A new generation of CND goes on the march

A new generation of CND goes on the march

Lavinia Crossley, Rebecca Holloway, Sylvia Boyes and Helen John

Lavinia Crossley, Rebecca Holloway, Sylvia Boyes and Helen John

Lavinia Crossley, Rebecca Holloway, Sylvia Boyes and Helen John

Lavinia Crossley, Rebecca Holloway, Sylvia Boyes and Helen John

First published in News by

From Greenham Common to Great Horton, the legacy of CND has passed to a new generation of students.

Long at the vanguard of the anti-nuclear movement, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament was started in 1957.

The logo has been a fixture on every anti-war or anti-nuclear demonstration since - as well as having been adopted by the flower power movement of the 1960s.

In the 1980s, at the height of the cold war, thousands rallied to the CND banner with campaigns against Cruise missile sites in the UK, most notably at the US airforce base at Greenham Common.

The Women's Peace Camp at Greenham lasted for almost two decades, from 1981 to 2000 and was a cause celebre for anti-war and anti-nuclear campaigners.

Now, over a quarter of a century later, a new generation is picking up the baton. Students at Bradford University are working hand in hand with veteran CND campaigners in their protest against the nuclear submarine base at Faslane in Scotland.

And protests are intensifying, with the Government proposing to replace the Trident missile system - a move which has met widespread opposition, with a number of Labour MPs rebelling and the Church of England calling for serious debate on the issue.

It has been argued that the current generation of students has become more apathetic and insular, with even campaigns against tuition fees failing to generate mass protests. But the anti-globalisation movement and opposition to the incursion into Iraq have galvanised a new group of student radicals.

Helen John, 69, from Keighley was one of the original Greenham Common protesters and, indeed, was the first to be arrested there.

"I was there for the first year and walked from Cardiff to Greenham and chained myself to the fence," she recalls. "The base commander said we could stay as long as we liked, so we did."

"When I look at it, there doesn't seem to have been a great deal of progress made in a quarter of a century. The world is a much more unstable place but it is hugely positive to see so many young people becoming involved now.

"We learned a lot from Greenham and so did the state: they learned to be more secretive. There is hope, though - the anti-globalisation movement and anti-war movement and now anti-Trident."

Sylvia Boyes, 63, also from Keighley, first became politicised through the Quaker movement.

"I joined the Quakers and took part in conferences and discussions - all the usual things - and this coincided with the peace movement and the anti-cruise missiles campaign," she says.

"I heard about Greenham and went to show my support and it was there I got arrested for the first time. Maybe I shouldn't say this but I took to being arrested quite easily. I wasn't a student, my children were older so there wasn't the same pressure on me. But when I look at the protesters today I see similarities not differences.

"When I attended the demonstration in London recently I was really delighted by the number of young people there. It wasn't just the usual suspects and it was very encouraging."

Sarah Cartin, of Yorkshire CND, says she has seen her generation becoming more politicised. "I began getting involved with CND when I was a student here at Bradford University," she says.

"Since I became involved, I've seen more and more people getting involved and different levels of opposition. More and more people are becoming involved in direct action in the campaign against the replacement of Trident and Faslane.

"We try to ensure there are more resources and information available for people.

"In terms of why people are becoming more radical, I think tuition fees play a role. Students are paying a lot of money for their education now and they want to know where that money is going. They are making more measured and mature decisions."

Two of the new generation are Lavinia Crossley, 21, and Rebecca Holloway, 23, both students at Bradford University.

Lavinia has been to demonstrations at Faslane before. She finds the examples set by the likes of Helen and Sylvia inspirational.

"I think it was the war in Iraq which really instilled a fury in me about what the Government was doing," she says.

"We went on all the anti-war marches, but it can be incredibly frustrating and you begin to wonder if anyone's listening. I decided I would rather be involved in direct action and really try to make a difference.

"We formed the Faslane Society here at the University and decided to become involved in non-violent direct action. I was a bit nervous the first time I was arrested but I see it as committing a small crime to try to prevent a bigger one.

"Helen and Sylvia are a real inspiration. Many people get disillusioned but they never have. I hope I'm still doing this when I'm in my sixties."

Rebecca Holloway will make her first trip to Faslane this month.

"Before I came to university I wasn't that involved in anything like this," she says. "But, doing peace studies at Bradford, you come into contact with a lot of different views. I am going to Faslane for the first time and am a bit nervous, but excited too."

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree