On 27 February about 60,000 of us took part in a CND march from Marble Arch to Trafalgar Square to oppose the UK replacing Trident with a new nuclear missile system. We were led by SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon, Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood, Green MP and former leader Caroline Lucas and CND veteran Bruce Kent. At Trafalgar Square they and others addressed the crowd, and were joined by other speakers including Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Jeremy has belonged to CND for half a century. Of course he was going to come and speak. But some Labour MPs support Trident. For weeks they have publicly attacked their own leader, telling him that to obey his conscience would damage the party.
National defence is a matter far bigger than any one political party. Nuclear weapons account for a quarter of all UK defence spending. Jeremy, like the SNP, Plaid Cymru and Green Party, correctly treats this as a cross-party matter.
Disloyal, sectarian Labour rebels demean themselves
But Barnsley MP Michael Dugher attacks Jeremy speaking at the rally as “frankly barmy”. Barrow MP John Woodcock calls it a “terribly divisive act”. Dugher and Woodcock think nuclear weapons of mass destruction, and the reactors that supply the raw materials, keep us “safe”.
Dugher is 40 and Woodcock is 37. Neither was even born when Jeremy joined CND. They did not experience the Cuban Missile Crisis. Woodcock is too young to remember the 1957 nuclear fire just up the coast at Windscale. He and Dugher were still in primary school in 1986 when Chernobyl dumped radioactive dust over northern England.
Woodcock also thinks WMDs are vital to provide jobs for his Barrow voters who work for BAE. The truth is that Barrow has built hundreds of ships for almost 150 years, but only six of them have been nuclear missile submarines. Both New Labour and the Conservatives have savagely reduced the Royal Navy. It was promised 12 Type 45 destroyers but New Labour let it have only six. It has only 13 Type 23 frigates and they are nearly 30 years old. The Conservatives will order the future Type 26 ship but have not said how many, or few, they will let the Navy have.
I do not expect Corbyn to increase the conventional fleet of the Royal Navy. But it is untrue and immoral to claim that the UK needs weapons of mass destruction are vital to give people jobs.