By New Worker correspondent
THOUSANDS of peace campaigners last Saturday descended on the Ministry of Defence in London and surrounded it with a giant pink woollen scarf – reputedly up to seven miles long, which had previously been used to surround the Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston.
It was certainly very long – long enough to go around not only the MoD but also the adjoining Department of Health at Richmond House and Portcullis House.
This was apt because the focus of this protest against the proposed renewal of the Trident nuclear missile system was that the money would be much better spent on the NHS – and it was the MPs in Portcullis House, an annexe of the Palace of Westminster, to whom this message was targeted.
Protesters from all over Britain began gathering at noon outside the closed main doors of the MoD. At around 1pm a group carrying the front edge of the giant scarf set off along Whitehall – with the rest of the scarf following them held up by countless protesters, ages ranging from about six to very senior citizens.
They turned left past the entrance to Westminster Tube Station opposite Big Ben, weaving in and out of crowds of curious tourists – most of whom instantly got the message and seemed to agree.
They turned left again, around the Embankment front of Portcullis House and back until the three Government buildings were entirely surrounded with pink wool.
After a long pause the protesters assembled themselves again outside the MoD and this time marched en masse with dozens of big banners back towards the Houses of Parliament and into Old Palace Yard for a rally with speeches.
CND general secretary Kate Hudson, who led the scarf carriers, said: “It's a very good amount of scarf and a very good amount of people."
She explained that the campaigners wanted to send a message to the current Government as well as the political leaders standing in the general election.
"They should know that scrapping Trident is a vote winner, not a vote loser. The British people will not stand for masses of our taxpayers' money being spent on nuclear weapons."
The protest came just days after a debate was held in the Commons on the future of Trident.
Only 37 MPs backed a motion urging the Government to abandon plans to renew Trident, which CND said showed the "gulf" between Westminster and the British public.
Ms Hudson said: "The motion against Trident replacement was defeated by 364-37 – showing just how many MPs have refused to move on from the Cold War and are even prepared to sacrifice the NHS to maintain a nuclear arsenal.
"If it's security they want, then it's illusory, taking a heavy toll both in the UK, as public services are slashed, and abroad, as states around the world are given the incentive to develop their own nuclear weapons systems.
"Over 250 MPs – including Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg – didn't cast a vote. One undoubted result will be that those re-standing (in the general election) who failed to vote will find themselves under increasing pressure.
"Millions of people around the country oppose this £100 billion monstrosity, and it's not hard to see why when military figures say Trident's useless, and when we look at just how transformative that money could be if spent on the NHS, job creation, renewable energy, housing and education.
"Trident is set to be a huge election issue, but if MPs fail to express their opinions on Trident replacement, they can expect to be punished at the ballot box in May."