The campaign against Trident

IssueJune 2007
Feature by PN staff , Bruce Kent

On 19 May, the public sector union Unison sponsored a day conference in London taking forward the campaign against Britain's Trident nuclear arsenal.
PN talked to Bruce Kent the next day, and this is what he told us: “It was a very positive meeting. It lasted from 10am to 5pm, and people really stayed.
“There were over 70 people at it, and they represented quite a wide spectrum of churches, trade unions, and peace activists.
“There was no feeling that the vote in Parliament is the end of the road.
“On the contrary, Jeremy Corbyn MP and many others said that there was a long way to go [to replace Trident] and Gordon Brown is already shifting his position on various issues and distancing himself from Blair, and he's going to come up against the financial implications quite soon.”


“The most positive contribution came from Dr Alan McKinnon, who's the chair of Scottish CND. He said that he was finding it difficult in a way to grasp the fact that CND is now a partial insider rather than an outsider in the current political process in Scotland.
“SCND are having a conference with the Scottish National Party [the government] and others on the future of Trident in Scotland.
“In a way, we've never experienced being on the fringes of government before--he was very positive about that.”

Economic arguments

“The propaganda about jobs, he said, is ludicrous, because running down the Faslane Trident submarine base will produce jobs, and free up the shoreside for recreational activities--more jobs-- and there will be renewable energy projects that the money saved on the base can be used for.”
“As for Barrow, where the Trident submarines are built, people quoted a new report (Trident and Employment) by Dr Steven Schofield for Unison and CND on conversion to civilian production. The job implications for Barrow are very positive, it turns out.
“Unison, who should have the credit for making the day possible (they paid for the hall), had a speaker, Christine Durance, who took the same line on jobs.
“She stressed that we needed popular versions of the jobs reports that have come out so far, for people on the streets, not technical reports.”


“MEP Caroline Lucas was extremely good in the afternoon, describing global warming as not just a shadow on the horizon, but -- right now -- as 'an international emergency', which is shifting our perspectives on security.”

New treaty

“Gillian Reeve of Medact [the global health charity] effectively launched--with CND--a new campaign to get a nuclear weapons convention, called ICAN -- it started in Australia.
“It's an update of the 1997 text of a draft treaty, and it's introduced by Judge Weeramantry, who judged the legality of nuclear weapons when he was on the World Court in 1996.
“It is the most upbeat introduction, which at the end says: 'With nuclear weapons in front of us, we only face destruction and annihilation. With nuclear weapons behind us, we can look forward to reaching that sunlit plateau of peace and justice which has been the dream of humanity throughout the ages.'
“ICAN is a partnership campaign, to give reassurance that we can abolish all nuclear weapons, not just Trident.
“Rebecca Johnson gave a comprehensive account of the recent Vienna talks preparing for the 2010 NPT review conference. Poverty and militarism.
My own contribution was to stress the connection between militarism--Trident in particular-- and poverty.
On 2 June, there is a G8 demonstration [see Events on back page]. I urged everyone to come along with their 'abolish Trident' signs, saying, you can't be serious about debt in Africa if you are at the same time talking about spending up to £75bn on more nuclear weapons.
“About three-quarters of people put up their hands saying they could and would come along.”

Direct action

“Sian Jones of Aldermaston Women's Peace Camp and Block The Builders talked about their nonviolent direct action at Aldermaston, and about their presence at some of the company meetings of the little companies who have their finger in the pie at Aldermaston [where Britain's nuclear bombs are researched and built].
“She also showed an extremely funny picture of a line of police officers across the gate at Aldermaston. We noticed after a while that one of the 'officers' didn't have a helmet. On closer inspection it turned out to be a member of Kent Region CND wearing a fluorescent yellow jacket. For 20 minutes, the police didn't notice and lined up alongside him, guarding the base!”


“We do not forget that Margaret Beckett and others have said that the Trident decision will be revisited. There is certainly hope for the future.
“People campaign in different ways. Everyone's got the same objective, and we're all playing different instruments in the orchestra.”

Topics: Nuclear weapons
See more of: Interview