By Eric Trevett
THE VETERAN peace campaigner Bruce Kent has started a new campaign with the aim of cancelling the Trident nuclear weapons system and its proposed replacement.
Reigate and Redhill Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, along with the local Stop the War campaign was among many around the country to host public meetings at the end of last month, addressed by Bruce Kent on this urgent topic.
He maintained that Trident is claimed not to be a first strike weapon. That means that if the order were given to release the missile, we would know that the earth had already been made virtually uninhabitable for human beings.
The local three-day peace campaign began with open air meetings in the town centres of Reigate and Redhill – the speeches interspersed with music from a small band of musicians.
Kent spent 45 minutes in both town centres, encouraging shoppers to stop and think about the issue of Trident renewal, the submarines, missiles and warheads.
He cited the cost of renewal to the taxpayer of £100 billion, and linked this cost to the reduction in funding in services to the community, and maintained state funding in education and training, public health, job opportunities, conventional Armed Services and social welfare will all be reduced to pay for Trident.
David Hilder, coordinator for the Reigate and Redhill branch of CND, which organised the day of three free public meetings, said: “Those who sympathised with his point of view were given extra literature to help expand the background, and an opportunity to sign the “Scrap Trident” petition, which will be sent to the Government at the end of the year.”
This was followed by a very well attended indoors meeting on Monday 29th April evening in St Joseph’s Church in Redhill where Bruce Kent shared the platform with a representative of the giant union Unite, who pointed out that the union’s campaign against the cuts complemented Bruce Kent’s call for the withdrawal of Trident.
Bruce Kent told the meeting that despite majority public opinion against, there is no clearly articulated political opposition to replacement, except from CND and other disarmament groups. So the Government is just attempting to go ahead with its project through a series of small steps – all of which will make it very difficult, if not impossible, to say NO when a vote comes in 2016.
Yet many, many groups and organisations strongly oppose the cuts that will make humanitarian work of all sorts so much more difficult. We are supposed to “be in this together”. We are not. The cuts will hit the poorest hardest.
But the connection between the £100 billion to be spent on Trident and these savage cuts is not being made even by charities and NGOs that work in hardest-hit sectors. Nor is any link being made with our obligation, as a country, to negotiate the elimination of all nuclear weapons.
If we replace Trident, in any shape or form, other countries will take the message from us that we think nuclear weapons improve our security. It’s an open invitation to get their own. It’s hypocrisy to say we can have them but they can’t.