Jill Beauchamp represented WDC/CND as one of a small group organised by Christian CND and Aldermaston-based Action AWE. Their trip to France was a first step in what is hoped will be a continuing Anglo-French cooperation for peace, facilitated by the French Mouvement de la Paix Dijon Group and inspired by the deplorable 2010 Teutates Treaty between the UK and France which commits to shared nuclear weapons research at Valduc and Aldermaston for the next 50 years [see July Newsletter]. A photo and TV shoot was organised by the French activists, who were absolutely delighted that the presence of ‘les Anglais’ enabled them to get excellent TV coverage.
The little procession then walked slowly around part of the perimeter of the Valduc site (obeying police instructions not to stop or take photographs) until they reached one of the entry gates where permission was given to say the Lord’s Prayer. The police even turned off their engines out of respect. (“Thy will be done” is an important message in a place where nuclear weapons would be researched for the next 50 years, said Christian CND organiser Caroline Gilbert: “not the will of our God I think”.) Most of the group, including Jill, then travelled to Paris to take part in the 4-day Mouvement de la Paix annual Hiroshima commemoration, centring on a fast between 6–9 August beside the Eiffel Tower.
Once again the French provided a warm welcome and excellent hospitality. On Hiroshima Day itself Jill took part in a procession between the Parisian Hiroshima peace memorial and the Eiffel Tower, an impressively organised wave of protesters making their way through the tourist crowds carrying placards spelling out the message ‘non aux armes nucléaires’, chanting in unison in French, German and English. Everywhere they went, the mood of the onlookers was supportive, and Jill found it an uplifting experience. It is so important to be reminded that our antinuclear campaign is an international one.
Wimbledon was also represented in France by a fine banner imaginatively designed and made by WDC/CND member Marian Dodd with the simple message ‘Nuclear weapons are immoral’. The banner returned with the signatures of French activists added to those already gathered in the UK, and plans are in hand for it to be further displayed by Christian CND.
Pictures from Valduc and Paris and links to the French media coverage are available on http://www.wdc-cnd.org.uk/Events/France.html
The project to link the two Atomic Weapons Establishment sites at Aldermaston and Burghfield in Berkshire has already been mentioned in the March Newsletter, but now with less than a year to go before the day of ‘guerilla wool-fare’ (16th August 2014) when the seven-mile knitted peace scarf is finally rolled out, it is time to make every effort to spread the word more widely.
The essential absurdity of it is part of its charm: the ultimate Non-Violent Direct Action. In August 2014 the scarf will draw attention to the continued existence of the ludicrously anachronistic bomb factories in the gentlest possible way and in the meantime “every piece of knitting is a conversation” as coordinator Jaine Rose puts it, providing an opportunity to talk about nuclear weapons with the most unlikely people and to involve people who would otherwise be politically inactive.
On Fun Day at Deen City Farm (August 24th) we used our stall to promote Wool against Weapons. The weather was atrocious but ‘green’ stalls were housed in a large marquee, so we knitted away in comfort while the rain drummed on the canvas roof, explaining what we were doing to a completely new audience of (mostly) young people.
We taught some nice teenagers to knit and sent them away with a pair of knitting needles, a ball of wool and our Newsletter. Jill displayed her nearly completed 60×100cm panel (a complex and original work of art), Sheila rediscovered a skill she had not used for many years and Joanna put in some more work on three incomplete squares, each the product of a long summer train journey.
Thousands of knitters are required for this project to become reality, and all contributions are welcome. Panels are 60×100cm “in any glorious shade of pink”, but working on a smaller scale suits many people better and Joanna will stitch together pieces of any size. Just send contributions for a WDC/CND panel to 43 Wilton Grove.
Ruth has designed an eye-catching publicity leaflet and copies can also be obtained from 43 Wilton Grove (020 8543 0362).
This year August 6th was blessed with perfect summer weather and we were able to conduct a very moving ceremony on the shores of Rushmere (Wimbledon Common). Local resident Satsuki Goto from Japanese against Nuclear spoke about the reality of the suffering inflicted on the victims of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki 68 years ago and her presence attracted several other members of the Japanese community. The churches were represented by the Rev. Andrew Wakefield and Pastor Nigel Lindsay, and Sheila Knight read from the war poems of Wilfred Owen. As dusk descended we launched a flotilla of lighted candles and in the almost still evening air the dark water became magical with reflections.
[Visit our website to see the gallery of pictures: http://www.wdc-cnd.org.uk/Photos/Hiro2013/index.htm]
On a beautiful sunny afternoon in Sidmouth, Devon, two wonderful things happened during the annual folk festival there. First of all, at noon on August 6th there was a Concert for Peace in the 1000+ seat marquee. Maisie Carter has long been hoping that such an event would happen, and finally not only has it come to pass, but it was in the week-long programme as a regular event. And so, too, was the annual Remember Hiroshima event held outside the marquee, which Maisie has been organising herself for many years. She and I and others have spent many days before the event handing out leaflets and asking singers and choir leaders to announce the ceremony. This year was different in that, at the Peace Concert, Roy Bailey and Sandra Kerr, both well-known for their wonderful singing and their songs and talks about peace, plus others, devoted the whole time to singing — and making sure that the audience joined in — songs about peace and freedom. The enthusiasm of the audience would have told anyone passing by that something wonderful and appreciated was happening inside.
Once the concert was over, a large number of people — Maisie and I included — went to a nearby open space to remember Hiroshima, and its people, and to let the world know that it must never happen again. Anyone who wanted to could sing a song or read a poem or just say something about what we must remember, and what we must fight with all our might to make sure is never allowed to occur again. A lovely woman walked among us and handed out bunches of rosemary, some people who had brought musical instruments joined in, and we all sang with passion. It was a wonderful thing to be in the midst of so many people who wanted to make the world a better place, and ensure that evil not triumph ever again.
In the midst of a wonderful week of co-operation, joy, singing, dancing, playing, laughing and eating (too much in my case!) both of these events seemed just the right place to honour those who had been killed or maimed, and to promise them that we will fight for a better future for everyone.
This year the WDC/CND AGM was held in the garden of 43 Wilton Grove, on an afternoon so hot that we erected the new gazebo to provide some shade. The Annual Report had been published in the July/August Newsletter, Treasurer Julie provided written accounts (available on request) and discussion chiefly focussed on future activities.
The existing committee was voted back en bloc with Ruth Crabb as a welcome new recruit to the Steering Group.
Additional Steering Group members: Sheila Knight, Christine Bickerstaff, Ruth Crabb.
Votes of thanks were passed to Harriet and Kathleen who do so much work behind the scenes.
We again had a very successful stall in Morden Park on August 26th, helped by ideal bank holiday weather. We had five volunteer car drivers (thank you Bob, Julie, Brian, Kathleen and Hussein!) enabling us to stock the stall with plenty of plants, bric-à-brac and books, and takings for the day totalled a magnificent £253. Stalls like this generate a lot of goodwill as well as money. Whenever we had a moment to spare we collected signatures on the Trident petition and George did a sterling job leafletting the crowds. Helpers Anne, Michael, Daphne, Joanna and Sue also deserve thanks for their hard work.
Dear Ed Miliband,
Why are you throwing away votes in advance of the next general election? If people are asked whether they want £100 billion spent on yet more nuclear weapons OR on their real needs — a decent health service, modern schools, fair pensions, affordable housing, cheap public transport and the like — the response is almost entirely one way. Not just in Scotland where over three quarters of the Scots, SNP or not, do not want Trident at all. Here in England opposition ranges from 55% to 70%.
A new Trident is needed, we are told, to add to our security. It will do nothing of the sort. It does nothing to protect us from the real threats which face us — terrorists, global warming, nuclear weapon accidents, nuclear power plant meltdowns or epidemics. It actually adds to our insecurity because if we say we need nuclear weapons for our security other countries will want their own. It does not stop proliferation — it encourages it. The risks of catastrophic accidents, too frequent now, continue.
We are told that — dread word — it means unilateralism. So what? Many times in our past we have given up weapons because they were too expensive or did not add to our security.... Unilateral actions can have very positive results. The ending of the Cold War had a lot to do with Gorbechev’s courageous near 18-month unilateral end to all Soviet nuclear weapons testing. That sign of good will helped to change the hostile West/East atmosphere. [..]
Labour Party briefings endlessly go on about multilateral negotiations without seeming to be aware how obstructive Britain has frequently been over nuclear abolition negotiations ever since the NPT was signed in 1968. Only four countries opposed the setting up in 2012 of a new UN multilateral negotiating body aimed at getting rid of all nuclear weapons. Britain was one of them. Of course we should negotiate and thus get rid of the lot globally. It is perfectly possible. A draft treaty exists. But we are not willing even to start on it.
The British people are not stupid. The Cold War is over. The threats of today are very different. A new, massively expensive Trident, with its on-going threats of mass murder, is a response to none of them. Your party conference is coming up. At least make sure that a serious debate is held on the issue. It must be based on fact, not bogus history and Union Jack waving. We can indeed help to build a fairer and more peaceful world. But not by spending billions on a new Trident.
(For the full text of this letter see http://www.cnduk.org/cnd-media/item/1728-guest-post-bruce-kent-writes-to-ed-miliband)
The government is once again welcoming the arms dealers of the world to London, and this year the DSEi Arms Fair takes place against the backdrop of ever-increasing violence and misery in the Middle East. It is salutary to remember that at the time of the last DSEi President Assad of Syria was a valued customer. If you believe that exporting weapons is both reckless and immoral make sure that your MP knows your views (write to House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA) and get in touch with the Campaign Against the Arms Trade http://www.caat.org.uk/events for the latest news of planned protests. The ‘Occupy’ movement intends to create a mass action on Sunday 8th September at noon but full details will not be made public until the last minute — for obvious reasons. See http://www.stopthearmsfair.org.uk, tel. 020 7281 0297 or stopthearmsfair on Twitter and Facebook to get involved.
Karaoke machine £20 o.n.o. Contact 020 8543 0362 for details.
We have sent some money to the Woodland Trust to dedicate three young trees in memory of our old friend Barbara Bampton who died in June. Barbara’s trees are in the George Henry Wood (Stretton, Rutland), a newly planted wood named after George Henry Sellars, a local nature-loving farmer whose generous legacy allowed the purchase of the land in 2006.
Please consider joining National CND if you are not already a member. (There is a membership form in the enclosed leaflet.) And if you are already a member, pass the leaflet on to a friend, colleague or neighbour. CND relies heavily on the size of its membership for its strength as a campaigning organisation. Numbers count!