bruce kent

Videos from London CND's 2019 Conference

If you missed our conference in January, no fear - all the sessions were recorded on video and are available now on YouTube. You can watch them all below!

Palestinian Ambassador Dr Hasan Zumlot


Dr Hasam Zumlot Q&A


Catherine West MP and Ann Feltham from CAAT

Video interview with Medea Benjamin of Code Pink USA


Rae Street, former CND Vice Chair, and Carol Turner, London CND


Rebecca Johnson, ICAN, and Bruce Kent, CND

Hannah Kemp-Welch, CND, and Sara Medi Jones, acting CND Vice-Chair


Jonathan Bartley, Green Party Co-Leader, and Nobu Ono, SOAS CND



Trump's finger on the nuclear button: Report from London CND 2019 conference

Photo: Henry Kenyon

Photo: Henry Kenyon

Last Saturday, CND supporters from across London gathered for our annual conference - this year taking the theme ‘Trump’s finger on the Nuclear Button.’

We were honoured to be joined by Ambassador Husam Zumlot, head of the Palestinian mission in Washington until President Trump closed it down. The Ambassador gave fascinating insights into the challenges facing those who seek a peaceful solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict, and what the Trump administration’s policies mean for the region. We also heard from Catherine West on the UK Parliament’s response to the Trump administration, and from Ann Feltham from the Campaign Against the Arms Trade on the importance of ending arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

After the first session we crossed the Atlantic, with a video interview with Medea Benjamin from Code Pink USA, a women-led organisation opposing war and militarism. She told us about the varied tactics Code Pink uses - from traditional protest marches to inventive publicity stunts and educational programmes - and said she hoped to work more closely with the UK peace movement in the months and years ahead.

You can watch the video interview  here

You can watch the video interview here

Our second plenary featured Dr Rebecca Johnson from the Acronym Institute, London CND Chair Carol Turner, and Rae Street, Vice-Chair of CND UK. The guests discussed the trashing of international treaties - such as Trump’s intention to pull out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, first signed in 1987 between the US and Russia. We heard about the importance of international agreements like the in building towards a nuclear-free world.

SOAS CND chair Nobu Ono speaking at the conference. Photo: Henry Kenyon

SOAS CND chair Nobu Ono speaking at the conference. Photo: Henry Kenyon

In the final plenary - ‘Think Global, Act Local’ - our speakers tackled the challenge of how to take concrete action as campaigners and communities to build this world. Sara Medi Jones, acting CND General Secretary, spoke about CND’s current campaigns; Nobu Ono told us about the work he’s been doing running SOAS CND, and the challenges and opportunities in youth and student activism. Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley left us with a message of hope: that we are living through times of intense change, in which the old political order is breaking apart - and we have the opportunity to build something new.

London CND vice-chair Hannah Kemp-Welch chairs the final panel of the day. Photo: Henry Kenyon

London CND vice-chair Hannah Kemp-Welch chairs the final panel of the day. Photo: Henry Kenyon

You can see all the photos from the conference here.





Young activists meet London CND's vice-presidents at Parliamentary reception

On Monday, Parliament’s Jubilee Room was filled with enthusiastic young activists from London universities, come to hear from our vice-presidents about getting involved with London CND.

We were kindly hosted by Catherine West MP, who spoke alongside Jenny Jones and Bruce Kent about their support for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.

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The event was attended by students from universities including University College London, University of the Arts London and Pearsons Business College, as well as Catherine West’s alma mater, the School of Oriental and African Studies. It was a great opportunity for students to meet other activists, and find out about starting their own university CND societies with the support of London CND.

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Before the drinks reception, a small group of students was given a private tour of the House of Lords by Jenny Jones, Baroness of Moulsecoomb, who is another of London CND’s vice-presidents.

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You can see more photos from the event on our facebook page.

Hiroshima Day 2018

Raised Voices choir performing at our ceremony

Raised Voices choir performing at our ceremony

London CND held our annual ceremony to commemorate the victims of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on Monday 6th August. In a powerful and moving ceremony, we heard from a range of speakers and and performers, and were joined by around 100 attendees. 

Councillor Maryam Eslamdoust, the Deputy Mayor of Camden, lay a wreath at the memorial tree, and we were sent a message from the Mayor of Tower Hamlets which you can read below, alongside the statement from the Mayor of Hiroshima which was read out by Shigeo Kobayashi at the ceremony.


Statement from the Mayor of Tower Hamlets

The 6th of August is an important point of reflection each year, where we take the time to remember the terrible events of World War 2, particularly Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

This day is marked around the world as a vital moment to pause, reflect, and think about how we can all work together to avoid and agree to prevent such events in the future. This has become increasingly important in a world which can sometime feel ever more fragmented.

The last century also marked an increased targeting, particularly with modern and more powerful weapons and particularly those able to strike remotely, of urban populations in war.

The events of 1945 feel increasingly distant as each year passes, yet we must not forget them. They are a reminder of what can happen in the darkest of days, and a reminder that we must always strive for peace.

- Cllr John Biggs Mayor of Tower Hamlets


Statement from the Mayor of Hiroshima

It’s 73 years ago and a Monday morning, just like today. With the mid-summer sun already blazing, Hiroshima starts another day. Please listen to what I say next as if you and your loved ones were there. At 8:15 comes a blinding flash. A fireball more than a million degrees Celsius releases intense radiation, heat, and then, a tremendous blast. Below the roiling mushroom cloud, innocent lives are snuffed out as the city is obliterated.“I’m so hot! It’s killing me!” From under collapsed houses, children scream for their mothers.

“Water! Please, water!” come moans and groans from the brink of death. In the foul stench of burning people, victims wander around like ghosts, their flesh peeled and red. Black rain fell all around. The scenes of hell burnt into their memories and the radiation eating away at their minds and bodies are even now sources of pain for hibakusha who survive.

Today, with more than 14,000 nuclear warheads remaining, the likelihood is growing that what we saw in Hiroshima after the explosion that day will return, by intent or accident, plunging people into agony.

The hibakusha, based on their intimate knowledge of the terror of nuclear weapons, are ringing an alarm against the temptation to possess them. Year by year, as hibakusha decrease in number, listening to them grows ever more crucial. One hibakusha who was 20 says, “If nuclear weapons are used, every living thing will be annihilated. Our beautiful Earth will be left in ruins. World leaders should gather in the A-bombed cities, encounter our tragedy, and, at a minimum, set a course toward freedom from nuclear weapons. I want human beings to become good stewards of creation capable of abolishing nuclear weapons.” He asks world leaders to focus their reason and insight on abolishing nuclear weapons so we can treasure life and avoid destroying the Earth.

Last year, the Nobel Peace Prize went to ICAN, an organization that contributed to the formation of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Thus, the spirit of the hibakusha is spreading through the world. On the other hand, certain countries are blatantly proclaiming self-centered nationalism and modernizing their nuclear arsenals, rekindling tensions that had eased with the end of the Cold War.

Another hibakusha who was 20 makes this appeal: “I hope no such tragedy ever happens again. We must never allow ours to fade into the forgotten past. I hope from the bottom of my heart that humanity will apply our wisdom to making our entire Earth peaceful.” If the human family forgets history or stops confronting it, we could again commit a terrible error. That is precisely why we must continue talking about Hiroshima. Efforts to eliminate nuclear weapons must continue based on intelligent actions by leaders around the world.

Nuclear deterrence and nuclear umbrellas flaunt the destructive power of nuclear weapons and seek to maintain international order by generating fear in rival countries. This approach to guaranteeing long-term security is inherently unstable and extremely dangerous. World leaders must have this reality etched in their hearts as they negotiate in good faith the elimination of nuclear arsenals, which is a legal obligation under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Furthermore, they must strive to make the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons a milestone along the path to a nuclear-weapon-free world.

We in civil society fervently hope that the easing of tensions on the Korean Peninsula will proceed through peaceable dialogue. For leaders to take courageous actions, civil society must respect diversity, build mutual trust, and make the abolition of nuclear weapons a value shared by all humankind. Mayors for Peace, now with more than 7,600 member cities around the world, will focus on creating that environment.

I ask the Japanese government to manifest the magnificent pacifism of the Japanese Constitution in the movement toward the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons by playing its proper role, leading the international community toward dialogue and cooperation for a world without nuclear weapons. In addition, I hereby demand an expansion of the black rain areas along with greater concern and improved assistance for the many people suffering the mental and physical effects of radiation, especially the hibakusha, whose average age is now over 82.

Today, we renew our commitment and offer sincere consolation to the souls of all A-bomb victims. Along with Nagasaki, the other A-bombed city, and with much of the world’s population, Hiroshima pledges to do everything in our power to achieve lasting world peace and the abolition of nuclear weapons.

- MATSUI Kazumi, Mayor, The City of Hiroshima

   August 6, 2018

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Programme of speakers from the ceremony

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You can view more photos from the ceremony here

London CND blog: May 2018

Hello and welcome to the first of our monthly blogs from Georgia - London CND’s staff member. I’ll be writing once a month or so to keep you updated on London CND’s activities, and give you an insight into the work I’m doing! If you have any questions, or there’s anything in particular you’d like to hear about, email me on info@londoncnd.org.

May started out, as every other month does, with sending out PeaceLine. PeaceLine is our bi-monthly physical newsletter; it goes out to around 300 people, and it’s A3 and double-sided so it’s quite a task printing, copying, folding and mailing it out. I often have lovely volunteers in to help out - if you’d be keen to come and lend a hand, please do get in touch!

We kicked off our events for May with an event at SOAS on the topic of social justice and nuclear disarmament. I invited three speakers - Green Party Deputy Leader Amelia Womack, London CND Vice-Chair Bruce Kent, and Labour CND member Ian Chamberlain. We had a decent audience and a lively discussion - you can read a full round-up here!

This month, I started work (very early!) on preparations for Freshers’ Week at universities in September. For lots of universities, there are requirements to have a society set up well in advance in order to register for the Freshers’ Fair, so I’ve been making contact with Youth and Student CND as well as students who have previously been involved or come to our events, to talk about how I can support them to get those societies established.

Carol and I had a great meeting with a young sixth-former who is passionate about international politics and keen to do a work placement with us over the summer. We’re really excited about this, and can’t wait to start working with her! Hopefully, you’ll hear from her on this blog once she starts work here.

We’re beginning to start work now on our Hiroshima commemoration activities. If you’d like to be involved with this, please do drop me an email - info@londoncnd.org.

Don’t forget, we also have a volunteers hub where you can let us know how you’d like to be involved!

In peace,

Georgia  

The obsession to renew Trident – a misguided allegiance

London Region CND’s evening event on 2 May – “A conversation on social justice: where does nuclear disarmament fit in” – was introduced by Georgia Elander, London CND’s staff member. A platform shared by one of CND’s Vice Presidents, and campaigners from two different political spectrums ensured a lively debate.

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Georgia touched on the interesting times that we are currently living in at home and abroad. There’s the possible denuclearisation of North Korea plus progress with the UN global ban treaty. We have a lifelong CND member as leader of the Labour Party, yet there is deadlock on the issue on much of the left.

The idealistic position taken by young people on the early Aldermaston marches is not really seen nowadays, and we need to find ways to engage young people to be active in the nuclear disarmament movement.

Amelia Womack, Deputy Leader of the Green Party, argued that ‘the nuclear deterrent’ makes it sound like something it isn’t. Other countries – non-nuclear countries – have enjoyed the same level of peace and security that we have. Government austerity has decimated our public services. Trade unions talk about jobs in the nuclear industry, but these are not the best jobs in the world, and it is perfectly feasible to transfer skills into other sectors, such as renewables.

Amelia talked about the obsession to renew Trident, describing it as a misguided allegiance. Is it really strong to press a button to kill thousands of people? Decades upon decades of people defending nuclear weapons has somehow seeped into people’s consciousness so that it is considered the norm, and we need a cross-party approach to tackle the dangers of nuclear power and nuclear energy. “It’s not just about political parties, it’s about political movements.” The government needs to come clean about its defence policy – for example, is the Hinkley power station going to pay for Trident or will we all pay for Trident through our electricity bills?

Young people seem very distanced from the nuclear atrocities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki which did not even happen in their parents’ lifetimes. Amelia concluded by saying that we are living in an age of quite violent nationalism, with moral judgements being made that affect all our lives.

Ian Chamberlain, anti-nuclear campaigner, started by talking about President Trump’s tweets over the past year and the way he has been ratcheting up tension and asked whether we felt safer by having Trident.

As a Labour Party member, Ian wants the movement to promote trust, cooperation and solidarity across the world; yet nuclear weapons are antithetical to that. We can’t advocate social justice while holding onto nuclear weapons: the people who advocate war and nuclear weapons are the same people who are responsible for growing levels of inequality, such as advocating privatisation of the NHS.

Although 53 per cent of Labour Party members oppose Trident, there are deeply entrenched sections of the Party who remain in favour, even with Jeremy Corbyn as leader. We also have the challenge of government hypocrisy: while it claims to support multilateral nuclear disarmament in theory, it has actually in practice done absolutely nothing to engage with the UN treaty to ban nuclear weapons multilaterally. Yet even Jeremy Corbyn cannot say in public that the Labour Party would sign up to the treaty. Ian argued that we must not accept this logic. Millions of people voted for Jeremy, who had made his position on nuclear weapons crystal clear.

We also need to question the so-called special relationship between the UK and the USA. Trump wants to tear up the Iran deal, but we cannot accept the establishment view on this. When the Labour Party gets into government it needs to be much more ambitious. We want a government of social justice, and this has to start by abolishing nuclear weapons. Ian said that when a Prime Minister goes to war, it is the most heinous thing and it is at that point (as with Blair and May) that they lose their humanity.

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Bruce Kent, Vice President of London Region CND, started off with a history lesson about how we got nuclear weapons in the first place. He made the connection between war, nuclear weapons and social justice - comparing the world’s total defence budget with the amount it would cost to eradicate world hunger. Trident only feeds national vanity, and people don’t make the connection between this obscene military expenditure and the money we need for our public services.

Bruce quoted from the preamble to the 1945 Charter of the United Nations: “We the peoples of the United Nations determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and[…] to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom…”

Introducing London CND’s Vice Presidents

We pleased to announce that three well-known Londoners – Bruce Kent, Jenny Jones and Catherine West – have agreed to take up honorary positions as our Vice Presidents. They will be helping attract support and increase interest in nuclear disarmament among Londoners in the months ahead.

Bruce Kent needs little introduction. Ordained as a Roman Catholic priest in 1958, Bruce became a monsignor before he left the priesthood in 1987 to take a more active role campaigning on some of the issues closest to his heart. Our ‘meddlesome priest’ was already a prominent opponent of nuclear weapons, as CND’s General Secretary from 1980 to 1985, then Chair for three years, and nowadays Honorary Vice President of CND UK. In his spare time you’ll find him speaking at public meetings big and small across the capital and beyond.

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Jenny Jones settled in London in 1991. By way of contrast, Jenny had a wide range of jobs before rising to political prominence – from mucking out horse stables, through crafts teacher and office manager, to qualified archaeologist. A former Chair of the Green Party, she’s best known in London for her role as an elected member of the Greater London Assembly and as Deputy Mayor of London in 2003-4. Nowadays Jenny is Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb, the first Green Party representative in the House of Lords from where she continues to campaign on the dangers of climate change and the need to reduce greenhouse emissions. Jenny took her title from the Brighton council estate she grew up on, she tells us, and despite becoming a peer of the realm has no car and still grows her own vegetables.

Catherine West is MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, a former leader of Islington Council – and proof positive of London’s cosmopolitan character. Born and raised in Sydney, Australia, Catherine took her master's degree in Chinese politics at the School of Oriental and African Studies and worked for a time in Nanjing. As a China expert and Mandarin speaker, she’s served on Labour’s front bench as Shadow Foreign Office Minister with responsibility for Asia Pacific. Catherine is a Quaker, which perhaps helps explain her trenchant opposition to Trident and frequent appearances on CND platforms. She also keeps a wary eye on UK arms sales from the benches of the Select Committee on Arms Export Controls.