Faslane takes path of least

Faslane Peace Camp celebrates its fourteenth anniversary this weekend by disbanding. Is it the end of an era? Or does the closure of the camp mark a fundamental shift in the nature of protest? Stephen Naysrnith reports.

After more than a decade of warnings about the ticking ofthe nuclear clock. time has run out for the campers at Faslane. The Trash Trident demonstration this Saturday at the Royal Navy‘s Clyde Submarine Base will be the last co-ordinated by the camp before its four remaining residents pack up and plant a ‘peace garden' on the site before departing.

The idea of the peace camp seems outdated now. Gr‘eenliam Common is a distant memory. as are the huge marches of the l‘)(i0s and 70s. The way people protest against events and policies seems to have changed.

This summer in North Wales. the environmental organisation Earth First! are holding a Summer Gathering for activists. Those attending can try workshops on physical skills training‘. including ‘innovative blockade tactics‘ and ‘tree defence‘. Other groups will cover the prevention ofcarnp diseases. growing your own food and struggles from around the world.

So camping is still an option. However. the majority of people aren‘t willing to move into a tree or a tent. or to chain themselves to oil rigs. So are the mass movements of the past gone forever"? Peter Callaghan. or ‘Ped'. who spent five years at l’aslane says he is disheartened by the lack ofenthtrsiasm in Scotland.

‘We are going to Europe when we break up the camp.‘ he said. ‘There is a sort of apathy here. It is sad to say. but I think the only thing that would get people moving is some kind of nuclear accident.‘

The media have a huge influence on public attitudes. he adds. ‘There is information overload. The media drive a campaign. and can stop it too. It is only going to be a certain amount of time before the press stop reporting on the roads campaigns.‘

He cites the Pollok Free State campaign against the M77 where television and newspapers made trees on the Pollok Estate the focus of the story. Once they were cut down. the coverage ceased. ‘The media dropped it and though the camp was still there.


» Rh .8.

Defending the trees: The Issue dies when the cameras move away

everybody disappeared.‘

Ped hopes there will be a decent turn-out at Faslane‘s farewell celebrations. but as it clashes with a major Euro “)6 football fixture it seems unlikely to break any records. ‘People moan at us for being negative about the level of apathy btrt it is the truth.‘ he says.

The Scottish anti-road lobby are looking for new ways forward. however. Last year there was talk of launching a Scottish Land Campaign. uniting against separate concerns such as the Skye Bridge. the Harris Supcrquarr'y and new motorways.

Rab Fulton. spokesman for Residents Against the M74. says they didn't have to set it up. ‘lt already exists. We realised it was just a case of recognising that there is already a Scottish land campaign in progress.‘

He claims that while high-profile single issue projects like the peace carrrp have dwindled. local campaigns on smaller issues are flourishing. ‘Public involvement comes very rnrrch at a local level now. The thing with big organisations is they have to concentrate on one thing at a time.

‘There has been a delinite switch from people thinking this is “the last big push” before we ptrt everything to rights. It is a long hard struggle btrt people are doing it locally and that is very important.‘

He argues that the local approach is less intimidating.

‘In the past you had to have a Trotsky-Leninist- Stalinist doctrine behind you. You‘re not going to get

judged now if you don't know what Karl Marx had for

breakfast l50 years ago.‘

One ofthe most striking recent examples of local campaigning was the reversal ofthe new City of Glasgow Council‘s plans to close 22 schools. Groups from all those thr 'atened banded together under the banner Save Our Schools (SOS) and saved all but three.

Craig Benton. whose son attends Gowanbank Primary. was a prime mover. He believes they have filled a gap. ‘People looking fora lead from established parties or campaigns and when they don't get one they organise a locally-based campaign with ordinary people.‘

Such campaigns can seem purely self-interested however. The parents were accused of keeping open schools which were squandering resources. being orin half full. Beaton says that is not the case. ‘We always accepted that some should close. but the 55,000 excess places don‘t exist.‘

The SOS campaign is spreading to Dundee. proving that the local campaigns can extend beyond parochial concerns. he says. ‘People‘s faith in the larger organisations has gone. But an ordinary campaign like this can mushroom into larger things.‘

However Scotland's football clash with England will undoubtedly grab more attention than any demonstration this weekend. When the couch potatoes take on the activists the contest looks a little one-sided.

And finally. . . Scots find new ways to take the top off a beer

.A male escort for the National

James Hood suggested in the Commons that the policy change would turn Scotland into ‘the greatest

unwittingly selling the beer in a handful of stores around Scotland apologised to customers. while the

Gallery's Antonio Canova sculpture The Three Graces was discovered in a West Country back garden and has now been 'alued at L‘l million. Restor'ers used plaster casts of 'Canova‘s Cupid to replace some missing appendages on the statue ineltrding his bow and one or two other more personal effects. Now the frilly restored Cupid is ready for love action and is due to be sold by Sotheby's next month. Perhaps like rare pandas in captivity he could be mated with our own winsome Three Graces (also known affectionately as the ‘Tltree Erses') to sire a litter of little Canovas.

Mating of a less classical kind cotrld become rife across Scotland should the SNP ever get to fulfil their pledge to decriminalise prostitution north of the border. Clydcside Labour MP

little whorehorrse in Europe‘. Presumably he’s against the idea.

Scottish Secretary Michael Forsyth clearly wasn't taking the proposition too seriously. responding: ‘As far as I'm aware they haven‘t advocated prostitution as something which should be part of our inward investment campaign.‘ On second thoughts. where's that number for Scottish Enterprise . . .

Almost as bra/.en were the cases of imported Slovakian lager which showed up in Scotland with a rather saucy label. Y‘ars of drinking Tennents from cans depicting young maidens called Marie and Audrey with only a satin shift to hide their modesty have practically become part of our race memory. but those naughty Eastern Europeans have gone a stage further. The bottles' labels feature a

three Graces: Maternity beckons? Slovakian damsel in her bikini. but sharp-eyed boozers in Scotland noticed that the cossie could be scratched off to reveal her birthday suit.

The C o-op which had been

Essex-based importers explained obliquely: ‘The affected bottles seem to have been meant for the German market.‘

While beer swillers were trying to find a matching pair in the seratchcard lager lottery. the more refined palates of wine drinkers were descending on branches of Victoria Wine to snap up a cheeky little vintage known as Cat‘s Pee ()n A Gooseberry Bush. While we've heard of ordinary cooking lager being referred to as ‘gnat's piss'. you would assume wine aficionados might know better. But the name is something of an in-joke amongst buffs. according to a Vicky Wine spokeswoman: ‘lt's a sauvignon blanc and experts know that can smell of two things -— cat‘s urine or gooseberry bushes.‘ Surely they‘re taking the . . . (Eddie Gibb)

The List l4-27 Jun l996 5