Calderdale CND launched
in Hebden Bridge

Saturday, 9 June 2007

Yesterday evening was the launch of Calderdale CND at a crowded meeting at the Methodist Hall in Hebden Bridge.

Christine McCafferty was in the chair to welcome Kate Hudson, CND's national chair and Dave Webb of Yorkshire CND. The organisers explained to those present that they had tried hard to find someone to defend the renewal of Trident but had not been successful.

Kate Hudson applauded the biggest backbench rebellion since Labour came to power referring to the recent vote on whether to renew the Trident missilie system. Public opinion had, over recent years she told us, been steadily moving against nuclear weapons - last summer a poll showed that 59% now thought they were no longer necessary. In fact, many people who had previously supported the use of the nuclear deterrent now no longer thought such weapons she be retained, including Michael Portillo, Dennis Healey and Roy Hattersley.

Kate Hudson said that CND's arguments could be summarised into 4 main points.

  1. Moral: that is wrong to have a defense which is based upon killing thousands if not millions of innocent civilians.
  2. Legal: according to the nuclear non-proliferation treat we should be moving towards reducing dependence upon these weapons, not renewing them. CND has received an "opinion" from top barristers that further development of nuclear weapons is illegal.
  3. Costs: Ms Hudson observed that the apparent cost to Britain for addressing climate change would be in the region of 75 billion - about the same as renewing Trident.
  4. Security - if Britain re-arms it would encourage other countries to do the same. If we argue we need nuclear weapons for our own security, how can we then argue that other countries do not. Many people do not realise that Britain actually has a policy of first use, even when the "enemy" doesn't even have its own nuclear weapons.

Chris McCafferty MP said that "nobody in their right mind thinks that Trident and nuclear weapons expansion is a good idea.

There followed questions from the audience. Here are some of the many points touched upon

Treaties: There are treaties in place against chemical and biological weapons, and landmines: why not for nuclear weapons.

Fylingdales and Menwith Hill - these US bases in Yorkshire allow the US to attack without fear of retaliation. Barbara Green pointed out that the number of domes had been increasing in recent years.

The US proposed Nation Missile Defence (NMD) bases across Europe and the UK's involves both Fylingdales and Menwith Hill, and Eastern European countries such as Poland and the Czech Republic in both the operational and logistical components of NMD.

Faslane nuclear base - people have travelled to Scotland from Hebden Bridge and Calderdale to take part in this blockade which has been going for nearly a year - and are included in the number of 775 arrests since September last year.

Media - Sarah Penny pointed out that the media were not asking the right questions to the politicians. There was some discussion about this. Ms Hudson pointed out that CND activists were taking advantage of the new media, the web, YouTube, etc - and were able to communicate videos of actions very quickly in this way. Others talked about using local websites. At which point, Christine McCafferty kindly declared that in the Hebden Bridge Web "We have the best website in the world."

The Conservative Party - Sarah Penny pointed out that the Tories were changing. Would this be a good time to approach them and see if they would be prepared to revise their policies on nuclear weapons. Kate Hudson told the audience that CND had in fact written to David Cameron but that he had replied that they support the use of nuclear weapons. There were however other Tories who had changed their mind.

Poverty - the links with poverty was stressed. Christine McCafferty felt very strongly that the money could be better used to fight poverty; in particular, to help prevent half a million women a year dying in pregnancy and childbirth in Africa.

People were encouraged to join the national demonstration in Manchester on Sunday, 24th June where the Labour Party will be holding it's "Leadership Conference."

The Hebden Bridge Web will list Calderdale CND's forthcoming events in our events section


Links:

Yorkshire CND

Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament

Stop the War Coalitions

Close Menwith Hill

Faslane blockade

Video highlights from the Faslane blockade

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