In my opinion, there will be at least three essentials:-
1. We must not forget the climate emergency - if we all go straight back to driving, flying, consuming, polluting as much as we did before, we will just be breeding another disaster, the signs of this are already apparent. In the Morning Star April 25th Ken Livingstone wrote:-"Just weeks before Boris Johnson failed to take the strong lead and measures necessary in responding to the coronavirus crisis, he went missing as floods devastated communities across Britain. The fact that many on the hard right deny the need for real action to tackle climate change does not alter the fact that the increasingly regular and severe floods here — alongside extreme events across the globe such as the Amazon and Australian fires — are clear examples of a deepening climate emergency that needs to be addressed urgently in the period ahead".
2. This is linked to the absolute necessity to end war which is a big driver of climate change, and
3. Somehow the economy must be rescued - and for the many not the few. I'm sure it will become apparent that poverty and basic ill-health will have caused the most ongoing damage. This inequality must be tackled.
How to do this?- read on below and you will see a major suggestion :-
The Renewal of Trident must be stopped - it's a criminal waste of money!
I expect you have heard that the Excel Centre in East London is being used as a hospital during the Coronavirus epidemic, and I have heard that very sadly some patients have already died there.
So moving on to autumn 2021 when we hope this nightmare will have ended, what will we see there?
Unless it is stopped, we will see the largest Arms Fair in the world, which takes place every 2 years.
I'm sure you will agree that this will be an absolute scandal - what a memorial to those who died and the amazingly skilled and dedicated health workers who worked there.
So let's all make a promise now:-
THIS ABSOLUTELY MUST NOT HAPPEN, nor must the Arms Fair just be moved on somewhere else.
I have suggested to CAAT (Campaign Against the Arms Trade) that they start a petition for this as soon as possible - WATCH THIS SPACE -Ed
CND General Secretary Kate Hudson was due to retire from her role on 31st March after almost twenty years leading CND. She will be taking up the role of CND Vice-President. Here she writes about her time at the helm (Editor's Note. This was written before the Covid 19 outbreak, and following this Kate has postponed her retirement for now.)
When I accepted nomination as a vice-chair of CND in the summer of 2001 I had no idea how much the world would change by the time I was elected at CND Conference on 15th September. Certainly I knew that the world was becoming a more dangerous place – NATO was expanding, missile defence was back with a vengeance and new nuclear weapons were on the agenda. But I hadn’t anticipated 9/11, the ‘War on Terror’ and the Project for the New American Century. Just days after the terrible attacks on the US, I was elected by CND conference; delegates agreed with my hustings speech, that we were united in condemning all forms of terrorism, by states too, not just by non-state actors.
The years that have followed, as Chair from 2003, and as General Secretary from 2010, have been a roller coaster – the Iraq war, Trident replacement, missile defence, NATO, nuclear power, ‘low yield’ nuclear weapons, nuclear ‘use’ policies, the climate emergency… the challenges have been endless. But that has always been the case for our movement. The greatest lesson that I have learnt, both from CND’s history and my own time in office, is that CND is most effective when we work in alliance with others, united across the movements, embracing diversity and engaging internationally. And above all I value CND’s democracy, the fact that it is a member-led organisation and that it makes its own political decisions, without fear or favour. And sometimes that means hard debate and discussion. But that is our greatest strength, because only a movement open to different views can adapt and develop in an ever-changing world, and CND members are so passionate about our goals we are determined to get it right. As a result we have been able to play a leading role in virtually every peace campaign since CND was founded. Our most important asset has always been the accumulated experience of our members and I am confident that will continue. We are most successful and effective when we relate directly to people’s most pressing concerns – linking our issues to the reality of what is going on in the world.
The history of CND is the history of post World War II, told from the side of those fighting for humanity against the horror of war. It is the story of ordinary people’s struggles to shape a world without nuclear weapons and war, based on legality and morality; to make our governments responsive and accountable over our right to stay alive, our right to breathe air free of radioactive pollution, our right to say no to the indiscriminate killing of other peoples. We continue to make this history and I am proud to have been part of our struggle to bring our vision of the world into being. It has been an immense privilege to serve in the leadership of CND for almost two decades and I thank you all for the trust and support that you have shown me.
The Spring CND National Council Meeting had to be postponed, and a new General Secretary will be elected when this is finally able to take place. Ed.
CND issued this press release on 11th March, prior to the 2020 budget presented by Rishi Sunak. (Of course we had no idea then that this budget would be shot to pieces by the unfolding Coronavirus onslaught.)
"Can you believe that if you were given a budget of just under 5% of the cost of replacing Trident you could eradicate homelessness in 10 years?
There are 236,000 people in Britain living on the streets, in cars, tents, shelters or in “unsuitable” temporary accommodation. Homeless people die on the streets every week. Homelessness is a crisis that has a solution, yet governments ignore it.
Crisis, the national charity for homeless people, has a plan which would cost £10 billion, a fraction of the £205 billion it will cost to replace Trident.
The plan involves building 100,000 social homes each year, as well as offering specialised long-term support for those who have been homeless.
It is a very detailed and credible plan, drawn up with the help of the Chartered Institute of Housing, Heriot-Watt University, the National Housing Federation and Accountants PricewaterhouseCoopers, as well as frontline workers and people who have been homeless themselves. The authors of the plan say everyone in Britain would have a stable home within 10 years if its measures were adopted in full.
We don't expect that today's budget will include the £10 billion needed to end homelessness. We do expect the ongoing spending of £205 billion to replace an utterly useless weapon of mass destruction to continue.
Doesn't that reveal once again the upside-down priorities of our government and the urgent need for our movement to secure something better? Nuclear weapons not only pose a grave danger to life on our planet, they are sapping the resources we need to build a peaceful and prosperous society for all.
As this budget itself is now history, how can we possibly afford this white elephant now? Ed.
And here is Kate's comment taken from the April edition of CND's "Campaign" magazine:
"We find ourselves in a situation where the NHS has been chronically underfunded for a decade or more, and supplies of necessary equipment, facilities and materials just aren’t there. Maybe this would be understandable if no one had realised that pandemics were a real threat; but that just isn’t the case. They have been on the high-risk radar of experts – and government – for a long time. In 2005, Tony Blair’s government published a National Security Strategy which proudly stated: ‘The World Health Organisation has recognised the United Kingdom as being in the vanguard in preparing for a pandemic and we will continue to improve our capacity to minimise the potential effects of a pandemic...’ But it wasn’t just Blair’s government that saw the risks. In 2010, the Coalition Government identified a natural hazard such as an influenza pandemic as a tier one risk to our security and in 2015 again the risk assessment included the tier one category ‘Public Health: Disease, particularly pandemic influenza, emerging infectious diseases and growing Antimicrobial Resistance…’ And in 2018 the May government produced a Biological Security Strategy, addressing these key issues. So successive governments of different political persuasions have all rightly identified the risk which pandemics pose yet the necessary levels of investment have not been made. But we don’t have to look far to see what has gone wrong. The last two security strategies have designated the risk of nuclear weapons proliferation and use as a tier two threat. Yet the governments that have produced these risk assessments have chosen to automatically pour £205 billion into a new nuclear weapons system to ‘meet’ this lower level threat, leaving the health system chronically underfunded and unable to meet the challenge of a pandemic. Once again our government is shown to have the wrong priorities. The consequences could not be more stark:- many thousands of us will be left to die, many in the most terrible conditions. Together we must stand up to this brutal and callous government and demand the right to live, in peace and genuine human security." ....................Thank you Kate.
"We urge the British Government to act on the call of United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres for a global ceasefire by withdrawing British armed forces from war zones around the world. There are currently thousands of British forces in at least 35 countries around the world including 1,000 in Afghanistan and more than 1,000 in the Middle East including in Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Their continued presence in these areas is only serving to prolong conflict and heighten tensions. As the UN says, the only war we should be fighting is against the Coronavirus."
To sign this petition visit Stop the War coalition www.stopwar.org.uk
You can also read and sign the UN's own Messengers of Peace Global Ceasefire petition by visiting avaaz.org/campaign/en/global_ceasefire_loc/ On Thursday 30 April this stood at 2,232.155 signatures.
We have some fantastic news to share with you. Since 2017 PSC has been fighting the UK Government in the courts, protecting the right to undertake BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) campaigns in the UK. First we won in the High Court, then we lost in the Court of Appeal, but today the final verdict from the Supreme Court is in and...WE WON!
Together we have taken on the Government to defeat regulations that would have stopped Local Government Pension Schemes from divesting from companies complicit in Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people, and additionally from divesting from the UK defence industry.
The Supreme Court has ruled in our favour and the regulations the Government introduced in 2016 are now finally and definitively declared illegal and thrown out.
This victory shows what we can do when we join together to stand up for justice and for what is right. PSC took on the burden of fighting the case, but were supported with submissions from our colleagues at the Quakers, Campaign Against Arms Trade and War on Want.
But what enabled us to take on this case was the generosity of many ordinary people. Without the money and the support you gave to the campaign, we would never have been able to achieve this victory. So thanks to all members and supporters of PSC.
This is a fantastic victory, but we need to continue fighting. On the ground Palestinians who, like the rest of us, are battling the impact of Coronavirus, also continue to battle the daily injustices imposed by Israel's ongoing oppression.
Now the newly elected far right Israeli government promises to annex a further 30% of the West Bank, thus imposing further violations of international law and opening the path to more home demolitions, restrictions on movement, theft of land and wider human rights abuses.
And across the world, Israel and its allies continue with their attempts to criminalise Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaigns. Today - together - we have stopped the UK Government in its tracks, but we know they intend to bring in further anti-BDS legislation. We've won today, but we need to build on this victory to defeat future anti-BDS laws. We will need your support to do that .
I'm glad to say KPC/CND did contribute to this campaign. If you would like to join PSC or make a donation please visit www.palestinecampaign.org Ed.
Other information about the situation in Palestine can be found on the Balfour Campaign website www.balfourproject.org/ Here is a statement by the British Ambassador, James Roscoe, acting UK Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, at the Security Council briefing on the Middle East Peace Process last Thursday, 23rd April.
He said Britain "was deeply concerned by reports that the new Israeli Government has reached an agreement which paves the way for annexation of parts of the West Bank.
"The UK position is clear: any unilateral moves towards annexation...would be damaging to efforts to restart peace negotiations and would be contrary to international law." The Ambassador also restated Britain's support for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees, especially in view of the Covid-19 pandemic, and voiced concern at continuing Israeli demolitions in the Palestinian Occupied Territory, including those of temporary health centres, "which weaken the capacity of Palestinians to respond to Covid-19."
We do hope that maybe it will still be possible to hold the Carshalton Environment Fair on August Bank Holiday, 31st August. But this is by no means certain.
As regular readers of Kingston Peace News will know, these regular fairs and garage sales are, apart from membership subscriptions, our main fund-raisers, last year bringing in over £1,100. Without this income in 2020 we shall not be able to make as many donations as usual to worthy causes.
You can help us by ensuring that you renew your subscription promptly when it is due. If you receive a paper copy of Kingston Peace News, look at the code at the top of the address label – the year and month when your membership expires, eg 202003 means your sub was due at the end of March 2020. If you receive an email copy of the newsletter you will receive a reminder by email. Rates and Treasurer’s address are shown in the blue column on page 6 - please send a cheque made out to Kingston Peace Council/CND. If you have been paying by standing order for many years (code 300000 on the label), please check that you are paying the correct amount. We know that many members do add a donation to their subscriptions and we thank them for this.
Rates have remained unchanged for several years as we would generally prefer to have members and readers than lots of money, but even newsletter postage is barely covered. If you would like to receive your copy by email, this would help keep costs down - please contact Gill.
The call came at the start of the recent International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank virtual meeting in which world leaders are considering assistance for impoverished nations in their response to the pandemic. Campaigners called for sweeping debt cancellation to help developing countries, demanding a write-down of over $40 billion (£31.7bn) from wealthy governments, international institutions and banks. The IMF has announced a fund of $500 million (£396m), which campaigners described as a “drop in the ocean” while criticising the organisation for failing to draw on its own vast resources to help out.
Global Justice Now director Nick Dearden said that while Britain’s 4,000 intensive-care beds at the start of the coronavirus crisis were considered not nearly enough, Kenya, with a population of over 50 million people, only had 130. Mali has 19 million people but only 20 ventilators, he said.
“These countries need to unleash massive spending to deal with the health and economic crisis, just as our own governments have,” Mr Dearden said. “But with debt payments costing the most vulnerable of these countries as much as $40bn this year, they simply can’t do it unless this burden is lifted. We appreciate that both the IMF and Britain have made money available for debt relief. But to date a fairly paltry sum is on the table. The IMF has massive reserves it needs to bring into play this week to allow sweeping debt cancellation.”
Mr Dearden urged countries such as Britain to demand that banks and the private sector write down debts. “It would be obscene if these debts continue to be sold and speculated on in financial centres like London when impoverished countries are unable to provide the basics to contain this disease,” he said.
“In this crisis, we are only as safe as the poorest countries in the world. Institutions like the IMF need to massively scale up their funding for debt cancellation to defeat this outbreak. The measures so far are a drop in the ocean.”
Labour’s shadow international development secretary Preet Kaur Gill said: “Although the virus is indiscriminate in its reach, it is the poorest and most vulnerable who will be hit hardest, and we risk seeing half a billion people pushed into poverty globally.”
She emphasised that it is unacceptable that some of the poorest countries are being expected to prioritise debt repayments over the safety of their citizens. “This is a global emergency, and if we can ensure the most vulnerable people are protected overseas, it will help us to quickly tackle this crisis,” she said. She urged the government to use its influence to push for the cancellation of debt repayments for low-income countries without conditions, freeing up billions of pounds to help the poorest nations invest in their health systems.
The world economy will suffer its worst year in 2020 since the Great Depression, the IMF said in its latest forecast, warning of a 3 per cent contraction before a predicted rebound in 2021. But it cautioned that the predictions were shrouded in unknowns, such as the path the virus will take, the effectiveness of policies on containment and uncertainty over isolation periods.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said that global co-operation to tackle Covid-19 is vital and warned that poorer countries need resources for health services and funds to shield people from the economic impact.
“No country should be forced to pay off debts instead of action to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and protect its citizens,” she said.
Want to learn some digital skills to help you through social isolation? Hannah Kemp-Welch, London CND’s staff member is holding a social media training session every Wednesday at 3pm. The sessions are informal, with plenty of opportunity to stop and ask questions. They last for up to an hour, covering one element of social media each week: Twitter, Facebook, Canva, Eventbrite, Mailchimp, Zoom, YouTube – and anything else our ‘trainees’ might come up with. Hannah’s a social media professional, and a whiz at friendly and supportive training methods. To sign up, email her at email@example.com
Every Friday, London CND will be posting a 10-minute video on their website, part of their mini Teach-In series. No longer than 10 minutes in length, each will focus on providing a jargon-free introduction to a single theme. They are ideal to watch at home to update yourself on a particular topic. The first three are already in place, Kate Hudson on Covid-19 and Trident, Dave Webb, What’s new with Trident, and Sam Mason of the Public and Commercial Services Union on Defence Diversification. Several more are in the pipeline. Download them from their YouTube channel or visit the website at www.londoncnd.org (scroll down the page).
Stop war Coalition have 2 online meetings early in May, Free Assange - Stop the extradition on 6th May from 6 - 7pm and Cut War not Healthcare on 16th May at 1pm with John Pilger. To join these meetings register at www.stopwar.org.uk (see the right hand panel)
Do you have any decent shoes, underwear, socks, or other basic clothes? At present charity shops aren't open, but IF you have been having a sort-out, please do let me know. I will collect these items if you are reasonably near to me, Surbiton, as they are desperately needed by Care for Calais. I have recently discovered that convoys are still taking items across, where the need is very great. Men's clothes are especially needed, they must be clean and not damaged, Also needed are toiletries, toothpaste and brushes, and tinned food.
There is a local collection point in Headley, and I recently found out about this and was able to take them a large family-sized tent, kindly donated by two of our members. The contact person there, Jan, lets the organisers know when her garage starts to fill up, and the items are sent on their way.
Thank you so much, hoping to hear from you, Rosemary.
Newsletter Editor for this issue: Rosemary Addington
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this edition are not necessarily those of Kingston Peace Council/CND