Trident rally is Britain’s biggest anti-nuclear march in a generation

Thousands of protesters including Jeremy Corbyn and other party leaders gather in London for CND march and rally

by Mark Townsend via The Guardian 

 

Leanne Wood, Nicola Sturgeon and Caroline Lucas join protesters on the anti-Trident march. Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
Leanne Wood, Nicola Sturgeon and Caroline Lucas join protesters on the anti-Trident march.
Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

 

Thousands of protesters have assembled in central London for Britain’s biggest anti-nuclear weapons rally in a generation.

Campaigners gathered from across the world: some said they had travelled from Australia to protest against the renewal of Trident. Others had come from the west coast of Scotland, where Britain’s nuclear deterrent submarines are based.

As the huge column of people began moving from Marble Arch after 1pm, the mood was buoyant and spirited despite the cold.

Naomi Young, 34, from Southampton said: “You can’t use nuclear weapons. You would destroy the environment and kill hundreds of thousands of people. Why spend £100bn to buy a weapon unless you want to destroy the earth?”

Many waved placards with phrases including “Books Not Bombs”, “Cut War Not Welfare” and “NHS Not Trident”.

A common theme among protesters was the cost of renewing Trident during a period of austerity.

Andy Pomphrey, 67, from Hampshire, said: “It’s such an excessive amount of money for a weapons system when the NHS and junior doctors, are struggling.”

Kai Carrwright, 17, from Exeter said: “We are having to pay to go to university and yet they want to spend £100bn on something that can only lead to the destruction of life on Earth.”

The campaigners headed for Trafalgar Square where were addressed by the leaders of the SNPPlaid Cymru and the Green party. The true draw – cited as an inspiration by many of those assembled – was the leader of the Labour party, Jeremy Corbyn, whose unswerving unilateralist stance has electrified the nuclear deterrent debate in a manner few could have foreseen.

Protesters gather in Trafalgar Square. Photograph: Anthony Devlin/PA
Protesters gather in Trafalgar Square. Photograph: Anthony Devlin/PA

 

Entering the stage to rapturous applause, he said that no one should forget the “absolute mass destruction on both sides” that would follow a nuclear attack and reiterated his “total horror of nuclear weapons, should they ever be used by anybody”.

Corbyn said he was elected Labour leader on a manifesto in which standing against the renewal of Trident was a key component.

He acknowledged the party’s role in the 1968 nuclear non-proliferation treaty and urged: “I want to see a Labour government that would adhere to all the articles of the non-proliferation treaty.”

The treaty had worked, given that most countries that did not have nuclear weapons at that time had not subsequently acquired them, Corbyn told the crowd. It was a credit to countries such as Argentina, South Africa and Brazil that both Africa and South America remained free of such weapons, he added.

The US, Russia and the UK signed the treaty, pledging their cooperation in stemming the spread of nuclear technology.

 

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