London CND saddened by death of Helen John

Helen John will be remembered and missed by thousands of activists in London and beyond with whom she connected.
— Carol Turner, London CND Chair
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Everyone in London CND will be saddened by the loss of Helen John, who died on the evening of Monday 6 November 2018, aged 80. Helen was an exceptional figure. Her determined and imaginative actions inspired new generations of young peace campaigners for over 20 years. Many of us remember her ongoing involvement in London CND’s work for over a decade. 

Helen is best known as a co-founder of the Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp in the early 1980s where she lived for many years, opposing US cruise missiles stationed in Britain. During that time she shared a flat in East London with her partner, regularly welcoming a stream of CND and other peace campaigners to the home they called ‘Grotsville’.

Helen’s nuclear disarmament journey began when she joined around 40 others, mainly women, on a100-mile walk from a nuclear warhead components factory in Cardiff to Greenham Common airbase near Newbury. The march didn’t attract much publicity, so a few of the women decided to stay until their actions got noticed. Thus began what was to become a 19-year long women’s peace camp.

From then on Helen became a dedicated direct actionist, challenging militarism and asserting her right to protest for more than 25 years, until ill health brought an end to her activities. After she left Greenham, in the 1990s she set up camp at Menwith Hill, a US spy base near Harrogate – a caravan at the side of the A59 in the beautiful West Yorkshire countryside. Her final campaign, in the early 2000s was directed at RAF Waddington in Lincoln, the main operating base for UK drones.

Helen was an unflagging international campaigner too. She is still known and remembered in peace movement circles across North America and Europe. Her activities included as a member of the Global Network against Nuclear Power and Weapons in Space.

Her rich experiences of the peace movement were brought to bear on CND. Helen served first as a National Councillor of CND UK and then as a Vice-Chair in 2001-4. She was present, on behalf of CND, at the founding meeting of the Stop the War Coalition in October 2001.

Helen John will be remembered and missed by thousands of activists in London and beyond with whom she connected.

Carol Turner, Chair London CND

London CND new guide to setting up a local group

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London CND has a new guide to setting up a local group. 

Whether you have been advocating alone for years or just became interested in the topic, setting up a local group allows you to connect with others passionate about this issue in your local area.

As well as this guide, London CND has a dedicated group worker, Georgia Elander, who will help you every step of the way to make your group a success!

 

CONFERENCE REMINDER: A Labour Assembly Against Austerity

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THIS Saturday October 28, from 10.00am (registration 9.30am), Upper Hall, Student Central (ULU), Malet Street, WC1E 7HY - Register here - Share / invite friends on Facebook here

Contact CND if you are willing to help with this conference

Please join us at LAAA's national conference with a dozen sessions featuring:

Diane Abbott MP, Shadow Home Secretary
Richard Burgon MP, Shadow Justice Secretary
Cat Smith MP, Shadow Minister for Voting Engagement & Youth Affairs
Jon Trickett MP, Shadow Lord President of the Council and Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office
Dawn Butler MP, Shadow Minister for Women & Equalities
Chris Williamson MP, Shadow Minister for Fire & Emergency Services
Karen Lee MP, PPS to the Shadow Chancellor
Kelvin Hopkins MP
Emma Dent Coad MP
Lucy Anderson MEP
Steve Turner, Unite Assistant General Secretary & People’s Assembly Against Austerity
Roger McKenzie, UNISON Assistant General Secretary
Mick Whelan, General Secretary ASLEF
Rehana Azam, National Secretary for public services, GMB
Christine Blower, National Education Union
Mike Hedges, Unite London & Eastern Region Political Committee
Tosh McDonald, ASLEF President
John Hendy QC, co-author of A Manifesto for Labour Law & Campaign for Trade Union Freedom
Maya Goodfellow, Guardian & Independent writer
Duncan Bowie, Senior Lecturer in Housing, Westminster University
Danielle Tiplady, nurse & NHS campagner
Siobhan Endean, National Officer for Equalities, Unite the Union
Lara McNeil, Vice-chair Labour Students
Huda Elmi, Momentum NCG
Sian Errington, Labour Assembly Against Austerity
Seema Chandwani, CLP representative, Labour Party Conference Arrangements Committee
Murad Qureshi, Stop the War Coalition & former London Assembly member
Sabby Dhalu, Stand Up to Racism
Amy Dunne, Jeremy Corbyn 4 PM
Nathan Akehurt, writer
Liam Young, writer & campaigner
Shelly Asquith, People's Assembly Against Austerity
Shabbir Lakha, Stand up to Trump
Matt Willgress, Labour Assembly Against Austerity
Maryam Eslamdoust, Camden councillor
Emine Ibrahim, Greater London Labour Party board member
Peray Ahmet, National Policy Forum member
Christine Shawcroft, Labour Party NEC & Momentum NCG
Claudia Webbe, Islington Councillor & Labour NEC

Supported by Unite, ASLEF, the GMB, London Labour Left and Momentum.
Media Partners: The Morning Star and Jeremy Corbyn 4 PM.
Hosted by the Labour Assembly Against Austerity.

London CND Meeting: Labour Q&A on nuclear weapons

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Fabian Hamilton, Labour's Shadow Minister for Peace and Disarmament gave London CND supporters a rousing speech last week in the Houses of Parliament. He told the engaged audience that he was and always has been a CND supporter alongside Jeremy Corbyn. He spoke about the stance of Labour on nuclear weapons over the years and reasons to be optimistic.

He spoke about the nuclear weapons ban treaty which has just been opened for signature, and how he had been to the UN ban treaty negotiations earlier this year. Which is more to be said for the current UK government who chose to boycott the proceedings with the USA.

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Christine Shawcroft, Labour Party National Executive Committee, also spoke with a tone of optimism. She reminded us that nuclear weapons did not protect against 9/11 or 7/7. 

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Finally the living legend Walter Wolfgang reminded us of the common sense argument that 'We cannot achieve the society we want if we waste a lot of money on nuclear weapons.' 

London CND New Guide to Setting up a University Group

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Universities are places of learning and places of free thinking. They are the perfect place to set up your very own CND university group but this might seem daunting at first.

In come London CND to the rescue. London CND has created a guide to setting up your very own CND university group in your own campus. 

Our guide will explain to you how to:

  1. Take your first steps- ratifying the group
  2. How to succeed at Freshers Fair
  3. Your First Mail out
  4. Your First Event
  5. Taking the next steps as a group

Download it now

Green Party Conference: a clear stance against nuclear weapons

By Georgia Elander

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Last weekend at the Green Party’s autumn conference, there was clearly some soul-searching going on about the party’s place in the new political landscape dominated by Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour.

But after Corbyn’s failure to change his party’s policy on nuclear disarmament, this is one area where the Green Party’s voice is crucial.

In co-leader Jonathan Bartley’s speech, he highlighted this issue and spoke about the UN nuclear ban treaty, saying:

“We have choices. And the choices we make, make the future. And there is no greater threat to that future than the choices being made now about nuclear weapons.

“Today I want to say a huge congratulations to ICAN, the International Campaign to Ban Nuclear Weapons. On Friday they won the Nobel Peace Prize for their work in bringing about the Global Nuclear Ban Treaty.

“There’s a cosy consensus in Westminster in support of nuclear weapons. But we’re willing to speak the truth.The UK refused to take part in talks on the UN’s nuclear ban treaty. It’s one thing to duck a TV debate. But to boycott the chance to rid the world of nuclear weapons is a reckless abdication of responsibility, a moral outrage, and a gamble with our planet.

“The heightened tensions between the US and North Korea have brought us close to the brink of nuclear war. Yet the UK Government turned away from a chance to wage peace and the official opposition stayed silent.But the truth will be told.

“Nuclear weapons belong in the past. They are dangerous. They do not bring peace. And we want a world without them.”

Anti-nuclear weapons group ICAN wins Nobel Peace Prize

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The Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN).

Berit Reiss-Andersen, the Nobel committee chair, said it was due to the group's "groundbreaking efforts to achieve a treaty prohibition" on nuclear weapons.

"We live in a world where the risk of nuclear weapons being used is greater than it has been for a long time," she continued.

In a statement on the win, ICAN stated: 'This prize is a tribute to the tireless efforts of many millions of campaigners and concerned citizens worldwide who, ever since the dawn of the atomic age, have loudly protested nuclear weapons, insisting that they can serve no legitimate purpose and must be forever banished from the face of our earth.'

In July, after pressure from ICAN, 122 nations backed a UN treaty designed to ban and eventually eliminate all nuclear weapons. But none of the nine known nuclear powers in the world - including the UK and the US - endorsed it.

ICAN, a coalition of hundreds of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), is 10 years old and is based in Geneva, Switzerland. The group will receive nine million Swedish kronor ($1.1 million, £846,000) along with a medal and a diploma at a ceremony in December.

Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the group, told reporters that the prize had come as a surprise but that it was "a huge signal" that the group's work was "needed and appreciated".

"The laws of war say that we can't target civilians. Nuclear weapons are meant to target civilians; they're meant to wipe out entire cities," she said, adding: "That's unacceptable and nuclear weapons no longer get an excuse.

"It's a giant radioactive bomb, it just causes chaos and havoc and civilian casualties. It is not a weapon that you can use in line with the laws of war.

"Every state matters here. The more states that sign and ratify this treaty the stronger the norm is going to get. They're not moving towards disarmament fast enough."

ICAN are:

  • a coalition group supported by hundreds of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in over 100 countries across the world (including CND)

  • formed in 2007, inspired by a similar campaign to ban the use of landmines worldwide

  • supporters include actor Michael Sheen, artist Ai Weiwei and former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
  • its lobbying encouraged the UN to adopt the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons earlier this year which has been signed by 53 countries so far

Comedian Frankie Boyle imagines a nuclear attack

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Not known to be someone who minces his words, on September 18 2017, comedian Frankie Boyle posted a Facebook status imagining a nuclear attack and berating US President Trump. Here are some excerpts:

"It’s impossible to imagine what it’s like to be killed in a nuclear explosion, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. I think it will probably involve being blasted over quite a large distance, and at a surprising height, while simultaneously having all your skin burnt off. I know we think of it as being an instant death, but there’s every chance that there will be a few seconds where you’ll be sailing out of your local school catchment area, at a height of about a hundred feet or so, as some sort of screaming skeleton. Maybe you will get to see your family melt before the blast picks you up, and your final memory will be of their faces devolving into cubism. Or maybe it’s more like being smashed to pieces by a wave of rubble. After all those years of driving into town to go to work, or go shopping, your city centre will finally be coming to you, moving at several thousand miles an hour, and hotter than Venus in July."

"Donald Trump got himself into yet another war of words with North Korea after they test fired a missile that went over Japan. In a war of words you do not want to be on Trump’s side: a man who speaks like he’s on shuffle and has a smaller vocabulary than an upturned calculator. It’s incredible to see the US take the moral high ground about, of all things, nuking Japan. Bear in mind that Japan is a country that specialises in wooden buildings with paper walls. It’s odd to think that as millions of people hunkered down in their paper houses during a potential nuclear attack, they were still safer than the many thousands of people in the UK living in high rise social housing."

"If I might make one suggestion to the North Koreans, please don’t drop bombs indiscriminately upon the USA. There are specific targets you should hit that would upset the President the most and, luckily for your bombing crews, they’ve all got his name written on them in fifty foot high letters."

Read the full status here.

Nuclear Ban Treaty Opens for Signature and 50 states sign!

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In a week potentially overshadowed by Trump's threat of a nuclear war with North Korea, there are some reasons to be optimistic. The United Nations General Assembly has resumed and has held a signing ceremony for the new nuclear ban treaty.

On September 20, the treaty which was voted on in July, opened for signature. The treaty was a result of years of efforts from civil society and a conscious shift in focus from security and deterrence arguments to one's based on the humanitarian perspective. This humanitarian perspective argues that human beings will be the ones who suffer after a nuclear attack, and that no country would be able to adequately respond to a humanitarian catastrophe a nuclear attack would pose.

122 countries voted for the treaty to be passed back in July of this year, and so far 50 countries have signed the treaty. It will enter into force 90 days after 50 countries have ratified or acceded to it. See which countries have signed here.

Unsurprisingly, none of the 9 nuclear armed nations, including the UK have signed the treaty. In fact, the UK is amongst the states who staged a protest when the treaty was created and say they will never sign.