Amy Gilligan reports
Thousands of people encircled the Ministry of Defence in London yesterday with a giant, pink knitted peace scarf. The “Wrap up Trident” protest was called by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) to send a message that Trident, Britain’s nuclear weapons system, must be scrapped, not replaced. MPs are set to vote on Trident replacement, at a cost estimated to be £100 billion, after the general election.
After wrapping the MoD with the scarf, the protest marched down Whitehall to a rally outside the houses of parliament carrying four different designs of colourful placards reading Jobs, Home, NHS and Climate not Trident. People were keen to make links between other campaigns like the March for Homes in London next week and the Time for Change Climate march on 7 March.
The large numbers on the protest were better than many who took part had been expecting and included a significant number of young people and students. Groups had travelled from around the country to be there: there were three minibuses from Yorkshire CND including a group of students from Leeds, people from Rochdale, Stockport, Plymouth, CND Cymru, Salisbury, as well as groups from London. Green Party members were a visible and large presence on the demonstration.
The peace scarf used on yesterdays protest was part of the seven-mile long scarf that was used at the Wool against Weapons protest last August. There, the scarf stretched from the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) in Aldermaston to AWE Burghfield. Individuals and groups knitted and crocheted 1 meter long sections to the effort, which are now being repurposed as blankets. Although there are some critiques that can be made about knitting as a ‘radical’ activity, it has certainly resulted in a creative and vibrant protests.
The SNP are committed to scrapping Trident, with Nichola Sturgeon, the SNP leader, saying that “absolute priority will be getting Trident renewal halted” after the general election. It is likely that if a minority Labour government are dependent on the SNP in May, Trident will resurface as a major issue on the national agenda in the coming months.