CAMPAIGNING IN BRENTWOOD AGAINST TRIDENT
Brentwood Against Trident (BAT) calls upon the Government to halt all further development of Trident for the following reasons:
• Nuclear weapons provide no protection against current and actual threats to this country, such as terrorism, cyber terrorism, natural disasters, environmental damage and increasing world poverty.
• Nuclear weapons divert money away from our current problems. Trident is set to cost £100 billion over the next few years, at a time when we are having to cut essential services such as health, social services, housing and education.
• Accidents at sea where the missiles are deployed, or on land where they are transported, are a major risk and have occurred in the past due to human error or false intelligence. No-one can rule out major devastation being caused due to mistakes.
• The International Court of Justice (1996) ruled that the threat or use of nuclear weapons is contrary to the rules of International Law. The UK is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-proliferation treaty which obliges the nuclear countries to pursue disarmament negotiations in good faith. Only 9 countries (UK, USA Russia
WEATHER PERMITTING WE SHALL BE RUNNING 3 STALLS UP TO REMEMBRANCE SUNDAY. THESE WILL BE ON:
Saturday 12th October 11am – 12.30 Chapel ruins
Saturday 26th October 11am – 12.30 Chapel ruins
Saturday 9th November (Remembrance weekend)
11am – 12.30 Chapel ruins
CAN YOU JOIN US FOR ALL OR PART OF THE TIME?
China, France, India, Pakistan, Israel,
Korea) have nuclear weapons and more than 170
countries want a world-wide ban on them. The UK
should be leading this call and not recommitting to
weaponry that is controlled by the US and would
cause indiscriminate mass slaughter. We cannot
envisage any scenario where we could possibly use
these weapons against another country.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO SUPPORT THE CAMPAIGN?
The last edition of WIRE set out a programme for action in Brentwood as part of our campaign to mobilise against Trident in the build-up to the 2015 general election. Remember that it suits those who support Trident renewal NOT to have a debate about it. We want to ensure that there is a debate in Brentwood and that we challenge all parliamentary candidates as to where they stand on this.
The initiative will need to come from us, which is why we have set up our Brentwood Against Trident group in order to campaign on this very specific issue amongst people who are not members of CND. We need the support of a majority of people in the Borough if we are going to get anywhere. For the first stage we want to achieve two main things:
• Letters to our MPs, asking them their view on Trident renewal.
CAN YOU WRITE A LETTER TO YOUR MP? ENCLOSED WITH THIS WIRE IS A LETTER YOU CAN USE JUST AS IT IS. JUST FILL IN THE GAPS, SIGN AND SEND. ALTERNATIVELY WRITE YOUR OWN. PLEASE LET US KNOW/SEND US ANY REPLIES AS THE REPLIES SHOULD BE FOLLOWED UP.
• Start the regular stalls in the High Street again so that we can begin to collect signatures
If this seems like very old hat and “we’ve done this so many times before”, you are right but there is a crucial difference. We are focussing very much on a Brentwood profile this time around and are aiming to have our petition signed and endorsed by leading local citizens.
We are contacting church leaders, councillors, politicians and educationists and people from the world of sport and entertainment who live locally, asking them to endorse our aims publicly.
The letter writing will also be slightly different. When, as we expect, the MP replies with the standard party line on Trident, we then need to send follow-up letters forcing them to address issues all the issues they have not confronted ie to involve them in a debate with us.
We really hope that all of you will be able to give some active support – either by coming to the stall to sign the petition, or by writing a letter to your MP some of you have a different MP from Eric Pickles, which is fine – the more the merrier. Please keep any replies as we shall aim to collect, collate and answer them later in the Autumn.
NUCLEAR WEAPONS AND ACCIDENTS
One of the major reasons why we should object to nuclear weapons in the UK is the very real risk of a serious nuclear accident.
The secrecy surrounding nuclear weapons, justified by a need to prevent foreign espionage, has routinely been used instead to hide safety problems, cover up nuclear weapon accidents and shield defence bureaucracies from embarrassment. It has also allowed governments to take decisions about the weapons in closed meetings without the full scrutiny of parliament. A report published in 1992 by Sir Ronald Oxburgh, chief scientific adviser at the MoD, claimed that 19 accidents with nuclear weapons had occurred between 1960 and 1991 but that “none of the accidents was particularly worrisome”. And yet, recently declassified US sources have details about an accident on 17 August 1962, at an undisclosed RAF base somewhere in England when two retrorockets on a Thor missile suddenly fired while it was undergoing a routine check. The launch pad was evacuated. Fortunately, the missile’s nose cone containing the warhead had not been dislodged. The warhead was about 60 times more powerful than the bomb which destroyed Hiroshima. Worrying or not?
In January 1997 an RAF truck carrying two hydrogen bombs, swerved to avoid another vehicle on an icy Wiltshire road. It went off the road and skidded on to its side, causing a second truck behind it, also carrying two bombs, to do the same. The bombs were not damaged, but has Oxburgh started to worry now?
There is a catalogue of accidents recorded in a recent book, Command and Control, by Eric Schlosser which was reviewed in The Guardian on 14th September and, more worryingly, Schlosser points to the safety concerns surrounding the current Trident missile. A panel convened by the US Congress on Nuclear Weapons Safety concluded that the changes made to its design, in order to save space, and the type of rocket fuel and high explosive used to increase the range and decrease the weight could lead to a risk of accidental explosion and plutonium dispersal when the warheads are loaded or unloaded on the subs and when they are being transported by road between Scotland and Aldermaston. We may not even need a war to be wiped out.
TRIDENT – WHO IS IT FOR AND HOW WILL IT BE USED?
For decades meaningful debate about Trident has been stifled by maintaining deliberate ambiguity as to its purpose. It is routinely referred to as a deterrent, but it is never explained who is supposed to be deterred and how the weapons would be used should that deterrence fail. What targets would it destroy and in what circumstances? Whom is it supposed to kill? And, calling Trident a deterrent, conceals the fact that Britain has a clearly stated ‘first strike’ policy. Just to take one example: in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003, defence secretary Geoff Hoon told the commons: ‘states like Iraq can be absolutely confident that in the right conditions we would be willing to use our nuclear weapons,’ and similar statements have been made by a variety of politicians. Trident is definitely not a weapon of last resort but a means of protecting our ‘vital interests’.
A few weeks ago a vote in parliament prevented Cameron from authorising a relatively small British attack on Syria and yet a British prime minister can authorise a nuclear attack which might kill millions without public approval or parliamentary debate. The intense secrecy that surrounds nuclear war planning has hidden the devastation that would be inflicted on the targets and the random mass slaughter of the civilian population.
Due to increased costs we shall not be sending out white poppies with your WIRE this year but they will be sold (£1 each) on the 3 stalls we are holding, or you can ring Jill 01277 21671 to order them.
MARKING THE CENTENARY OF WW1
August 2014 sees the 100th anniversary of the start of
World War 1 and the government has allocated more than £50m to mark it. Cameron says that we should have “big outdoor commemorations that will unite the country in national pride” and “capture the British spirit”. This sounds a lot like the spirit that took us to war in 1914 in the first place. The ‘British spirit’ (pace Dannie Boyle’s Olympics opening ceremony) is presumably a highly militarised one where the armed forces are regularly invited to display their prowess at school fetes and other summer festivals, where young soldiers offer to pack your bags in Sainsbury’s for a donation and where we have the 4th highest military spending, as a proportion of gross national product, amongst the world’s 194 countries. Along with Greece (!) we have the highest in Europe – 2.5% GDP.
So what is an appropriate way to commemorate the mass slaughter of the First World War? London CND has organised a meeting on Wednesday, 6 November 8pm at the Conway Hall to discuss this and will be addressed by Valerie Flessati, Vice-President of Pax Christi.
It’s important to think about our response in Brentwood to what will undoubtedly be another orgy of self-congratulation for the important part we play in the world’s wars and the victims of those wars will be forgotten.
OH, WHAT A LOVELY WAR
This year is the 50th anniversary of the premiére of Joan Littlewood’s Theatre Workshop production of
Oh What a Lovely War. This is a satirical musical about WW1 and a comment against war itself. The Theatre Royal, Stratford is staging a revival between February 1 and March 15 2014 which will coincide with the 50th anniversary of the original show and 100th anniversary of the start of the war. Director is Terry Johnson, winner of nine British Theatre awards and the production aims ‘to remain true to the original while re-creating it to resonate with modern audiences’. Tickets are £6.50 – £28 from 020 8534 0310.
PROTEST AT AWE BURGHFIELD
One of our supporters, Ann Kobayashi, took part in the mass protest against Trident outside Burghfield AWE at the start of September. She has sent us this report:
With 4 other members of my Trident Ploughshares affinity group, I was arrested on Monday for an act of peaceful resistance to nuclear weapons at AWE Burghfield. Groups from Finland, Belgium, Spain, and Scotland also blockaded the 2 gates. The Spanish held out for 14 hours supported by non-arrestables playing music, singing and chanting by a Buddhist monk and nun. As usual, the Reading Friends’ Meeting House and Douai Abbey offered floor space and individuals provided beds for those unable to manage the camp or the floor.
The camp was set up at 2am on 26th on MoD land beside the Burghfield fence and, despite frequent police visits re being in breach of MoD bye-laws it hopes to be there until 7th. It was peaceful sleeping in the tent especially as we negotiated with the MoD to turn off the brightest arc lights during the night! Age ranges were 17-83 years in camp so the skills sharing groups were lively. The local Burghfield Anglican vicar brought along home-made cakes, some campers attended Sunday service and spoke to residents afterwards. There was also a Quaker meeting during the blockade. At the info. stalls set up on the approach roads we offered a special leaflet to AWE workers appealing to them to use their skills for peaceful purposes. Not many takers as they are not permitted to accept such subversive material. The police, however, did accept leaflets and our non-violence guidelines. Our all-women group aged 55-82, including one wheelchair user, was treated pretty well once police had removed our attachments and I was given a decent vegetarian curry although two of the others were not fed. We were bailed out of Burghfield and Aldermaston areas which made recovering Jean’s adapted car pretty tricky. We are in Newbury Court on 19th.
Action AWE plans to continue the campaign through to the 2016 vote unless Scottish Independence Referendum next year results in a policy change.
So lobbying our MPs and putting information out via local stalls etc. are vital in the coming months.
WOOL AGAINST WEAPONS
Do you knit? If you do why not think about contributing your skills to peace campaigner Jaine Rose’s pink scarf which she wants to stretch out between Aldermaston and Burghfield as a way of opposing government’s plans to replace the Trident .nuclear weapons system. It will need to be seven miles long and already people up and down the country are clicking their needles to do their bit. This is an imaginative way of protesting, particularly if you cannot be actively involved in CND’s other campaigns. You can ring Jaine 01453 751604 or E-mail her firstname.lastname@example.org to find out details of the wool to use and the how many stitches to cast on. You can also visit the website
http://www.woolagainstweapons.co.uk It’s a crazy idea to knit but because of that has really fired people’s imaginations and will doubtless get press attention when the time comes to stretch it the seven miles between the two nuclear research facilities. So, if you can’t get out of the house then get knitting. ‘Not in my Name’ is the message.
NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT THE INTERNATIONAL PICTURE
While we, quite rightly, concentrate on the failure of the UK to do away with its nuclear weapons the international picture is hardly any different. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri) publishes an annual assessment of the current situation among the nuclear weapons states and in its yearbook for 2013 reported that all of the five ‘legally recognised’ nuclear states were either deploying new nuclear weapons or planning to do so and ‘appeared determined to retain nuclear arsenals indefinitely.’ Altogether the nine nuclear states (including India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea) possess about 17,265 nuclear weapons between them, of which 4,400 are operational and 2,000 of them on high alert. When you think that each of these weapons is vastly more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb, then you get some sense of the dangers surrounding us.
During the time since the signing of the Nuclear Non-proliferation treaty (which obliged the nuclear states to disarm whilst the rest of the world undertook not to acquire them) the nuclear states have been constantly reminded by the World Court and by various initiatives often led by countries such as South Africa, that they are not fulfilling their obligations. In 2000 they were made to give “an unequivocal undertaking to encompass the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals” This call was supported by 146 governments (out of 194 in the world) and included 4 nuclear weapons states – China, North Korea, India and Pakistan. It is quite clear, therefore, which nations are dragging their feet on this. When you write your letter to Eric Pickles (or other MP) you might like to ask what disarmament initiatives the UK has made or intends to make. At the latest NPT review meeting held in April this year in Geneva there were no new disarmament proposals from the nuclear weapons states. This time they were challenged by South Africa, Brazil and Egypt. The latter walked out as a sign of its anger at the failure to convene the conference last year on a Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone in the Middle East. No prizes for guessing who didn’t want that conference to take place.
FASLANE PEACE CAMP
Earlier this year it was reported that the Faslane Peace Camp outside the Trident base was possibly going to have to close – after 31 years of campaigning – due to lack of support. Fortunately enough people heeded the call in June to allow the camp to continue but more campers are still needed. If you are interested in joining the camp, short term or long term, contact them on 075-117 93227 or at email@example.com
FRIDAY SOLIDARITY VIGILS
Held in support of the anti-nuclear demos in Japan, these vigils have been going since August 2012. 11am – 12.20pm outside the Japanese Embassy, 101-104 Piccadilly then on to the offices of Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) in nearby Berkeley Square for further vigil, 12.30 – 1pm.
WHAT COULD TRIDENT MONEY BE SPENT ON?
CND has recently produced an excellent leaflet detailing how the £100bn due to be spent on Trident could be put to better use. (We shall have some of these on the stalls on Saturdays.)
For example, for the same money we could fully fund all A&E services in hospitals for over 40 years, or build 150 state-of-the art hospitals, or we could employ 150,000 new nurses every year for the next 30 years. In education, with the same money, we could build 2,000 primary schools every year or scrap tuition fees for the next 30 years. In the area of housing 30,000 new homes could be built every year, creating 60,000 new jobs in construction. The list also covers transport and the environment.
As part of our Brentwood Against Trident Campaign we wished to involve schools and young people as much as possible and were delighted when several schools wanted to host a visit from Bruce Kent in April. He eventually went to Shenfield School where he addressed the 6th form and offered to return to any of the other schools. To date no school has taken up this offer but two local schools – Anglo-European and Billericay School-have booked a speaker from CND’s Peace Education unit. I attended the hour long assembly meeting at the Anglo-European and was very impressed with the participation from the 14/15 year olds. Jill Dimmock
Sat. 12th October 11am -12.30 High Street by side of Becket Chapel
BRENTWOOD CND STALL
Sat, October 12th 10am
Afghan peace Conference, Friends Meeting House, Euston Road.
Sat, October 19th 10 – 5.30
Friends Meeting House, Euston Rd
Militarisation in everyday life in the UK
Sat, 26th October 11am – 12.30 Becket Chapel
BRENTWOOD CND STALL
Wed, 6th November 8pm Conway Hall
How to mark the Centenary of WW1
Sat 9th November 11am-12.30
BRENTWOOD CND STALL
WIRE is published and printed by Brentwood CND
firstname.lastname@example.org 01277 216712