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The Peace candidate

 
     
Richard Leat (far right) with some supporters outside the Scottish Parliament   Eric Wallace aboard the Arctic Sunrise in February 2007

’NO TRIDENT REPLACEMENT’ The whole country was watching for the first result in the Scottish elections and the banner’s message filled every TV screen.

The Anti-Trident Party, born in February when Richard Leat and I agreed that the Scottish elections were an opportunity too good to miss had fulfilled its potential. The main purpose of the party was not to get votes, but to publicise the issue. Standing in the election puts you on up on the platform, on an equal footing with other candidates. The peace activist is no longer merely a voice from the back of the hall.

This proposal of political candidates had been discussed at SCNDs AGM and rejected, to avoid losing the support of pro-peace political parties. Candidates clearly needed to be separate from CND. The idea was not without precedent, for example, Rebecca Johnston stood against Michael Heseltine in 1983.

By registering a party, rather than standing independently, our essential message would appear on each ballot paper. To avoid taking votes from other small parties we did not stand on regional lists. Richard became the only candidate. Motherwell and Wishaw was chosen because Jack McConnell, the Labour candidate, made it a high profile constituency. His large majority meant we would not prevent an anti-trident candidate from being elected.

As a contesting party we could leaflet the whole constituency, free of charge. We reached 35 500 households, which cost us £750, less than 0.02p each. Happily, our donations exactly covered the printing cost (Though we are still accepting contributions towards the lost deposit.)

During the campaign we attracted the attention of ITN news, national and local papers; a supporter donated a website; Richard attended hustings: we spoke to voters and postered lampposts. There was markedly more interest at the town centre stall than at stalls in other areas where there was no specific candidate.

Finally all candidates, a limited number of supporters and much

press attended the count. We had 187 votes! Jack McConnell had rather more. He stepped up to the podium, the cameras focused, and that was when Richard’s ‘no trident replacement’ banner came out.

Had we not formed a party and put up a candidate Richard would not have been on the platform. We would not even have been a voice at the back of the hall. We would not even have been in the hall.

www.antitrident.org

Veronika Tudhope

Editorial note: Scottish CND is a multi-party organisation and does not support the candidates of any particular party. Publication of this article does not signify any change in that policy.

Nuclear Free Scotland Magazine - June 2007

 
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