President Trump has announced plans to withdraw the United States from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. Signed in 1987 by Reagan and Gorbachev, the INF Treaty banned ground-launched nuclear missiles and led to nearly 2,700 weapons across Europe being removed, including the Cruise missiles at Greenham Common and Molesworth.
Kate Hudson, CND general secretary, said:
“This is a reckless move by Trump. Tearing up the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty will mark the end of the restraints on nuclear arsenals achieved in the 1980s. The danger is that we will see spiralling arsenals on a Cold War scale.
“We utterly condemn the Defence Secretary’s comment that the British government’s support for the US administration at this time is ‘absolutely resolute’. Britain should be voicing strong opposition to this dangerous move rather than fanning the flames that can lead to nuclear war.
“This is just the latest in a growing list of rash US positions. Only this month we saw the US ambassador to NATO threaten to use force to ‘take out’ Russian missiles in breach of the treaty. Trump has already broken received wisdom on nuclear weapons, deeming them no longer ‘defensive’ weapons but weapons that can be used in conventional warfare scenarios. Trump announced a move to develop so-called ‘usable’ nuclear weapons earlier this year.
“Trump has also withdrawn from the successful Iran nuclear deal and there is speculation that the New START Treaty signed by Obama and Medvedev may be next. We also recall the US withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002 which has done so much to damage US-Russia relations and hinder the possibility of major arms reductions.
“The INF Treaty was in large part a result of massive international protest against nuclear escalation in the 1980s, including CND protests against cruise missiles which mobilised hundreds of thousands of people. The iconic Greenham peace camp was part of that wave of protest. We stand resolutely against this return to the nuclear escalation of the Cold War and we call on all peoples once again to reject these moves.”
White poppies were first produced in 1933 by the Women’s Cooperative Guild and were designed to represent lasting peace. They are now distributed by the Peace Pledge Union, who remind us of the three elements to the meaning of white poppies: they represent remembrance for all victims of all wars, a commitment to peace and a challenge to attempts to glamorise and celebrate war.
For many years, WDC/CND marked Remembrance Sunday with a small wreath laying ceremony, when our red and white poppy wreath was placed apart from the others at the Wimbledon Common war memorial, followed by readings from poetry and part of the United Nations Charter, and a rededication to peace and a world free from nuclear weapons. Five years ago, due mainly to the persistent efforts of Joanna and Alison, our application to take part in the official ceremony was accepted and since then we have joined the parade and laid our distinctive red and white poppy wreath amongst the blaze of red wreaths contributed by other organisations in the community. This year Alison and William will be our representatives on the parade and those WDC/CND members who attend the ceremony will hopefully be wearing white poppies. We hope to see you there. White poppies will be available at the Vigil on Fridays and at the special Peace Table on 3rd November.
The Nuclear Education Trust’s report published in June this year examined experiences of defence diversification around the world. The film inspired by the 1970s Lucas Aerospace Shop Steward plan for arms conversion, the creation of a shadow minister for peace and disarmament, and growing recognition by trade unions that protecting their members’ joov18bs can go hand in hand with disarmament all indicate that diversification is once again on the agenda.
The report points to the decline in employment in the arms industry over several decades due to an automated globalised supply chain, limited increases in defence spending and the highly competitive arms export market. In 2016 the industry employed 142,000 workers, down from 155,000 in 2001 and 405,000 in 1980/81.
It is therefore not surprising that the trade unions are taking a more active part, with the TUC resolution 2017 agreeing “to work closely with the the Shadow Department for Industry in developing an overall national strategy including the possibility of conversion of defence capacity”. Then in July 2018 Unite the Union conference called for a “serious government approach to defence diversification and [urged] the Labour Party to give this the highest priority on taking office”.
The Nuclear Education Trust Report lists conditions for a successful strategy, including the necessity for workers and communities to take the lead in making decisions, political support at national, regional and local levels, the importance of early action instead of reaction to a crisis, the need to identify existing organisations, relationships and expertise and take advantage of them, efforts made to ease the transition into more competitive civil markets, and the encouragement of joint ventures and network learning.
In the present situation, made even more dangerous by Trump’s decision for the US to withdraw from its 31-year-old Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia, CND is more important than ever. We must continue to put the moral case for opposing Trident and all nuclear weapons, while building support in the trade unions and other organisations who must see the common sense of the economic argument for peace.
Greenham Common has gone down in the annals of the peace movement as one of the longest demonstrations against nuclear weapons that this country has ever seen. When the Americans first started to deploy Cruise missiles on Greenham Common in 1982 a group of women set up a camp at one of the gates. This grew into the Women’s Peace Camp. Each gate was named after a colour of the rainbow and the women endured cold, mud, evictions, police rough handling and arrests for nineteen years until the weapons were finally removed and the base closed. The play “Common Women” was written by Jill Truman and first performed at the London Fringe in 1991 under the title “The Web”. It is based on her own experience of being at Greenham. She saw at first hand how the Women’s Peace Camp not only changed the lives of the women who stayed there but also the soldiers and police officers who came into contact with them and forced a re-appraisal of the weapons themselves.
The Bow Drama Group gave a stirring reading of Common Women at Kingsley Hall as part of the centre’s 90th anniversary celebrations. Described as a “rough and ready” reading by the play’s director the cast of fifteen were aided by a variety of props which included chicken wire stretched between two high jump poles standing in for the fence. The set consisted of three merging areas Violet Gate in the centre, a family home on one side and downstage the road. The action moves between these three areas with Becky, a young school girl, at first very suspicious of the campaigners but also interested in what motivates them and finally supporting the camp. The young actors reading Becky and her younger brother Paul were especially good and the small toy dog playing the part of a police dog was a particular joy!
It was very appropriate that the play was performed at Kingsley Hall which was set up by two sisters, Doris and Maud Lester for “educational, social and recreational” purposes in memory of their brother Kingsley who was killed in WW1. The sisters were both pacifists and Muriel, in particular, worked tirelessly for the peace movement. Indeed when Gandhi visited London in 1931 he stayed at Kingsley Hall and it is now the centre for the Gandhi Foundation.
It is with much sadness that we report the death of Helen Jones, a lifelong, dedicated activist for peace and social justice. Helen had been a member of CND since its formation. She helped to form the CND branch in Wimbledon in the early 1960s and was one of the founders of Wimbledon Disarmament Coalition/CND in the cruise missile crisis of the 1980s.
Helen gave unstintingly of her time for peace campaigning, always supporting and sometimes initiating activities to inform and involve the local community in work for peace. It was her idea to have the regular Peace Table outside the library in Wimbledon which is still an important feature of our public campaigning. Whether it was joining the team who were chalking human figures on the pavements of Wimbledon to represent the dead from an atomic attack, very late on the night before our Hiroshima Day commemorations, delivering leaflets at all times and in all places, attending national and local demonstrations, or transporting people in her car to and from meetings, Helen was tireless, working always with an infectious enthusiasm.
Helen and I shared a love of folk dancing and took part in the International Folk Festival at Sidmouth every year. It was on our first trip to the festival in 1977 that we realised that Hiroshima Day fell in Festival Week. We felt that this ought not to go unnoticed so we decided to organise our own Hiroshima Day commemoration then and there. It was before the days of mobile phones, iPads and laptops, so we went in and out of the shops, acquiring paper, card, sellotape and felt tip pens, then set about writing posters and leaflets to publicise the event. The message was simple: REMEMBER HIROSHIMA! Join us on August 6th 1·30pm at the hub for a short commemoration. Bring your music, songs, poems, thoughts and prayers, or just spend some time on quiet reflection.
We posted leaflets in shops, churches and at all festival venues, and persuaded stewards to announce the event at many of the dances, concerts and workshops. We turned up on the day with no idea how many would come, but we had enough people to march along the esplanade giving out CND leaflets after the ceremony, to the accompaniment of music. Since then, this commemoration has been held every year, with varying attendances, but always involving more and more people speaking, singing, and distributing peace literature.
An important development arising from an initiative by Helen is that the Hiroshima Day event is now official and is printed in the Folk Week programme every year. She wrote to the organiser some years ago asking him to publish details in the programme of events. To my surprise he agreed and since then Hiroshima Day is included in the festival programme every year. This was no small achievement.
Tributes to Helen would not be complete with mentioning the Mordecai Vanunu campaign, in which she was passionately involved from the start. (Vanunu was the Israeli whistleblower who revealed to the world that Israel had nuclear weapons. He was drugged, abducted by Mossad agents and spent 18 years in jail, 11 of them in solitary confinement).
It is fitting to end this tribute with a comment from Ernest Rodker, the organiser of the Campaign to Free Vanunu: “During the years of campaigning Helen was a dedicated supporter of the Saturday vigil to free Vanunu outside the Israeli Embassy as well as many of the other campaign activities. She came to the vigil in all weathers. Despite the numerous campaign setbacks she was always positive and good company to be with. The campaign and its eventual success was made possible because of supporters and campaigners like Helen.“
In accordance with her wishes, Joanna did not have a public funeral, but WDC/CND will be arranging a special tribute to her on
Friday 30th November 7·30pm
at William Morris House
267, The Broadway, SW19 1SD
The event will be an informal one, with the main address being given by Bruce Kent. As well as peace, music was Joanna’s passion so we are hoping to have some live music. There will be finger food, soft drinks, tea and coffee. We hope you will be able to join us.
We’d like to be able to display at the tribute evening a collage of photos of CND activities which feature Joanna. If you have any photos, either ‘historic’ or current, could you please get in touch with Sue Jones on 8870 8874 or email her at email@example.com. Many thanks.