Download Speed the Plough Issue Number 18
We will not stand by and knit…
Questions over Iraq’s elusive weapons of mass destruction just won’t go away for Tony Blair. Are they there but we can’t see them? Are they not there but Tony really honestly thought they were?
Meanwhile, Trident Ploughshares has been in court and in prison; at the gates of naval bases and inside military fences, tirelessly pointing out the not-at-all elusive weapons of mass destruction belonging to the UK.
With a hypocrisy that grows daily more absurd, magistrates refuse to hear arguments relating to international law, while the UK is spending blood and money in Iraq under the pretence of that same law. New depths were reached when a Plymouth judge told veteran peace activist Shirley Law it was ’time to take up her knitting needles’.
All we in Trident Ploughshares can say is that knitting needles, like boltcutters, crowbars and jars of treacle, might have their place, but as tools of disarmament rather than a way of ignoring the genocidal capabilities of Trident.
As Archbishop Tutu said to the Pitstop Ploughshares activists recently (page 6), those who are derided today are hailed as the liberators of their people tomorrow.
Camps and Actions
Trident Ploughshares events:
12 – 30 April
Deadline for Disarmament
27 May – 1 June
Devonport Disarmament Camp
2 – 9 July
Aldermaston Disarmament Camp
18 August – 1 September
Coulport International Disarmament Camp
Carry on Up the Clyde
Other camps and actions
9 – 12 April
organised by Aldermaston Women’s Peace Campaign, CND & Slough4Peace
6 – 9 August
USAF Lakenheath Peace Camp
organised by Lakenheath Action Group
Coulport Camp 18th August to 1st September
The Coulport camp will be held just half a mile from the Trident warhead depot, and a few miles from Faslane naval base, home to Britain’s Trident nuclear weapon submarines. Together these bases are the main operational site for Britain’s weapons of mass destruction and deserve as much attention as protesters and disarmers can give them. Trident is a significant political issue in Scotland. The length of the camp also provides great opportunities for workshops and for networking at international level.
And So Far . . .
This will be the sixth annual summer disarmament camp. Previous Coulport camps have accounted for over 350 arrests, which is some indication of the level of activity, including blockading, cutting in, swimming into the Trident berths, painting, decorating and other improvements.
Spreading the Word
There is space for hundreds of campers at Coulport and we would like to make this one the best one ever. Why not try to get a group together from your area to come? Why not start organising now, with some special local fundraising to help with transport and other costs?
From Glasgow the campsite is just an hour’s train journey plus a half-hour bus journey. Peaton Glen Wood is about half a mile from the Coulport base, by the shores of Loch Long. There is a grassy patch at the roadside and beyond that beautiful mixed woodland.
The site provides comfortable camping space for many people. You will need your own tent and sleeping bag but communal vegan food is provided on a donation basis. We also ask for a donation from those who can afford it to cover camping costs and suggest as guide £20 for a week. During the camp we will be carrying out many disarmament actions at the Trident bases and holding workshops on nonviolence and other campaign issues. We hope you can come for the whole camp but you will be very welcome even if you can only manage some of the time.
Carry On Up The Clyde contact:
phone 08454 588 361
and in the middle of the Coulport camp…
Carry on Up the Clyde 23rd August 2004
Carry on up the Clyde will be a non-violent and peaceful mass action including blockading the gates of Faslane, fence-cutting, breaking in, and other creative ways of disrupting the base. There will also be actions at the Coulport depot, where the Trident warheads are stored. Those taking part in sitting down or locking on at the gates, or cutting fences etc, will be risking arrest but there is plenty to do for those who are “non-arrestable”.
WHY a Mass Action at the Trident Bases on the Clyde?
Faslane blockades have been an excellent way of getting more people involved in direct action against Trident and have caused considerable disruption to the work of the base. We now want to extend this to other forms of direct action and to the Coulport base as well. Carry-On takes place right in the middle of the Coulport camp and we hope that people coming to the mass action will extend their stay.
There have been a series of highly successful series of blockades at Faslane, beginning in February 1999, involving nearly 1200 arrests and attracting a good deal of public attention.
Spreading the Word
It’s time to mark this in your diary and to begin mobilising a group to come from your area, fundraising to cover travel, arranging publicity meetings etc. At the Really Big Blockade last year we had activists from Finland,Sweden, Ireland and Belgium, as well as from all over the UK. We want to see more people from Scotland
Accommodation will be mainly provided at the Trident Ploughshares campsite at Peaton Wood, near Coulport. There will also be accommodation in Glasgow, where vegan food will also be provided. There you will need sleeping bag and sleeping mat. Transport will be available on the day from Glasgow and from the Coulport camp to wherever the actions are taking place.
Carry On Up The Clyde is jointly organised by Trident Ploughshares and Scottish CND, and supported by British CND.
The new Aldermaston March, 9 – 12 April
It’s the middle of February and already 150 people have already signed up for the London to Aldermaston march this Easter. It’s nowhere near the 6,000 or more who marched to Aldermaston in 1958, and we know in our hearts that we’ll never get that many (or make that many sandwiches or find that many beds). But – following the footsteps of the original marches – we need as many marchers as possible to show that there is a real, credible and determined opposition to the development of the next generation of nuclear weapons at AWE Aldermaston.
After almost half a century of living with the bomb, have we got used to the horror?
In 1958, it was the shock of the new; it was the threat to come; now, after almost half a century of living with the bomb, we seem to have got used to the horror. We failed to stop Trident, this time we need to be up to the challenge. It’s not impossible: we’ve already won one (temporary) victory when the MOD, in February, withdrew their planning application for a new laser facility, in the face of a legal challenge.
Although we don’t know whether they’re planning a successor to Trident or low-yield “battlefield” nuclear weapons, as Donald Rumsfeld said, “These are known unknowns”. But, there are also “known knowns”: AWE’s site development strategy plan, the recruitment of new scientists, and a promise in the 2003 Defence White paper of a statement in the next parliament. Even in 1998, the Strategic Defence review stressed the need for Aldermaston to retain the capacity to test new nuclear weapons.
Any new weapons would of course contravene Article VI of the NPT, but this is about more than treaties. It is about the possibility that the “destroyer of worlds” will one day, perhaps sooner than we think, be used. There’s no mad doctrine of Mutual Assured Destruction anymore; now, we’re looking at “pre-emptive strikes” by “guided missiles and misguided men” (I’d rather quote Martin Luther King than Donald Rumsfeld).
Organised by Aldermaston Women’s Peace Camp, CND, Slough4 peace, and other local peace groups, Aldermaston2004 has to be the biggest march (outside London) the peace movement has seen since the 1980s. We won’t reach the dizzy heights of 1958, but if we have the temerity to follow in their footsteps, we need to try.
Sign up for the march at www.aldermaston2004.net, or fill in a leaflet. If your marching days are over, then see the march off from Trafalgar Square on 9th April, or come to Aldermaston on April 12th, and together we will surround the Base. And if you just can’t make it, send some money to support the march…. “We were born on this mountain, and you just can’t take our dreams away”.
Next TP Disarmament Camp at Aldermaston
2 – 9 July
Trident Ploughshares holds regular camps at Aldermaston – so don’t let the Easter March be the end of your involvement!
The next camp will be an opportunity to get to know the site, and to disrupt the work of the site by blockading entrances or entering the base. If work has begun on new buildings, it will be a good opportunity to prevent new facilities for nuclear bomb making and testing being developed. There will also be non-violence workshops; fence climbing and cutting training; and local leafleting and street stalls in Reading.
Deadline for Disarmament 12th to 30th April
Deadline for Disarmament is a two-week period in which people will publicly demand, through their MPs in the UK and British embassies and consulates abroad, that the UK government fulfil its treaty obligations to eliminate its nuclear arsenal.
We will be asking for a timetable of significant steps, culminating in the decommissioning of all our nuclear weapons. We will make it clear that if the government does not act then ordinary citizens will consider peaceful acts of disarmament and civil resistance to Trident to be essential and legitimate.
At the NPT conference in 2000 Britain made a renewed and unqualified commitment to eliminate its nuclear arsenal. But Britain’s actions have not matched its fine words. It intends to retain nuclear weapons into the foreseeable future and reserves the right to design and deploy a successor to the current Trident system. To make matters worse Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon has made it clear that Britain would use Trident against non-nuclear states if they ever used chemical or biological weapons to attack British armed forces.
This is a Trident Ploughshares campaign but is not just for Trident Ploughshares affinity groups. We hope that other groups (local CNDs, peace groups etc) will take part and thus give their moral support to direct disarmament.
Resources for Deadline for Disarmament:
or by post from John McTague on firstname.lastname@example.org
Hearts and Minds at Devonport
Next camp 27 May – 1 June
The first time Trident Ploughshares set up camp in Plymouth, to draw attention to the presence of the nuclear submarines in the Devonport dockyard, the locals kept a wary distance. Apart from a few curious children who dropped in and out of our HQ in a derelict Territorial Army barracks near the dockyard, no one came near. So we went leafleting round the houses nearby, and – amazing ! – the locals didn’t stone us. “I don’t agree with everything you say, mind.” But they took the leaflets, and were friendly.
Then two young Fins, Petter and Elisa – after walking nearly half a mile undetected through the dockyard – climbed on board Vanguard, and quietly waited there a quarter of an hour, before announcing their presence. Giant headlines appeared next day on the front page of the Plymouth Herald: “WHAT IF IT HAD BEEN AL-QAIDA ?” If we hadn’t yet convinced the people of Plymouth that nuclear weapons menace the planet, they had at least woken up to the frightening lack of security at Devonport.
From here is but a step to questioning whether a dozen nuclear reactors aboard submarines in the middle of a city of 270,000 inhabitants, can ever be safe. Thanks to the work of local campaign groups – the Plymouth TP affinity group being prominent among them – the year 2003 saw a flurry of meetings, conferences and consultations in Plymouth, all raising awareness of nuclear issues. The activist year culminated in the November actions of the Devonport Three – Matt, Sue and Shirley, whose trial was held in February.
The previous month saw the arrival of the second Devonport camp. From the plunging slope of Drake’s Hill, as we sat around our fire, lit to keep out the October chill, we looked down on a dockyard, sparkling with orange lights. Despite an intrusive police presence, and a couple of ludicrous arrests for reasons as stupid as the presence in a van of a couple of plastic tubes, campers managed to host a workshop on the disposal of disused nuclear submarines, a guided tour of the dockyard (from outside), several vigils, a few leafleting sessions, and a modest blockade of the dock gate at Camel’s Head. We leafleted outside the primary school opposite Camel’s Head, and got a sympathetic response. Workers from a factory on Drake’s Hill brought us boxes of bread. Dog walkers stopped by the camp to debate. We started to feel like part of the community.
The prevailing attitude in Plymouth still seems to be, “It’s dreadful, but what can we do?” Already a far cry, though, from what people were saying three years ago: “The heck with safety. We need the jobs.” This year could see a further shift, to: “There’s no way we’ll let them get away with this.” Trident Ploughshares camps are changing hearts and minds.
If you’ve never been to Plymouth before, or if you live there but haven’t been to the camp – or if it’s your regular stamping ground by now – come and check it out this May.
Contact Claire, on 0845 – 4588 363 or Sandra, on Or surf to Trident Ploughshares Devonport Disarmament Camp 2006
MoD consults TP on nuclear waste disposal!
Given the number of occasions that TP and the MoD have faced each other from opposite sides of the fence – literally – on the issue of nuclear weapons, it might come as a bit of a surprise to find TP talking and the MoD listening, but it’s true! As you and I have known for a while now but the MoD have only just noticed, using nuclear reactors is not a good thing – particularly when you have 11 of them sitting in submarines that you don’t need any more, parked next to schools and houses.
To get round this problem, the MoD decided to – well, you know, sort of – well …. not decide anything and let a bunch of contractors sort it all out. But, when four contractors came up with four options for four different places in the U.K., they decided to consult.
OK, enough of the cynicism. While it was definitely a bad start to allow interested contractors to tell them how to deal with the Interim Storage Of Laid-Up Submarines (ISOLUS for short) it’s 9 out of 10 to the MoD for their consultation process. As far as I know, this is the first time they have attempted consultation of any kind and they have tried hard to get it right. The consultation has been independently run by Lancaster University with a member of TP on the Steering Group, a member on the four-day working party
along with CND, Friends of the Earth and CANSAR – and open consultation at all the affected towns.
As the only person able to take four days out of their life at very short notice, I was the TP representative to the working party. The basic issues were: 1. How and where to cut the submarines up
Rosyth (Edinburgh), Nigg (Cromarty Firth) or Devonport (Plymouth) 2. How to store the radioactive parts in the reactor compartment
cut up in boxes or as the whole compartment and 3. Where to store them – Sellafield, Coulport or Dounreay.
To answer these questions we had a mixed bag of invited activists, council officers and councillors – including the ex-commodore of Coulport (!) – sitting round a table for four days. It became obvious fairly quickly that the detailed knowledge on nuclear safety lay with the activists, and it gradually emerged that we all agreed on the fundamental issues and the appropriate way forward. It was a great example of the power of peaceful dialogue that I could start the session listening to the Commodore rant about the inappropriateness of my presence and end it drinking whisky with him!
So, what did we conclude? The main points are listed below – I think they represent the will of the people – or if you prefer, a victory for common sense.
- None of the current options are acceptable. They are commercially led and based on expediency. The right site – not the most expedient site – needs to be selected.
- The existence of a nuclear waste facility is widely seen as having a negative effect on the local community. We were concerned that the MoD and contractors do not appear to recognise this.
- The national policy on radioactive waste management needs to be defined before decisions on the management of the submarine wastes are made.
- The MoD should undertake a Best Environmental, Social and Ethical Options study of the entire range of options. This assessment should then inform the selection of the sites and preferred bidders.
The full report will be posted on www.isolus.org.uk
“Ironically, her surname is Bliss.” This was a slightly grumpy police officer on the radio to his HQ. He had been taking the names of four women who were seated comfortably in the main doorway of a plush office building in a quiet street near Victoria Station in London. The door itself had been closed very effectively with a cycle chain and the women spread out a banner with the legend: “Lockheed lockout: W.M.D. Maker”. Lyn, with the ironical surname, Angela, Ann and Zelda sat down while Jane and I were in support.
Workers who had to be directed by police round to a back door naturally wanted to know what was going on and the group were very happy to tell them. Lockheed-Martin is the world’s biggest arms manufacturer and an important contributor to the Trident programme. They are probably up to their corporate neck in the new weapons development programmes. They have two floors in the building.
In due course the duty police inspector arrived and police-protester relations improved. This officer explained that no law was being broken but that the building’s owners had a right in civil law to clear the doorway so he wanted a police presence to make sure that everything remained peaceful. He arranged for the buildings managers to speak to the four women. The exchange was courteous and constructive, with the managers professing some ignorance of what the corporation was up to.
There was lots of support from passers by, one of whom said “Yes, we have been given a wonderful world and we are ballsing it up.”
The lock-out was voluntarily terminated at 2 p.m., after six hours of occupation. As we left, the two remaining Met officers said that it had been the nicest protest they had ever been at. But then, they maybe haven’t been at many, since they both looked about fifteen.
Meanwhile Carlisle Place is quiet and discreet again, with no indication of the trafficking in death behind the elegant windows. Time for another hue and cry?
TP on trial
At any one time, there are dozens of Trident Ploughshares activists awaiting trial in courts from Helensburgh to Plymouth. Going through a trial can be frustrating as magistrates and judges brush aside the Geneva Conventions Act and ignore the findings of far more senior judges, claiming that ’international law doesn’t apply’.
Archbishop Tutu’s words to the Pitstop Ploughshares group should give us all hope, however – what seems unthinkable today can quickly become reality. On a visit to Dublin, Tutu likened the Pitstop Ploughshares to the Dunne’s Stores workers who refused to handle apartheid goods. Initially, these workers were isolated and ridiculed, only to be vindicated in their contribution to the liberation of his people.
E-mail TP prisoners!
Prisoners love letters, but an e-mail is an even quicker way to send your support. E-mail the prisonerby name at: email@example.com and we’ll print it out and deliver it. For an up-to-date list of TP prisoners: Prisoner Support
Archbishop Tutu meets Pitstop Ploughshares
Karen Fallon, a TP pledger, is one of the five activists arrested for peacefully disarming a US warplane at Shannon Airport in Ireland. The plane was headed for Iraq in February 2003.
On a visit to Ireland Archbishop Tutu told the five: “I’m proud to be a human being, alive at a time when people want to stop a war in a country many miles away.”
Karen served three months in jail and is now on bail awaiting trial and the possibility of a maximum ten year sentence. Letters and donations for legal and living costs can be sent to Karen Fallon c/o Graham Kayes, Faslane Peace Camp, Shandon, near Helensburgh G48 8NT.
June 21 trial for Fairford disarmers
A few days before the start of the war on Iraq last February, Trident Ploughshares pledgers Margaret Jones and Paul Milling cut their way into Fairford Air Force base. There they disabled trucks used for carrying bombs, and tankers for fuelling the U.S. B-52 bombers waiting to attack Iraq. After lots of frustrating delays and confusions a pre-trial hearing has now been set for 26th April (probably in Bristol) at which the judge will decide what arguments, such as the legality of the war, can be made at the trial. The trial itself has been set for 21st June (also probably Bristol).
Donations for costs associated with the trial can be sent to Paul Milling, Garden Flat, Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre, 1046 Bristol Road, Birmingham B29 6LJ. (Cheques should be made payable to: The Trial Fighting Fund)
Devonport Three judge refuses to hear legal defence
Sue Brackenbury, Matt Bury and Shirley Law were found guilty at Plymouth Magistrates’ Court of going equipped to commit criminal damage. The three had
entered Devonport Dockyards in two separate actions in September 2003 carrying tools to help them peacefully disarm the Trident submarine docked there. A guilty verdict was almost inevitable after the judge refused the activists the right to put their legal defence of international law to the jury. Sue Brackenbury, who had already served the equivalent of an eight-month sentence on remand, was released after she was sentenced to six months. Matt Bury and Shirley Law were each given a 12-month conditional discharge. Each of the activists said that they will continue with their work for peace, based on the simple principles of international law – Trident is the crime, and threatens international peace.
Prison for three TP-ers in one week
Three Trident Ploughshares activists went to prison in one week for refusing to pay fines. Jane Tallents received 14 days on 10th February and was taken to Cornton Vale. On the following day Jane Smith was given seven days in Porterfield Prison, Inverness for refusing to pay a fine of £100 for her part in the mass blockade of Faslane in April 2003. And on 12th February, Ivor Birnie was also sentenced to seven days in Saughton Prison for blockading Faslane base in 2002.
Ulla Roder is still awaiting trial for disarming a Tornado jet at RAF Leuchars in Scotland in March 2003. The Free Ulla Campaign needs support and donations: see www.free-ulla.org or ring 0774 398 9146.
Recreating Trident – A Conversion of Words
Stephen Vincent Kobasa is the coordinator for the Trident Resistance
Network based in New Haven, Connecticut. Here he reflects on the ongoing
conversion of part of the US Trident submarine fleet to non-nuclear
capability. The euphemisms and twisted language of nuclear and wider
military policy cloak the reality of the dangers from nuclear weapons.
“I can add colours to the chameleon, Change shapes with Proteus for advantages, And set the murderous Machiavel to school. ”
Henry VI, Part III, (III, ii)
Given the cultural acceptance of apocalypse upon which Trident has always depended, its conversion was hardly likely to produce general outrage. But the revisions of language that have accompanied Trident’s new guise are clues to the dangers which we now face. These dangers do not, ironically enough, include the notion of nuclear weapons becoming “usable” which some commentators have seized upon. The “problem of proper use” which U.S.
Secretary of State Henry Stimson identified in 1945 as central to the firs atomic weapon has long ago been solved. How much more “usable” than Hiroshima and Nagasaki could the bomb be?
The difference between it and the weapon carried by the Enola Gay has always been one of degree, not kind. Certainly the lie of deterrence constructed during the Cold War meant nothing if the weapons would not be intentionall employed.
This notion endures in the recent UK Ministry of Defence statement which affirmed that the UK Trident system is “required” as a “minimum” deterrent, implying some tolerable level of nuclear war. The tone of anguished necessity suggests hypocrisy like that of the walrus in Through the Looking Glass, crying over the gobbled oysters. All this grief in anticipation of the mass destruction that would be so reluctantly, but deliberately, done.
What has changed in the justification for the reconfigured US Trident can be found within policy of “preventive war.” The firststrike capacity of Trident has always been its greatest value. The scale of this prevention by violence is the only difference compared with recent U.S.military interventions in Afghanistan
All the euphemisms in this new world ring hollow. The “asymmetric advantage” now so crucial to American warfare is simply another version of attacking the
defenceless. And the “target base,” approached along a “firing line” which
“minimizes overflight issues” (as if there would be any surviving diplomat to file a protest over the use of a country’s airspace without permission), has all the
pathos of the Joseph Brodsky poem in which two missiles in flight acknowledge
that “There is nothing ahead and nothing behind.
In the end, it is Thoreau’s “rule of expediency,” which allows Trident to exist. The weapon offers an illusory security, convincing most of its supposed
beneficiaries that there is no way to alter the reality it portrays. That must be the focus of our resistance: restoring the possibility of hope.
Thoughts on Armistice Day
Will we abolish war, or will war abolish us?
I’m always ambivalent about Armistice of dead soldiers (sailors and airmen), who w- or forced – to kill as well as to die ftoo little commemoration of those peopwars, who died as victims of deliberate”collateral damage”.
On visits to Austria and Germany it is sall their churches, similar lists of dlocal region to those we have on war memthe military, of course; and those who diedare remembered in the same way as thosWorld War.
Because the Nazis executed their conscieis at least one resister of the military wcontroversy, added to the named list ofone church in Austria. In the small villaname of Franz Jagerstatter is there, belfor the Nazis. Franz was executed on 9th Ato fight in Hitler’s war.
For many years now, there has been an ansmall church; and the name of Franz Jaforward for possible canonization by treligious conviction made him choose death the advice of his bishop, and despite havbeloved wife and three young children. In Nin Prague, are records of the hundreds ofight in the Nazis’ war, mostly Jehovano memorial to them of which I am aware.
Since early in the First World War, there hof conscientious objectors in Britain, altbrutally in prison. Which is just as well, objector, Walter Wright, dedicated his later yand publishing of the most powerful anti-war book that I know.
It is the diary of a young girl, Piete KFirst World War in eastern Germany. The EngliWe’ll Meet Again”. I see it as a Anne Frank, and in some ways more impoat the start, Piete was immersed in the Over the years as the casualties mounteand pathetic Russian prisoners arriving instrongly against the war – and later against all wars.
Walter Wright researched Piete’s later ltranscript, in English, of a German teher two years before she died – in 1989.dedicated to peace through dance, drama and writing.
I’ve just joined the Movement for the laureate Joseph Rotblatt, now 95, spoke at last year. He warned us of the all toonuclear weaponry, which are actually stilwell bring an end to the human “experito most of creation as well. God forbihe?