Oxford people campaigned on all fronts against a dangerous, unnecessary and horrifically expensive Trident replacement.
Hundreds of Oxfordshire people, some of them more than once, contributed to the 365 day blockade of Faslane, the nuclear base in Scotland. Oxford people joined the monthly Block the Builder blockades at Aldermaston, where they build Britain's bombs. The Oxford for Peace group leafleted on new nuclear weapons many times on the Friday leafleting sessions. Two coaches went up to what was in fact a very big demonstration in London, much played down by police and media.
Elise Benjamin and I, on the Oxford Council front, persuaded the Council to pass our resolution asking our two Oxford MPs to demand a debate and to vote against a new nuclear weapon system.
Andrew Smith MP seemed to be wavering slightly earlier on in the letter writing campaign and physical lobbying, but by the end, so many people had lobbied him that he did in fact vote against, as did our other MP Lib Dem, Evan Harris.
Andrew did say to me many years ago that he could only act against nuclear weapons if he felt sure that the “man on the street” was against them. So now he may well have been convinced that, in his constituency at least, this was the case.
Where was London “man” however? On the day of the vote, the CND presence was not at all impressive. We had all assumed that London people would be massing in Parliament Square, but at least we did have a good contingent from Oxford with peace flags and banners.
A new visible campaign
So what now? The contracts have not been signed on the new system. The “man and woman on the street” needs to become politicised again and more visible all over the country as the Labour Party becomes less secure in the polls and might even reconsider its priorities.
We need a new campaign, visible and pithy, informative in a brief but effective way. To start in a small way we here in Oxford need to disseminate hundreds of car stickers so that those who travel in Oxford and further afield can carry a bright “No More Nuclear Weapons” message.
We need a new poster campaign like the ones we designed in Oxford in the 1980s that achieved national distribution and fame. Any artists or designers out there? Our posters need to be clever and informative comparing for example just the initial cost of Trident with the extra 6,000 nurses and 6,000 teachers we could have for 10 years for the same money.
Contact Oxford CND if you would like to help in poster design or would like to have car stickers or posters for cars or front windows. We need to show that this insanity must not be allowed to go ahead.