NATO no ta.

Hopelessly naive and not tired of marching – 1 week on

When I was in primary 5 our teacher Mrs Johnston said she had something really important to tell us: There was going to be a day off as her union was striking.  I don’t remember whooping at the day off but then P5 was a very diligent year at Drakies Primary, Inverness.  She told us that although she wasn’t in favour of the strike she would be taking part as that was democratic. I remember feeling very grown up as she then went on to explain firstly what a union was the importance of democracy and democratic process. It stayed with me that lesson, not simply for the content but the respect with which she showed us with her honesty and explanation.

So respect, process and democracy…..even though I felt sick to my stomach at the prospect, that was how I tried to square things when the notion of reversing my parties long standing opposition to NATO membership became a reality.  The issue would be debated fully and freely, due process would be followed and I would live with the decision because that’s democracy and the right thing to do.  Simple eh?

Not really.  I have had many sleepless nights since Friday trying to figure what is the right thing to do.  If I were not an elected member my membership card may well have joined others in the bucket on the way out of the conference hall.   Membership of a first strike nuclear alliance is not compatible with my long held and firm belief that nuclear weapons, weapons which kill indiscriminately and leave untold damage for years to come are wicked and wrong.  As many of the speakers touched on during the debate the nuclear issue is only one area for concern, recent reports of the increase of Drone attacks in Pakistan provide an illustration.

I will not support the new policy, and couldn’t live with myself pretending to.  This is a matter of conscience for me. When brothers and sisters on the left and the anti-war movement cry “shame” for the hypocrisy it stings, because they are right.  Scotland has an opportunity to lead the way with nuclear disarmament and NATO membership at best makes it difficult, probably delays it and at worst prevents it.  
But as well as a responsibility to my own conscience, as a local elected member I have a responsibility to serve the people that voted me into this job.  A responsibility to continue on the platform I was elected on, this policy decision does not affect that.  I have to ask if this decision stops me fulfilling pledges made or aspirations myself and my fellow Councillors have for North Ayrshire, it does not.  On the doorstep when answering folk as to why there were 2 SNP candidates in the ward our message was unequivocal, the SNP wish to form the administration and run North Ayrshire council.  We are and I hope that the people who live here are beginning to see changes for the better. 
For Scotland, independence is not and cannot be about the vision of one person or political party.  To win the referendum we need many diverse voices.  I will be proud to be one of them in the Scottish National Party shoulder to shoulder with Labour for Indy, The Greens, SSP, Solidarity and perhaps most key those who have no political party as part of the YES campaign, working together for the goal that unites us Scottish Independence. 

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