CND Conference Oct 19th

Maisie and I both went to conference this year.

General Secretary Kate Hudson gave an impressive account of the work of CND central office, with activities always geared to taking the anti-nuclear campaign to a wider audience. The Rethink Trident campaign is part of this new approach ( Please sign and (more importantly) get other organisations to sign.

Lobbying parliamentary candidates is another area where we can have an influence. No major Westminster party has scrapping Trident in its manifesto but with the views of individual members of each of these parties ‘in flux’ our campaign has to move from party policies to the attitudes of individual MPs. A recent poll of Labour Party prospective parliamentary candidates showed a majority against Trident. (Jeremy Corbyn MP confirmed that most MPs are influenced by the views of their constituents.) We need to make it clear to candidates of all parties that Trident is a factor in who we chose to vote for.

Treasurer Linda Hugl gave a sobering account of national CND finances, pointing out that the current reliance on legacies to balance the books is unsustainable and the only way to avoid depleting the campaign reserves in 2015 will be to reduce staffing levels. There are small spikes in membership every so often after a specific activity (100 new members joined in the week after the Scottish referendum) but it would be a huge bonus if all members of local groups became members of CND nationally. Please consider it: £24 waged/£8 unwaged 162 Holloway Rd N7 8BR.

Heather Wakefield of UNISON spoke about cuts and the impact on local government, where her public sector union was “in the front line”: council budgets have been cut by 40% on average, and part time workers are routinely covering for full time colleagues. “£100 billion could rebuild and modernise public services,” she said.

Resolutions on Trident, the General Election, nuclear power, Iraq and NATO were all uncontroversial and will feed into future campaigning material. Council member Jenny Clegg proposed a resolution on ‘The Asia Pacific and the NPT’ and spoke powerfully about the dangers of a slide towards military rivalry between nuclear-armed US and China, a situation made worse by “the undemocratic decision of the Japanese Cabinet” to reinterpret the ‘peace clause’ in their constitution to allow the Japanese military to take part in military activity beyond its borders, a decision taken with NATO’s blessing. (In any China/Japan conflict NATO would support Japan.) “The volatility of the situation demands that all nuclear weapons states commit urgently to a policy of No First Use and the the ratification of the SE Asian Nuclear Weapons-Free Zone (recognising that China already does both).”

Christian CND’s resolution on the International Red Cross and Red Crescent applauded their ‘Four year Action Plan’ towards the elimination of nuclear weapons which focuses on the incompatibility of nuclear weapons with international humanitarian law and calls upon all members to disseminate their position. But the British Red Cross has not yet endorsed the international Action Plan and this is something we in CND can attempt to influence by approaching local Red Cross Societies with a request, or by including a request for endorsement with every personal donation we make. [Text of the Action Plan available from].

There were two resolutions on building trade union support and it was emphasised that the unions are powerful potential allies of CND. The UNITE union is a big exception to trade union support generally, because many of its members work in the nuclear and military sector. (CND is not allowed to have a stall at the UNITE conference.) Nevertheless there is support from individual UNITE members and the union supports the TUC campaign for 1 million ‘green’ jobs.

We need to campaign within the trade union movement (so join your union and maintain the links after you retire). “All CND members and branches should seek to build and sustain dialogue and relationships with local trade union branches and with their local Trade Union Council”. We can invite local unions to CND meetings and we can offer to send speakers to their meetings. We can publicise CND’s Barrow Alternatives report (which shows how Trident submarine builders’ skills can be redirected from the manufacture of weapons of mass destruction). There is important work for us to do here.

Joanna Bazley

Conscientious Objection in Kingston and Beyond

Yes, there was a lot of jingoistic pro-war fervour at the beginning of the World War I, but it was not at all one way. Keir Hardie led a large anti-war demonstration in Trafalgar Square in August 1914 and Sylvia Pankhurst and Charlotte Despard were also notable in their leading roles against war.

As early as 1915 voluntary recruitment had turned to a trickle and there were high attrition rates, so that by the beginning of 1916 the Military Service Act had been passed and was in force to enable conscription of men between the ages of 18 and 40.

Of the conscientious objectors, more than half objected on religious grounds, with other reasons such as political and ethical. They came from both middle and working class backgrounds, especially in London. There were over 20,000 objectors in the area (of which 16 came from Kingston town and over 3000 from the borough).

Some of the information has been lost — the main WW1 West London records were destroyed by the Government.

There were tribunals to hear the cases:-

  1. Local Tribunal (Kingston),
  2. Appeal Tribunal (Surrey)
  3. Central Tribunal.

Only a very few objectors were declared exempt, just 43 to start with (only one from Kingston). Eventually, following appeals, about 400 were declared exempt. Some were allowed to do Work of National Importance including such as farming. Most were handed over to the military, where those still persisting faced courts martial, military detention and prison work camps. Some agreed to serve in the Non-Combatant Corps, still in the military including wearing uniform, but providing such as labour and catering. Others, especially Quakers, were allowed to serve in the Friends Ambulance Unit, again still in military uniform, but as stretcher bearers, in ambulances or in a medical capacity. Others were permitted to work in the Friends War Victims Release Service helping with food, counselling and housing.

There were some Absolutists, who would not contribute anything to war effort. On being made to enter the military, they generally disobeyed any order. Mostly those still persisting were court martialled and sent to prison until the end of WW1. Many, forced into long days of hard labour, such as quarrying, died as a result of the harsh work and poor prison conditions.

Ben Copsey of the Peace Pledge Union (can be contacted on spoke to a group of about 20 people at a meeting arranged by the Kingston Peace Council held in Kingston Library, 10th June 2014. Ben also answered several questions from the floor including ones on the sympathies and otherwise of the relatives, the general population and the press. Families were often split. The Cabinet itself was split. Quakers were often admired for their work in the FAU, but, on the other hand, there were also ‘white feather’ campaigns and there was little fair press reporting of the tribunals and opposition to war. It should also be remembered that there were conscientious objectors throughout the country — a very large number did try to get out of conscription.

Christine Bickerstaff

Public Meeting: Arming All Sides

We host a meeting at the Mansel Road Centre on Thursday November 20th at 7·30pm, with visiting speakers from the Campaign Against the Arms Trade. Kat Hobbs writes:

“After the First World War many believed the arms trade to be a primary cause of war. The unprecedented scale of death and destruction wrought by modern weaponry led a majority of people to support disarmament and international conciliation. The Arming All Sides project brings together research and case studies of the arms trade during the WW1 period, and tells stories from activists, politicians and businessmen of the period. Join us to explore how arms companies use political influence, corruption and war scares to maximise their profits — and how we can take action to stop them today.”

Social Media and Campaigning

There will be a 'hands on' workshop at 43 Wilton Grove on Monday November 3rd at 10·30am where Harriet will help unravel the mysteries and Twitter, and explain how the social media are a powerful campaigning tool. Bring your laptop (if you have one) and give it a try.

Remembrance Sunday November 9th

This year marks a major campaigning achievement: for the first time our red/white poppy wreath will be included in the civic proceedings at Wimbledon War Memorial. A few years ago Merton UNA branch and WDC/CND were in discussion with the local Royal British Legion about the principle of white poppies which commemorate all victims of war (not just British soldiers) and send a strong message: ‘Never Again’. We explained that we thought that working for peace, for a non-militaristic approach to international conflict, was the best way to honour the dead and we found that we were all in broad agreement. Merton Civic Centre however had formerly placed a veto on our wreath but this year there is a change of heart and not only are we now invited to take part in the procession to the war memorial, but UNA and WDC/CND will be included in the official programme. The ceremony at the Wimbledon war memorial (top of Wimbledon Hill on the edge of the Common) starts at 10·40am. Please be there (wearing both your poppies).

For many years we have held an alternative ceremony at the war memorial following the civic ceremony and we have decided to continue this tradition. Actress Zulema Dene will read from the UN Charter and there will be time for poetry and reflection. White poppies are available from Joanna 8543 0362 or from the Vigil on Fridays.

TU March and Rally October 18th

This was an impressive march and rally organised by the trade unions, well run and well supported. ‘Britain needs a pay rise’ was the theme of the day and it was an opportunity for CND, Stop the War, Movement for the Abolition of War, several local Labour parties, students and the Green party to form an ‘anti-Trident bloc’ highlighting the absurdity of government claims that continued austerity is essential for the national economy — at the same time as finding money for a projected expenditure of £100 billion on a new generation of nuclear weapons. The new colour-themed placards looked good (NHS not Trident, Climates/Jobs/Homes not Trident) and there are lots of pictures on the CND website.

“Conflict and Climate Change”

We now have in stock copies of this DVD produced by the Movement for the Abolition of War (MAW). Get in touch if you want to buy/borrow a copy. It would be an excellent discussion-starter for secondary school pupils or a church/peace group, and comes with notes.

Bruce Kent in his introduction writes “MAW does not just concentrate on the cost and horrors of war, it works to remove causes and change culture. If structures of international law, governance and justice are created and strengthened, conflict can be resolved non-violently. Within our local communities that is what most of us manage most of the time. But the different causes of war are not always recognised... war and militarisation cause poverty, suffering, abuse of human rights and environmental destruction.... Whatever our specific campaigns ‘we are all in this together’.”

Pink Knitting: Wrap up Trident

Please spread the word amongst all pink knitters (pass on this card!) and put January 24th in your own diary. The great pink peace scarf was a spectacular success in August. more than covering the seven miles between the two UK atomic weapons establishments at Aldermaston and Burghfield, and generating massive local press coverage, including in our own Merton. But it failed to reach the London-based national media and so it has been decided to give portions of the scarf a final outing in Westminster. There is plenty of scarf (we shall not need the full seven miles) but what is needed is PEOPLE: a chance for those who could not manage the journey to Berkshire to see the scarf in action.


Thank you to all prompt payers: your current membership card should be attached to this newsletter. The WDC/CND membership fee (£5/£3) is very small but it represents a personal commitment to our campaign and it would be much appreciated if all forms could be returned as soon as possible.

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