Not In My Back Yard

Last night was the first Question Time I watched since Alex was on, and that was purely because I wanted to see Nicola get stuck in. Unfortunately, Nicola simply doesn’t have the experience Alex has in being vastly outnumbered by a hostile and aggressive media, and so she was put on the defensive far too often – even on something like Trident, which has absolutely zero rational justification, yet you wouldn’t know it from the maniacal rantings that issued from the dessicated remains of Michael Heseltine.

I'm not being ageist - its just that anyone who uses the term "Mutually Assured Destruction" in 2015 is clearly from a different time period.

I’m not being ageist – its just that anyone who uses the term “Mutually Assured Destruction” in 2015 is clearly a relic from a different time.

Seeing every other member of the panel talk about the necessity of Trident, and hearing most of the audience applauding it, just about broke my heart. Especially that woman who offered to host it in her back garden.

I live in Gourock. For my entire childhood, I had Polaris in my “garden.” Every night sky was illuminated in the west by the naval base there, keeping us “safe” while we knew that if the Russians struck, it would be the end of everything. I grew up seeing black submarines gliding down the Clyde on manoeuvres, hearing the booms from firing practise even from miles away, smelling the sense of resigned, engrained dread in the populace. Can you truly imagine that? Living every waking hour with that tiny voice in the back of your head reminding you of the annihilation just waiting for the button press?

Trust me, you don’t want this.

You don’t want to experience the background tension that I had growing up, fearing that this might be the day the sirens call, giving you four minutes of life left. You don’t want to feel that sinking feeling every time you hear a particularly loud noise from across the loch, wondering if they’re getting ready to unleash Armageddon. You don’t want to be drinking in the beautiful world you live in for fear that you could be wiped from it within moments, and there’s nothing you can do about it – all because of grand global geopolitics you didn’t ask to be part of. And after the great disarmament following the fall of the USSR, you don’t want to be one of the last place in the world where the Cold War never truly ended.

Any day it could happen. It could be a flock of birds, or a failed safety mechanism, or any other thing which launches nuclear death. Or it could be a catastrophic safety failure, one more serious than the 260+ we’ve already had in the last few years. Hiroshima or Chernobyl are the choices available to us for as long as we keep nuclear weapons in Scotland, at significant expense to the people. Where the Wind Blows, Threads, The Day After, Fail-safe, The China Syndrome – these weren’t fantasies to me, these were glimpses into possible futures. Pick your poison.

It’s easy to say you’re happy to have nuclear weapons when you’re over 200 miles away from them. You think you’re safe – even if you’re not – because it’s something you don’t have to face every day of your life. You think you’d be happy to host them, because you haven’t had to live in their shadow all your life. Thanks for the offer, lady, but I don’t want the weapons moved to Stockton-on-Tees, or anywhere in the UK – I don’t want any children experiencing that leaden, hopeless dread which permeates even the brightest days of childhood. I don’t want this in my back yard, or your back yard, or anyone’s back yard if I can help it. Even the brightest sunny day takes on a sickly pallour when you know what lies in the waters of your home.


Trust me. You don’t want this.


5 thoughts on “Not In My Back Yard

  1. June Maxwell says:

    Poignant and on the nail, as ever. Thx.

  2. Jacob Benjamin says:

    Ha ha! So funny. Al, don’t despair! I thought Nicola was just so statesmanly! She made her point and zipped up. Always best not to get caught in a scrap…she has learnt that from past experience, and she’s putting that lesson to very good effect. Apart from Michael, there were many desiccated and effete spectres floating around too…folk simply don’t understand multilateralism disarmament just doesn’t descend on you one auspicious morning. In fact, that will never happen. One has to have the strength of conviction to start the ball rolling unilaterally. Imagining that the enemy will start shooting nuclear warheads at you the moment you do that is simply fantasy….a misapprehension that both misguided and devious warmongers encourage. The nuclear theory is simply full of BS, riven with internal contradictions. Nicola made that clear enough to all have ears to hear with.

  3. Jacob Benjamin says:

    I meant to say…Imagining the enemy will start shooting nuclear warheads at you the moment you let go of your nuclear trigger is simply fantasy…

  4. paulamrose says:

    Al honey – a few points of disagreement, but I’ll save that till we meet. You write as usual with an educated pen – my regards.

  5. […] to the 1980s and 1990s. Back then, the Cold War seemed like it was going to last forever, with the shadow of Polaris and its successors forever cast over the Clyde, the Russians and Americans always seeming to be […]

What're your thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.