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Voices of Scotland CND is needed now more than ever

ARTHUR WEST runs through Scottish CND's plans for the year ahead

AS WE start a New Year, Scottish CND is working on ideas to continue the struggle to rid our country and our world of the scourge of nuclear weapons. 

Our plans for 2018 include the organisation of a national Rally at the Faslane Nuclear Weapons Base on Saturday September 15.

This Rally will be preceded by a march from the Faslane Peace Camp just outside Helensburgh to the base. 

It is expected that representatives from peace movements in various parts of the world will speak at the Rally. An invite is also being sent to Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to speak.

One of the main themes of the march and rally will be the continuing campaign to scrap the Trident nuclear weapons system which is housed at Faslane.

These weapons of mass destruction cost millions of pounds to maintain and this is money badly needed for investment in public services such as health and education.

However the march and rally will also highlight the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which was passed at a special session of the United Nations in July 2017.

This groundbreaking and historic treaty was supported by 122 countries. It opened for signature on September 20 2017 and will remain open for all states to sign and ratify. 

Unfortunately the British government has shown no signs of supporting the treaty. Nonetheless, despite this lack of interest from the British government, it has a very good chance of becoming part of international law in the not too distant future.

Basically, when 50 countries sign and ratify the treaty, it becomes part of international law. It will then be binding on those countries not to develop, test, acquire or threaten to use nuclear weapons .

Scottish CND is confident that as support for the treaty develops it will have a practical and political impact on the British government.  

If the treaty becomes law, it will put nuclear weapons possession clearly beyond the pale. It will also reduce the status or political value attached to these weapons.

As well as the September march and rally, Scottish CND is also planning to organise a number of activities to mark the 60th anniversary of the founding of the organisation in 1958.

These plans include:

  • A summer full of outreach activities, street work and stalls at festivals across Scotland 
  • The development of a mobile exhibition called Scotland — a Peace of History. This exhibition will look at the Scottish journey of CND and the wider peace movement.

We hope to launch the exhibition in autumn 2018 and encourage local groups, schools and other supporter organisations to take the exhibition to various places across Scotland.

Peace Education Scotland, the educational arm of Scottish CND, is organising a Generation Y Peace Campaigning Academy for more than 100 young people.

This exciting project will take place in Glasgow in July 2018 and will involve a three day programme on all aspects of campaigning work.

Sessions will cover issues such as communications tactics, grassroots empowerment and digital engagement.

Apart from special activities to mark our 60th anniversary Scottish CND will continue its ongoing work during 2018.

We continue to be part of the Scottish Scrap Trident Coalition, where we work with a range of organisations to campaign for the scrapping of Trident and the cancellation of its replacement.

We also continue to be part of the Scottish Peace Network, which tirelessly makes the case for a peaceful, non-violent approach to resolving international tensions.

Other activities include support for the Scottish CND Trade Union Network, which brings together trade union reps and members to highlight the case against nuclear weapons within the Trade Union movement.

Our work across the political spectrum will also continue in 2018.  At the present time there is currently an active SNP CND network and there are some encouraging signs that a similar network could be set up within the Scottish Green Party .

Scottish CND has also spoken at a number of Scottish Labour Party fringe meetings in recent years and there was support at these events for setting up a Scottish Labour/CND network. 

We will also be continuing to support the work of the Scottish Parliament Cross Party Group convened by Bill Kidd MSP. This group has proved to be an important focal point for raising awareness about nuclear weapons and general peace movement issues within the Scottish Parliament. 

It would be remiss of me when giving any update about the work of Scottish CND not to mention the very worrying situation which currently exists between the US and North Korea .

As vice-chair of Scottish CND Isobel Lindsay said in the most recent edition of our magazine: “The nuclear threats from North Korea are a very real source of anxiety especially for those living in the region.

“But the responsibility rests not just on the North Korean regime but with the supporters of nuclear weapons.” 

Scottish CND has been consistent in calling for dialogue between the US and North Korea to resolve the current tensions and we will continue to make those arguments.

Research shows that an exchange involving modern nuclear weapons anywhere in the world would cause health problems and damage to the climate and food production across the planet.

The disastrous consequences of any use of nuclear weapons is one of the main reasons why organisations such as Scottish CND are needed now as much as they have ever been.

Arthur West is chair of Scottish CND.

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