Vanguard

Vanguard

Almost every week I travel to the west coast of Scotland by one of the finest railway lines I’ve ever experienced – that linking Glasgow and Oban. It passes through some of the most beautiful landscape Scotland possesses, until it arrives at the western edge, where an island-studded coastline begins.
It’s because of that journey it’s all the more poignant and painful to travel right past the Faslane nuclear base where the Trident submarine fleet is deployed. Were it to be unleashed, it would result in the equivalent of two thousand Hiroshimas. I find the obscenity of that horror, set against the purity and the fragility of the landscape which surrounds it, almost too much to bear.It’s one of the main reasons I am passionately committed to Scottish independence, because Scotland never voted for the deployment of the Trident fleet, nor did Scotland have any say in that deployment. It was decided in London. The nuclear base is sited just half an hour from Glasgow, the second largest conurbation in the British Isles. The people of Scotland would not have voted for Trident had they been given the choice: it’s as simple as that.In a post 9/11 world, the nuclear base at Faslane becomes the biggest imaginable target for a suicide bomber. This submarine fleet might have been appropriate (just and no more) in the bad old days of the Cold War, but in a new age of rogue states and rogue militants, it’s nothing more than a target waiting for a dart.I believe nuclear weapons, and the industry that gave them birth, to be nothing less than an obscenity. I cannot reconcile a nuclear armed world with a God who stands behind the creation of this priceless planet. To think that we would contemplate its destruction with the depression of a single button (for that is what we do when we deploy such weapons’ systems) is beyond all belief.

If a man should come now to your door
selling motorways, a rustle of money in his eyes;
do not buy his road, for it leads
to all our lost riches, our need of God.

(From A Poem for Ivars, published in Island, the selected poems of Kenneth Steven, Saint Andrew Press)

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