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At the Faslane Peace Camp. despite the dove-talk ofthe super-powers. four adults, two children and a cat still watch as nuclear subs slink by. Thom Dibdin dropped in for a visit.
Bobbing and weaving. Greenpeace style. in the Faslane Peace Camp‘s new inflatable, Phill steered directly for the nuclear submarine base. Oblivious to the wash created by the circling military police boats, Jim Chestnut helda peace banner aloft as Panda recorded the action for posterity. Once again the Faslane Peace Campers were making their presence known to the military.
Actually this was not a real ‘action‘ for the peace campers, but a trip to get publicity photos for an impending speaking tour ofthe States. The MoD Plods however. as they are affectionately known in Peace Camp vernacular, were not to know. I clung on for dear life, wishing the boat was not so low in the water and wondering whether the skinhead Plod with the mirror shades was out to drown us or just rehearsing a remake of Apocalypse Now.
Faslane Peace Camp is a straggling collection of a dozen caravans on the verge of the A814 where it passes the
south entrance to the Faslane Base. There are few places where you can get really close to the nuclear war machine. close enough to see its exposed ribs and guts. Faslane submarine base past Helensburgh on the shore of the Gareloch is one of them. A ten-foot high weld mesh fence. topped with razor wire, lines three miles of the main road to the holiday spots of Argyllshire, guarding a pack ofsleek black nuclear-powered hunter/killer submarines.
Although as many as 30 people at a time have lived at the camp, current occupancy is down to seven: four adults. two children and a cat. This largely reflects the waning interest in CND as disarmament becomes more likely. However forJane, who has been at the camp for six years. current talk about reducing nuclear weapons is just hot air. ‘At Christmas we painted “Thatcher‘s Berlin Wall“ on the Base fence. 'she says. ‘The Government are putting up barriers to peace here. they are building bigger weapons. They are not making moves towards disarmament. they are just making noises about it. Trident is an actual escalation of the arms race: it is a first strike weapon. not a deterrent.‘
But life at the camp is more than a constant round ofactions against the nuclear state. ‘Every day somebody chops wood, every day somebody cooks. every day somebody washes up and does a bit oftidying up,‘ says
peace comes drop
Panda who used to live at the camp and is back for a visit. Then the shopping has to be done, there is the garden to tend. letters to answer, all the mundane routines of a normal life.
Although the peace campers have had to give up certain modern conveniences, the camp is well equipped and comfortable, ifa little cold in the winter. Besides the large communal caravan serving as sitting room and kitchen. there are offices and bathroom caravans with the rest being used as bedrooms. There is hot and cold running water, a shower, flushing toilets and each caravan has a stove for heat, but no electricity.
All the campers are unemployed, which they see not as a hardship, more a by-product of the way of life they have chosen. ‘1 have not lost out financially, but there are certain things you have to give up,’ comments Ayrshire-born Jim, who has lived at the camp for the last four years. ‘There is a lot of freedom I suppose, because you are living your beliefs 24 hours a day. There is no getting away from them, nowhere to hide. To just be able to sit somewhere and watch TV or read a book and not to have to think about what is travelling on the road or the loch, you lose that, but I don‘t miss it enough to want to move away or anything.‘
The eight-year-old camp is well integrated into the local community. Sam, Jane‘s four-year-old son, goes
to the local play group and has enrolled in the local school for September. Locals walking their dogs along the foreshore nod hello to the campers as they prepare to take to the water. One regular visitor to the camp is Ronnie, the local community policeman. ‘I think he comes to make sure that there are no IRA terrorists here or anything.‘ says Jane, ‘but he does turn up at the worst possible moments. like when we are just about to go out fly-posting or on a demo. If they did not have access through him, they would gain it in a different way.‘
But not all the local attention is as welcome. The Dumbarton Conservatives have just launched a campaign to reject the camp‘s request to renew its planning permission. Conservative Councillor Norman Glen has been quoted as saying ‘our objections are not against a peace camp as such, but its situation.’ Jane just sees the local Tories as an irrelevance: ‘they can't win the defence argument, so they trivialise our protest to the right to camp on a verge.‘
Back on the Gareloch, as the tiny boat rides yet another wave, it is easy to understand the thrill ofdirect opposition to the might of the military police. Then Phill points out a Polaris submarine. armed with live nuclear weapons. Through the binoculars. the hatches covering the missiles are clear and the protest gains a rather more sober reality.
Aninternationalday of GLASGOW action is being held against the introduction of the Trident Nuclear Submarines and Missiles on March 31. the day that the first American submarine is supposed to be deployed. Protests will take place in the UK‘s Trident related sites as well as Nevada USA and Kazakhstan USSR which are the super power‘s nuclear testing sites.
I Faslane Nuclear Submarine Base Noon Picnic. at the Peace
1pm Tourofthe Base‘s perimeter. with speakers at each main gate tying the Trident developments in with the past. present and
7pmGig. with Finnian i ‘Celtic House Music‘. Rhu
Travel Take the low level l
train from Queen Street to Helensburgh. then the D6 or D 16. Ask for Faslane South Gate.
Contact Faslane Peace Camp on 0463 820901 . EDINBURGH
I Rosyth and Pitreavie 1pm Tug of peace across the gates of the Rosyth Submarine refit yard. followed by fence decoration and balloon release. then to Pitreavie Command and
Communication Centre for the North Atlantic Heet for more fence decorating and a picnic. Travel Buses and cars leave Waverley Bridge at
Contact Barbara Maver on 031337 2692.
walk along the proposed route of the transmitter. l Contact Neil Parrish on
I HMS Vulcan Dounreay. Caithness. Submarine nuclear reactor test bed. 2pm Hand Vulcan its FV"? redundancy papers. '
11am Put questions to
5 between (‘hapeleross and Trident.
I ContactAgnes Rileyon
AROUND SCOTLAND decorate fence with peace ’ I Glengarry paraphernalia.
lnvernesshire. Site for Contact John Jappy on
ELF radio radio 09973 284.
transmitter. Meet at the Glengarry Hotel fora
I Chapelcross Dumfriesshire. Tritium
The List 23 March — 5 April 1990 87