IS might right?

It’s the defining issue for Scottish independence.

On the whole, Scots believe that authority, power, ownership and wealth do not command respect or automatic compliance.

Instead there’s a stubborn belief in the importance of society, solidarity, all of us together (as Common Weal puts it) and mutuality – despite the thinly veiled contempt for these vital bits of democratic glue exhibited by Tory prime ministers from Margaret Thatcher onwards.

For them, it’s a dog-eat-dog world, everyone’s out to get you, enemies only understand the threat of annihilation, so it’s best to keep defences up and retaliation in first.

Whatever the financial cost. However much it bends democracy out of shape. However many people object and for however long.

Co-operation and compromise are for the birds. Or Europeans.

Might is right – and that’s been the British way for centuries.

You see that absolute power expressed in the parliamentary sovereignty that gives Westminster complete authority to dissolve every “rival” parliament on these islands.

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You see it expressed in a voting system that hands 100% of the power to prime ministers with around 40% of the vote.

You see it expressed in an asylum policy that wants desperate people sent to Africa like airborne cattle – and in Dominic Raab’s latest plans to stop interventions by lawyers and judges.

And above all, you see it in the walls of wire and perimeter fencing that protect the weapons of mass destruction located at Faslane on the Clyde.

There is no greater might than these nuclear warheads.

Each sub carries eight missiles, and each missile up to five nuclear bombs. Each bomb is eight times more destructive than the bomb which flattened Nagasaki 72 years ago this week. Together with the bomb that obliterated Hiroshima three days earlier, these nuclear bombs killed around a quarter of a million civilians.

And Scotland “hosts” submarines with more than 300 times that lethal capacity. It’s the ultimate expression of British military might. And Scots have no right to dissent.

Nuclear weapon systems were installed on the Clyde in the early 60s – in our names and over our heads.

That’s why the campaign against Polaris and Trident has always attracted so many independence supporters – including Nicola Sturgeon who joined Scottish CND as a teenager before she joined the SNP. No wonder.

Standing before that alien base on the Clyde is like staring the long history of imperialism and the arbitrary will of the British state full square in the face. It’s not a pretty sight.

Westminster installed a nuclear deterrent in a conveniently deep Scottish loch, conveniently distant from the constituencies of its own government ministers, in a country so desperate for jobs that its people were expected to thole the landscape disfigurement, disregard the criminal logic of first strike and American control, knuckle down and move on.

We didn’t. The missiles and submarines are still there. But so is a Peace Camp, whose cussed inhabitants have resisted – occupying a thin strip of land between road and sea, summer and winter, for forty long years – to assert with their lives what opinion poll after poll affirms.

Most Scots want nuclear weapons gone.

Of course, we hear a lot about the grim inevitability of nuclear weapons thanks to the aggression of President Putin. Although the never-ending patrol of Faslane-based nuclear submarines didn’t stop his invasion of Ukraine.

But look ahead.

The world is facing the certainty of global warming, global food and energy shortages, post-Ukrainian war disruption and a dash away from gas. The future is all about energy and food security – and a new drive for world peace through international nuclear disarmament is one way to make it a reality, while updating the Trident missile system makes no sense at all.

If that sounds naive, advances in peace-keeping, demilitarisation and disarmament often happen after wars.

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In 1919, the League of Nations was established with a mission to solve international disputes peacefully, morphing into the United Nations.

World War Two was indeed followed by the Cold War and an era of confrontation and military build-up. But when hostilities culminated in the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, a Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty was signed, prohibiting test detonations in the atmosphere, in space and under water. Six years later, the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons was signed, prompting the Soviet Union, later Russia, and the United States into various limitations and reductions in their nuclear arsenals.

And in 2021, after a decade of patient persuasion and advocacy by the campaign ICAN, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) entered into force, making nuclear weapons illegal under international law. As a result, billions have already been taken out of nuclear weapons investment by banks, pension funds, asset managers and insurance companies – like the Bank of Ireland and Allied Irish Bank.

But not Scottish banks, since we are part of a United Kingdom whose Westminster Government has opted not to join the 86 TPNW states.

Of course, they wouldn’t – since all Tory leadership candidates back spending billions on a new system of nuclear weapons for the Clyde.

But still, the future can be different.

The majority of MSPs and Scottish MPs have signed the ICAN Parliamentarians’ Pledge, working towards Scotland becoming a signatory nation of the Nuclear Ban Treaty. The only way that’ll happen is independence. And that’s not just to save the world – but to save ourselves.

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The world is changing. Trillions spent on weapons of mass destruction while the world starves, burns and squanders resources – the real driver of international tension – is looking as pointless as it’s always been completely obscene.

And strangely enough, the countries who’ve stepped away from huge military spending are also at the forefront of the Green Transition.

Iceland, unique amongst NATO Allies, has never had an army or navy since Viking times. Coincidentally, perhaps, it has harnessed its own geothermal resources to supply relatively cheap and completely reliable energy to its own people.

Costa Rica decided in 1948 to disband its armed forces. Last year, this small Central American state launched the ambitious Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance at Cop26 in Glasgow, together with Denmark which opted out from EU military operations until earlier this summer, when a referendum ended the opt out because of the war in Ukraine.

Is it a coincidence that countries who’ve taken steps to demilitarise are also front runners in the move towards a co-operative, renewably powered world?

Meanwhile, Scotland has only started to harness the powerful tidal and marine energy resources of the Pentland Firth – eclipsed for 60 long years by the seductive but empty promises of “safe”, cheap nuclear energy at Dounreay.

So well done to the Peace Camp campaigners, putting themselves out over forty long years for millions of people around the world they’ll never meet or see – and for a new type of country. Where might is not right, peace and international solidarity are seen as important values and survival of the fittest as a credo is consigned to the history books – along with first-strike nuclear weapons.

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