Zoe Williams is absolutely right (10 April) about the progressive role of public protest in political life. But one of the most iconic of modern marches – Aldermaston – has still not had noticeable policy effects after 60 years, even though its goal is still a no-brainer. The UK is not at the current, non-proliferation talks – and for almost six decades it has refused to become a nuclear-free zone.
I was London CND organiser from 1961 to 1963 and the person mainly responsible for the largest London contingents, perhaps over 100,000 marchers on three of the largest four-day Aldermaston marches – 1960 was huge too by any standards. The prudent cause was not simply renunciation of the British bomb, but an end to testing, manufacture and the insane threat to use UK-based weapons of mass destruction. What could be more sane then and now, than to put a partial brake on nuclear proliferation?
In 2015, I rejoined the Labour party (after a 50-year absence). It was mainly because the issue seemed to be coming alive again, given Corbyn’s commitment. But nuclear disarmament remains the big issue that so far got away. A week ago, I gave my grandson a DVD of Dr Strangelove for his 15th birthday and I remarked how little had changed since Kubrick made his 1964 cold war masterpiece. Russia
and the US still confronting each other (over a missile strike), and the UK absenting itself from talks on nuclear non-proliferation; but yes, keep on marching anyway.
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