…this is from our colleague Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in Britain. CND is very much like Peace Action — feisty, venerable (we were founded in 1957, they formed a year later), headquartered in London but a truly national, decentralized, grassroots, effective organization. Their terrific General Secretary, Kate Hudson, wrote this article for the Hiroshima Peace Museum’s magazine.
Broadening and deepening the UK’s anti-nuclear campaign
General Secretary, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
CND has been very encouraged by the US ratification of the new START Treaty which – in spite of all the tensions associated with missile defence and tactical nuclear weapons – symbolises a continuing global desire for progress towards nuclear abolition. That desire for disarmament is strong and growing within the UK itself – polls repeatedly show a majority for scrapping Britain’s nuclear weapons system, Trident. The key issue which we have faced over the past few years has been government determination to start work on a replacement system, which would not only cost in excess of £76 billion, but would also make Britain a nuclear-armed state until 2050 and beyond. We know that is not compliant with the UK’s Article Six commitment under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Our campaigning has focused on preventing a replacement going ahead and we have been absolutely delighted that the British government has delayed the decision on replacing Trident until 2016 which is likely to be shortly after the next general election. This is extremely welcome and presents us with a huge opportunity, not only to defeat replacement once and for all but to ensure the scrapping of the existing system too. That goal is now actually on the political agenda in Britain. The fact that Trident will almost certainly be a general election issue presents us with some clear goals, notably to shift party policies in the intervening period. However, party policy/political shifts require mass popular pressure to be applied to elected representatives. They also require a further shift in public opinion against nuclear weapons on a sustainable political basis. Our goal over this year – for 2011 – is to lay the groundwork for such shifts by working to further win hearts and minds against Trident.
The economic and security issues
The wider context – the economic crisis – continues to be favourable to our work, as the government’s cuts agenda has driven nuclear spending into the public spotlight. Public opinion remains solidly against Trident spending – a situation which could change if the economic situation eases, hence we need to ensure that public opposition is increasingly underpinned by an understanding of other arguments against nuclear weapons. Whilst the cuts/costs argument will remain our primary strand – particularly in terms of opportunity cost, whether that be welfare, jobs, alternative industrial development in sustainable energy – nevertheless a strong focus on the irrelevance of Trident to meet our security needs and the proliferation consequences of its retention will be strongly emphasised. Recent government policies make these arguments easier, in particular the new National Security Strategy which reduces the threat of state nuclear attack to a tier two threat.
Extending our alliances
A key emphasis will be the renewal and extension of our alliances and partnerships within civil society. This requires work with the following: trade unions, trades union councils, faith communities, youth and student organisations, other campaigning organisations working on war, military spending, the environment, debt and developments, the economy and cuts. Our intention is to drive our anti-nuclear agenda into these areas, proactively intervening in political debates, to raise the profile of both anti-nuclear campaigning and CND itself. In this way we intend to help bring a major shift in UK nuclear policy towards total nuclear disarmament. That in turn will be our best contribution towards the goal of global abolition.