Trident, Britain’s nuclear weapons programme, is up for renewal this year – opponents of these dangerous and criminally expensive weapons of mass destruction need to mobilise, make the case against nuclear weapons, and take direct action. The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament has called a ‘Stop Trident national demonstration’ in London on 27th February. NCAFC will be co-hosting a Student Bloc on the demo with Youth and Student CND, the Student Assembly Against Austerity, and Stop the War.
There is significant public opposition to Trident, and for the first time in a long while the Labour Party has a leader who strongly opposes nuclear weapons. There are also powerful anti-democratic interests behind the renewal of Trident that will need to be combatted by a grassroots movement: a tangled nexus of arms dealers, civil servants, ruling class politicians, military officers, and war-mongering media outlets.
At the NCAFC’s recent protest against the abolition of maintenance grants for the million poorest students, Labour MP Clive Lewis made the point that the resources going to Trident ‘could be better spent on educating our country and looking after the people than spending it on weapons of mass destruction.’ The government claims Trident will cost £100 billion, though there have been credible reports that the likely figure is closer to £167 billion. Although we must reject the logic of austerity and the claim that public funds are inherently scarce, Trident is one of the worst imaginable uses of money. It is also necessary to rebut pseudo-progressive rhetoric about protecting ‘defence jobs’ – reports by CND and the Nuclear Education Trust have shown that ‘equally high-skilled jobs can be created in other sectors for a fraction of the costs.’ The campaign to scrap Trident needs to be firm about demanding that all the workers involved be guaranteed decent alternative jobs producing something socially useful, with no loss of pay or conditions.
Worse than the financial cost is the fact that a vote for renewal will lock Britain into many more years of maintaining weapons capable of incinerating millions of human beings. This is a truly appalling weapon system consisting of 40 warheads, each 8 times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.
We need students to mobilise for the demo, and to make the political case against Trident on their campuses. Here are some things you can do:
– Find promotional materials from the CND here, leaflet and hold stalls
– Sign people up for the CND coaches (full list here), or organise a coach from your campus
– Organise a public talk or debate on Trident renewal and nuclear disarmament
– Target militarism and arms companies on your own campus, for example by disrupting their recruitment at careers fairs (see: Campaign Against the Arms Trade for more information)
– Do a creative protest or direct action on your campus against Trident
– Write an article for your student paper on why Trident shouldn’t be renewed
See you in the streets!