In the Senedd on 19 June, Wales’ first minister, Labour’s Carwyn Jones, said he would welcome Britain’s Trident nuclear missile submarines if an SNP government kicks the fleet out of an independent Scotland. Come to Pembroke, Carwyn said, Milford Haven awaits. Oh boy, if he did....
The peace movement in Wales reacted in outrage across its diverse and formidable range. Peace activist Mabon ap Gwynfor instigated an online petition urging the national assembly to oppose the idea of housing Trident. The petition, which remains open until 10 September, states that Wales has no appetite for Trident, would not welcome any weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), and that we do not want to see Wales militarised any further.
Plaid Cymru’s leader Leanne Wood, herself once arrested at Faslane for opposing Trident, described the first minister’s statement as ‘increasingly farcical’ and challenged him to ‘admit he was wrong and commit to a nuclear-weapon-free Wales.’ Wales Green Party leader, Pippa Bartolotti, another campaigner who has put her body on the line for peace, accused Carwyn Jones of ‘yet again fawning to the Westminster government over military contracts’, noting that the testing of military drones at Aberporth was already a bridge too far: ‘These unmanned aerial vehicles are responsible for the execution of countless innocent families in Pakistan, Gaza and beyond.’
On 6 August, peace campaigners took their objection to the heart of Welsh culture with a protest at the National Eisteddfod. To mark the 67th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima, Cymdeithas Y Cymod (the Fellowship of Reconciliation) held a service on the ‘maes’. Speakers at the subsequent rally included Stephen Thomas, chair of CND Cymru; Dylan Morgan from PAWB (People Against Wylfa B); and Bethan Williams of Cymdeithas yr Iaith (Welsh Language Society).
Bethan Williams said that Cymdeithas yr Iaith ‘see our campaigns for the Welsh language as part of a wider struggle for justice and rights for people across the world.’ She called on the people of Wales ‘to rebuild the progressive, cross-movement and cross-party coalition for a nuclear-free future for the sake of generations to come.’
The rally then marched to the Welsh government stand to register their protest over the first minister’s remarks. In an open letter to Carwyn Jones, archdruid Jim Parc Nest evoked the spirit of Waldo, the Pembrokeshire poet given the name of ‘chief poet of the peacemakers’ to warn of the terrible danger of creating a nuclear arsenal in Milford Haven.
The archdruid went on to ask the first minister: ‘What are your thoughts regarding the inhuman system of the drone aeroplanes that are being tested on another estuary in Wales, at Aberporth, the only place in the countries of Britain that provides a nesting place for these birds of death.... [T]his devilish device, the most cowardly of cowards, can kill thousands of innocent people.’
But Carwyn is not out of the woods even yet. Believing there is real political pressure on the Wales government to offer an alternative base for Trident, peace campaigners intend to re-awaken the nuclear-free movement which declared Wales the first nuclear-free country in the world in the 1980s.
A demonstration outside the Sennedd in Cardiff has been called for 4pm on 16 October. Angie Zelter, a seasoned peace campaigner who led the Faslane 365 protest against Trident, said: ‘We want to show the strength of public support for a nuclear-free Wales. Trident Ploughshares, CND Cymru and Knighton Action for Peace and Justice have agreed to work together to build a model of a Trident submarine and place it on the steps of the Senedd.’
The demonstration is expected to attract a carnival host of Rebeccas, choirs and red dragons who together – whisper it softly – are very likely to physically decommission the submarine!