Whilst doorpersons turned late comers away from a packed meeting, with no more room to stand, perenial CND favourite, Bruce Kent addressed an attentive audience at Carrs Lane Church Centre in Birmingham, on 24 April, in the run up to the General Election. Bruce said that in anti-nuclear campaigning we should concentrate on a single issue campaign. Today Trident is that issue.
Bruce asked why we are spending around £100 billion (a sum, Bruce pointed out, most people cannot even imagine) on renewing Trident submarines. Moreover, every job in the nuclear armaments industry is subsidised to the tune of £9,000 per year. Many people are now questioning what exactly Trident is for. Trident has never prevented wars. The last two decades have seen more wars than ever. The money which is spent on Trident is greater than the entire budget for world develoment. Money spent on improving the lot of other countries would forge us far more allies than Trident ever has, whilst the effects upon the environment of nuclear production, and the greater threats from nuclear disaster, would be removed. Even more worringly, owning Trident sends out a very dangerous message to non-nuclear states: in a world of big nuclear weapons the way to be ‘safe’ and to be a grown-up state is to get some nukes. Trident helps to cause world escalation of nuclear weapons, not to cure it. In particular, it has encouraged politically unstable states to develop nuclear weapons programmes.
More people than ever are now questioning the value of, and the point of, Trident. Around two thirds of the population are opposed to the renewal of the four nuclear submarines. This month alone, four generals have called for a review of Trident, to assess the real value of Trident in opposing any threat. The President of the International Red Cross called for an end to the outdated philosophy of that nuclear weapons are necessary and the Liberal-Democrats have, if elected, promised not to renew Trident.
We need a committee decision, Bruce said. The Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty calls for a convention. Now is the time to press for that convention.
Meantime, in the General Election, we need to reach as many parliamentary candidates as possible. Candidates need to understand that this is an issue which is just not going to go away. CND is on the move. The street stalls are coming back, but, these days CND, and the anti-nuclear movement is also becoming a well established presence on the internet.