The government’s Integrated Review of security, defence, development and foreign policy, which included a 40% increase in the stockpile of nuclear warheads, was published on the 16th of March. As the ripples of outrage and disbelief spread, CND and ICAN held emergency rallies; see reports below. As well as condemnation at home, the international reaction to the decision has been a swift and overwhelmingly negative one.
At CND’s emergency on-line rally on 17th March 2021, chaired by Kate Hudson, speakers included Bruce Kent, Caroline Lucas MP, Rapper Lowkey, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Kirsten Oswald, Deputy SNP leader, Andrew Feinstein, Director of Shadow World investigations — plus the Rev Stephen Cottrell, Archbishop of York. On starting the proceedings, he expressed the outrage and disbelief of all when he said: “This is inexplicable, illogical, immoral, legally unjustifiable and flies in the face of several uncomfortable facts. Firstly, our legal obligations; secondly, the success of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) in changing the narrative across most nations in the world; thirdly, the more pressing and immediate needs in our own country as we emerge from the horrors and sorrows of Covid; and, fourthly, the fact that the best way of building security and stability in the world is to invest in international aid, not weapons of mass deception.”
The government’s stance is hard to fathom: while proposing an obscene increase in the nuclear arsenal, they insist that that they are still strongly committed to full implementation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in all its aspects, including nuclear disarmament! And have they not noticed that Presidents Biden and Putin have resumed their START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) talks? Each speaker resolved to lobby the government, and to carry on protesting (despite the measures to curb our right to do so, which are currently being proposed).
If you have access to the Internet, the rally is now available to watch at https://cnduk.org/cnds-lockdown-seminars/. CND is also calling on all supporters to write to the Prime Minister to state their opposition. You can do so easily by going to https://cnd.eaction.org.uk/timetoscraptridentnow or write to the Rt. Hon. Boris Johnson MP, The House of Commons, SW1A 0AA.
At ICAN’s emergency on-line meeting on March 18th, all the arguments articulated by the speakers in the CND meeting the day before were repeated and reinforced, along with the determination to protest and fight back. Some of the ways in which this could be done were discussed: e.g. get involved as co-sponsors of Scottish Peace Hustings on the 26th of April https://www.banthebomb.org/index.php/get-involved/elections, and use Scottish CND’s resources which have graphics, materials, and links to relevant resources to disseminate information; write letters, as many as possible — to the Prime Minister, to MPs from all parties, and to the Lords; create Nuclear Ban Communities.
There is lots of work to be done; some of us will be attending an on-line workshop with London CND about the nuclear ban communities campaign, from which we hope to bring back ideas about how we can advance the work to get our council to adopt a motion in support of the Ban Treaty.
At this stage I have a list of 32 paid-up members and another of 57 as yet not renewed, some of whom are long-term generous supporters. Of course we don’t want to lose anyone who wants to support us, to clutter up your inbox with unwanted e-mails or post newsletters you don’t want to read.
This is our third successive reminder, likely to be the last. If you have a direct payment through the bank could you please let me know when it’s for? But if you want to drop WDC/CND from your list of organisations please reply with UNSUBSCRIBE in the subject line of the next e-mail from us. No explanation needed!
But with the news of a 40% increase in UK warheads still ringing in your ears, if you do want this local contact please send me a cheque for £5 payable to WDC/CND at the address below and include your contact details. Or pay by bank transfer: NatWest Wimbledon Branch, Sort Code 60-24-06, Account Name WDC/CND, Account number 91342473. Thank you in anticipation.
WDC/CND Membership Secretary,
11 Wilberforce House,
119 Worple Road,
London SW20 8ET
On Monday 22nd March London Region held its annual AGM on Zoom. It was well attended by about 50 people and chaired by Carol Turner and Hannah Kemp-Welch, joint vice presidents. Jenny Jones of the Green Party, an Honorary Vice President, opened the meeting by highlighting the proposed 40% increase in nuclear warheads which not only goes against our commitments under the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) but is also out of step internationally with both Biden and Putin’s stated aims of supporting the NPT. She also said that the first, second and third rules of campaigning are never to give up, useful rules to remember in these difficult times on so many fronts.
As well as the usual business of an AGM of passing the minutes of the previous AGM, agreeing the accounts and voting for officers, two special motions were passed. The first, initiated because of the Covid pandemic, was to temporarily vary the London CND constitution so that committee and council meetings can be combined on Zoom. The second was to temporarily vary the number of officers and the maximum number of committee during the pandemic to include a representative from each local group. This means that we need to choose somebody for that role.
The Treasurer, Phil Sedler, pointed out that the vast majority of the income for London Region comes from standing orders. Due to the ageing demographic of the members this income fund is steadily decreasing as members die. Understandably he asked for donations to support their work. Visit https://londoncnd.org/donate if you can help.
Two further suggestions from the floor were that tax could be withheld as a protest against the increase in nuclear warheads and that each CND member should try and get 10 more people to join. Bruce Kent gave the closing address.
At the last Fête of the Earth somebody very kindly donated a linen tablecloth and napkins that had been embroidered by John Duggan. He had been a prisoner of war at Changi during WW2. As we have not been able to organise a fête for several years now and seem unlikely to do so any time soon we’ve been wondering about the best place for the tablecloth. We’d be very grateful for any background information about John Duggan. If he was a local man Wimbledon Museum might be interested in acquiring the pieces. Or alternatively if anybody would like to make a donation to Wimbledon Disarmament Coalition/CND the tablecloth and napkins is theirs.
Any help to find the pieces a new home would be much appreciated. Please let me know (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The Peace Movement is delighted that the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), together with Mwatana for Human Rights, has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize 2021. The nomination has been made by the American Friends Service Committee and Quaker Peace and Social Witness. It is hard to imagine a more deserving case for this prestigious award. CAAT have been involved for many years, campaigning and organising more and more creative demonstrations at the biannual arms fairs, which in the past few years has highlighted the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia, many of which are being used against the Yemeni people. The nomination draws attention to CAAT’s on-going work to stop these arms sales, in which the British government has been complicit.
WDC/CND has increasingly supported the events organised by CAAT at the DSEI (Defence & Security Equipment International) arms fairs in London. CAAT’s theme of banning arms sales to Saudi Arabia has featured on at least one of our monthly peace tables; we have publicised their activities and celebrated their victory at the Court of Appeal in June 2019 — a victory sadly short-lived when the government resumed issuing export licences for use in the Yemen conflict. So, the struggle for justice and peace goes on!
Last word from CAAT spokesperson, Dana Aboul Jabine:
“The arms trade enables death, destruction, and oppression around the world, and nowhere is this more evident today than in Yemen where UK-made fighter jets continue to drop UK-made bombs, killings and maiming civilians. We are grateful that this nomination intends to highlight our work towards ending UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia, and to other states pursuing war and repression.”
“We the Peoples”, committed to ending war and creating a just, peaceful and sustainable world, need a UN which has the robust support of all its member states and civil society. The UK was one of the major contributors to establishing the Organisation and has the privileged position of permanent membership on its Security Council. It could play a significant role in helping the UN achieve its aims and objectives. But the recently published Integrated Review on Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy presents us with a disturbing — to say the least — incoherence. Where/who did that title “Global Britain in a Competitive Age” come from? Is this Age more competitive than any other? Surely what the world needs in this time of multiple crises is the will to implement sound agreements and commitments.
At the Heads of Government Summit last September, the 193 UN member states, including our own, agreed to 12 commitments in response to the “Future we Want” feedback from the Secretary-General’s global conversation in the UN75 year. 1·5 million people from villages and cities throughout the world had their say and this was the outcome: “We will abide by international law and ensure justice; We will place women and girls at the centre; We will build trust; We will improve digital cooperation; We will upgrade the United Nations; We will leave no one behind; We will protect our planet; We will promote peace and prevent conflicts; We will ensure sustainable financing; We will boost partnerships; We will listen to and work with youth; and We will be prepared.”
Toward the end they promise to “show unprecedented political will and leadership”, “to strengthen coordination and global governance for the common future” and “to take this declaration to our citizens in the true spirit of We the Peoples”. https://www.un.org/pga/74/wp-content/uploads/sites/99/2020/06/200625-UN75-highlight.pdf
Two hard-won UN agreements from 2015 — the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement on Climate — give us the blueprint we need. The governments, including our own, know what they should be doing and have put it in writing. Let’s not succumb to cynicism and say words are easy; as citizens of Global Britain let’s hold our own leaders to account.
I am involved in supporting a small rural community school in western Uganda and as destiny would have it, I met someone called Nick Babb who markets the goods made by a Women’s Co-operative in the very same village, Bwindi. I speculated about whether the Co-operative could weave the CND logo into some grass table-mats, as a WDC/CND novelty. Nick took the challenge to Bwindi and after many months, I heard that the prototypes were on their way to the UK. The parcel of mats had an eventful journey: taken by a traveller the 400km to Kampala, then delayed by Covid, then held up in Germany. Finally, they were delivered to me, and were bought by one of our members. Their provenance does make them unique! I wonder what the women understood about the logo and what CND might mean to people who never leave their village, have limited ability to read and no access to TV.
Uganda is a nuclear weapon-free state, but although it has supported the UN negotiations for the TPNW all along, it has yet to sign or ratify it.
This time 10 years ago, many of us saw live TV coverage of one of the most serious nuclear incidents since Chernobyl. It was devastating: an earthquake, then a tsunami, followed by explosions that released dangerous radioactive materials into the atmosphere. 8% of the Japanese landmass was contaminated by radiation fallout, and many of the survivors have still not been able to return to their homes.
Serious problems remain at the site. Since the meltdown, highly radioactive water has been leaking out to sea — alarming both the Japanese and international communities. The continuing problems underline the constant danger that nuclear power presents due to events totally beyond the control of power station operators.
In the aftermath of Fukushima, Switzerland, Germany, Italy and France have committed to phasing out nuclear or using less of it. CND is urging the UK government to reconsider its support for building new nuclear power stations in Britain and instead to invest in truly safe, clean and sustainable forms of energy: https://cnduk.org/actions/no-to-nuclear-power-petition