By Isobel Lindsay

The anonymous Cabinet Minister who said they would probably negotiate a currency union with Scotland especially if they could get to keep Trident on the Clyde, let slip one of the big unionist nightmares – they could lose their big-power virility symbol.

This is one of the great moral and international issues at stake in the Referendum campaign.
Independence will open the door not just to removing Trident from Scotland but also achieving UK nuclear disarmament and giving a major boost to the international disarmament campaigns.

Of course, independence does not guarantee this but it gives us an incomparably better prospect than trying to convert the British state.  We have had over fifty years experience of this under different parties.  There is not the slightest indication that there is any prospect of change at Westminster.  On the contrary, they are pushing ahead with the new generation of Trident at vast expense.

But the political consensus in Scotland is significantly different from England.  In the last vote on the Blair/Brown Government’s Trident renewal proposal, a majority of Scottish MPs voted against.

There are still a number of those in the Labour Party in Scotland who are anti-nuclear but they are hamstrung by Westminster Labour policy.  With independence they would be free to support the SNP, the Greens, the SSP and many civic institutions in demanding the early disarming of Trident.  

All of the UK’s nuclear capacity is in Scotland at the Faslane/Coulport complex.  Scottish CND’s report ‘Trident – Nowhere to Go’ shows that there is no existing site in England or Wales where Trident could be based.

A new base would be likely to take up to 20 years to build – it took 14 years to expand the Faslane base for Trident.  The suggestion that it might be based in France or the US is highly improbable.  The French base is too small and there are strong constitutional and logistical objections to siting it in the US.

A US naval expert, Norman Polmar, dismissed the suggestion of basing it in the US  – “Setting up a base two to three thousand miles away is ludicrous.  It would be easier and cheaper to buy the city of Faslane.” (Global Security Newswire).

If Scotland were an independent state and required the removal of warheads, the Westminster Government would be in serious breach of international law if it did not cooperate in their removal.  This can be done quickly. (See SCND’s report ‘Disarming Trident’).

The warheads can be deactivated in weeks and these two hundred bombs can be removed gradually from Scotland within two years at most.  The independence White Paper has supported the removal within the first term of a new Scottish government, that is before 2020.  Westminster would have to decide whether to store them for years at a base like Honnington or, hopefully, take a positive decision to deactivate them permanently.

This would be a truly significant international contribution.  In itself the rejection of nuclear weapons in Scotland and a clause in the constitution prohibiting them from Scottish territory would be of great interest throughout the world and would put Scotland in a powerful moral position to campaign for wider disarmament.

But this would be magnified if the outcome was, that one of the first three nuclear powers no longer had the capacity to launch a war of mass civilian annihilation.  We could be proud of our achievement.  We would also free up resources both for ourselves and people in England by stopping the madness of spending around thirty billion pounds on buying the new generation of Trident and around another seventy billion on cost throughout its lifetime.

What about the jobs issue?  There is considerable ignorance and misinformation on this.

Faslane is now the base for all British submarines.  There are 2500 civilian jobs there but the number related to Trident is very modest.  The Ministry of Defence’s own figure is 520.  The other 2000 civilian jobs are involved in other submarine work and would have to be there even if Trident was disarmed.

The main Trident jobs are outside of Scotland.  The submarines are serviced in Devonport, warheads are made and serviced in Burghfield and Aldermaston, the missiles are built and serviced in the US and new submarines will be built at Barrow.

An independent Scotland would certainly wish to get rid of the other submarines at Faslane but the timescale could be different and the Westminster Government would be very anxious to have time to build other submarine facilities.  While two years should be the timetable for nuclear warhead removal, there could be a period of five years or so for the other submarines and this would give a little more time for job diversification in the area as well as the employment that would come from its use as a Scottish naval base.

The money saved by not going ahead with the new generation Trident and getting rid of the existing system would be available for job creation.


Nigel Mace
2014-04-04 21:58

Not only a jewel among all the other benefits of independence – a moral and an economic diamond – but what the people of Scotland and not least of my native Glasgow have deserved ever since these foul things were dumped in our midst. I also lived for 35 years in the Plymouth area and I know how utterly unacceptable these things would be at Devonport. Voting YES in September will do, not just ourselves, but all the world a massive favour. Our cause is, in so many ways, a chance for decency in a political world which has forgotten the meaning of the word. Let’s keep working for that YES in September.
2014-04-05 02:00

So Westminster won’t pre-negotiate the nonnegotiable removal of Trident until there’s a YES vote, when it becomes the Scottish Government who will not negotiate their nonnegotiable removal.
Hmmm, I’m beginning to see why Better Together are struggling to put their message across.

Vote YES,the nukes go. Nonnegotiable.
2014-04-05 07:51

The current generation of Trident is paid for exclusively on an annualised basis by robbing the Scots account (GERS). That is 1.9Billion annually, not the paltry 250 Million oft quoted, simplisticaly by the SNP.
It would not surprise me if the London establishment are secretly using Scots revenues to fund the replacement program either such is their duplicity.
So, not only do Scots vilify these odious weapons, we pay for them too.
What a sorry state of affairs we accept.
2014-04-05 08:38

‘Virility power-symbols’ have a natural home in London.
Would we want to deprive Westminster of their filthy toys?
G. P. Walrus
2014-04-05 10:24

“An independent Scotland would certainly wish to get rid of the other submarines at Faslane”

If by this you mean that we would have no conventional submarine capability, then I don’t agree we would do that. We have a huge marine territory to patrol and protect and submarine capability is essential. Otherwise we’d be completely retreating from a very important part of our own territory. It would be the equivalent of saying we will need no air force.
2014-04-05 11:53

I would say there is plenty of room at Devonport for the non Trident nuclear subs. They can go easily. They were after all only moved up here recently and that decision can simply be reversed.

The three Trident boats can be mothballed in a number of places from Devonport to Barrow though I think they really should be moored beside the Palace of Westminster.
Dundonian West
2014-04-05 13:25

Trident.Eric Joyce MP has an interesting take on the subject.
Opening para:
“A Yes vote in the independence referendum would elevate Scotland to the top of the world political agenda for one reason and one reason only: the fact that the UK’s entire nuclear arsenal would unavoidably be located in a foreign country for years. Everything else about the relationship between Scotland and the rest of the UK – currency sharing, borders, taxation – is subordinate to that simple and critical fact.”
Mysteriously it’s now a “404 Error Not Found” on his Blog.…/

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