Support for the Troops out of Afghanistan national demonstration on 24 October was centre stage at the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) annual conference last weekend.
In recent years CND has diversified in recognition of a world movement that links the drive for peace with the need to combat poverty, social injustice and corporate corruption.
This year’s conference delegates debated, at times fiercely, the connections between nuclear weapons, nuclear power, private profit from war and the threat of climate change.
One question on everyone’s lips, as we met on the day after president Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize, was whether this would be cover for more war. The hall was full of hope but deep concern about world leaders speaking of nuclear disarmament.
Bruce Kent suggested that the links between climate change, a new generation of nuclear power and the development of new nuclear weapons is undeniable. As a floor speaker suggested, “Nuclear energy is an open charter for the development of more nuclear weapons”.
This year, once again, trade union leaders opposed motions at the Labour Party conference calling for an end to nuclear power. Union leaders argued that jobs lost in the military and nuclear industries will not be replaced elsewhere, and therefore must be protected.
Kate Hudson, CND national chair, pointed to research showing how the skills can be used in peaceful and safe industries, creating more jobs than the nuclear industry could ever generate.
The International Confederation of Trade Unions launched a petition this year calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons.
Caroline Lucas said that the transition to green energy would create more jobs – to produce energy, per gigawatt, nuclear requires 75 jobs, gas 200 jobs, coal 300 jobs and green energy 1,000 jobs.
The conference agreed to link anti-nuclear arguments with the environmental movement and backed the climate demonstrations in London and Copenhagen due to take place in December.
CND has called a demonstration in Plymouth on 31 October, against the development of the Trident dockyard as a nuclear storage dump and recycling centre for decommissioned submarines. For details phone 07923 417868