Peace: A Collective Effort!

The Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament has always have worked in partnership and coalition with other organisations to protest and campaign. Often coalitions have been set up in a time of need to address a particular pressing issue, while others have continued through the winds of change.

Our organisation was freshly formed when the announcement came in 1960 that an American Polaris base was to be established on the Holy Loch. The Anti-Polaris Co-ordinating Committee that was formed to oppose this (and later, British Polaris at Faslane) rallied campaigners from trade unions, left-wing political parties, and peace groups of both a local and national level. Later, at the height of Cold War rhetoric and militarism, these groups were continuing to engage in shared activities, attending one another’s demonstrations and encouraging new local groups to form and come onboard. Some notable church leaders had always opposed nuclear weapons on moral and theological grounds, but there was an increase in collaborative work with religious groups after the Scottish Churches declared themselves in opposition of nuclear weapons.

The parallels between supporting peace, resisting war and opposing nuclear weapons have always been clear, and for the last two decades, we have seen the anti-nuclear movement increasingly involved in campaigns resisting war and militarism. The Coalition for Justice not War was created in 2003 with the purpose of mobilising Scottish opposition to the possibility of war in Iraq. A broad anti-war movement has formed and is attentive and responsive to both topical and ongoing issues of conflict and danger. The formation of Scotland’s For Peace in 2005 carried on the tradition of working in broad coalitions, and brought together the perspectives of religious groups, peace groups, anti-nuclear groups, social justice groups, political groups, trade unions and direct-action groups.

Currently, Scottish CND is actively involved in several networks running today. We are part of the Scrap Trident coalition , which was instrumental in mobilising people in the run up to the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum and the 2016 Trident Renewal vote at Westminster. We are involved with the Scottish Don’t Bank on the Bomb network, which aims to put pressure on large financial institutions divest their money from agencies involved in the production of nuclear weapons. Our representatives sit at the Scottish ICAN Roundtable which brings together a number of organisations working to raise the profile of the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons which was passed in July 2017. We participate in the Scottish Parliament Cross-Party group on Nuclear Disarmament, and are involved in supporting the work of the Scottish Nuclear Free Local Authorities organisation, a national coalition of local councils who work to raise awareness of issues around nuclear energy and nuclear weapons. We are also active members of the Scottish Peace Network, and are represented at their monthly vigil in Glasgow.

The use of coalitions is strategically important as it allows us to play to our strengths, share knowledge and resources, and reach a wider network of support. Working in this way is also valuable to our campaign because it teaches us to work collaboratively, share important decisions, and value diversity of arguments and approaches. We reach for a world that is fair, inclusive and diverse. Working in coalitions teaches us to apply these values to our own activities. It’s final, invaluable merit is that is has allowed for the formation of a broad, Scottish peace movement, familiar with one another and ready to mobilise in times of need. As Isobel Lindsay wrote for Nuclear Free Scotland, “Cooperation has given us greater strength and has succeeded in marginalising those in Scotland who still support nuclear weapons”. Peace is a group effort, and the cultivation of coalitions and a broader movement is essential to who we are.