Thousands of people gathered and rallied to oppose the renewal of Trident in Central London on Saturday.
More than 6000 demonstrators, according to both the Met Police and the organisers, took the streets to join the Stop Trident National Demo. People came from all over the UK, with many buses arriving from Scotland.
The protest was led by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, the Stop the War Coalition and other groups supporting refugees, NHS, social housing and climate change.
The march started from Marble Arch at 1 pm and ended in Trafalgar Square. Numerous front rank politicians joined the rally, among which Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland, Leanne Wood, the leader of the Welsh party Plaid Cymru, Caroline Lucas, a Green Party’s MP and the MPs against the Trident.
People rallied down to Park Lane, then through Piccadilly Street and Regent Street to eventually reach Trafalgar Square. Many speakers took the stage which was built at the basement of the statue of admiral Nelson.
Several banners and chants came alongside the protest, such as “Cut War Not Welfare”, “NHS not Trident”, Scrap Trident” and “Homes not Trident”.
Despite the presence of different groups, the opposition to Trident was the common goal.
Ian Pattison, a member of the Socialist Party, said: “With all the money we might save by relinquishing Trident, we could invest on social housing, education, renewable sources and jobs.”
Trident, officially known as Trident Nuclear Deterrent, is the UK’s nuclear weapon system installed in 1994 for deterrence purposes. It consists of submarines carrying nuclear-powered ballistic missile platform.
The current entire range of Trident is made up of 58 D-5 missiles, four ballistic missile submarines and 160 thermonuclear weapons. The initial costs was 9,8 billion, but it is taking from 3% to 4,5% of the annual defence budget.
A huge debate arose over the replacement of Trident with the Leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, convinced on its uselessness since the 1980s, when the programme was ideated.
Speaking to an overcrowded Trafalgar Square, Nicola Sturgeon opposed the nuclear programme: “I would rather see these millions of money spent on education, health and giving our children the best life.” (See the video below for Sturgeon’s entire speech).
Also Leanne Wood pointed out the financial issue related to Trident. She said: “It is never acceptable to unleash weapons of mass destruction on a population. Nuclear weapons belong to the past of history alongside the Cold War. We have the NHS which is crying out for investments instead of spending hundred of billion pounds on weapons of mass destruction.
She went on: “Disarming the world from nuclear weapons won’t happen by accident: it is a decision to do that. Say no to nuclear weapons, say no to nuclear war. We will prevail.”
On the same opinion the Green Mp Caroline Lucas. She insisted on more investments on schools, houses, railways and local economy.
Chris Nineham, one of the founders of the Stop the War Coalition, explained what the movement is doing to stop the Trident: “We have numerous meetings in the Parliament. The leader of four parties, included the Labour Party, joined this demonstration. We have constructed a kind of alliance. We continue with local lobby, email lobby, lobby with the local MPs. We want to make them notice of what is now the majority of public opinion.”
Asked whether relinquishing Trident will leave the UK defenceless, Mr Nineham answered: “Think about the situation in a different way: nuclear weapons increase the likelihood of more of them. The way the Foreign policy is now conducted is creating huge tension with Russia. The more aggressive and heavily armed Britain is, the more likely there would be attacks.”
Jeremy Corbyn concluded the National Demo. He did not take part to the march but he took a 10 minutes speech where he explained the devastating financial and humanitarian costs of the nuclear weapons and outlines the guidelines of his hypothetical election at Downing Street. (See the sum of his speech in the video below).
Words, Video and Pictures by Giovanni Prati