Socialist Worker

Tens of thousands join CND Stop Trident demo in London - now let’s build on it

Socialist Worker's reports throughout the day from the CND demonstration against Trident in London. Thanks to everyone who sent reports and pictures

Issue No. 2492

The huge crowd in Trafalgar Square

The huge crowd in Trafalgar Square (Pic: Aiden Lawler)


5.10pm: Great march, now let's build on it

Today’s march against Trident, which CND said was 60,000, was the biggest demonstration against nuclear weapons for many years. It is part of a more general radicalisation taking place among hundreds of thousands—perhaps millions—of people.

We saw that mood in the election of Jeremy Corbyn, in the support for refugees, in the demonstrations against the bombing of Syria and in the marches against climate change.

We can see it now in the support for the junior doctors’ strikes.

CND and Labour member Emily (centre): I joined CND after the general election because I was angry the Tories got in. I was angry that Trident didnt get debated at young Labour conference.

CND and Labour member Emily (centre): "I joined CND after the general election because I was angry the Tories got in. I was angry that Trident didn't get debated at young Labour conference." (Pic: Socialist Worker)


Across Britain many people, particularly young people, are saying enough is enough and we aren’t going to take these rotten policies and this rotten government any more.

As marchers gathered in London, some 5,000 people were marching against the closure of Huddersfield’s A&E.

The two are not separate. If the £167 billion that Trident will eventually cost was used for health and education and welfare then there would be no talk of closures and privatisation.

It’s such a boost that the leader of the Labour Party now comes to CND demos and wholeheartedly supports them.

There was real enthusiasm when Corbyn said, “Everyone who is about to make a decision on what we do about our nuclear weapons should think about the humanitarian effects on people around the world. I said if elected I would replace Trident not with a generation of nuclear weapons but with jobs that would retain that community's skills. I'm very serious about that point."

Pressure

The great mobilisation today, if followed by further activity, can build an even bigger movement, and be a powerful pressure against the Labour right.

One of the most significant speeches today was by Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the PCS union.

He cut against the pessimism and limited horizons of so many union leaders when he said, “"I want to address my colleagues in the trade union movement who are arguing that because we have to defend jobs we have to defend Trident. I say that's nonsense.

"They could be using their skills and expertise to help fight climate change. They could be building council houses. If we want to save jobs why don't we nationalise the steel industry and get them to start building wind turbines?"

On the march in London

On the march in London (Pic: Alan Kenny)


It was notable that not many other trade union leaders were there to stand against Trident and with Corbyn. They ought to get on board with the new radicalism, not run in the other direction.

Shakira Martin from the NUS was right when she said, “It's time to stand up to this government.

"That's why it's vital that you come on the Stand up to Racism demo on the 19 March, because these things are all connected. We need you on the streets."

The next step is the demonstrations on 19 March in London, Glasgow and Cardiff.

This is particularly important as the bulldozers are poised in Calais to flatten the homes of refugees, and the Tories refuse to let people in.

It was a great day today, now let’s build on it with more protests, more strikes and a stronger argument for a socialist alternative to a system that brings war, poverty and environmental disaster.



3.40pm: Trafalgar Square

Kate Hudson, general secretary of CND told the huge Trafalgar Square crowd, "I can honestly say that this is the largest anti-nuclear protest for a generation.

“If anyone tries to tell you that we're just a fringe group you know that's a lie."

The Scottish National Party’s rise in Scotland has in no small part been due to its opposition to Trident. Its leader Nicola Sturgeon said, "I listened to George Osborne in Shanghai telling us to prepare for more austerity.

“Well let me offer up one cut. Let's cut £167 billion by cutting Trident."

Raghad Tikriti from the Muslim Association of Britain said, "As a Muslim woman who wears the hijab, who has been regarded by the mindless few as a 'passive terrorist' I am here to say stop this terrorism. I say no Trident"

PCS union general secretary Mark Serwotka addressed “colleagues in the trade union movement who are arguing that because we have to defend jobs we have to defend Trident.

“I say that's nonsense. They could be using their skills and expertise to help fight climate change. They could be building council houses.

"If we want to save jobs why don't we nationalise the steel industry and get them to start building wind turbines?"

National Union Students vice president (further education) Shakira Martin asked, "Are our nuclear weapons about defending ourselves? Or are they about bullying and intimidating the rest of the world?

"It's time to stand up to this government. That's why it's vital that you come on the Stand up to Racism demo on the 19 March, because these things are all connected. We need you on the streets."

The front of the march

The front of the march (Pic: Socialist Worker)


Ibrahim, a Syrian refugee, criticised Tory David Cameron for spending millions on bombing Syria while only promising to take 20,000 refugees over five years

Ibrahim, a Syrian refugee, criticised Tory David Cameron for spending millions on bombing Syria while only promising to take 20,000 refugees over five years (Pic: Socialist Worker)


2pm: March arrives at the Trafalgar Square rally

Health workers and students marching on the demo spoke to Socialist Worker.

Danielle, a leading bursaries campaigner, said, "Its madness that were fighting to save our bursaries when Trident could fund 2.5 million student nurses.

"Bursaries are an investment into society's health and wellbeing – Trident is just pointless and deadly."

Marchers also highlighted the plight of refugees and called for more solidarity.

Syrian Ibrahim told socialist worker, "I am a refugee. I left my family a year ago to come here and find work so I can bring them here.

"But David Cameron has only promised to let in 20,000 Syrian refugees over the next five years. That's not enough.

"The government is spending millions bombing Syria. Syrians just want to live, to survive.”

Joe had come from the Isle of Wight with his daughter Lorna. "We're here to try and stop nuclear weapons," he said.

"None of the arguments make sense. It doesn't protect us and you could use the money for jobs in green energy."

 


1.30pm: "Never Again"

Thousands are on the march from Hyde Park Corner to Trafalgar Square as a dense sea of banners and placards to move off. Many are chanting "Cameron - Out, Corbyn In!" The march is very young.

Takakos message: dont do this again ever, to anybody

Takako's message: don't do this again ever, to anybody (Pic: Socialist Worker)


Sally, a young worker from Manchester, said, "I've been protesting at Aldermaston before, because I support peace.

"We shouldn't be spending money on a weapon we'll never even use."

"We also need a movement that supports Jeremy Corbyn – it can be difficult to stick to your guns without one."

Peter agreed. He has come with the Eastings and Rye Labour Party banner.

"Our membership has gone up from 470 to 1,200 - they all support Corbyn on Trident.

"We need to keep turning out to protest like this, keep the pressure up, and make our voices heard."

Takako was holding up photos of the destruction wrought by nuclear bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.

"This is what happens with nuclear weapons," she said.

"The people of Japan suffered horribly and all the survivors want is for this message to be heard: do not do this again ever, to anybody."


**Newsflash**

1.10pm: As health workers and students march against the bomb in London, 5,000 people have taken to the streets of Huddersfield over the closure of the A&E at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary 


Rachael from Birmingham

Rachael said Trident renewal is about Britain still pretending to be a major power (Pic: Socialist Worker)


Sarah from Guildford

Sarah from Guildford: Jeremy Corbyn makes sense (Pic: Socialist Worker)


Omair said, Some people are getting very rich out of weapons of war and that makes me angry.

Omair said, "Some people are getting very rich out of weapons of war and that makes me angry." (Pic: Socialist Worker)


1pm: On the march

The march has moved off from Marble Arch, heading for Trafalgar Square. Many different organisations are on it, including a block of Labour CND.

Birmingham Labour member Rachael was hopeful that the party's support for Trident could be overturned under its new leadership.

"I supported Jeremy Corbyn, and a lot of new members have joined since then because of him," she said.

"The only people who benefit from Trident are the arms industry. It's not a real deterrent, it's awaste of money.

“We can't really tell countries like Iran to get rid of their nuclear programme while we're renewing Trident.

“It's about Britain still pretending to be a major power, acting like we're still this mighty force up there with America and Russia, when we're not really and I don't think we should be."

There's a lot of excitement that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will speak at the rally in Trafalgar Square.

Sarah from Guildford has come on her first demo. "This is the first time in my life that I've supported Labour," she said. "That's because Jeremy Corbyn makes sense.

Jobs

"People talk about Trident providing jobs, but Corbyn has already set out alternatives you could spend that money on."

Paramjit from London said, "Jobs can't be used as an excuse to support Trident—what's the government doing to help steel jobs?"

As Kirsty pointed out, "You could use that money for things such as constructing wind farms in the places where Trident is made."

The Labour right and some union leaders are putting pressure on Corbyn to compromise. But people on the demo want him to stick to his guns.

Katherine said, "Sitting on the fence is not going to convince anybody.It's better to go with your convictions."

Omair said "We're here because we support Jeremy Corbyn and we like what he says. Trident is a waste of money. Some people are getting very rich out of weapons of war and that makes me angry."

Former soldiers are mustering under the banner of Veterans for Peace.

John, who was in the British army in Afghanistan said politicians were wrong to use the troops as an excuse to whip up support for the military.

"I don't have much time for nationalism or patriotism, but I don't see how it’s 'unpatriotic' not to want our young men and women to go off and die in pointless wars.

“War isn't a solution and Trident is just an extension of that madness."


The crowd assembling at Marble Arch

The crowd assembling at Marble Arch (Pic: Socialist Worker)


12.20: Thousands assembling at Marble Arch

Thousands of people have already gathered for the demonstration against Trident. The Marble Arch area is full and the crowd is spilling over into Hyde Park.

It’s a mix of young, new demonstrators and those who have been fighting against nuclear weapons for years.

There are banners from CND groups across Britain, the Student Assembly, Unison, Veterans for Peace and Momentum.

Michael, an electrician from Bristol,told Socialist Worker, "There's never any money for things like the NHS—but for war it's a blank cheque."

Jane from Shropshire is a veteran anti-nuclear campaigner. "I'm concerned about my grandchildren—I don't want them to get blown to bits," she said.

Claire Reynolds, from south London (left), said, There are much better things to spend money on than posturing and war. Helen Crawford, from Bedfordshire, said, Im angry about everything the Tories are doing, not just Trident. Theyre attacking the NHS and workers rights. This is the first march Ive been on in years.

Claire Reynolds, from south London (left), said, "There are much better things to spend money on than posturing and war." Helen Crawford, from Bedfordshire, said, "I'm angry about everything the Tories are doing, not just Trident. They're attacking the NHS and workers' rights. This is the first march I've been on in years." (Pic: Socialist Worker)


Claire, a travel agent from south east London, was on one of her first demonstrations. She says, "It can seem like it's all doom and gloom since the Tories got in, so it's really inspiring to see so many people come together like this."

Ira Deadman is just off the coach from Norwich. She told Socialist Worker, “The demo is really important today.

"I am attending because we are told we live in a time of austerity, but there is money for nuclear weapons. I am on the demonstration to challenge that."

Tim Knight-Hughes was on the same coach. He said,“I want to get rid of nuclear weapons. Skilled workers such as GMB & Unite members shouldn't be using those skills to make weapons of mass destruction.

"They should be using their skills to tackle the problems we face today such as global warming.


Dom Maelzer from Bedfordshire (right), Trident is a giant fiscal sink hole. Billions are being wasted on something that we can never use.

Dom Maelzer from Bedfordshire (right), "Trident is a giant fiscal sink hole. Billions are being wasted on something that we can never use." (Pic: Socialist Worker)


11.30am: WHO’S SPEAKING AT THE DEMO:

Trafalgar Square rally, running approx. 2.15/30 to 4pm.

Speakers list (in expected order)

Chair: Kate Hudson – General Secretary Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, (CND)

Roger McKenzie – Assistant General Secretary, UNISON

Sam Fairbairn – National Secretary, People’s Assembly against Austerity

Vanessa Redgrave – star of stage and screen

Leanne Wood – leader of Plaid Cymru, the Party of Wales

Caroline Lucas MP, Green Party

Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland

Mark Serwotka, General Secretary of the Public and Commercial Services union

Raghad Tikriti – Muslim Association of Britain

Lindsey German – convenor, Stop the War Coalition

Bruce Kent – Vice-President, CND

Danielle Tiplady – student nurse

Sharon Dolev – Israeli Disarmament Movement

Shakira Martin – Vice-President NUS (Further Education)

Rev. Giles Fraser – priest, writer and broadcaster

Christine Blower – General Secretary, National Union of Teachers

Francesca Martinez – comedian

Tariq Ali – writer and anti-war activist

Jeremy Corbyn – Leader of the Labour Party


11am: From the coaches:

PLYMOUTH: 40 on the coach including trade unionists from Plymouth Trade Union Council, Unison, PCS, UCU, NUT and Unite unions, and from Green Party, Trident Ploughshares and students from Plymouth college of art, and Plymouth University.

"I am outraged that we are seeing cuts to public services while spending billions in Trident", says Jill Narin, Napo trade union rep, and secretary of Plymouth Momentum.

"I'm angry, they're smashing up the health service while spending billions on weapons of mass destruction. We have to break this government," says Suzie Franklin, a Unison member.

"In Plymouth we have recently found plutonium on land and in water in the middle of our city of 250,000 people - all around the dock for the Trident-carrying Vanguard class submarines. It's not just about the money. This is about our health and very survival - we must stop Trident Replacement!" says Tony Staunton, CND National Council member.

Part of the delegation from Plymouth heading to London for todays march

Part of the delegation from Plymouth heading to London for today's march (Pic: Tony Staunton)


CARDIFF: “Education, health care and prison reform are all better things to spend Trident money on. Mutually assured destruction is MAD", say Shanta, Ross and Sian. "Trident? Try don't!?" says Barry Lewis from the Rhondda.

"Trident is redundant, dangerous and hugely expensive it should not be renewed," says Maggie

"This is a march for sanity," says Morien from Aberdare.

CHESTERFIELD: Over 40 people from Chesterfield and Matlock are on the coach. Moyra, secretary of the local CND group, says, “Demand unilateral disarmament. Only nine countries in the world have nuclear weapons we need Britain to make it eight!"

Tamara Coates, wife of Ken Coates, former MEP, remembers Ken setting up European Nuclear DIsarmament with the slogan “No nukes from Portugal to Poland.

She took her children on CND marches against Cruise and Pershing missiles and now her grandchild will be marching against Trident.

Lesley, secretary of East Midlands CND, feels this demo comes at a critical time to prevent global catastrophe. "A new generation is taking up the struggle, and this inspires me today".

First time demonstrator Ed says, "The £100 billion could be better spent than vaporising people. We are one world one people one love".

Rowan can’t understand why we need nuclear weapons when many rich countries don't. "We need to remember the horror of dropping bombs on Japan and say never again.”

PORTSMOUTH: Waiting at Fratton in Portsmouth for the Unison sponsored coach to the stop Trident demo in London. “They should be spending the money on things we need like the NHS instead of Trident which we dont need. Millionaire George Osborne says we have to have even more cuts yet there is always money for missiles, said Guy who converted his anti-austerity placard from PA demo in June to a CND one (pictured).

PORTSMOUTH: Waiting at Fratton in Portsmouth for the Unison sponsored coach to the stop Trident demo in London. “They should be spending the money on things we need like the NHS instead of Trident which we don't need. Millionaire George Osborne says we have to have even more cuts yet there is always money for missiles', said Guy who converted his anti-austerity placard from PA demo in June to a CND one (pictured). (Pic: Jon Woods)


EXETER: Tom Milburn, chair of Exeter CND and a Unite union member, says, “A coach is coming from Devon. We're protesting against Trident because it's a waste of money and resources when we should be investing in education, housing and welfare.

"We don't need to spend £100 billion on obsolete, archaic nuclear weapon. It's an indiscriminate weapon of mass destruction.

"It's a lie that Trident is a deterrent.

"We signed a non-proliferation treaty, we should be getting rid of nuclear weapons, not renewing Trident which will commit us to them for another 40 years.

"A lot of people in Labour and the trade union movement say, what about the jobs that Trident provides?' But there are only 6,000 jobs off a £172 billion investment, that's incredibly wasteful. Think about the amount of socially useful jobs that amount of money could create"


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