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CND as a Pressure Group


CND wants the world wide abandonment of nuclear weapons. It calls on the British Government to take a lead by giving up its Trident weapon. The Scottish CND which works closely with British CND has the same aims and is further motivated by having Trident in Scottish waters.

From the CND UK website

The aims of CND

The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) opposes all nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction: their development, manufacture, testing, deployment, and use or threatened use by any country.

As a British campaign, we concentrate first and foremost on British nuclear weapons but we work with anti-nuclear groups in other countries, particularly in the tracking of nuclear materials world wide and at United Nations and other international disarmament conferences.

The structure of CND

CND is a network of local groups and individual members, covering the whole of Britain. There is a national office in London, regional offices in several major English cities, and independent Scottish CND, Irish CND, and CND Cymru organisations.

An annual conference, with delegates from the groups and from specialist Youth/Student, Christian, Trades Union, and Labour sections, elects a Chair, three Vice Chairs, and a Treasurer. It debates and decides on general campaigning policies and priorities for the year ahead.

The system is very flexible. Different groups are free to concentrate on different aspects of the campaign, as well as joining in national events such as rallies. They also uncover details of local nuclear installations and nuclear traffic, both road and rail, in order to publicise and mount local protests against them.

Regional and national workers, as well as looking after their own areas, often act as national co-ordinators for specific campaigning aspects: nuclear road convoys, RAF low flying, nuclear power/weapons links, sea pollution, etc.

Where does the money come from?

Almost all CND's income comes from members' subscriptions and through special appeals. There are both national and fundraising effects: everything from street stalls to concerts and sponsored activities. As a matter of policy, CND never accepts money from any agency of any state that possess nuclear weapons.

CND demonstrations

Over the years, CND has probably been best known for the Easter Ban the Bomb marches from Aldermaston in Berkshire to Trafalgar Square in London: thousands of people with banners, placards, bands - and a few blisters.

However in recent years large scale demonstrations have played a much smaller part in CND's activities. There are still city centre rallies in places such as Glasgow, Leeds, or Manchester, as well as in towns such as Barrow, where Trident nuclear submarines are built and at bases such as Faslane in Scotland where the submarines and their nuclear-armed missiles are based.

These events are peaceful, legal, and carefully organised. Their purpose is publicity but they also act as meeting and morale-boosting occasions, particularly for members of small or isolated CND groups.

Other demonstrations may feature Non-Violent Direct Actions (NVDA), typically where nuclear bases are blockaded or entered, usually by small groups, either over or through security fences. Those taking part are prepared to be arrested. Every effort is made to ensure that only these volunteers are involved. Whilst there may be a small amount of damage to property - for instance to fences - great care is taken to make sure that there is no violence towards people. Demonstrators do not resist arrest or do anything that might provoke violence.

CND's Sea Action operates inflatable boats to escort and occasionally harass nuclear warships.

These actions are symbolic, designed to draw press and public attention to the existence and purpose of the bases concerned.

CND behind the scenes

More recently, with the increase in international disarmament negotiations, covering such areas as nuclear testing and non-proliferation (preventing the spread of nuclear weapons), CND has increasingly been present at, for instance, the United Nations in New York or Geneva, not to demonstrate but to talk to delegates, particularly from the smaller non-nuclear states. We provide expert advice and analysis, helping to counter the often intimidating presence of the big powers with their huge delegations.

Trying to influence the negotiating process in this way is important, complex, often long drawn out and never noticed in the way a mass demonstration might be but CND has learnt to be flexible and to campaign in many ways.

What sort of people join CND?

All sorts and all ages: veteran campaigners with bus passes along with a strong youth section. People from all backgrounds - surprisingly often with parents in the armed forces or nuclear industry. Pacifists and people with medals (there is an active ex-Services section), high-powered scientists and left-school-at-sixteenies. We even have a few members with beards and duffle coats or mother earth dresses.

To sum up

CND is a network rather than a centrally controlled organisation. Our aim is to get rid of nuclear weapons, world wide but, as a British campaign, we concentrate on British nuclear weapons. We work nationally and locally, finding out and publicising often deliberately concealed information. We lobby MPs and other people in positions of influence. We work through political parties, media, trade unions, churches, and schools as well as on the streets. We protest at the gates of the nuclear sites - and sometimes inside them. We also co-operate actively with groups such as the Campaign Against Arms Trade.


Putting the pressure on

The British government has always been particularly secretive about everything nuclear.

Major nuclear sites such as Aldermaston, covering several hundred acres, have been removed from the map. Accidents including place crashes, fires, and leaks of radioactive materials have been hushed up. Multi-£billion plans for new nuclear weapons have been hidden from parliament. The links between nuclear weapons and nuclear power programmes have been denied. The routes of convoys carrying nuclear warheads are kept secret. Information about American bases in Britain has been suppressed.

A major part of CND's activity consists of finding out and publicising this hidden information. We track the convoys, unearth details of accidents, research scientific information, brief MPs so they can ask awkward questions, work with investigative journalists, both press, radio and TV. Locally and nationally we raise the issues, write to the papers, do radio and TV interviews.

We talk to schools and colleges, organise peace camps, and run stalls at Glastonbury, Reading, and other festivals. Christian CND works through the churches and organises its own protest actions while Trade Union CND works within industry. In particular, since so many jobs depend on the nuclear and defence industries, they research and publish the possibilities of conversion from military to civilian production.

CND produces leaflets, posters, pamphlets, badges, and T-shirts. Local groups produce their own newsletters while our national membership magazine carries news, analysis, and campaigning ideas, etc.


An example of a leaflet from around the time of the 1997 general election.

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