MSPs from SNP, Labour and the Greens have joined campaigners to pay tribute to the veteran anti-Trident activist John Ainslie who died last week.
Bill Kidd, the SNP MSP, who is co-president of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament (PNND), put down a motion in Holyrood yesterday highlighting the work Ainslie had done since taking up the post of Scottish organiser of CND more than 20 years ago.
Noting with sadness Ainslie’s passing and passing condolences to his wife Alison and family, the motion said: “Parliament understands that John was, for many years, the sole full-time worker of the organisation, but also took part in non-violent acts aimed at raising awareness of what it considers are the dangers of the Trident nuclear weapons system based at HMNB Faslane; is aware of the consistent good humour and kindness shown to everyone who met him, even when he was following the nuclear weapons convoys travelling along Scotland’s roads.”
Ainslie, who joined SCND as a full-time worker in 1992, was a hugely influential figure in nuclear policy.
His numerous reports and grasp of nuclear technology won him respect and admiration around the world. He was also an active campaigner, often driving around Scotland following nuclear bomb convoys on motorways and through densely populated areas as well as addressing activists’ meetings and protests.
Kidd’s motion was immediately signed by 17 MSPs including the SNP MSPs Joan McAlpine, Tom Arthur, Bob Doris, Labour’s Alex Rowley, Claudia Beamish and Neil Findlay, as well as Patrick Harvie, John Finnie, Ross Greer, Alison Johnstone, Mark Ruskell from the Greens.
Kate Hudson, the CND general secretary, said: “John Ainslie’s death is an enormous loss to CND and to the wider peace movement. John combined outstanding intellectual rigour in his path-breaking and immensely valuable research on Trident, with a dynamic grass roots activism.
“It was a joy to see John working Scottish CND’s huge Big Sandy puppet on demonstrations far and wide. We will miss John very much, for his dedication, his kindness and his wit, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”
Rob Edwards, the environment editor of the Sunday Herald and the co-founder of the investigative journalism platform, The Ferret, also paid tribute.
He said: “I worked closely with John for more than two decades on nuclear stories. He was always authoritative, thorough and insightful, with a high reputation amongst nuclear researchers internationally. He was a skilled user of freedom of information law, understood nuclear weapons technology, and was expert at highlighting its flaws and weaknesses. He was also unfailingly modest, and committed to getting his message across without any intruding ego. It’s been an enormous pleasure and honour to know him.”
Ainslie died on Friday after a long battle with cancer.