25 Sep 2009

Bruce Kent in Stroud

Last night I was at The Space to hear Bruce Kent, a former Catholic priest, a former tank commander and a long history with CND - he stands with the great political radicals of my youth like Tony Benn. Anyway he spoke for half an hour then answered questions....We were also treated to wine, coffee, tea, cake and songs from the Stroud community choir - one song at the end had us all joining in for an anti-war song - plus some powerful poems from Jeff Coates and Dennis Gould.

Photos: Bruce, the Community Choir and below audience listening to Bruce

Hearing Bruce Kent speak re-fired my anger that we are even contemplating Trident - just this week we heard that Trident could cost as much as 97 billion pounds - five times what the Government claims - this is based on research by Greenpeace using only Government sources - see here - add that to the running costs of two large aircraft carriers will be as much as £130bn. Can we really even entertain the idea in the current recession but even setting that aside completely Trident makes absolutely no sense.

What I liked about Bruce's talk was his discussion about creating a peace culture rather than one of war - looking at the everyday words and phrases we use related to war like 'in the firing line' and 'watch your back' - he talked about the failures to recognise our great peace campaigners - the UK's first peace Nobel prize winner whose grave in London is covered in brambles yet we celebrate or Generals by putting their statues on podiums - he talked about our Royals going into the services rather than say the Fire Service - he talked abut our processions of soldiers rather than nurses and lifeboat folk.....anyway as usual with these blogs I'm running out of time - see here a talk he gave elsewhere that covers some of the same points.

There are actions planned in Stroud but for now two that I have taken are as follows:

Take Greenpeace action to email your local MP re Trident here.

Take 38 degrees action here to email Gordon Brown.

In his speech on Wednesday to the United Nations general assembly, Barack Obama named "non-proliferation and disarmament" as one of the four "pillars" essential to move ahead - and as Bruce Kent says he is the first President to talk about elimination of nukes. There is some hope.

However Gordon Brown's gesture to cut Trident subs from 4 to 3 is, as Paul Rogers says, 'an exercise in political symbolism rather than a major change in Britain's nuclear posture'. The fourth submarine is essentially a "spare" and it is probable that. It doesn't move Britain on - many have welcomed it as a gesture but we have been here before - we need much more radical moves than that if we are to make an impact.

"...the current economic recession - and the severe and long-lasting cuts in public expenditure that will follow - could have important consequences for Britain's defence and security policy: in effect, forcing the country to acknowledge both the irrelevance of much of its current defence posture and the need for a radically different approach to international security."
Paul Rogers (see more here).

Trident costs graphic

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