Alex Salmond sends protestors message of support
October 1, 2007
600 protestors from across the UK and Europe shut down road access to the Faslane nuclear weapons base on the Clyde this morning.
At 7am protestors non violently blockaded the Northern gate to the base with their bodies. Some have locked and superglued themselves together to make it more difficult for them to be removed. At around 8.30am other protestors successfully blockaded the South Gate. With both gates blockaded there is now no road access to the weapons base, which is home to the UK ’s nuclear weapons-carrying Trident submarines.
By 10.30 am Strathclyde police had arrested an estimated 100 protesters, but as fast as they are removed more are taking their place.
More protestors are expected and blockades are planned to continue throughout the day. Drummers, clowns and singers, including acclaimed folk singer Roy Bailey, are entertaining the protesters, creating a carnival spirit to the protest.
Politicians from across the country will join the demonstrators later this morning, including six SNP MSP’s (Members of the Scottish Parliament), an MEP, two Green Party MSPs and at least one Labour MSP (1).
Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond has issued a statement backing to the event. He sent his “best wishes” to the protestors and said he “shares” Faslane 365’s “objective of removing nuclear weapons from Scotland’s soil” (2).
Other messages of support have come in from clerics including the Head of the Scottish Catholic Church and Bishop of Reading Stephen Cotterell who said, ‘Our nation is demeaned and compromised by the presence of these weapons of mass destruction on our shores. The Church of England and most of the Christian churches in these islands stand united in calling upon our government to re-think its reliance on nuclear weapons for our security’. (3)
Today’s Big Blockade celebrates the last day of the Faslane 365 year of peaceful blockading. Since Faslane 365’s campaign started on October 1, 2006, thousands of people have blockaded the base and more than 950 have been arrested. High profile participants have included former UN Assistant Secretary-General Prof. Sir Richard Jolly, Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire, Adrian Mitchell, A.L.Kennedy, actor Roger Lloyd Pack and singer-songwriter Billy Bragg.
Over the year of the blockade the nuclear issue has been high on the political agenda. In February 2007 the Westminster Parliament voted for producing another nuclear weapons system to replace Trident and tie the UK into holding nuclear weapons for the next fifty years. The vote inspired the largest backbench revolt since that over the decision to invade Iraq. However in a twist to the story in May 2007 the Scottish National Party was elected on a platform that included ‘kicking Trident out of Scotland ’. Later this month the SNP are holding a summit with civil society groups to discuss how to get rid of the UK ’s nuclear weapons. Westminster is vulnerable to the strong Scottish opposition to nuclear weapons (4) as Faslane is the only UK base suitable for the massive nuclear weapons carrying Trident submarines.
For further information on Faslane 365, the Trident deployments and the Big Blockade, including background and political context on the year long blockade, see the full Press Briefing Pack on the website. www.faslane365.org/1oct/press
(1) Politicians attending the Big Blockade will include: Bill Kidd MSP (SNP), Gil Paterson MSP (SNP), Bob Doris MSP (SNP), Bashir Ahmad MSP (SNP), Jamie Hepburn MSP (SNP) and Sandra White MSP (SNP), Marlyn Glen MSP (Labour), Robin Harper MSP (Green) and Patrick Harvie (Green), as well as Jill Evans MEP (Plaid Cymru). For supportive quotes by these politicians visit the website www.faslane365.org/1oct/press
(2) Full Alex Salmond statement: Alex Salmond’s office sent a letter on behalf of the First Minister to the Faslane 365 organizers conveying “his best wishes for a successful event” and affirming his full support for “responsible and peaceful protest against the replacement of Trident”. The letter further stated that Mr. Salmond “shares” Faslane 365’s “objective of removing nuclear weapons from Scotland’s soil” and affirmed that “He is committed to doing whatever he can to persuade the UK government to alter its position on nuclear weapons.”
(3) Statements by church leaders:
Stephen Cottrell, Bishop of Reading (Anglican): ‘I send greetings in the name of Jesus Christ, the friend of the poor and the lover of peace. On the night before he died he said these words to his friends: Peace I give you, my own peace I leave with you, not as the world gives peace do I give to you. These words continue to challenge the powers and authorities of the world where there is still such misplaced confidence in a so called peace that can be secured by a so called deterrence. But these expensive and devastatingly destructive weapons cannot bring peace. They only encourage others to depend on force. They add to the instability of the world. They leech finances away from so many other things that could do so much good. Our nation is demeaned and compromised by the presence of these weapons of mass destruction on our shores. The Church of England and most of the Christian churches in these islands stand united in calling upon our government to re-think its reliance on nuclear weapons for our security. This is the peace the world gives and it is not working. Let us turn instead to the peace of Christ who bids us turn our swords into ploughshares and our trident submarines into hospitals and schools. And it is my pleasure to send greetings and prayers to those of you who are gathering at Faslane today as you lament the madness of the world and bravely bear witness to the way of lasting peace’.
Keith Patrick Cardinal O’Brien, President, the Bishops Conference of Scotland (Catholic): ‘My dear friends gathered at Faslane, I wish to assure you that the position of the Roman Catholic Church with regard to weapons of mass destruction is perfectly clear and has been emphasised by myself in recent years. The Roman Catholic Church is opposed to weapons of mass destruction and has regularly spoken out against the possibility of the renewal of the Trident Nuclear Weapons system. I personally am happy to think that in the new political situation in the new Scottish Parliament, where a majority is opposed to Trident, further positive steps may be taken in Scotland to ensure that the Trident Nuclear Weapons System is not renewed. With my kindest regards and union of prayer
(4) An opinion poll carried out by ICM for Scottish CND on 26-29 January 2007 found that 73 % of those polled were opposed to the government spending £50 billion on a replacement for Trident. http://www.banthebomb.org/newbombs/poll.htm.
Protestors have also successfully bloackaded the roads into The Royal Naval Armament Depot (RNAD) at Coulport, Loch Long - where Trident nuclear missiles are stored.