Part of the Trident: we don't buy it tour blog
"7.30am - time to get up!"
I open my eyes to total darkness and there is the usual momentary confusion. Bex and I are sleeping in a small cabin deep in the cavernous depths of the hold. There is no natural light and the darkness is comforting at night, like a favourite blanket, wrapping itself protectively around you, but disorientating in the morning, as you don't know what time it is. I can't remember what day it is and what I am supposed to be doing.
Opening the door of my cabin on to the hold of the ship brings it all back in a rush. Already, people are walking around purposefully, setting out tables and chairs and putting out leaflets.
About two hours later, I am sat at the front of the hold, behind the table with a microphone, introducing three guests to a rapt audience of Scottish activists. Michael Matheson speaks first, occasionally glancing towards the back of the hold where his baby is being bounced on the knee of a Greenpeace volunteer. His baby sitter had called in sick, leaving him with no option but to fold up the baby pram and hobble up the gang plank with the bundle of blankets on one arm and the pram bouncing behind.
Michael is a member of the Scottish Parliament for the Scottish National Party. If his party wins a majority in the elections in May then he will put forward a bill that will make nuclear weapons illegal in Scotland. As our Trident nuclear submarines are stored and launched from Scotland, this would put a rather large spanner (bigger, say, than the one on a Cluedo board) in the works of Tony Blair's plans for new nuclear weapons.
Next is Chris Balance, who is also a member of the Scottish Parliament, this time for the Green Party. They have a proposal running in parallel that will outlaw the transportation of nuclear weapons in Scotland. He reminds the audience that Scotland is able to control the transportation of birds to protect against bird flu but is not able to protect its citizens from nuclear material travelling up and down the country by road. He also talks about how the Scottish Parliament is much younger and less dominated by the traditional parties that rule the roost at Westminster, meaning that it could be possible to have a majority in the Parliament against nuclear weapons in Scotland.
Three out of four people in Scotland are against Trident replacement, so maybe we get the politicians that we deserve, but it is difficult not to be caught up in the infectious excitement here in Scotland. You get the feeling that people are not about to let Tony Blair renew Trident without a fight.
Introducing Angie Zelter, a hero of mine, isn't easy and I trip over my words. Angie set up Trident Ploughshares and was acquitted for an anti-Trident action on the grounds that she was upholding international law. Her book, Trident on Trial, was an inspiration to me when I was involved in a court case, after breaking in to RAF Northwood and conducting a citizen's weapons inspection, under the guise of Trident Ploughshares a couple of years ago.
Angie starts to speak and suddenly even the baby is quiet. She exudes a calmness, dignity and such a strong moral force that I am almost persuaded to abandon the ship right now and travel to Faslane to join the blockades that have been going on there almost continuously since late last year. But that will have to wait!
The event ends with me standing on a chair and shouting, in a manner than I am not sure is calm or dignified, for people to be quiet and come to me if they want a tour of the ship. I suppose it is a mark of the power of the speakers that everyone is keen to discuss plans and seems to have forgotten the allure of the ship tour which was probably the carrot that drew them here originally. I can be seen running from one end of the ship to another, dropping grey pieces of underwear behind me.
I have just found out that we are sailing at 1pm and not the evening, as I had previously thought. I have a knot in my stomach but I am not sure what kind of knot it is or how to tie it!
posted by Sarah, onboard the Arctic Sunrise