global ban

45 Peace campaigners locked to railings at Parliament: video

45  peace campaigners locked on to the railings outside Parliament on Wednesday, with 40-50 supporters nearby.

The activists were highlighting the fact that the UK is refusing to enter into multi-lateral talks to begin the urgent process of eliminating nuclear weapons.

They support the current talks on the United Nations Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. 122 countries have supported this Treaty. 58 countries have signed the Treaty intending to ratify it later. Only 50 states need to ratify the Treaty for it to become law.

So far the UK, which could play a leading role, has refused to be present at the many preparatory round of negotiations.

For too long the British government has claimed that it would support multi-lateral moves for a nuclear free world. Now is the ideal opportunity for this.

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.



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.


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…”

Easter at Aldermaston with London CND

Two London CND coaches made their way to Aldermaston on Easter Sunday to celebrate CND’s 60th anniversary in traditional style, with old friends and new, including a Samba band who kept our toes tapping. HELEN MARTINS (pictured) was on board. You can read her report below, and check out our photo album here.

helen martins.jpg

Looking at the overcast sky, CND General Secretary Kate Hudson reminded us that the first Aldermaston march held in 1958 was the wettest Easter on record since 1900! Kate opened the 2018 rally at Aldermaston on 1 April and attended by several hundred people. And how much there was to commemorate and celebrate, and how the goal of global nuclear disarmament is now within reach.

Kate later paid tribute to two lifelong and much-missed activists, who died in recent weeks – Marg Behrman and Phillip Wearne – who both worked so hard for a world free of war and weapons.

Veteran campaigner Walter Wolfgang, CND Vice-President, was organiser of the first Aldermaston march. Sixty years on, he said that civilisation has not kept up with technological progress. He remembered the last leg of that march, and arriving at Aldermaston – “a place of barbarism, which remains a place of barbarism.” He talked about a current political establishment that has become frightened and is hitting out against anyone who wants to abolish nuclear weapons, but that in Jeremy Corbyn we now have the best possible Labour leader anywhere. “We now need to succeed wholly, not just half-way.”

May Chatham travelled to the rally from Manchester. Her parents took her on the first Aldermaston march: aged 16 at the time, she joined them very reluctantly. But by 1959 she had joined a direct action group and been arrested. May said she is still active. And she is still angry. She said she was at the rally in 2018 to register her protest, in particular about the ‘toddler’ international leaders who keep on saying “my toy is bigger than yours.”

Poet and patron of CND Peace Education, Antony Owen, read from his book of very moving poems The Nagasaki Elder. Anthony argued for the need to start proliferating peace, because millions of pounds are spent on nuclear weapons but peanuts on peace education.

Officiating at four weddings one afternoon in Kensington, Bruce Kent, CND Vice-President, was perplexed why bride after bride was arriving late. It turned out they had all been held up because the streets were filled with people on the first Aldermaston march. The same year, an Archbishop asked Bruce whether he thought it was OK to murder hundreds of thousands of people. Bruce thought not. The Archbishop then asked him “Isn’t it a sin then just to have the intention to do so?” Bruce agreed. Talking about deterrence, Bruce asked “Deter who? You can’t deter accidents.”

The Nuclear Information Service is a non-governmental organisation in Reading. David Cullen talked about warheads being assembled in Burghfield and the research and development work on uranium and plutonium being done at Aldermaston. Aldermaston has the 197th most powerful computer in the world and uses it to carry out virtual nuclear testing. And the Aldermaston site is continually being upgraded and expanded, with massive building plans that stretch into 2030s, creating “a footprint to keep nuclear weapons in perpetuity.”

Carol Turner, London CND Chair, then paid tribute to Helen John, who also died recently. Most famous for the women’s peace camp at Greenham, Helen was a lifelong and passionate campaigner against nuclear weapons.

Rebecca Johnson, CND Vice-President, urged people to join the regular Aldermaston peace camp, and to turn up in thousands at the demo at Faslane on 22 September. She reminded us that the original CND slogan was ‘Ban the bomb’ and that, with the UN Global Nuclear Ban Treaty, we have now – in effect and in the real world – banned the bomb! [Loud cheers at this point!] The task ahead is to get countries to sign the treaty, so it can be ratified: the vision to achieve this is to get the treaty into force in 1,000 days.

CND Chair, Dave Webb, talked about the world hanging on a thread, and that we mustn’t give up and we can’t give up. “You can’t kill the spirit”, so we need to hope, and believe – and achieve. Dave talked about a transformation of industry, with the need to work with trade unions and politicians and move towards a more caring society, and to convert Aldermaston from a war-like machine into a job diversification strategy that will benefit everyone.

After that rallying call, there was an interfaith service and the opportunity for everyone to write their personal messages of peace and tie them onto the fence.

CND… now more than ever.