from Sunday Herald, 12 April 2015
Many will lock themselves together to block access roads and stop staff and military officials from getting to work. There are likely to be multiple arrests, with a major operation by Police Scotland and the Ministry of Defence expected.
Protestors are being trained in non-violent direct action, learning passive resistance techniques, and being given legal support. If they plan on getting arrested, they are being advised to bring a sandwich to eat in the police van and a book to read in the cell.
The ‘Scrap Trident’ blockade is being organised by a coalition of 15 peace, political and pro-independence groups. It follows last Saturday’s ‘Bairns Not Bombs’ rally in Glasgow’s George Square, where up to 4,000 demonstrators were addressed by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Scottish Green Party co-convenor Patrick Harvie, and Labour’s North Ayrshire parliamentary candidate and former MP, Katy Clark.
Organisers say they are expecting two or three hundred people to turn up at the Trident base, and are running coaches from Glasgow and Edinburgh. Though some of the protestors will be veterans who’ve been arrested before, many will be first-timers, inspired by the independence referendum and the hope of change in the forthcoming UK election (see below).
“With the SNP, the Greens and Plaid Cymru saying that Trident is a red line for their support for a Labour-led government it seems possible, for the first time in thirty years, that Trident could go,” says a 19-page briefing for would-be blockaders.
“By shutting the base down just three weeks before the general election the blockade will dramatise our determined opposition to Trident and send a signal to voters UK wide: vote Trident out. This is a once in a lifetime chance to stop Trident.”
Protestors are planning to block all four entrances to Faslane: North Gate, South Gate and two oil depot gates. Some in fancy dress and accompanied by a samba band, they aim to be there from 7am when workers start arriving until 3pm.
“If we could find enough people who could swim, we would blockade the dockside as well, but that is tricky,” veteran anti-nuclear protestor, Jane Tallents, told the Sunday Herald. “The water’s very cold.”
Training sessions for blockaders have already taken place in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Stirling. Today (Sunday), an all-day training session and sleepover is taking place at Kinning Park in Glasgow.
People are being advised to work in “affinity groups” of six to 12 and not to engage in any physical violence or verbal abuse. “We will always act in a way that causes no harm to ourselves or others,” says the briefing. “Our attitude will be one of sincerity and respect to everyone we encounter.”
They are strict no alcohol, no drugs and no weapons rules. Blockaders are advised how to use “lock-ons”, climbing gear, superglue and paint to make it as difficult as possible for them to be freed by specialist police cutting teams, without risking safety.
Everyone will be given “bust cards” summarising legal rights and contact details, with backup teams ready to drive to police stations in Clydebank, Govan and Greenock to pick up people when they are released. In the past, though scores have been arrested, the vast majority of charges have ended up being dropped.
The police have warned that, if offences are committed, they will be dealt with swiftly and proportionately, including arrests. Police Scotland has been working with the organisers to ensure that the blockade “is conducted safely and with minimum disruption to the local community,” said a police spokesman.
The Ministry of Defence stressed that it recognised the right to peaceful protest. “HM Naval Base Clyde has robust planning measures in place to minimise any disruption to normal operations as a result of this demonstration,” said an MoD spokesman. “The effective safety and security of the site will be maintained at all times.”
Why we’re joining the Faslane blockade
Isabelle Smith, a grandmother and veteran SNP activist from Leith in Edinburgh, will turn 84 when she takes part in the Faslane blockade on Monday. “When I was 14, I had a dread of being a shadow on a wall, like the victims of Hiroshima,” she says.
“At 30, I looked in the faces of my two children, born during the Cuban missile crisis in the US, and the nightmare continued. Today, having watched the growing acceptance of these weapons of mass destruction over the years, I fear for my grandchildren.”
She is prepared to be arrested at Faslane. “I will make my statement after all these years,” she says. “We can show the world that my small country, Scotland, cannot justify this obscenity.”
Ester Siroky (42), the wife of a church minister in Selkirk, plans to be at Faslane with some of her six children. “Weapons of mass destruction horrify me,” she says. “I do not understand how anyone could even contemplate renewing something which is of such a threat to life.”
“There are many marginalised people in our society, people who rely on food banks, people who are homeless, children that are in dire poverty. Yet renewing weapons of mass destruction is prioritised before welfare. I believe that to be seriously morally wrong.”
“Trident is unethical, immoral, militarily illogical and a major threat to our physical, psychological and spiritual health. That's why, as a doctor, I feel compelled to do what I can to get rid of it.”
Alasdair Ibbotson is a student from Stirling University. “I believe that nuclear weapons are a huge waste of money and go against basic decency,” he says.
“That’s is why I'm going to sit in the road and risk arrest, because just saying it isn't enough. It's just so unbelievably wrong, I've got to do more about it.”
Patrick Harvie, the Green MSP for Glasgow and co-convenor of the Scottish Greens, is planning to join the Faslane blockade. "Trident is an obscenity,” he says. “Through direct action and through the ballot box we can make the case for the UK to play a new role on the world stage.”
Who is opposed to renewing Trident?
Scottish National Party
Scottish Green Party
Scottish Socialist Party
Seven Scottish Labour MPs
75 per cent of UK Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidates
Scottish Trades Union Congress
Educational Institute of Scotland
Fire Brigades Union
The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers
Church of Scotland
Roman Catholic Scottish Bishops
Scottish Episcopal Church
Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
Edinburgh Peace & Justice Centre
Radical Independence Campaign
Scottish Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom
Black Triangle Campaign
YES Helensburgh and Lomond
United Nations Association
Campaign Against Arms Trade
Anti-nuclear protest over the decades
1958: first march against Aldermaston atomic weapons establishment in Berkshire
1961: protests against arrival of US Polaris submarines at Holy Loch in Argyll
1960s: protests against new UK Polaris base at Faslane, near Helensburgh
1979: mass protest against nuclear power station at Torness in East Lothian
1981: women’s peace camp set up at Greenham Common, Berkshire, against US Cruise missiles
1982: peace camp set up at Faslane and other sites in England
1983: mass protest against nuclear weapons in London
1986: Hundreds of thousands in Scottish protest against Trident
1992-98: Protests against arrival of Trident submarines and warheads
2006: Walk from Faslane to Scottish Parliament
2015: Glasgow rally and Faslane blockade