Exeter CND Shows the Way

Pete Stevenson reports on a day of hope event for a world free from nuclear weapons

Exeter CND put on a fantastic event last weekend at Exeter City Football Club. Music for Peace featured over 30 musicians, dancers and poets who performed free of charge to over 100 activists in support of the campaign against Trident replacement.

Rap poets, Turkish belly dancers, Bollywood dancers, sitar and blues musicians, protest singers and a gospel choir combined to create a tremendously lively event.

Campaigning materials were distributed and white poppies plus other items from the group’s impressive peace shop sold well.

It all started at midday and ended late in the evening and included contributions from Labour Party members, trade unionists including Gerrard Sables from the North Devon Communist Party, Phil Webber from Scientists for Global Responsibility and Kate Hudson, general secretary of CND.

Sables reminded the gathering that the Morning Star had supported CND from its formation in 1958, Weber talked about the terrible destruction the use of Trident would cause internationally while Hudson urged all to support the national demonstration in London on February 27 next year.

She exposed the illogical nature of nuclear deterrence and quoted from Tony Blair’s autobiography which detailed his decision to support the renewal of Trident: “It would be good for Britain’s status in the world.”

“What a shame Blair didn’t think that providing poor communities around the world with clean water would give our country status far above purchasing a new set of pointless weapons of mass destruction,” Kate told a packed hall, adding that the cost to the public purse is now likely to be a shocking £167 billion.

On the night Exeter CND’s youth group was launched. Arthur Dart, a student at Exeter University, said that Trident should not be replaced especially in this time of so-called austerity: “As tax credits are about to be cut the government is about to propose expenditure on a new set of nuclear weapons that cannot be justified. They should be scrapped, with the money used to free students from years of debt.

“We should talk about the purchase and use of nuclear weapons to young people in schools, many of whom have no idea about them. The issue must be discussed truthfully because Trident is a set of warheads that can cause utter devastation. To label and dismiss them as a deterrent is wrong,” Dart added.

Tamsin Hummerstone from Leeds University challenge the notion of deterrence: “Nuclear weapons don’t deter enemies from attacking us. They are dangerous and countries like Germany clearly feel safe without them.”

Clara Pope-Sutherland, a 19-year-old student who travelled from Southampton to support the event, said she was impressed by the array of musical talent and was highly supportive of the youth initiative.

“The cost of Trident is ridiculous when nurses and junior doctors are so overworked and underpaid. We must scrap Trident and tax the rich to improve our economy. Replacing Trident is a great mistake because it could become a target for terrorists,” Pope-Sutherland said.

Exeter Youth CND has begun informal discussions about organising events aimed specifically at people aged 16 to 25.

A dramatic flashmob dance and choral poem will soon be performed in the city centre and young people will be involved in designing personal and customised T-shirts promoting the anti-Trident campaign to be sold in the peace shop.

The group has been approached by the blues band The Darwins, who have offered to perform a special concert in the shop as part of an initiative to attract new customers to increase sales and to spread the message of disarmament.

A large number of Morning Stars were sold at Music for Peace, several to people who had not previously seen the paper. One new reader enthused: “Wouldn’t it be great if we could all be involved in dismantling Trident — taking it apart piece by piece?!”

Jan Ross, who had supported CND for over 40 years, commented: “It was a great event and just the thing to inspire young people to join the campaign to rid our country of nuclear weapons.”

The final word came from Dart, who said that when he learned of the alarming cost to the taxpayer of replacing Trident he “wouldn’t want nuclear weapons even if they were free!”

The article first appeared in the Morning Star.

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