What have I done over the past month? First of all I purchased for WDC/CND a copy of “A Thorn in their Side — the Hilda Murrell Murder” by Robert Green: the story of the murder of his aunt in 1984, and the subsequent trials and misinformation which the police perpetuated over the next 25-plus years. plus the blatant (seeming) blindness about the facts of the case, rather than fantasies and seeming cover-ups which helped the case the police were trying to disseminate. I am almost finished, so it will be ready to borrow by the time you are reading this. I remember when it happened, and was convinced immediately that there was obviously some kind of connivance of the police (and?) to pretend that her death was due to a burglary which had gone wrong. The work which the author has put into this book, to prove that it was far more than that, is both astonishing and compelling.
Otherwise, I have been to meetings about the NHS and the underhanded way that the present government is trying to deny that one of their main aims is to sell off as much as possible to the private sector, including populating hospital beds with private patients, meaning many fewer beds for NHS patients. We are told that NHS ‘reform’ is all in the interests of money-saving efficiency, but we are never told why the budget to replace Trident is sacrosanct. The NHS could do with that extra £80 billion!
I have spent many hours handing out NHS leaflets, particularly about a public meeting which the Wandsworth group had arranged to discuss the issues. I was very saddened to note the amount of people — the vast majority — who walked by without even acknowledging my presence. I have handed out leaflets on many occasions for CND and Stop the War and was similarly ignored. But this time, the issue was something which immediately concerned all of us. And yet — so much apathy.
They missed a very good meeting, which I’m glad I attended. The other day one of the most active women in the movement, June Hautot, was seen on television telling Andrew Lansley exactly what she thought of him and his bill. I was not only proud of June for her audacity, but also for the poster behind her, which was a blow-up of the slogan I had invented (no self-aggrandisement here!): The NHS — when it is sold you will care!
Also, along with 9 other members of WDC/CND I went to the Tricycle Theatre to see their latest production — The Bomb, A Partial History. The Guardian called it “An astonishing achievement”. Not sure that I would go that far, but it was important and said so many things that I and the rest of you wanted to have said publicly.
A good month, I think!
This two-part series at the Tricycle Theatre, Kilburn, premiered last month and runs until April 1st. Director Nicholas Kent told the Press “We’re about to expend £80 billion renewing Trident which is a weapon that top brass don’t see a need of but we can’t spend enough on our NHS, our education and our arts”, and it is his swansong at the Tricycle before he resigns in indignation at the massive cut to their grant.
The WDC/CND party that went to a preview double bill on February 18th found it a hugely stimulating and rewarding experience, and it is pleasing to see that the mainstream newspaper critics are typically awarding the production 4 stars — even the critic of the rightwing Evening Standard who headlined his report “Bold, disturbing tale of nuclear secrets and lies”. The Times reported the plays as “sharply edited and constantly absorbing”, while the Telegraph wrote: “One leaves the theatre thrilled, chilled and deeply fearful”.
We did a spot of leafletting outside the theatre between Part 1 and Part 2, encountering reactions ranging from “good gracious, I didn’t know that CND still existed” to a heartwarming promise to rejoin CND right away.
Part 1 is largely historical while Part 2 deals with contemporary issues of proliferation. The short individual plays in each section are varied in quality and approach — some intensely serious and some verging on farce — so that there is literally something for everyone. Many (?most) of the audience will not be active campaigners and the Tricycle is to be congratulated in helping to raise awareness of the issues and stimulate debate. Do go.
Box Office: 020 7328 1000 or http://www.tricycle.co.uk
The February Newsletter carried a review of this compelling new book by Rob Green†. We have now purchased a copy for WDC/CND use, so just get in touch (8543 0362 or email@example.com) if you want to borrow it.
† Rata Books ISBN 978-0-473-19685-1 (£20 incl. P&P from CND: http://www.cnduk.org/shop or 020 7700 2393)
Details have just been released of Commander Green’s promotional Book Tour which will take him to Canterbury (with Kate Hudson) on 2nd March, Shrewsbury (with Michael Mansfield QC) on 21st March and London (with Michael Mansfield and Bruce Kent) on 23rd March: Friday 23rd March, Room 3E, University of London Union, Malet St 7·30pm. Phone Joanna 8543 0362 if you want to go up to London as a WDC/CND group.
Alison Williams (Merton UNA) and I are in preliminary discussion with a local vicar who is interested in helping set up a series of lunchtime discussions on themes of war, peace and justice, perhaps to be launched during London Peace Week next September. Topics could range as widely as pacificism, the human cost of war, poverty and environmental degradation, the UN Charter and “responsibility to protect”, the arms trade, the morality of “just war” and the paradoxes of nuclear deterrence. There are so many burning issues here which are addressed all too rarely in the context of modern party politics.
We envisage that each one hour session should be introduced by a visiting speaker (or by a panel in the case of the more controversial topics) and that at least half of the time should be taken up by contributions from the audience, so that all opinions count. We see this as an ‘awareness raising’ rather than a campaigning event and we hope that it will contribute in a small way towards breaking down the self-imposed protective barriers with which politicians are wont to surround themselves.
Politicians do not have a monopoly of moral wisdom, and often do not even have a superior knowledge of basic facts outside their specialist field. We must make our voices heard!
Don’t forget our booksale! Publicise as widely as you can, offer to help transport books. sort or sell. Donations of books can be delivered to 43 Wilton Grove in advance, or brought to the Community Centre on the day from 8am onwards.
Community Centre, St George’s Rd SW19 11am–2pm March 24th.
Thanks to my computer-literate family I have now opened a Twitter account which can be ‘followed’ @WDCCND. Note that there is no hyphen or slash in the account name (because the system didn’t like it) and that I have chosen to register under CND and Wimbledon in the hopes of being noticed outside my personal circle. Anyone with a Twitter account can use it to ‘spread the word’, so please make the most of our 21st century opportunities.
Budget Day is on 21st March and it can confidently be predicted that George Osborne will announce further deep cuts to jobs and to essential public services. On this day CND will be taking a bus tour of London (the climax of a two week advertising campaign) and visiting locations affected by the cuts. “We aim to show the government — and the public at large — that the only sensible cut that should be made is Trident.”
CND has asked for the help of local anti-cuts groups in suggesting places that should be visited on the bus tour. Please let the CND Office know if you have any suggestions (schools, hospitals, housing authorities etc.) or any other ideas. 020 7700 2393 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Two pairs of curtains, both made professionally:
Offers or viewing requests to Bob Murphy 020 8947 6548.
Rt Hon William Hague MP
Foreign & Commonwealth Office
King Charles St
London SW1A 2AH
Kate Hudson’s blog on the CND website provides useful background material http://www.cnduk.org/media/item/1318-an-attack-on-iran? and a thoughtful article was published in the Guardian (17/2/2012) by John Mueller (professor of political science at Ohio State University) http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/feb/16/iran-false-nuclear-fears/print
On Saturday 10th March London CND will be sending a coach to join a demonstration at Hinkley Point, the first of the eight proposed sites for nuclear new build. This will be the first anniversary of the Fukushima disaster and it is hoped there will ge enough demonstrators to surround the power station as a ‘human chain’, as we did at Greenham all those years ago. The Japanese reactors that went into meltdown last March are now melted through their foundations, with the result that 40 years of nuclear waste are contaminating land, sea and air.
Nuclear power only provides the UK with a sixth of its electricity and by investing in nuclear the government is starving available sustainable alternatives of funds. 344,000 people are employed in the growing German renewable energy industry — ten times the entire UK nuclear workforce.
Electricité de France (EDF) wants to build Hinkley C. Their Flamanville reactor is currently four years late and billions over budget. A third of their workforce is migrant labour and the French unions are accusing EDF of imposing a form of modern slavery.
Nuclear power was miltary in its inception, and the link between ‘civil’ and military plutonium and uranium remains indissoluble. Hinkley C is both a local, national and global issue and the local campaigners deserve our support.
The London coach leaves the Embankment at 7·30am and also picks up outside the Hammersmith Apollo at 8·15am. It will get back to London by about 9·30pm. If anybody from Wimbledon can join the coach on March 10th please get in touch as soon as possible and WDC/CND will pay the fare.
I’ve long felt that the old CND songs sung on the Aldermaston marches and similar demos could be lost forever. Nobody seems to know them nowadays, and long ago people stopped singing and playing music on marches and demos in favour of ugly shouting of slogans.
True some of these songs are written down in songbooks, some even made it to record, but many are just forgotten. The songbooks are quite obscure, and sometimes the tunes aren’t known. Well anyway I felt I should put some of them on YouTube, though I don’t claim to be a singer.
So it’s just me, voice very shaky at times, with no musical accompaniment, but it might be of interest to CND and the peace movement. These songs, or some of them at least, helped many weary feet on the 50 or so odd miles between Aldermaston and London. They raised spirits when sitting down outside a nuclear base or in a London street waiting to be arrested. They should never be forgotten; they are part of the movement’s history.
They can be found here on my YouTube channel all beginning with ‘CND songs’ which fortunately brings them to the top of the list. See: http://www.youtube.com/user/antonyjohn/search?query=CND+songs. Later I may post some Socialist songs/anthems, but these CND and peace ones are the most important, not least because so many of them are now forgotten.