Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
|Splitting more than hairs|
The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) is an organisation founded in 1958 as a campaign for unilateral nuclear disarmament by the United Kingdom. Its mandate has grown over the years to cover chemical, biological and nuclear weapons as well as opposing the construction of nuclear power stations. Its symbol has become an international symbol for peace.
The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament was formed in late 1957 and launched in 1958. After Aneurin Bevan declared his support for maintaining the United Kingdom's nuclear deterrent, the CND was formed by New Statesman editor Kingsley Martin, Bertrand Russell, Michael Foot, and many others (including journalists, left-wing politicians and clergymen). Five thousand people attended the first public meeting in February '58 and the CND became the biggest peace and anti-nuclear movement in the United Kingdom.
Nuclear issues took second position as the peace movement began massive popular protests against the United States' part in the Vietnam War. CND survived but as a much smaller movement. Some protests continued, particularly in Scotland where both British and US nuclear missile submarines were now based.
In 1979 the decision was made to deploy American Cruise and Pershing missiles in Britain and several other Western European countries. This resulted in such famous actions as the Greenham Common women's protest.
Britain's internal security services, MI5, closely monitored the CND and considered it a subversive group with communist links. In 1985, an MI5 officer involved in the monitoring of the CND resigned and released information to Channel 4 about her investigations. She alleged that the investigation was much more politically motivated than it was related to any actual subversive threat. MI5 believed CND's treasurer was a 'communist sympathiser'.
Opponents of the CND have often raised the spectre of it being a communist-funded organisation. Certainly, communists have played an active role in the organisation, and John Cox, its chairman from 1971 to 1977, was a member of the Communist Party of Great Britain.
In the spring of 1959, as interest in, and membership of, the CND was growing, they were approached by the communist-led British Peace Committee, with the aim of joining forces and supporting each others' initiatives. CND, however, rejected these overtures.
Similarly, stories were frequently circulated, by the Conservative Party and mass-media, that the CND was funded by the Kremlin. Once again, these allegations were untrue. Funds were raised via donations by members, as well as the sale of literature. In an attempt to squash these allegations, Bruce Kent, the then-general secretary of CND and a Roman Catholic priest, offered a £100 award to anyone who could prove a link between the CND and Moscow existed. The award was never claimed.
Support for the CND fell after the end of the Cold War, but popular support and membership increased dramatically after Tony Blair stated his commitment to nuclear power. Though quieter and smaller, the organisation continues to exist and to campaign against nuclear weapons and power.
The organisation has campaigned against British involvement in the Middle East and has co-organised anti-war rallies with the Stop the War Coalition and the Muslim Association of Britain. In March 2007, the CND began one of its biggest campaigns of recent years—rallying in Parliament Square as parliament voted on renewal of the Trident Missile Programme. The government's own party (at the time, Labour) had enough rebels that votes from the opposition were required for the motion to pass—as had previously been the case with Britain's participation in the Iraq War.
The CND symbol, a combination of the semaphore symbols for N and D has become an international 'peace sign' which is well recognised. It was picked up by American pacifists during the Cold War. The original drawing of this symbol is housed in the Peace Museum in Bradford, West Yorkshire.
If you happen to be an insane Christian fundamentalist, it is instead clearly a Satanic symbol showing an inverted cross with the arms broken or an upside-down pitchfork, with the circle probably representing some pagan thing or other.
In an ironic coincidence, the symbol slightly resembles the rune "Yr" (ᛦ), which means death. Due to the resemblance, and the appropriation of runic symbols by the Nazis, would-be discreditors of CND have (libellously) attempted to link the peace sign directly to Nazism.
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- Resisting the bomb: a history of the world nuclear disarmament movement; Lawrence S. Wittner; pg 331; Stanford University Press; 1997
- Toward Nuclear Abolition: A History of the World Nuclear Disarmament; Lawrence S. Wittner; Stanford University Press; 2003