Newsletter Number 8, June 2001


Join the TP August Campaign
Aldermaston in May
1. Quaker Meeting Broken Up By Police
2. Falcon Gate Blockade
3. Aldermaston – Just The Beginning
4. The Road to Aldermaston West Gate
Faslane May Carnival
News from the Courts
Glossing Greenock
1. Scottish Courts
2. English Courts
Other News
Hope and Resistance 2000
International Nuclear Weapons Abolition Day – Sunday 1 October 2000


Welcome to the eighth issue of Speed the Plough! Trident Ploughshares is a campaign to disarm the UK Trident nuclear weapons system in a nonviolent, open, peaceful and fully accountable manner. 169 people from 14 countries have pledged to disarm Trident in this way and our supporters’ database contains 1400 names, including many famous people and 79 parliamentarians. We act to uphold international humanitarian law and to expose the illegality of the Trident system.

Join the TP August Campaign at the Clyde Bases

Mass Blockade at Faslane 1st August

After the success of the blockade on February 14th, when so many people were willing to risk arrest, we want to build on the growing resistance to Trident and increase the pressure on Faslane. There will be a peaceful and nonviolent blockade of the base at 7 a.m. This is the most effective time, when the morning shift goes in. You can join in the sit-down at the gate, or support it by standing nearby without risking arrest. There will be briefing workshops (covering nonviolence and planning) on the evening of the 31st July, in Glasgow, in Helensburgh and at the Coulport campsite.

Peace Walk from Aldermaston to Faslane 26th June to 1st August

The walk will be well underway before this issue is sent out but there may still be opportunities to join its later stages or support it in some other way. For information call the walkers themselves on 0961 961559.

Camp at Coulport 1st to 14th August

Arrangements are well under way for the disarmament camp at Peaton Wood, Coulport, Scotland, from the 1st to the 14th August. The Faslane blockade and the arrival of the Walk for Peace will give us a flying start. There will be special events on Hiroshima Day, 6th August and on the 7th August we will act in solidarity with the Voices in the Wilderness protest against the Iraq sanctions. Camping is free and vegan food is on a donation basis. Any campers who are not TP Pledgers will be expected to attend one of the nonviolence workshops that will be available.

For a briefing on the blockade and camp call David on 01324 880744.

 Aldermaston in May

1. Quaker Meeting Broken Up By Police

Police physically broke up a religious Meeting for Worship held by Quakers from Hertford & Hitchin Monthly Meeting during the blockade of Aldermaston on Monday 22 May.

As soon as our coach arrived at 6am a group of police boarded it. Everyone was photographed whilst an announcement was made about the limits the police were putting on public protest. We were all given a copy of the relevant paragraph in the Public Order Act. Amongst our group were people who had never been on a demonstration before or folk whose last experience of a public demo was 20 or 30 years ago. We felt intimidated before we’d even got off the coach.

We made it clear to the police Inspector that we were not intending to do arrestable actions. We told him we were there for religious purposes and that we wanted simply to stand in silence and pray. After contacting his “Silver Commander”, he allowed us through to a green space in full view of the cars coming through Tadley Gate. But another group of police told us we could not stand there and, after we had started our silent meeting, began physically to move us. Eventually, we complied and moved to an out-of-the-way compound where they wanted us to go. Later, we held a second Meeting for Worship at the Main Gate. We felt the police action was entirely unnecessary, and were surprised that they considered us such a threat to security.

Steve Whiting

2. Falcon Gate Blockade

It was 6.45 am at last, after days of muttering out of the sides of our mouths, passing notes on scraps of paper, and assembling strange items of tools and equipment. One moment women were milling around drinking tea, and the next, four women had spirited a fifteen foot tripod from nowhere and were sprinting onto the road with it. Meanwhile, the first car to be firmly halted on the main road turned out to be a police car, whose driver sat calmly and watched the blockade unfold. Several women attached themselves inside and outside of large fibre-glass ammunition boxes, while others formed a tight knot around an arm tube.

There was a short pause while we wondered where all the huge numbers of police who had been driving around all week had got to. When the police did arrive, they handed out Section 14 notices informing us that we were doing something very naughty. Many of these notices were ripped up and scattered. On arrest, blockaders were dragged or carried rather a long way up the road to a waiting prison van, where they attempted to start processing us, including taking details and photographs, to ’speed things up’.

After release, I heard that there had been long tailbacks reaching back through Aldermaston village. I wondered about the effect of this on people who have nothing to do with the base. However, the following night, four young local people stopped by the camp, keen to discuss nuclear weapons and nonviolent demonstration. They said they had been held up in traffic for half an hour on Monday morning – but far from making any negative comment about this, it had obviously set them thinking and talking about the issues among themselves. Overall, despite some of the usual ill informed hostility, I felt the TP camp raised the local awareness of Aldermaston, leading to a high level of local interest and support.

And by the way, the tripod with its pixie on top didn’t come down until 2 pm.

Helen Harris

3. Aldermaston – Just The Beginning

So the Trident Ploughshares Camp and Blockade was a success! But this is only the beginning. We are learning as we go and TP is coming back to do more disarmament work and to really blockade this nuke factory next time. Watch this space.

The March on the Sunday was the very fluffy bit and respectable people (30 from Oxford though some of those would not call themselves respectable) walked eight miles with respectable horses, four changes of police patrols (they like to look after their feet) and lots of banners.

Despite a lot of reassurance from us and the Strathclyde Police, who they had visited, the Thames Valley Police (TVP) were very anxious. Because we advertised these events on the web they feared we would be invaded by violent louts from Holland. Why Holland? Well, the louts did not turn up, maybe because of our pledge rules about alcohol; or they just feared getting involved in discussions about the efficacy of nonviolence.

In general, although there were far too many of them, the behaviour of the police at the blockade, with a few exceptions, was calm and gentle. It took them ages to get the angle grinders and meanwhile many were willing to listen to our reasons for the action. But trying to persuade them that they too should help to reduce fear, which is one of the TVP’s aims, and join us in stopping the further production of new nukes obviously needs further work. N.B. On all their vans Thames Valley Police say they are trying to reduce crime, disorder and fear.

Sarah Lasenby

4. The Road to Aldermaston West Gate

Helensburgh District Court, midday on the 9th May 2000 Â-you could hear a pin drop. Marcus Armstrong, charged along with Louise James with swimming into a restricted zone at Faslane, closed a soul-searching, emotionally charged defence statement, asking the court how they could explain to future generations just what they did to save the planet and stop the nuclear threat. There followed the longest two minutes silence on record, punctuated by sniffles from the public and much paper shuffling by Justice of the Peace McPhail who eventually, on dismissing the question, was drowned out by an ongoing round of applause from the public. Louise followed to more applause and it was thus that I found myself two weeks later, a relatively law abiding resident of Helensburgh till then, chained and tubed, with five like-minded protesters, blockading West Gate Aldermaston A.W.E.

The decision to use karabiners and tubes in our action seemed a bit daunting to some of us at first, but Fungus persuaded us otherwise and it all turned out for the best since the equipment stopped the police trying to pull and push us apart and we were able to hold the gate shut for more than three hours. Even when special constables arrived to cut us loose we were able to hold on or let go as individuals, always it seemed that control rested with us. If we had merely linked arms then our line would almost certainly have been broken when one irate motorist decided to call our bluff and drive through the line. Only when it became apparent to him that we were unable to move did he back off. Another advantage of this tubing arrangement was that we were able to move our location at will and indeed the police cleared a way for us as we required!

The A.W.E. is ugly. Normally these establishments are cast only to the furthest reaches of the UK but to see it there in the heart of that beautiful English countryside seemed bizarre and monstrous. We were told the locals were complacent about it Â- well, that is a polite word to use, let’s work on that.

Eric Wallace

DEEP SOUTH vital vignette from The South Gate May Carnival 13/5/00

” il ne faut pas de tout pour faire un monde, il faut du bonheur et rien d’autre” – Paul Eluard.

Plinky plonky yet strangely soothing – that’s MUSIC FOR AIRPORTS. I was on a diet of Brian Eno for a week after The Bretons came and went, mistaking Prestwick airport for Glasgow, chasing runaway flights in black taxis, and plying us with Pastis. Pol, Claude, Corentin, Sebastien et Erewan , all Gauloises and garlic charm, bright-bannered and dead red. Hotbed CGT pacifists. (Apparently pacifism is still a very active term in French, while DIRECT ACTION has negative connotations , Action Directe were a far right fascist group during the war… the vagaries of tongues !). Pol’s weird Anglo-Irish accent was a result of 2 years in prison for conscientious objection to military service, and a subsequent prolonged sabbatical in Ireland. A bumping into new and kind folk all the time – Lance Goode from West Gap (the West End’s anti-poverty alliance). An invite over to his back green , delightfully jungly, where TRIDENT didn’t exist, where everybody knew the third verse of the Internationale, and there was uisge beatha a go-go.

MAY carnival : so that the sheer liquid vividness of life will laugh out loud.

MAY carnival : a day of reversal – a green light to revelry and mischief. Summertime and the livin’ is sure easier than February and the waterproof love-ins. A marked contrast to the usual pissing down protest weather . As the corporation double-decker bounced along Great Western I did feel that old Cliff Richard Summer Holiday routine coming on. Lots of folk took bustcards and filled in personal details, ever extending Jane’s database. With its riviera vista over the Gareloch a-glitter, the South Gate beckoned.


Service with a smile (orangey drinks, yummy flapjack things, and the odd slab of buttered bread) from Helensburgh CND. Powerful primal beats from all-women drummers Commotion who gave it laldy at the gates, Brian stealing the H-bomb’s thunder, a bi-lingual presentation by the French delegation, amazing carnival dancing and cavorting by a troupe of Basques, resplendent in the most amazing costumes made from rubber tyres, hub caps etc, David in Gandhi gear, and sweat-streaked euphoric dancing, bopping till we dropped!

MAY carnival: a festival of fertility and earthy eroticism. Traditionally young men and women went to the woods the night before Mayday to find a suitable maypole “grooving the dark earthy groves vicarless and knickerless” in search of a sturdy trunk. Our El had been on the case though. Up came an erection made with love in Lochgoilhead. More of a totem than a mere pole, with sea creatures, birds and cute beasts all the way up, crowned by a golden sun. And the revellers danced round it – weaving patterns of creative chaos, ably accompanied by the strumming Steve & a string of fingerlickin’ fiddlers (Panda, Fungus, & Jenny). At the appointed hour, cleverly liaising with the North gate and a run on the Barricades by riot grrl Morag, nine whirling dervishes laid the pole to rest across the middle of the road, punched holes into the papier-mâché coating and locked their assorted jewellery onto the centrally running chain inside – muchas gracias to Paddy , who secured my loose connection. A cheer went up, funky music went on, the police roasted, and we toasted under a benevolent sun, chewing on liquorice and succumbing to sloppy kisses from wayward dogs. HOLD ON by the Soulmasters was never so apt. “Too many to arrest” was the word on the police walkie-talkie – even the bobbies were languorous. At 3 we all traipsed off to catch the bus home. A jolly splendid summer sortie. And yes, a passing motorist supplied us with the ubiquitous ” get a life!”. I hope life gets you mister, in your miserable metal carapace …touch the tarmac with your tootsies for once, leave furry dice and Trident talismans behind… for ’the funky days are back again, when we say party, we means it ends on a double ee, we’ll be strollin’ naked down that road…’

Barbara McGregor

Hope and Resistance 2000

In May there was a gathering of European Ploughshares activists. Fifty people from Belgium, England, France, the Netherlands, Sweden, the US and Wales came to Oxford to evaluate and reflect on the past year and its actions, to talk about ideas for the future and test them on people who have been part of the movement for many years and others who have only just become acquainted with it, to build up a community together and have some serious fun.

The gathering lasts for five days in which workshops are given on various topics. The participants organize and facilitate the workshops themselves. A lot of attention is given to the democratic and group process. Everyone becomes a member of a base group for the duration of the gathering and each group sends one representative to the coordinating group where decisions are made for the gathering. Ideally all groups and workshops do not have more than eight people, especially if decisions need to be made. At the beginning of every meeting a facilitator, a timekeeper, a note-keeper and a vibes-watcher are chosen. Several tools are used during the meetings. There are many “go-rounds” to ensure that not just the most vocal people talk and we often split into pairs or trios to discuss things in more detail.

Every time I go to H&R I learn an awful lot: about group process, dialogue with the opponents (factory workers, managers, police etc.) how to represent yourself in court, how to cope with prison, and about oneself.

The gathering was planned to take place just before the Aldermaston TP camp to make it possible for TP people to come and join in. One of the workshops was an evaluation of TP which Angie Zelter facilitated. After her introduction we mainly discussed the decision-making process within TP. The workshop concluded that although the way decisions are made within TP at the moment is working quite well it is often not very democratic (not everyone is represented, only a small group of people talk and make the decisions in big meetings) and could use some improvement. And look! Not a week later this advice was put into practice by holding a spokes-council meeting at Aldermaston.

The time left after all the workshops and meetings we spent by having fun together. We had a campfire at which we told each other stories of actions which went hysterically wrong, we went to a pub and talked about what books to bring if you get arrested so you have good stuff to read in the police cell and we had a cabaret with acts, songs, dances, stories and a lot of games, ending in Salsa dance lessons from a Swede.

It has been some weeks since the gathering and I still feel excited when I think back to all the stimulating conversations I had and the exciting new thoughts about civil disobedience and ploughshares that came from them. Next year the Hope and Resistance Gathering will probably be somewhere in Wales. I can recommend it to everyone who is thinking of doing a ploughshares action or who has already done so to come and join. (Information about the next gathering will appear in Speed the Plough and in Peace News at the beginning of next year.

Susan van der Hyden

Glossing Greenock

Here are two pieces on the ruling of Margaret Gimblett at Greenock in October last year. Francis Boyle’s article was written just after the event and appeared then on our e-mail list. Peter’s piece is a response to it. Then there is a Third Way (and a Fourth etc). The best advice is to read the ruling and make up your own mind.

1. Trident Now Illegal

I was asked by some anti-nuclear resisters for whom I have great respect to offer some preliminary observations on the Greenock decision. Last week, after an extensive trial, a Scottish Judge ruled that the Trident 2s were illegal under International Law, United Kingdom Law and Scottish Law. This is what we hockey parents call a “hat trick”–3 goals in one game. In other words, the ENTIRE British nuclear weapons establishment now stands condemned as ILLEGAL under international law, UK Law and Scottish Law. This gross illegality of the entire British nuclear weapons establishment under international law, UK Law and Scottish Law shall STAND unless and until the Greenock decision is overturned on Appeal. This gives us a remarkable window of opportunity to use the Greenock decision in order to go after the Nuclear Weapons Establishments in ALL the other nuclear weapons states. Since the entire British Nuclear Weapons Establishment stands condemned as illegal, the Nuclear Weapons Establishments in all the other Nuclear Weapons States are also illegal under international law, their respective constitutions and domestic laws for similar reasons. In particular, and most specifically, we should be able to use the Greenock decision to go directly after the Trident 2s deployed by the United States, as well as the nuclear weapons submarines deployed by the other Nuclear Permanent Members of the Security Council. We should also be able to use the Greenock decision to head off the threatened nuclear arming of Japan and any other State giving serious consideration to developing nuclear weapons. We should also be able to use the Greenock decision to stop the further development of the Nuclear Weapons Establishments in Israel, India and Pakistan, inter alia. We should be able to use the Greenock decision to set free Mordechai Vanunu. We should be able to use the Greenock decision to kill any proposed new nuclear weapons systems of whatever type – for example, the so-called Stockpile Stewardship Program in the United States and its equivalents elsewhere. Obviously, there is no way I can spell out all the implications of the Greenock decision in this little message. But I think you get my point. I leave it to your own creativity to figure out how to use the Greenock decision in order to rid the entire world of nuclear weapons.

Francis Boyle

2. The Petrine Heresy

Joining a bunch of radicals like TP2000, one expects to be infected by some of their extremism, but I am worried about the heresy I am about to profess here. I utterly disagree with Professor Boyle. I hold that Margaret Gimblett did not rule, and could not have possibly ruled, that Trident was illegal.

She could not and did not, for the simple reason that the legality (or illegality) of Trident was not debated at Greenock. Only one side of the argument was put, since the prosecution declined to join the debate. And no judge, let alone one with Sheriff Gimblett’s high standards of fairness, could possibly rule on such a knotty problem without hearing both sides of it.

What the Sheriff ruled was that the women’s defence was properly formed and logically admissible, and that their own sincere belief in Trident’s illegality was beyond question. In these circumstances, unless the prosecution knocked holes in that defence, she had no alternative but to find the defence was intact and acquit the women. And the prosecution didn’t even try to knock any holes. QED.

Why then, may you ask, has an eminent international law professor, and so much of the media, and a lot of TP2000 too, claimed the Sheriff did rule Trident illegal? I believe the answer is because the truth is so shocking and disgraceful and devious that the media had to simplify it. Easier for us to go with the media version too: and why not? It’s a good story.

The truth is that the government was so scared of losing the debate on the legality of Trident, if one had happened in that court, that it preferred the ignominy of losing the case to that debacle. So the MoD instructed the prosecution not to argue. And lose. (And you thought that only happened in cricket?)

That, maybe, is why the Lord Advocate has asked for a referral. He’s so disgusted by what happened, and he’s so frightened it will happen again, – which we may take as a compliment. Only he’s trying to move the legal goalposts against us, instead of going for the MoD and the prosecution, as he should.

We should beware, too, that if during the Referral hearing Â-their Lordships should clarify what really happened at Greenock, the media would enjoy blaming us for bending the story. So would the MoD. That’s what I mean by devious. Yet the truth that the MoD took a dive to avoid losing the argument is sublime. If only we can stick to that.

Peter Lanyon

News from the Courts

1. Scottish Courts

At June 20 the statistics for the Crimebusters February blockade are:

23 Cited to come to court

8 Fixed penalty

27 Don’t do it again

Everyone was charged with BoP (and some with resisting arrest) and will appear at Helensburgh District Court except for Marjan. She will appear in Dumbarton Sheriff Court and is also charged with Breach of Bail and threatened with a Deportation Order if she is found guilty.

All TPers in the District Court of late have been found guilty and fined around £50-£150. Helen Harris and Carol Kirby had an outrageous £500 compensation order added to their fines on the very vague evidence of a civilian fence repairer!

Some people have had their fines transferred to their local courts and are due there for non-payment. Helen Harris will be the first TPer we know of to appear in a Welsh Court, although they can only jail her for the fine, not the compensation (in Scotland you can do jail time to cancel out both)-although she would go to jail in England as Wales has no women’s jail!!

Roger and Rupert are currently fending off the bailiffs.

The Lord Advocates Reference of the Greenock judgment will be heard at the High Court of Justiciary in Edinburgh for five days starting on Oct 9th. Start planning support now!

Jane Tallents

2. English Courts

“Are there going to be many more arrests?” That was the Newbury custody sergeant’s question after the Aldermaston blockade on 22nd May, and it was a sure sign that the protest was having an effect on the local police. In the end, there were 55 arrests at Aldermaston in May: 3 for cutting through the fence, 44 at the blockade, 4 at Burghfield, 3 for climbing/walking into the base repeatedly, and one for looking through a hole in the fence!

Very few of these were charged; most have been bailed to come back to the police station at a later date – put in a sort of legal `limbo’ while the MOD decide what to do with them. But there will be a few court cases at least: Ulla, Roger and Joan for cutting through the fence, and Fungus and Marcus for “trespass” (sort of – more accurately, under section 69 of the Criminal Justice Act).

Elsewhere, various court cases are at various stages of plea, trial, sentence, enforcement…. The law can take a very long time to sort itself out – 55 years in the case of nuclear weapons, and we’re still waiting! Among the highlights are the Midlands affinity group case at Newbury (see last Speed The Plough), following which Roger Franklin is preparing for the bailiffs, and Marlene Yeo is trying to persuade the court to accept her payment of the court costs and not to send it to the MOD as compensation (which she is refusing to pay). Helen John (Menwith Hill Women’s Peace Campaign) has continued to highlight nuclear crime at the US Menwith Hill spy base in Yorkshire, notwithstanding a Crown Court judge’s attempts to get her to the Old Bailey for sentencing in connection with highlighting nuclear crime in London last autumn (grafitti-ing of Parliament). Rachel Wenham and Rosie James (Aldermaston Women Trash Trident) now have a date of 11 September for the start of their trial for disabling test equipment on the last Trident sub, at Manchester Crown Court. Sylvia Boyes and River (Midlands group) will also appear for trial in Manchester Crown Court on the 8th January next year after their Barrow action last winter.

And apologies to everyone I’ve missed out…

Andrew Gray

Get your training here!

Turning the Tide (TTT) is a Quaker-led programme in nonviolence and social change. We were commissioned by TP2000 at the beginning of this campaign to train all pledgers in their affinity groups in the principles and practice of nonviolence as espoused by Trident Ploughshares.

What we can offer:

  • Pledgers workshops – for new affinity groups and individuals wanting to join existing affinity groups. These workshops cover, amongst other things, the principles of nonviolence, responses to violence, group processes and personal empowerment.
  • Follow-up training – for existing affinity groups. These are tailored to the particular needs of the group and can look in more depth at topics such as tactics and strategies, sustaining a campaign, building strong action groups.
  • Introduction to active nonviolence – TTT trainers are present at all quarterly camps, to provide short workshops as an introduction to nonviolence for all non-pledgers present. All people who go to camps are expected to participate in this nonviolence workshop.
  • Training for trainers – pledgers who are interested in helping with nonviolence training before mass actions will be welcome to join a training for trainers workshop, to be arranged shortly.

So, if you’d like some training, get in touch with the Trident Ploughshares office or call Kiri Smith at Turning The Tide.

International Nuclear Weapons Abolition Day – Sunday 1 October 2000

We are calling for all groups in NATO-nuclear weapon states to organise nonviolent direct actions in their local nuclear weapon-bases on 1 October. We are especially encouraging people and NGOs in the European NATO-member states with U.S. B- 61 nuclear bases on their soil to get involved and organise actions demanding for an immediate withdrawal of the U.S. nukes from Europe and a creation of a European Nuclear Weapons Free Zone. We’ll need to convince more than just a few European NATO-member governments to oppose the nuclear policy of the alliance -it will take a group of them before they’ll speak out in NATO to propose any radical changes regarding the nuclear arsenals.

When you decide to organisean action 1 October, please inform us as soon as possible with the location and name of the nuclear facility, contact details of your organisation, and also with a press contact person details. Groups with no former experience in organising direct actions at nuclear weapon facilities are very welcome to contact For Mother Earth for advice.

Actions on the 1 October are already confirmed in the Netherlands and Belgium. In Belgium For Mother Earth and Forum voor Vredesaktie (War Resisters International -Flemish section) are planning a ’photographic inspection’ of the NATO-nuclear weapon base of Kleine Brogel (Belgium) on Sunday 1 October 2000.

Professional photographers, amateur photo clubs, students of photography and other people with a camera are invited to come to the base where 10 U.S. B-61 nuclear bombs are deployed by NATO – to take pictures of this ’site of crime’. Afterwards the pictures will be used to set up a photo exhibition to make the ’secret’ nuclear weapon base better known by the public.

Katri Silvonen, For Mother Earth International

Hans Lammerant, Forum voor Vredesaktie