I’ve been up in Scotland recently with Scottish CND, speaking at a number of meetings from Glasgow to Aberdeen. It is very clear that the political context has changed enormously over the past year.
Opposing nuclear weapons is now mainstream politics. Since the election of the new Scottish government, under the leadership of Alex Salmond, making Trident unworkable in Scotland has been a key government concern.
Clearly the Scottish government is circumscribed by Westminster’s control of defence matters, but they are investigating ways to put an end to Trident nonetheless. In fact, the Scottish government has set up an expert group to investigate how best to get rid of nuclear weapons.
The group, to be chaired by Bruce Crawford MSP, Minister for Parliamentary Business, is seen by many as a crucial step towards making Scotland a nuclear-free nation. The group, which includes religious leaders, academics, activists, a lawyer and a trade unionist, has been given the task of finding legal, planning, regulatory and diplomatic ways to block the plan to replace the Trident nuclear weapons system on the Clyde.
It just shows what can be done if the political will is there. It also shows that opposing nuclear weapons is not a vote loser. In fact, I would say in Scotland it has been a vote winner. The Labour leadership in Westminster would do well to take note, and learn the political lessons.