DRAFT BAN TREATY RELEASED

People in Scotland have been chanting ‘ban the bomb’ since the first US weapons came up the Clyde, so let’s be celebrating this week’s big news! The chair of the UN Conference to ban the bomb, Costa Rican ambassador Elayne Whyte Gómez, released the first draft of the Ban Treaty in Geneva, Switzerland, on 22 May. She presented the text to diplomats and civil society representatives then took questions from the media. This draft is based on the elements identified by the 133 member states and the NGOs at the UN in March at the first round of the UN Conference, and it will be the basis of the final three weeks of intense talks during June and early July.

The Ban Treaty draft outlines how the Treaty will enter into effect , which can happen once 40 nations sign and ratify it. Signing by ambassadors can happen very quickly but it can take a wee bit longer for ratification. Essentially, each nation has its own process to incorporate the treaty into its own legal system, so it is law rather than an agreement by the government of the day, but the timescale will be months rather than years.

We need to get everyone talking and sharing this great news – it seems hard to credit that we are finally actually prohibiting nuclear weapons, but we are and this can lead to their elimination in time to save the world. Everyone can help.

On the first Saturday of the negotiations, June 17th The Women’s March To Ban The Bomb, in New York is being organised by WILPF (Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom) an ICAN founder member which has been instrumental in co-ordinating civil society’s important part in gaining the Ban Treaty. The plan is for representatives from as many countries as possible to take part in the march and rally, and to support the march at home too. The Scottish Working Group for the Ban will have our Scottish delegation in New York out with a big new banner. Check Facebook and this website to see the gatherings happening here in Scotland.

The nuclear weapons states which have said that they will not join the treaty will be stigmatised and shamed and the practical arrangements for the so-called nuclear “protection” services to the “umbrella” states will be affected in ways that will turn a political asset into a dangerous liability. The NATO states in Europe are good prospects for breaking with the nuclear alliance, and hopefully the SNP will see that clearly.  Once any question hanging over the legality of any nuclear weapon is resolved there is a clear argument that will convince banks and pension funds to disinvest and that will impact on the nuclear weapons states ability to continue their modernisation and upgrading programmes. Check out Don’t Bank On The Bomb on facebook or the ICAN website for more info. See the http://www.nuclearban.scot website for the Good News in a Scottish accent.

THE WORLD – NAE PLACE FOR NUCLEAR WEAPONS

Friday was the last day of the first session of the UN Nuclear Ban Treaty discussions in New York. Second session starts in June till the beginning of July.

There was an exuberant excitement in the room at the enormous significance of what is happening, hard to communicate in the UK because the UK Government has resolutely ignoring the negotiations as their main tactic for resisting the coming change in nuclear posturing. and the UK media seem to be complying with that.

During the Civil Society debrief at the end of the session, New York  International Lawyer Alice Slater, who has been working in this area and attending UN meetings for forty years, said that she had never seen such good progress and open dialogue  in a UN disarmament meeting. She was very excited!

At the present count, 132 UN Member states have participated in this meeting. We started with considerations of what the preamble should include and the first topic of the treaty, when states could outline their views on what the treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons should contain. Topic one outlined the prohibitions and topic two focused on obligations. This set out prohibitions and obligations that stigmatise nuclear weapons . On Wednesday afternoon, the President suggested that member states’ delegates could engage in an interactive dialogue with civil society experts on the issues under topic 2, working to identify what the treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons should contain in the way of obligations, and how it will relate to existing humanitarian law and other legal instruments governing nuclear weapons and other kinds of indiscriminate weapons. And the format for Thursday allowed thoughtful deliberation and exchanges, and a useful example of how the United Nations can operate in terms of open, fluid conversation amongst states, international organisations, academics, and non-governmental organisations. This was particularly helpful around the positive obligations for states parties, such as ensuring the rights of victims and survivors of nuclear weapons activities, identifying actions to address damage to affected environments and providing for international cooperation and assistance to meet the obligations of the treaty.

The final session,  on the third topic, looked at the Institutional arrangements, continued in the same spirit, ensuring the process was open to all interested states, international organisations and civil society with no state able to singlehandedly block the treaty’s establishment. Its also important that it is compatible with, or reinforces existing treaties, and that there are robust arrangements for how it is implemented and how it comes into force. This topic also considers the necessary arrangements regarding participation in the negotiations – how and who.

The nuclear weapon ban treaty is a categorical rejection of nuclear weapons. Its overarching objective is to help facilitate the elimination of nuclear weapons. The treaty can and should be seen as part of the larger architecture of general and complete disarmament, and of peace, security, and human rights. It is not an end itself, but a tool.
Getting there requires creativity, especially when the nine states that possess nuclear weapons have exhibited no good faith commitment to nuclear disarmament. The discussions are creating a pathway to disarmament.

The president Elaine Whyte now has the task of drawing together all the views suggested to create the first draft,.All of us hoping for a strong and effective treaty must consider what we can do in the inter sessional period before the discussions on that draft start in June,

The non participating states ‘protest’ stunt outside on the first day, saw the UK right up there outside the room, misrepresenting Scotland with even more insouciance than they demonstrated over Brexit. They offered no new information though, and they did not offer any explanation of how they can comply with the NPT and at the same time upgrade Trident. Despite their cavalier insistence that the weapons will all be deployed from Scotland, there is no explanation on offer of how they would renew, or even continue, with Trident without control of Faslane.

Meanwhile, the important point for Scots is that independence can bring an end to all that. With the lack of infrastructure and amenities anywhere else in the UK, a fact that the UK Government nor the MOD has never denied*, Scotland could non-violently force the issue, and start the badly needed unravelling of the P5 and their nuclear addiction problem. The majority of states are moving inexorably to creating the Ban Treaty. Those who support independence for Scotland should welcome these negotiations as the other arm in a pincer movement that will ensure that UK can no longer be a nuclear weapons state.

There is a real possibility of Scotland taking concrete steps towards a world free of nuclear weapons through:

  1. Scrapping Trident

  2. Committing to, and eventually joining the Nuclear Ban Treaty

That’s why its important that people in Scotland who are serious about nuclear disarmament support independence, and people in Scotland who want independence work for nuclear disarmament. Win win!

The World – nae place for nuclear weapons

Today’s start of the United Nations negotiations on a nuclear weapons ban treaty means that multilateral nuclear disarmament efforts is at last in sight. This has come about through the examination of the real humanitarian consequences of these unspeakably destructive weapons that threaten life on this planet and even when not used, cause genetic and environmental damage beyond the imagination.

As part of its efforts to derail the process prior to the vote for this conference, the US had written to all its NATO allies to point out how difficult the ban treaty would make their nuclear ‘protection’ while simultaneously putting out press comments saying that that the treaty would be unenforceable and without meaning. Now the US are using their access to UN, not to enter the room and make their arguments in an open and accountable way, but to “protest” by offering a briefing on why they won’t participate. They are addressing the media (and any member states who will listen) but not taking questions.

The UK were right up there with them, misrepresenting Scotland with even more insouciance than they demonstrated over Brexit, despite their cavalier insistence that the weapons all be deployed from Scotland.

Independence, of course, will bring an end to all that, with the lack of infrastructure and amenities anywhere else in the UK, Scotland could non-violently force the issue, and start the badly needed unravelling of the P5 and their nuclear addiction problem.

The UN conference, which is open to all member states, starts today March 27th and runs till the end of the month, then continues in June and July.

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), is a coalition from 100 countries of civil society partners who are active on nuclear disarmament. They hail the start of the conference as a major step forward.

Biological weapons, chemical weapons, anti-personnel land-mines and cluster munitions have already been prohibited under international law. . The position of the states that do not choose to deploy nuclear weapons, and do not see them as any kind of security asset, can easily be understood in Scotland, a state not in UN membership that is forced against the expressed needs and wishes of its electorate to host nuclear weapons.

A ban treaty is only binding on the states that sign up to it,. Achieving that is a first step in unlocking the imagination required to vision a world where sharing our resources and seeking reconciliation are the first response to conflict rather than the last. Declaring these inhumane and indiscriminate means of mutual destruction for what they are, and making them unacceptable in the majority of states will change their status from political asset to the humanitarian liability they really are. Work for the ban treaty includes the important contributions that can be made by civil society . Non member states which have access as observers may be heard. Maybe an opportunity for Scotland while waiting for independence. (Scottish CND is a partner in ICAN and convenes a working group for those working for the ban treaty in Scotland.

We in ICAN hope that many more civil society groups will choose to help to make representations to their elected representatives and get all the governments to the table, and also come themselves to New York for the June and July sessions of the conference. Meanwhile, follow the news on nuclearban.org and the daily news from Reaching critical will

We must continue to promulgate Scotland’s opposition to nuclear weapons

BREXIT is just one aspect of UK foreign policy where Scotland is in global democratic deficit. The UN Global Ban Treaty is another. It is supported by an overwhelming majority of UN states (123 for, 38 against) but sadly Scotland is not one of them, despite the formal support of the First Minister, backed by the opposition of Scottish CND and the direct action campaigners, the churches and the unions. The UK voted against, and will boycott negotiations in March.

We need this debate to be fully aired. Theresa May needs to engage with the ban, instead of offering the Non Proliferation Treaty rhetoric that has failed to deliver multilateral disarmament for decades. The international disarmament community regards Scotland highly and would like us to succeed. In the run-up to the independence referendum of 2014 Trident was high on the news agenda because neither the UK Government nor the Ministry of Defence could deny that unless they imposed their system on Scotland, Trident would have no place to go.

Basing the new Dreadnought replacement for Trident at Faslane continues Westminster’s heedlessness by placing its nuclear liability in a country that has rebutted them here – or anywhere. This is the key point about Faslane.

Brexit was one of the significant decisions made since the independence referendum. There were others. Mrs May had hardly sat down to breakfast before putting Trident replacement to a vote that Scotland could never win, even with all hands on deck. The UN debate on a nuclear ban treaty caused the US Government to write to Nato member states, admitting a ban would preclude “nuclear security”. The Atomic Scientists’ Doomsday Clock inched the closest since the Cold War to the point that is the beginning of all our ends. Less significant is the UK’s decision to sending the whole nuclear fleet to Faslane which may be no more than an effort to consolidate Westminster’s control?

We need to envision how resources can be devoted to real peace and human security for Scotland, rather than bolstering imperialistic outdated formulae.

Scotland, with its distinct legal system, has rights and responsibilities and under international humanitarian law may be able to insist that nuclear weapons are removed.

These are the matters that require debate.

OPEN LETTER TO BORIS JOHNSON

Open Letter to Boris Johnson, UK FCO

regarding the UN First Committee discussions on a Global Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty

to On Friday 19 August 2016, the Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) on nuclear disarmament in Geneva adopted a final report with a recommendation for the General Assembly in October “to convene a conference in 2017 to negotiate a new legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons”. In September, the Austrian Foreign Minister announced that Austria would table a resolution at the UN First Committee in October to convene negotiations on a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons in 2017

An overwhelming majority of states have expressed support for starting negotiations to prohibit nuclear weapons, while following the OEWG in which they chose not to participate, the UK chose to make a decision instead to modernise and upgrade their nuclear arsenals.

All but one of Scotland’s Westminster representatives opposed this decision. The overwhelming majority of non-nuclear weapon states are ready to act on the humanitarian imperative to ban nuclear weapons with a treaty that could ensure eventual compliance with the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT)’s third pillar, the elimination in good faith of nuclear weapons, which is the stated objective as well as the legal obligation of the UK Government.

The debate on this resolution has been heard at the UN First Committee meeting in New York, and a vote will be taken before the 2nd November. At this critical time, however, several states continue to try to thwart the will of the majority and stop negotiations on a ban treaty. They are intensifying their efforts as the United Nations First Committee prepares to vote to initiate a negotiation process.

The UK government should acknowledge the diversity of opinion in the UK with especial regard to Scotland, where the UK’s weapons are hosted. The views expressed by Scotland’s elected representatives at Westminster and in the Parliament at Holyrood should be included in negotiations. We request that the UK Government should at the very least cease their efforts to prevent these negotiations from taking place, and instead agree to participate in the process of negotiation.

We expect that the UK Government in this process could offer meaningful suggestions of how they propose to carry out the elimination that they accept is required of them by the NPT Article Vl rather than choosing to close down discussion against the inclination of the majority of global opinion.

Arthur West, Chair of Scottish CND on behalf of

Janet Fenton

(representing SCND and S WILPF at the OEWG and UN First Committee Meeting)

Bill Kidd MSP as (representing PNND at the OEWG and UN First Committee Meeting).

Scottish CND

Edinburgh Peace and Justice Centre

Scottish Peace Network

Scrap Trident Coalition

Scrap Trident Coalition
Scotland’s for Peace

The Scottish branch of Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)

Parliamentarians for Nuclear Disarmament and Non-proliferation

Stop The War (in STC)

Green Party (in STC)

Quakers (in STC)

Trident Ploughshares in Scotland

Michael Russell MSP

Maree Todd MSP

John Mason MSP

Ben Macpherson MSP
Paul Wheelhouse MSP

Ivan McKee MSP

Tom Arthur

Christine Grahame

Linda Fabiani

Sandra White MSP

Graeme Dey MSP

Joe FitzPatrick, MSP

Annabelle Ewing, MSP

Willie Coffey  MSP

James Dornan MSP

Christina McKelvie SNP MSP

Rona Mackay MSP

Clare Haughey MSP

Ruth Maguire MSP

Andy Wightman MSP

Patrick Harvie MSP

John Finnie MSP

Ross Greer MSP

Alison Johnsonon MSP

Mark Ruskell MSP

UN UPDATE

There is a big team of ICAN campaigners from all over the world here at the UN meeting talking to the diplomats and doing our best to ensure that the Nuclear Armed Stated don’t have it their own un-billnmeway in derailing this important step forward which has come about through the citizens of countries (like Scotland) who understand that nuclear weapons pose a threat to everyone in the world, not just the nine governments that control them. I am very glad that I have been supported to be here from Scotland along with MSP Bill Kidd to do our part in helping to do the best we can as the debate goes on. The First Committee is talking about different areas of disarmament, not just the ban treaty. The vote on that will have to happen before the end of the session on the 2nd of November although discussions on the ban treaty are scheduled to be completed today.

A BAN IS NEARER

Despite the best efforts of Theresa to renew Trident, no questions asked, the world is preparing to ensure that events will overtake her preparedness to press the nuclear button.
As she commits the UK (including Scotland) to austerity, unpredictable expenditure and a deranged level of risk by upgrading Trident, the overwhelming majority of world states are working at UN this week to establish a conference in 2017 to begin the process of creating a ban treaty as a first step in the complete elimination of nuclear weapons.
The security council of UN comprises the nuclear weapons armed states who are signatories to the Non Proliferation Treaty which was initiated in 1968 by Ireland, a neutral country that does not possess or host these weapons.
The first resolution that UN agreed was to eliminate use of atomic weapons. That was in 1945, shortly after the US Government, with the complete formal assent of the UK Government, had authorised and implemented the incineration and radiation of two cities in Japan that were full of civilians, at the point when Japan’s surrender at the end of WWll was in negotiation.
In 1967, the UN’s First Resolution was not happening and the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) was introduced. One of the main initiator was Ireland, a neutral state during WWll who did not have any nuclear programme. The NPT deal allowed signatories access to atomic (nuclear) technologies for civilian application proved they didn’t develop it militarily, and the nuclear armed states were to have a bit of time to work out how to safely dismantle and eliminate their nukes. The phrase used for the way they would sort out how they would completely disarm was ‘in good faith’. The global community would understand that it might not happen next week, because radioactive stuff was dangerous.
Then there was the cold war, with Nuclear Proliferation meaning more states getting weapons and the states that had them increasing the size of their arsenals several times beyond the point where each ‘nuclear weapon state, as they were now called, could annihilate every species on the planet and render it uninhabitable in perpetuity. Testing had a devastating effect on military personnel, civilians, indigenous people, and the environment, The peace movement and resistance grew accordingly but the idea that the states that had the weapons had to lead the ban effort also somehow became entrenched although the addiction and the closing down of other possible approaches to ‘superpower defense’ was by now pretty obvious.
The NPT was reviewed fairly regularly in a United Nations forum where the states who had nuclear weapons could veto any decision made by each other or by the states that didn’t have the weapons. There were reduction in the stock piles and agreements that reduced the testing. Several new countries acquired nuclear weapons but they didn’t sign up to the treaty. Some countries who had nuclear weapons programmes gave them up, but they hadn’t signed up to the treaty anyway.
By 2010, a staggering 4 decades later, The NPT had not achieved non proliferation and there was no sign that the states who held the weapons were ready to disarm. UN general secretary told the NPT that it needed to sort it out, and get the weapons banned.
Then the International Red Cross and Red Crescent made a statement that, because the event of a nuclear exchange the humanitarian consequences would be so catastrophic that they would be unable to respond, and the only protection was a complete ban.
The next review of the NPT collapsed in chaos as the nuclera armed states would not even agree a minute of what had happened.
Conferences were hosted by states that did not hold nuclear weapons to look at those consequences, and a pledge (the Humanitarian Pledge)was initiated by the Austrian government to start work on a ban treaty. Ireland, who had been so committed to disarmament at the start of the NPT, was one of the states which was very committed to the process of supporting and highlighting the Humanitarian Pledge. Ireland also understood and sympathised with Scotland, which still hosts all of the UK’s weapons while opposing UK nuclear weapon policy.
The International Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (ICAN) had come into being in 2007 and has focussed on the effect and impact of the 9 nuclear armed states on the hundreds of other states. Like Ban Ki Moon, the UN general Secretary ICAN supports the NPT provided that the vital third pillar, complete nuclear disarmament (by states who hold nuclear weapons) in good faith proceeds.
The UN established an open-ended working group to look at how to “fill the gap that could lead to elimination and prohibition of nuclear weapons” All States were encouraged to send delegates, and Civil Society Organisations could take part as well. The organisations like the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, and the Red Cross who have consultative status with United Nations, could sponsor representatives from others.
Taking part is a big commitment not only for civil society but also for many of the states that are too wee or poor to have a permanent mission (ie an office with diplomats in it) at the UN in New York or Geneva. They have to get sponsorship to send delegates to the meetings so if the nuclear armed states choose to prevaricate and delay proceedings its difficult for the sponsored diplomats to stick around. Time differences can also be utilised to prevent diplomats from consulting their governments at home if the decision to be made is substantially altered so that they are forced to abstain from taking a position.
All of the Nuclear Armed states, including the UK Government with Theresa May poised to press the button, decided to boycott the OEWG process, on two grounds:

1. that it would involve proposals for a ban treaty which would undermine the NPT; their understanding of that being that they were ‘allowed’ to keep their nukes for as long as they want and that disarmament should be done step-by-step, however long that might take.
2. the meeting would not be done by consensus, so they could not block decisions and if voting was utilised they might lose the vote (Ironic, as none of the ban supporting states chose to utilise the right to ask for a vote, only Australia which is ‘protected’ by US nukes.
Scotland is not allowed a ‘state’ voice and the UK refuse to represent us. We have been there, in the form of of Bill Kidd MSP representing Parliamentarians for Non-proliferation and Nuclear Disarmament, and I have been able to attend on behalf of the Scottish branch of WILPF and we have both received a lot of support from our international colleagues. Our First Minister has expressed support for the Humanitarian Pledge.
Some of the states who do not have their own nuclear weapons but are in NATO or have some other dependence on nuclear armed states view are under pressure from them. They are sometimes called ‘nuclear umbrella states’ as though they were protected rather than endangered and they are also sometimes called ‘weasel states’ though not usually to the delegates’ faces.
The OEWG finished its meetings in August, and the very very good news is that the recommendation by the OEWG to the United Nations First Committee with the backing of a large majority, strongly supports a conference in 2017 to negotiate a nuclear ban treaty open to all states and stoppable by none.
The Recommendation is being discussed in New York this week. It will go to a vote at the end of the meeting, that is the end of this month. If it is adopted, a ban treaty would make the states who support it able to refuse any nuclear weapons activity in their countries or waters including uranium mining or transportation and in addition to increasing the stigma (think of the change in attitude to having a drink and driving a car that happened when it was outlawed) it would create problems for nuclear armed states in military agreements and joint exercises.
Opposition to the resolution from the nuclear-armed states is expected to be fierce. Already they have sent “démarches”, or diplomatic instructions, demanding that governments withdraw their support for ban treaty negotiations and the pressure is likely to continue behind closed doors during the debate on the resolution in New York this week.
Along with other ICAN campaigners (and Bill Kidd MSP) I will be doing my best to counter this pressure wherever they can. Our supporters at home can do whatever they can to ensure that this historic decision is not kept out of public awareness.
Hopefully people will contact the BBC if good cover is not forthcoming and also report the story to both local and national press. Please call up phone-in radio broadcasts and raise it, whatever they are talking about. (you may have to be a bit inventive about what your wanting to say until you actually get on air).

A BAN IS COMING

On Friday 19th August in Geneva, Bill Kidd MSP and co-chair of Parliamentarians for Nuclear non-Proliferation and Disarmament (PNND), and Janet Fenton, Scottish CND Secretary and Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) representative, were both in Geneva to see a UN working group achieve what Mexico described as the “most significant contribution to nuclear disarmament in two decades.” The Open Ended Working Group (OEWG) voted to make a recommendation to the UN General Assembly in October, that it convene a conference in 2017 to negotiate a treaty banning nuclear weapons.

This came as the very dramatic end to discussions that had taken place in February, May and August. Joint statements were delivered by Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and by South-east Asia and Pacific, as well as the statements from several European states. There was also active participation from civil society through NGOs and experts, including the Hiroshima survivor SetsukoThurlow, who took time to visit Scotland after giving evidence to the OEWG in May this year.

The nine nuclear-armed states had boycotted the talks despite a clear request for input expressed through the UN General Assembly, and a small group of the states who attended continued to argue that nuclear weapons provide an essential element in their national security. Fortunately these governments were unable to compromise the important recommendation which went forward.

Over one hundred states wanted to recommend that UN General Assembly convene a conference to negotiate a ban, but they wanted to ensure that all the states would feel able to participate in making that decision, and the chair was keen to ensure consensus if possible. Private discussions took place intensly over a day and a half between groups and compromises were made before the whole working group came together to approve the Chair’s final report half an hour before the final session was scheduled to conclude.

In an eleventh-hour copletely unexpected intervention, the Australian delegate intervened to disagree and force a vote. This seemed ironic, given that the states who did not participate and who did not agree that a ban was the right way forward were those who had objected to the meeting making decisions through voting.

The decision meant that the conference had to be extended in time and moved to a different room. Guatamala requested then that the text be clarified to recommend negotiation. Some pro-ban delegates were unable to vote because their governments were not contactable for approval to the changed text, and some were already booked on flights home.

Despite the problems and the absences, the amended text was accepted and the final, strengthened, report was adopted by a clear majority.

Amongst many delegates thanking the chair after the report was adopted, Bill Kidd MSP said

I am a Member of the Scottish Parliament and a Co-President of PNND, actively engaged in the OEWG. The report of the OEWG reflects well the reality that non-nuclear nations, as well as parliaments and civil society in all countries, can take action without having to wait for the nuclear-armed governments to come to their senses. We can do this.

In Scotland, our parliament and citizens have overwhelmingly rejected the possession of nuclear weapons. We take an active role in international efforts and processes for nuclear disarmament, including at the NPT Review Conferences, and we therefore look forward to participating in the multilateral negotiations in 2017.

As a Scot, living under the imposed nuclear weapons of the UK, I am pleased to note that UK Prime Minister Theresa May was amongst the leaders convicted by the People’s Tribunal on Nuclear Weapons that on July 8 this year convicted the leaders of the nuclear-armed States of crimes against humanity, crimes against peace and crimes against future generations for their responsibility over illegal nuclear weapons policies.”

Janet Fenton added

It is now clear that Scotland’s efforts to dissuade the UK from its attachment to Trident is in line with the majority world view. Of those participating in the OEWG, at least 107 states support negotiations, and only 22 do not. Scotland will participate and contribute to the concerted challenge to nuclear weapons within and beyond these negotiations.”

TIME FOR A LITTLE DIRECT..

 

 Cordless angle grinders or portable oxyacetylene cutting torches in the hands of twenty or thirty peaceful non violent civilians working together could have the fence at Faslane down in a very short time.
Half a dozen peaceful protesters could use simple and safe techniques to close dozens of places that represent or administer Westminster’s  foreign policy in this country, places in Edinburgh like The Scotland office in Melville Street, Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Palace, or in Glasgow there’s the Milton Street Passport Office, Brand Street UK Borders Agency office, then there is Dungavel Detention Centre and  Balmoral…
Simpler acts like utilising a slow and friendly procession around all the pedestrian traffic signals in the city centres would create a bit of time for reading banners and enabling discussion of Ms May and her government’s policies.  Remembering Thatcher And the Poll Tax, remembering the threats of Scotland being forced out of Europe if it chose independence,  remembering the Tory consideration given to jobs for the miners in the 1980’s, will Brexit and Trident  renewal indicate such disregard of Scotland’s elected representatives that non co-operation with the state becomes inevitable?
Cat Boyd and others have been talking about nonviolent direct action and making Scotland ungovernable for long enough.

SCOTTISH PEACE NETWORK COMMEMORATES SOMME

On July 1st at 5pm, the Scottish Peace Network is holding a centenary event at the Dewar’s statue on Buchanan Street in Glasgow city centre to remember the disaster of the battle of the Somme.

The Somme was the bloodiest battle of World war I. More than one million soldiers were either killed or badly wounded. In the end, the battle changed little and the war continued to grind on for two more years.

In addition to words describing the historical context and a a time for everyone attending to reflect on on war and militarism, poems twill be. Read, and David Mackenzie has written this for the occasion.

 

How long have we been at the school of the Somme,

My very dearest?

One hundred years at the school of the Somme,

If only the truth be known.

And in those years, these long, long years,

Tell me, how has our knowledge grown?

By leaps and bounds, my earnest love,

With the screech of the guns and the tearing flesh

And the strips of men hung on the mesh

From Belfast, Ems and Bangladesh

And the long, long list of their names.

 

And what about learning, sweetest my love,

What treasures have we brought home?

Ah, darling my dear, strategic sense,

Not to marshal troops in ranks so dense

And order them onto a barbed wire fence

And a blade of humming steel,

But to stay well clear of the killing zone

And summon the targets by mobile phone

Then finish them off with a mindless drone

And so cherish our delicate hands.

 

But what about wisdom, heart of mine,

The wisdom that changes ways?

Ah, that is the gap in the course, my love,

Unfilled across the years

Wisdom, such as a child may know

That there are but two ways for the world to go

Mad Neighbourhood Watch and its whimpering end

Or to act in peace and carefully tend

The shoots of our bonds and love,

To know that war is the zero sum,

To stay unmoved by the flag and the drum

And care for all – from wherever they come,

In our little rowing boat.

 

The Scottish Peace network can be contacted here: http://www.scottishpeacenetwork.org.uk