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Peace campaigners mark CND's 60th birthday

PEACE campaigners marked the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament’s 60th birthday on Wednesday night, vowing to keep fighting for a nuclear-free world.

Green MP Caroline Lucas opened proceedings, saying CND was about “hope — not in terms of some fluffy idea but as a very practical response to the huge threats that we face.”

Guests clapped and cheered as she gave a special welcome to Cuban ambassador Teresita Sotolongo, noting that “Cuba is now the fifth country to have ratified the Nuclear Prohibition Treaty.”

The meeting was sponsored by the National Education Union, whose joint general secretary Kevin Courtney sent greetings, while rail union RMT was represented by its president Sean Hoyle.

Veteran campaigner Ernest Rodker recalled the first march from Aldermaston and Londoners “singing Don’t You Hear the H Bombs Thunder and cheering the marchers on” while another hero of the peace movement, Bruce Kent, derided the government’s claim to possess an “independent” nuclear deterrent when it is delivered by US missiles.

“If you had a motor car and you had to borrow the wheels from a neighbour, would you call that independent?”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the existence of CND meant “there has always been a challenge to the idea that you go to war, drop bombs and worry about the consequences afterwards.”

He welcomed China and South Korea’s efforts to get six-party talks on disarming the Korean peninsula in response to US aggression towards North Korea and vowed to resist US President Donald Trump’s efforts to unravel the nuclear deal with Iran.

Pax Christi general secretary Pat Gaffney detailed the role of faith groups in the peace movement, while CND chair Dave Webb elaborated on the international campaign to rid the world of nuclear weapons.

Displays showed iconic images from 60 years of protests for peace and short biographies of giants of the movement living and dead, including Labour legend Tony Benn and Scottish communist peace campaigner Alan Mackinnon.

CND general secretary Kate Hudson drew applause as she vowed: “We will prevail.”

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