• Ian Gallagher

Why “Bairns Not Bombs” Should Be the Hallmark of an Independent Scotland

On Monday last week the UK Conservative Government announced that they would be increasing the number of trident nuclear warheads from 180 to 260 “by the mid 2020s” based on the findings of the integrated defence review. To put it another way this is a 40% increase in the number of nuclear bombs the UK owns costing the taxpayer billions of pounds because of an outdated “cold war mentality” that has been the hallmarks of UK defence policy for decades. While we don’t know the exact size of the extra costs for these additional warheads in itself - we know already from the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) that the renewal of the Trident Nuclear program will cost at least £205 billion over its lifetime.


Not content with wasting billions on a cold war relic; the Tory UK Government has also violated the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. it hardly comes as a shock that they conveniently forgot about this given they’ve broken international law in “limited and specific ways” before.


The same day as the Tories were announcing they’d waste even more money on weapons of mass destruction and breaking international agreements; the Scottish Parliament unanimously voted to enshrine the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child into law in Scotland. A transformative step for children across Scotland by requiring all public authorities and anyone providing a service to children using public money to protect the rights of Children in line with the requirements of the UN Convention.


If we needed anymore proof that Westminster isn’t working in the interests of the people of Scotland then Monday crystalised the vastly different priorities of both Scottish and UK Governments. I want Scotland to be independent country so that we can help create a world free from nuclear weapons. I am also certain that as an independent country Scotland would ratify the UN treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and we wouldn’t have nuclear weapons stationed on the Clyde against the collective will of the people of Scotland.

As an independent country Scotland should make the principle of “bairns not bombs” our north star. Our domestic and foreign policies must deliver a world where we make sure that internationally we are the good global citizen that argues for and actively implements the UN charter in all our actions abroad, especially with regards to children’s rights. Domestically we must make Scotland the best place in the world to grow up- a promise we must make and deliver for every child who calls Scotland their home.


The YSI’s Conference has passed many bold and progressive resolutions over the years to deliver on our promise to Scotland’s children and young people and we have made some of these SNP policy including a School Leavers Toolkit and a Whole School Approach to Mental Health. By combining these policies with the work of our SNP Government that has delivered the baby box, the Best Start Payment and the new Scottish Child Payment we show the values we want to underpin the independent country we want to build. However, there remains much more to do but without the powers of independence we are working with one hand tied behind our back.


I was proud to author and propose the YSI’s policy on Maternity and Paternity Leave which seeks to learn from Finland by copying their flexible shared parental and maternity leave. As part of this reformed maternity and paternity leave we also included paid statutory neonatal leave on top for parents in the event their baby needs neonatal care. If implemented in an independent country these changes would build on our the work already done by the SNP Government.


It is down to us who support independence to persuade and work with our fellow citizens to deliver an independent future for Scotland. A future where every child’s rights and life chances are prioritised over the morally bankruptcy of wasting billions on status symbols which can’t (and must never) be used.


Ian Gallagher