The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament was founded in 1958 in response to the country’s first acquisitions of nuclear weapons. Many people could not see how nuclear weapons could make us safe. They simply meant that we were a threat to other countries, and therefore, a target. The 1960s saw a wave of successive demonstrations, especially against the Aldermaston atomic weapons establishment (i.e. bomb factory.)
In the 1980s there was a new wave of CND campaigning, in response to the impending purchase of the nuclear Cruise Missiles and nuclear Trident submarines from the U.S. and the general up-stepping of the Cold War with the Eastern Block.
The infamous publication of the Government Pamphlet Protect and Survive was probably another important factor in the revived CND movement across the country. This, bland little booklet was terrifyingly calm about the prospect of nuclear war and gave helpful advice like reminding us that no-one under 30 should go outside the house after a nuclear bomb had exploded, and that those remaining inside should be careful to attach a neat label to the toes of anyone who did happen to die.
(There is a longer history of CND here)
Birmingham CND was launched after Bruce Kent addressed a packed meeting, in the summer of 1980, at Dr Johnson House in the Birmingham City Centre and local, suburban, Birmingham Groups began to appear. First off the mark was South East Birmingham CND originally set up to cover Acocks Green, Hall Green, Yardley and Solihull.
By 1984 this group was too large to manage as one group, and had divided into three groups: Acocks Green and Yardley CND, Solihull CND and Hall Green CND. CND as an organisation grew and grew. There were many local groups (about twenty-six in Birmingham alone, loosely co-ordinated by Birmingham CND, itself affiliated to West Midlands CND. Most of these groups had regular meetings, talks, film shows, stalls, other events and newsletters. (Some of us still have fond memories of a well attended torchlight procession through Acocks Green circa 1983!) People became very well informed about nuclear issues. There were a number of enormous marches in London and other marches across the country. CND carried on through the 80’s, but with the coming down of the Berlin Wall, and the collapse of the Soviet block, combined perhaps (?) with an increasingly nervous Labour Party ever back-tracking from support, CND started to decline.
Acocks Green and Solihull CND are no more. Hall Green CND, led by the determined Ulla Grant (originally a member of South East Birmingham CND) has continued through the 90s and 200os. It is now supported by members from other areas in the original S.E. Birmingham CND.
Why are we still here?
There is still plenty to talk about. Nuclear weapons issues have NOT gone away. The wall is down, and the supposed ‘Evil Empire’, the former ‘Soviet Block’, is no more, but, at a time when the country struggles under a huge financial crisis, we still spend an obscene amount of money on maintaining nuclear weapons and particularly on Trident submarines. This is money which could be spent on school, hospitals, the environment … (fill in your favourite cause here.) If, which is doubtful, Trident ever protected us against anyone, who is Trident going to protect us against now? Terrorists? If there were ever to be a country which did seek world domination though, then the UK, with its Trident subs, would remain as a threat to be ‘dealt’ with. In the past, some argue we were protected by M.A.D. (Mutually assured destruction) meaning that (hopefully) the one side would never strike and kill a large part of its enemy’s population, and devastate its enemy’s country for centuries to come, for fear of retaliation. There may, at least, have been a certain measured caution. However, now, when, some of the regimes who now have nuclear weapons are increasingly unstable nuclear weapons could make us less safe than ever.
Moreover, whilst attention is turned to the problem of climate change, are we in danger of forgetting the heavy and long term contamination of the environment caused by nuclear waste? Nuclear power stations produce weapons grade plutonium which goes into nuclear weapons. Nuclear power-stations and nuclear weapons have always been interdependent; Siamese twins in fact, see recent article here. Cancers caused by nuclear contamination have been a concern of the anti-nuclear movement for decades. This problem is not about to go away, and a new generation of power stations will increase it. In fact there is a danger that by placing an emphasis, as some politicians do, on reducing the carbon in the atmosphere, by replacing with nuclear power, we could not only end up with more nuclear contamination in the long run, but, as this article explains, more carbon pollution in the shorter term New Nuclear Damages Climate Moreover, nuclear power stations, and nuclear weapons, carry their own burden of risk through accident (Chernobyl or Three Mile Island anyone?) Finally, what would happen if nuclear weapons fell into the hands of a dissident group?
For all of these reasons, Hall Green CND is still here. We’re still not complacent. We’re still campaigning. We are still reminding people in our neck of the woods what nuclear weapons mean. We think someone has to!
What do we do?
We have about four meetings a year, where we review recent issues and developments in the nuclear world. We lobby MP’s and other individuals. We discuss and encourage each other with individual campaigning and letter writing, we support other, larger, groups with similar aims by fund raising activities. We carry out petitions. We comment on the internet. We are there, as a supportive party of friends to go with, whenever there is an important demonstration against nuclear weapons. We also attend other demonstrations about war. We think most wars have the potential to lead to nuclear conflict. We spread the word, especially amongst our neighbours in our area, whenever we can. We are a friendly group and we also enjoy social get-togethers.
If anyone living in the South-East Birmingham or Solihull areas would like to join us please click on the down-loadable membership form line here, and complete and return: Down-loadable Membership Form
Otherwise, if you live in the UK and have lighted on our blog, but do not live in our area, please check our links below for contacting West Midlands or National CND.