Tunbridge Wells CND Quiet Phase
(written more than 10 years ago - page added 13-01-03),
Except for GrassRoots, members of T/W CND have not been so active for a while. This may be because many of us in CND have been involved with the group for quite some time, and now feel it is time to do something else. I feel that anyway, and I don't expect that I shall be involved so much, but as treasurer I am quite happy to continue to make sure income is used to pay our affiliation to National CND, pay Cruise Watch £3-00 a month, purchase Sanity for those still getting Sanity through the group. And keeping some money by to allow us to advertise any Demos or public meetings that the group may have etc. If you are still collecting CO-OP stamps for CND leave them in the shop, and I shall have them credited to our account.
I would like to review some of the things that have happened over the past decade.
The 1980's saw the rise of the anti-nuclear movement to great strength, and decline to a modest level. Probably many of us became growingly concerned about the military towards the end of the 70's Regan, and Thatcher were not the Instigators of the new Soviet Hate Phase, but the Human face of that under current of change. My own awakening to the growing concern about Nuclear Weapons was as a result of things like the Electronics Magazine "Wireless World", published an editorial "Microchips and Megadeaths" followed by more than a year correspondence. The TV was also showing Promotional film on Cruise Missiles, Flying over a rocky terrain.
In October 1981, Some one called at home canvassing signatures for The World Disarmament Campaign. Soon after I joined the newly reformed Tunbridge Wells CND group. Our local group has been active in a great number of ways a stall every week, public meetings, and some other demonstrations at least once a month. Things that have particularly stood out since I have been a member of the group have been.
- Tunbridge Wells Library Display (autumn 82). : 4000 or 5000 signatures were collected in the space of a week in support of reinstating a CND display in the Tunbridge Wells Library Foyer.
- 1983 CND demo : Sarah Tisdale spilt the beans about the imminent arrival of Cruise. Partly as a result of that about half a million people went on that demo. Although they were not all in Hyde park at the same time. People were leaving Hyde park in droves at 4.30PM when the Tunbridge Wells crowd arrived, and still people were at the Embankment waiting to start the march.
- Later TW CND protested at Cookham Wood prison where one of the whilst blowers was residing - I think it was Sarah Tisdale. The prisoners inside joined in the protest, and after making our point we moved on so that we did not disturb the prison further. (added 2009)
- Shadows (August 85) : A dozen or so of us went out painting with home-made chalk based removable paint, representations of the shadows left by the victims of the two Japanese bombs. Needless to say 6 of us spent most of the night in police cells (no one was charged). Similar actions happened all over the world, Quebec, Hungary, Australia, and it all started in New York. That was quite the biggest show of world people power I ever expected to see.
We also played the numbers game a bit, but it quickly became apparent that you can shuffle numbers of bombs around and stitch you self up with it. There is still one clear thing though, and that is that the arms stockpile is huge. One of the set of figures that helped me though was Silo Kill Capability. Old weapons like Our Polaris, Soviet SS20 etc. have a chance of about 13-16% of destroying a Missile Silos because of there low accuracy. The British modernisation of Polaris missiles (The Chevaline Project) completed in 1986 brought that figure up to 60%, MX, Pershing II, Cruise, and Trident all have a 99% chance of destroying missile Silos. Therefore there only purpose can be to Destroy Soviet Nuclear Weapons whilst they are in there Silos. As a result of that NATO countries cannot sensibly sign a no-first-use agreement.
There are lots of What-If's for instance what if Earl Mountbatten had survived into the 80's perhaps the establishment would have lead the disarmament movement into a nuclear Glasnost leaving the Labour Party as the pro nuclear party. Well that did not happen. NATO are replacing Ground Launched Cruise with Air Launched Cruise as well as other Launchers in Europe, the warheads, and the Guidance systems from Ground Launched Cruise are being re-used. This is all happening with the public perception that we are disarming. The important thing though is that Cruise Missiles are the first current weapon system to be taken out of service since 1814 when Americans and Canadians agreed not to have warships on Lake Ontario. The peace movement must take some credit for that, and for changing the political atmosphere so that it is not political popular to be in favour of Nuclear Weapons, but the question still has to be continually asked why have them ?