Looking at the minutes from several of the local CND groups in the region recently, we’re guessing that most of you are feeling a bit depressed after the election. It’s not easy to feel that possible victory on the Trident campaign slipping through our fingers. We all got a bit over-excited here in the Yorkshire CND office about the prospect of a Labour government reliant on the SNP as a way of kicking Trident into touch. For an analysis by Kate Hudson of national CND, click here.
But there are some positives to be gleaned.
Trident did become an election issue – it was discussed on TV, in national and local newspapers across the country, and addressed by candidates at hustings. This hasn’t happened in a general election for many years. Here in Yorkshire we know of at least 12 hustings where a question was directly asked about Trident ( please let us know of any we might yet be unaware of). So although the rise and rise of the SNP helped hugely, the efforts of CND supporters to get this issue raised should not be underestimated.
The SNP landslide victory in Scotland will also stand us in good stead in the next year leading up to the maingate decision. Opposition to Trident was a central plank of their manifesto and the vast majority of the country supported them in this. Locating a new generation of nuclear submarines in Scotland now looks even more politically untenable than it did before – and where else can it go?
And finally, many many Labour candidates in the election expressed their opposition to Trident Replacement. Not all of them were elected, but some were. In fact, those Labour MPs who opposed Trident Replacement actually did well in the election, many increasing their majorities – surely a message to the labour leadership there. In Leeds for example, new MP Richard Burgon was elected with an expressly anti-Trident message. We did however, lose some MPs who have been very supportive of Yorkshire CND in the past, for example David Ward in Bradford.
Now we feel that the most important thing is to campaign for a free vote, making the case that nuclear weapons are a matter of conscience. We can also press for a delay to the decision on Trident.
But whatever happens, in the next few months we must keep up the pressure – we owe it to the future generation to have continued to try our best to get rid of Trident.