In the first of three articles on the CND march, we explore the symbolic dynamics

 

Park Lane lay quiet, Piccadilly Circus was partially shut off and Trafalgar Square was assaulted with scaffolding as sixty thousand people prepared to march through the centre of London in the name of CND and their latest campaign to try and persuade the government to abandon Trident.

Trident is Britain’s nuclear weapons system that consists of four submarines; one patrolling at all times, armed with forty nuclear warheads each with eight times the destructive power of the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. This is enough to start a nuclear war and bring about MAD or Mutually Assured Destruction.

This march however, was about so much more than highlighting the dangers of Trident, it was about explaining and elevating the alternatives. According to the CND’s information page, the £100 billion that would be saved by not renewing Trident would be enough to ‘fully fund A&E services for 40 years, employ 150,000 new nurses, build 1.5 million affordable homes, build 30,000 new primary schools, or cover tuition fees for 4 million students’. A significant body of facts, particularly when you look at the current state of the NHS which is being devoured by Jeremy Hunt’s policies. In light of this very fact there were multitudes of placards being held aloft that simply stated ‘NHS NOT TRIDENT’. Public sympathy is clear.

Running ahead of the mass of people marching down Park Lane it was impossible to not be in awe as the end of the protest, in a physical sense, was certainly not in sight as people marched towards Marble Arch to take the first exit towards Piccadilly. It was at this point the crowd, with none other than Nicola Sturgeon and Caroline Lucas (Green MP for Brighton) at its heart, was stopped. Intersecting was another protest marching under the tagline of ‘Borders Safe Passage’, spreading the message of refugees trying to get into the United Kingdom with a desire for the government to open its borders to those fleeing conflict areas.

Effectively halting the CND protest, it quickly became a case of street as opposed to people management as officers tried to stop one protest from running into the other — no easy task given the marching pace of the forerunners, the tip of the CND’s sixty thousand strong arrow hoping to break the armour of David Cameron’s governmental stance on Trident.

Marching into Trafalgar Square you couldn’t quite help but feel that while the air grew cooler, things were just getting ready to heat up.