Welcome to Peace News, the newspaper for the UK grassroots peace and justice movement. We seek to oppose all forms of violence, and to create positive change based on cooperation and responsibility. See more

"Peace News has compiled an exemplary record... its tasks have never been more critically important than they are today." Noam Chomsky

  • facebook
  • rss
  • twitter

Whatever they vote - Trident is still wrong !

On Wednesday 14 March, the government won a House of Commons vote to replace Britain's Trident nuclear weapons. Thanks to the campaigning efforts of the peace movement, it also suffered its biggest rebellion on a domestic policy issue since Labour came to power in 1997.

Trident vote day was a busy day for anti-nuclear campaigners, with pressure being applied from all sides. From Faslane to Plymouth, people showed their opposition to Britain's weapons of mass destruction, by lobbying, demonstrating, blockading, holding vigils, setting up street stalls, and in one case shouting from the rooftops!

Many of the actions took place in or around London's Parliament Square - a stone's through from where MPs were debating the government's proposals.

Blocks, bikes and ... fish?

The day kicked off with a healthy dose of direct action when Block The Builders - more accustomed to blockading Aldermaston - brought their protest to London.

Using concrete-filled bins daubed with “Bin Trident” slogans and a very large mock Trident missile, eleven activists blockaded the road outside Parliament for almost four hours, completely stopping traffic for 35 minutes and closing all but two lanes for a further hour- and-a-half.

Meanwhile, CND supporters spent the afternoon lobbying their MPs - arguably with some success: half of all backbench Labour MPs voted against replacement, or for an amendment in favour of delay or abstained from the vote entirely.In the midst of all this, Greenpeace cyclists wearing “Tony loves WMD” T-shirts attempted to bring traffic around Parliament Square to a standstill.

Then, later on in the day, there was a critical mass-style “fish on bicycles” ride, in which many of the 100 or so riders dressed up as fish to show that “the world needs Trident like a fish needs a bicycle”.

At 5pm, in a somewhat different kind of protest, around 180 members of faith groups participated in an hour-long silent vigil.

The day's activities ended with a CND rally in Parliament Square, complete with speakers and, of course, a large police presence.

Around the country

In other parts of Britain, campaigners were no less active. In Scotland, five people attempted to occupy the roof of the Scottish Parliament and, although four were quickly arrested, one lone activist managed to climb on top of the canopy over the front of the building and unfurl a banner reading, “Whatever they vote Trident is still wrong”.

At Faslane, students from Stirling and Edinburgh universities inflated a life-size Trident missile made out of bin bags and bearing the words “Block the Bomb”.

Other Trident vote day events included an anti-Trident rally in Bradford, a day-long protest in Plymouth and vigils in York, Leicester and Bury St Edmunds.

Although the outcome of the vote was disappointing, it was not unexpected, and the campaign against Trident replacement will continue.