative impact on the local economy. The Faslane submarine base stands in the way of the economic regeneration of the Gare Loch, impeding marine sports, recreational and new industrial developments that could create far more local jobs than the base employs. If the naval base is kept while Trident is cancelled, research demonstrates that more jobs would be produced by dismantling Trident than continuing its deployment. For more information on this, see the recent study by the Scottish TUC.
The jobs argument should not be used to avoid or obscure the fundamental moral and security case for getting rid of Trident. The real question is, could we ever justify maintaining weapons of mass murder on the grounds that they create jobs? Each Trident warhead is 8-10 times greater than the bombs that killed hundreds of thousands at Hiroshima.
Trident cannot deter the real security threats that we face – terrorism, climate change and poverty – and deploying a further generation of nuclear weapons breaches Britain’s international obligations and worldwide efforts to prevent proliferation.
From Name withheld, Shandon:
Do protestors based at the peace camp pay council tax? Do they have planning permission for the buildings there? If not, why not?
Thousands of people from many walks of life have come for Faslane365 blockades from all over the country and as far away as Australia and Japan. Most pay taxes where they live. The stereotypical view of who the protesters are, what they do, what they think, would be shattered by stopping to talk to any Faslane 365 group. A discussion with any of the protesters would reveal knowledgeable, committed members of many communities who have a deep desire for peace, security and a nuclear free world.
As for planning permission, local people might do better to question the planning process that allows the MoD to erect huge, ugly buildings and structures and close off access to parts of Scotland and its beautiful lochs.
The Peace Camp is temporary. We long for the day when the peace camp can be transformed to a Peace Garden to commemorate the struggle for the abolition of all weapons of mass destruction.
Faslane Peace Camp has been there for 25 years in June and they will hopefully be given a chance to speak for themselves in the Advertiser.
From Robert McIntyre, Rosneath:
We are sympathetic to the right to protest but peninsula residents have been badly affected by the protests in terms of their movements being restricted by traffic congestion. People have been held up for medical and other important appointments and children being bussed to and from schools have been affected. Why don¹t protestors go and protest at Coulport which is where the armaments are actually stored? What is their reaction to the suffering of local residents because of the actions of protestors?
We are sympathetic to the needs of locals and sincerely regret any distress caused by our actions to people not working at Faslane. The emergency services know that all blockaders will move for them in accordance with Faslane365 nonviolence principles.
Both sides care about the welfare of other people – it’s what makes us all human. It’s that concern for the health and happiness of all, especially our children's future, that motivates us. We understand how locals just want things to return to ‘normal’, but nuclear weapons are not normal. Most of the world – more than 180 countries – have chosen not to have them in return for a promise, made in 1968, by Britain and a small number of others with nuclear weapons that they would get rid of them.
Faslane365 aims to disrupt the ‘business as usual’ deployment of nuclear weapons and persuade the government to fully implement Britain’s treaty undertakings by renouncing these weapons of mass destruction. It is the tailbacks of traffic trying to enter the base that cause the disruption. Local civilians would have clear passage if this military traffic were directed elsewhere, at least until the blockades are cleared.
From Name withheld, Rhu:
The aim of Faslane 365 was to have a protest per day at the gates of the base. This definitely hasn't happened so would the campaigners say their mission has failed?
The aim of Faslane365 is not so much to have a protest per day as to facilitate autonomous groups of people to take a stand against the violations of international law which are taking place everyday at the base. Blockaders are attempting to stop preparations for war crimes from taking place. Using Trident would kill millions of innocent people. Threatening to use Trident – which is what the deployment of Trident on a daily basis is all about – is also illegal. More than 650 protesters have been arrested for breach of the peace, while they are actually upholding international non-proliferation and humanitarian law and acting as responsible citizens.
Social change takes time and commitment and we will only succeed when ordinary people realise that not everything that is 'official' is lawful or acceptable, and when large numbers use their power to bring about justice and peace.
Meanwhile, even one person standing alone at the gates of Faslane is a reminder to all of us of the hope for a better world.
From Roz, Helensburgh:
None of the decisions about Trident's future have been taken at Faslane. Why wasn't Faslane 365 held outside Westminster or Holyrood where their presence might have made politicians think twice?
Politicians are thinking twice. The revolt of nearly a hundred MPs at Westminster against government plans to upgrade Trident is evidence of that. Recent YouGov polling showed 65 per cent of Scots thinking that if a majority of Scottish MPs voted against Trident replacement it should not be sited in Scotland and 72 per cent of Scots think Trident replacement is a bad use of public money. Along with the continuing protests at Faslane, this will give the politicians at Holyrood, after the May elections, the strength to insist that Trident is not a 'reserved' matter because illegalities (preparations for war crimes) cannot be reserved. Thus Scottish Parliament Bills are expected to be introduced against the basing of nuclear weapons in Scotland.
Quite a few MSPs have joined the blockades at Faslane. And many of the Faslane protesters do protest elsewhere - on the day Parliament voted on Trident Replacement protesters demonstrated outside both Holyrood and Westminster. But Faslane is where protesters engage in direct resistance against these terrible illegal weapons that undermine the UK's moral integrity and which encourage worldwide proliferation.