Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) is an organisation that advocates unilateral nuclear disarmament by the United Kingdom, international nuclear disarmament and tighter international arms regulation through agreements such as the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. It opposes military action that may result in the use of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons and the building of nuclear power stations in the UK.
CND was formed in 1957 and since that time has periodically been at the forefront of the peace movement in the UK. It claims to be Europe's largest single-issue peace campaign. Between 1959 and 1965 it organised the Aldermaston March, which was held over the Easter weekend from the Atomic Weapons Establishment near Aldermaston to Trafalgar Square, London. The first Aldermaston March in 1958 went the other way (from London to Aldermaston) and was organised by the Direct Action Committee.
- 1 Campaigns
- 2 Structure
- 3 History
- 4 Extent of public support for CND policies
- 5 Organised opposition to CND
- 6 Intelligence operations against CND
- 7 Chairs of CND since 1958
- 8 General Secretaries of CND since 1958
- 9 Archives
- 10 See also
- 11 References
- 12 Further reading
- 13 External links
CND's current strategic objectives are:
- The elimination of British nuclear weapons and global abolition of nuclear weapons. It campaigns for the cancellation of Trident by the British government and against the deployment of nuclear weapons in Britain.
- The abolition of weapons of mass destruction, in particular chemical and biological weapons. CND wants a ban on the manufacture, testing and use of depleted uranium weapons
- A nuclear-free, less militarised and more secure Europe. It supports the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). It opposes US military bases and nuclear weapons in Europe and British membership of NATO.
- The closure of the nuclear power industry.
In recent years CND has extended its campaigns to include opposition to U.S. and British policy in the Middle East, rather as it broadened its anti-nuclear campaigns in the 1960s to include opposition to the Vietnam War. In collaboration with the Stop the War Coalition and the Muslim Association of Britain, CND has organised anti-war marches under the slogan "Don't Attack Iraq", including protests on September 28, 2002 and February 15, 2003. It also organised a vigil for the victims of the 2005 London bombings.
CND campaigns against the Trident missile. In March 2007 it organised a rally in Parliament Square to coincide with the Commons motion to renew the weapons system. The rally was attended by over 1,000 people. It was addressed by Labour MPs Jon Trickett, Emily Thornberry, John McDonnell, Michael Meacher, Diane Abbott and Jeremy Corbyn, and Elfyn Llwyd of Plaid Cymru and Angus MacNeil of the Scottish National Party. In the House of Commons, 161 MPs (88 of them Labour) voted against the renewal of Trident and the Government motion was carried only with the support of Conservatives.
In 2006 CND launched a campaign against nuclear power. Its membership, which had fallen to 32,000 from a peak of 110,000 in 1983, increased threefold after Prime Minister Tony Blair made a commitment to nuclear energy.
CND has a national organisation based in London, national groups in Wales, Ireland and Scotland, regional groups in Cambridgeshire, Cumbria, the East Midlands, Kent, London, Manchester, Merseyside, Mid Somerset, Norwich, South Cheshire and North Staffordshire, Southern England, South West England, Suffolk, Surrey, Sussex, Tyne and Wear, the West Midlands and Yorkshire, and local branches.
There are five "specialist sections": Trade Union CND, Christian CND, Labour CND, Green CND and Ex-Services CND, which have rights of representation on the governing council. There are also parliamentary, youth and student groups.
The First Wave: 1958–1963
On 2 November 1957, the New Statesman magazine published an article by J. B. Priestley on "Britain and the Nuclear Bombs", which was critical of Aneurin Bevan for changing his mind about nuclear weapons and ceasing to advocate unilateral nuclear disarmament by Britain. The journal received many letters of support, reflecting the growth in opposition to nuclear weapons following Britain's recent H-bomb tests. At the end of November, a meeting was held in the rooms of Canon John Collins, chaired by the editor of the New Statesman, Kingsley Martin, to launch the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. Collins was chosen as its Chairman, Bertrand Russell as its President and Peggy Duff as its organising secretary. The other members of its executive committee were Ritchie Calder, journalist James Cameron, Howard Davies, Michael Foot, Arthur Goss, Kingsley Martin, J. B. Priestley and Joseph Rotblat.
CND held an inaugural public meeting at Central Hall, Westminster, on 17 February 1958, attended by five thousand people. After the meeting a few hundred left to demonstrate at Downing Street. The new organisation attracted considerable public interest and draw support from a range of interests, including scientists, religious leaders, academics, journalists, writers, actors and musicians. Its sponsors included John Arlott, Peggy Ashcroft, the Bishop of Birmingham Dr J. L. Wilson, Benjamin Britten, Viscount Chaplin, Michael de la Bédoyère, Bob Edwards, MP, Dame Edith Evans, A.S.Frere, Gerald Gardiner, QC, Victor Gollancz, Dr I.Grunfeld, E.M.Forster, Barbara Hepworth, Patrick Heron, Rev. Trevor Huddleston, Sir Julian Huxley, Edward Hyams, the Bishop of Llandaff Dr Glyn Simon, Doris Lessing, Sir Compton Mackenzie, the Very Rev George McLeod, Miles Malleson, Denis Matthews, Sir Francis Meynell, Henry Moore, John Napper, Ben Nicholson, Sir Herbert Read, Flora Robson, Michael Tippett, the cartoonist 'Vicky', Professor C. H. Waddington and Barbara Wootton. Other prominent founding members of CND were Fenner Brockway, E. P. Thompson, A. J. P. Taylor, Anthony Greenwood, Lord Simon, D. H. Pennington, Eric Baker and Dora Russell. Organisations that had previously opposed British nuclear weapons supported CND, including the British Peace Committee, the Direct Action Committee, the National Committee for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons Tests and the Quakers. In the same year, a branch of CND was also set in the Republic of Ireland by John de Courcy Ireland, and his wife Beatrice, aiming to campaign for the Irish government to support international efforts to achieve nuclear disarmament and to keep Ireland free of nuclear power. Notable supporters of the Irish CND included Peadar O'Donnell, Owen Sheehy-Skeffington and Hubert Butler.
CND's declared policies were the unconditional renunciation of the use, production of or dependence upon nuclear weapons by Britain and the bringing about of a general disarmament convention. In the meantime, Britain should halt the flight of planes armed with nuclear weapons, end nuclear testing, not proceed with missile bases and not provide nuclear weapons to any other country.
The symbol adopted by CND was designed in 1958 by Gerald Holtom and in the following decade became an international peace symbol. It is based on the semaphore symbols for "N" (two flags held 45 degrees down on both sides, forming the triangle at the bottom) and "D" (two flags, one above the head and one at the feet, forming the vertical line) (for Nuclear Disarmament) within a circle. Holtom later said that it also represented "an individual in despair, with hands palm outstretched outwards and downwards in the manner of Goya's peasant before the firing squad."
In Easter 1958, a 52-mile march from London to the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment at Aldermaston was organised by the Direct Action Committee, supported by CND after some initial reluctance. The march was the subject of a documentary by Lindsay Anderson, March to Aldermaston. Thereafter, CND organised annual Easter marches starting at Aldermaston and ending in London. 60,000 people participated in the 1959 march and 150,000 in the 1961 and 1962 marches.
CND supporters were generally left of centre in politics. About three-quarters were Labour voters and many of the early executive committee were Labour Party members. The ethos of CND has been described as "essentially that of middle-class radicalism". Its founders envisaged CND as a campaign by eminent individuals who would work through the Labour Party and lobby government for a change in defence policy. The Labour Party voted at its 1960 Conference for unilateral nuclear disarmament, representing CND's greatest influence on national politics and coinciding with the highest level of public support for its policy of unilateralism. Hugh Gaitskell, the Labour Party leader, received the vote with a promise to "fight, fight, and fight again" against the decision and it was overturned at the 1961 Conference.
Labour's failure to win the General election of 1959 and its rejection of unilateralism in 1961 upset the plans of the CND leadership and from this point onwards its prospects of success began to fade. Nevertheless, it retained the support of a significant minority of the population and it rapidly became a mass movement, attendance at CND demonstrations increasing until about 1963. A network of autonomous branches and specialist groups (such as Christian CND) sprang up. The Aldermaston march, the CND symbol and its slogan "Ban the Bomb" became icons and part of the youth culture of the 1960s. The different conceptions of CND - as a campaign by eminent individuals or as an extra-parliamentary mass movement - caused friction between leaders and supporters. The national organisation was run by the self-appointed executive committee who did not give supporters a voice until the formation of a national council in 1961.
In 1960 Bertrand Russell resigned from the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in order to form the Committee of 100, which became, in effect, the direct action wing of CND. Russell argued that direct action was necessary because the press was losing interest in CND and because the danger of nuclear war was so great that it was necessary to obstruct government preparations for it. In 1958 CND had cautiously accepted direct action as a possible method of campaigning, but, largely under the influence of Canon John Collins, the CND chairman, the CND leadership opposed any sort of unlawful protest. The Committee of 100 was created as a separate organisation partly for that reason and partly because of personal animosity between Collins and Russell. Although the Committee was supported by many in CND, it has been suggested that the campaign against nuclear weapons was weakened by the friction between the two organisations. The Committee organised large sit-down demonstrations in London and at military bases. It later became involved in other political campaigns, including Biafra, the Vietnam war and housing in the UK. It was dissolved in 1968. When direct action came to the fore again in the 1980s, it was generally accepted by the peace movement as a normal part of protest.
The Cuban Missile Crisis in the Autumn of 1962, in which the United States blockaded a Soviet attempt to put nuclear missiles on Cuba, created anxiety about imminent nuclear war and CND organised demonstrations on the issue. But six months after the crisis, a Gallup Poll found that public concern about nuclear weapons had fallen to its lowest point since 1957, and there was a view (disputed by CND supporters) that U.S. President John F. Kennedy's success in facing down Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev turned the British public away from the idea of unilateral nuclear disarmament.
On the 1963 Aldermaston march, a clandestine group calling itself Spies for Peace distributed leaflets about a secret government establishment, RSG 6, that the march was passing. The leaflet said that RSG 6 was to be the local HQ for a military dictatorship after nuclear war. A large group left the march, against the wishes of the CND leadership, to demonstrate at RSG 6. Later, when the march reached London, there were disorderly demonstrations in which anarchists were prominent, quickly deprecated in the press and in parliament. In 1964 there was only a one-day march, partly because of the events of 1963 and partly because the logistics of the march, which had grown beyond all expectation, had exhausted the organisers. The Aldermaston March was resumed in 1965.
CND's chairman John Collins helped to form the International Confederation for Disarmament and Peace in 1963 and resigned as chairman in 1964. He had been unpopular with many CND supporters and found himself out of sympathy with the direction the movement was taking.
Support for CND dwindled after the 1963 Test Ban Treaty. From the mid-1960s, the anti-war movement's preoccupation with the Vietnam War tended to eclipse concern about nuclear weapons but CND continued to campaign against them.
Although CND has never formally allied itself to any political party and has never been an election campaigning body, CND members and supporters have stood for election at various times as Independent Nuclear Disarmament candidates. The nearest CND has come to having an electoral arm was the Independent Nuclear Disarmament Election Campaign (INDEC) which stood candidates in a few local elections during the 1960s. Although never formally endorsed by CND nationally, INDEC candidates were generally put up by local CND groups as a means of raising the profile of this issue in public politics.
The Second Wave: 1980–89
In the 1980s, CND underwent a major revival in response to the resurgence of the Cold War. There was increasing tension between the superpowers following the deployment of SS20s in the Soviet Bloc countries, American Pershing missiles in Western Europe, and Britain's replacement of the Polaris armed submarine fleet with Trident missiles. The NATO exercise Able Archer 83 also added to international tension.
CND's membership increased rapidly, and in the early 1980s it claimed 90,000 national members and a further 250,000 in local branches. "This made it one of the largest political organisations in Britain and probably the largest peace movement in the world (outside the state-sponsored movements of the Communist bloc)." Public support for unilateralism reached its highest level since the 1960s. In October 1981, 250,000 people joined an anti-nuclear demonstration in London. CND's demonstration on the eve of Cruise missile deployment in October 1983 was one of the largest in British history, with 300,000 taking part in London as three million protested across Europe.
New sections were formed, including Ex-services CND, Green CND, Student CND, Tories Against Cruise and Trident (TACT), Trade Union CND, and Youth CND. More women than men supported CND. The campaign attracted supporters who opposed the Government’s civil defence plans as outlined in an official booklet, Protect and Survive. This publication was ridiculed in a popular pamphlet, Protest and Survive, by E.P.Thompson, a leading anti-nuclear campaigner of the period.
The British anti-nuclear movement at this time differed from that of the 1960s. Many groups sprang up independently of CND, some affiliating later. CND's previous objection to civil disobedience was dropped and it became a normal part of anti-nuclear protest. The women's movement had a strong influence, much of it emanating from the Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp, followed by Molesworth People's Peace Camp.
A network of protesters, calling itself Cruise Watch, tracked and harassed Cruise missiles whenever they were carried on public roads. After a while, the missiles traveled only at night under police escort.
At its 1982 conference, the Labour Party adopted a policy of unilateral nuclear disarmament. It lost the 1983 general election "in which, following the Falklands war, foreign policy was high on the agenda. Election defeats under, first, Michael Foot, then Neil Kinnock, led Labour to abandon the policy in the late 1980s." The re-election of a Conservative government in 1983 and the defeat of left-wing parties in continental Europe "made the deployment of Cruise missiles inevitable and the movement again began to lose steam."
Extent of public support for CND policies
As CND did not have a national membership until 1966, the strength of public support in its early days can be estimated only from the numbers of those attending demonstrations or expressing approval in opinion polls. Between 1955 and 1962, between 19% and 33% of people in Britain expressed disapproval of the manufacture of nuclear weapons.
Public support for unilateralism in September 1982 was 31%, falling to 21% in January 1983, but it is hard to say whether this decline was a result of the contemporary propaganda campaign against CND or not. Support for CND fell after the end of the Cold war. It had not succeeded in converting the British public to unilateralism and even after the collapse of the Soviet Union British nuclear weapons still have majority support. "Unilateral disarmament has always been opposed by a majority of the British public, with the level of support for unilateralism remaining steady at around one in four of the population."
In 2005, MORI conducted an opinion poll which asked about attitudes to Trident and the use of nuclear weapons. When asked whether the UK should replace Trident, without being told of the cost, 44% of respondents said "Yes" and 46% said "No". When asked the same question and told of the cost, 33% said "Yes" and 54% said "No".
When asked "Would you approve or disapprove of the UK using nuclear weapons against a country we are at war with?"
- 9% would approve if that country does not have nuclear weapons, and 84% would disapprove.
- 16% would approve if that country has nuclear weapons but has never used them, and 72% would disapprove,
- 53% would approve if that country uses nuclear weapons against the UK, and 37% would disapprove.
CND's policy of opposing American nuclear bases is said to be in tune with public opinion.
Organised opposition to CND
CND's growing support in the 1980s provoked opposition from several sources, including Peace Through Nato, the British Atlantic Committee (which received government funding), Women and Families for Defence (set up by conservative journalist Lady Olga Maitland to oppose the Greenham Common Peace Camp), the Conservative Party's Campaign for Defence and Multilateral Disarmament, the Coalition for Peace through Security, the Foreign Affairs Research Institute, and The 61, a private sector intelligence agency. The British government also took direct steps to counter the influence of CND, Secretary of State for Defence Michael Heseltine setting up Defence Secretariat 19 "to explain to the public the facts about the Government's policy on deterrence and multilateral disarmament". The activities of anti-CND organisations are said to have included research, publication, mobilising public opinion, counter-demonstrations, working within the Churches, smears against CND leaders and spying.
In an article on anti-CND groups, Stephen Dorril reported that in 1982 Eugene V. Rostow, Director of the US Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, became concerned about the growing unilateralist movement. According to Dorril, Rostow helped to initiate a propaganda exercise in Britain, "aimed at neutralising the efforts of CND. It would take three forms: mobilising public opinion, working within the Churches, and a 'dirty tricks' operation against the peace groups."
One of the groups set up to carry out this work was the Coalition for Peace through Security (CPS), modelled on the US Coalition for Peace through Strength. The CPS was founded in 1981. Its main activists were Julian Lewis, Edward Leigh and Francis Holihan. Amongst the activities of the CPS were commissioning Gallup polls which showed the levels of support for British possession of nuclear weapons, providing speakers at public meetings, highlighting the left-wing affiliations of leading CND figures and mounting counter-demonstrations against CND. These including haranguing CND marchers from the roof of the CPS's Whitehall office and flying a plane over a CND festival with a banner reading, "Help the Soviets, Support CND!" The CPS attracted criticism for refusing to say where its funding came from while alleging that the anti-nuclear movement was funded by the Soviet Union. Although the CPS called itself a grass-roots movement, it had no members and was financed by The 61, "a private sector operational intelligence agency" said by its founder, Brian Crozier, to be funded by "rich individuals and a few private companies". It is said to have also received funding from the Heritage Foundation.
The CPS claimed that Bruce Kent, the general secretary of CND and a Catholic priest, was a supporter of IRA terrorism. Kent alleged in his autobiography that Francis Holihan spied on CND. It was said that Holihan sent senior clerics in the Catholic Church material on Kent, that Holihan organised the aerial propaganda against CND, that he had entered CND offices under false pretences, and that CPS workers had joined CND in order to gain access to the Campaign's 1982 Annual Conference. It was said that when Kent went on a speaking tour of America, Holihan followed him, that offensive material on Kent was sent to newspapers and radio stations, and that demonstrations were organised against him.
Gerald Vaughan, a government minister, tried to halve government funding for the Citizens Advice Bureau, apparently because Joan Ruddock, CND's chair, was employed part-time at his local bureau. Bruce Kent was warned by Cardinal Basil Hume not to become too involved in politics.
CND's opponents claimed that CND was a Communist or Soviet-dominated organisation. In 1981, the Foreign Affairs Research Institute, which shared an office with the CPS, was said by Sanity, the CND newspaper, to have published a booklet claiming that Russian money was being used by CND. In response to Lord Chalfont's claim in that the Soviet Union was giving the European peace movement £100 million a year, Bruce Kent said, "If they were, it was certainly not getting to our grotty little office in Finsbury Park." In the 1980s, the Federation of Conservative Students alleged Soviet funding of CND.
Intelligence operations against CND
The security service (MI5) has carried out surveillance of CND members it considered to be subversive. From the late 1960s until the mid-1970s, MI5 designated CND as subversive by virtue of its being "communist controlled". 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. From the late 1970s, MI5 downgraded CND to "communist-penetrated". MI5 says it has no current investigations in this area.
In 1985, Cathy Massiter, an MI5 officer who had been responsible for the surveillance of CND from 1981 to 1983, resigned and made disclosures to a Channel 4 20/20 Vision programme, "MI5's Official Secrets". She said that her work was determined more by the political importance of CND than by any security threat posed by subversive elements within it. In 1983, she analysed telephone intercepts on John Cox that gave her access to conversations with Joan Ruddock and Bruce Kent. MI5 also placed a spy, Harry Newton, in the CND office. According to Massiter, Newton believed that CND was controlled by extreme left-wing activists and that Bruce Kent might be a crypto-communist, but Massiter found no evidence to support either opinion. On the basis of Ruddock's contacts, MI5 suspected her of being a communist sympathiser. Speaking in the House of Commons, Dale Campbell-Savours, MP, said,
"it was felt within the service that officers were likely to be questioned about the true political affiliation of Mrs. Joan Ruddock, who became chair of CND in 1983. It was fully recognised by the service that she had no subversive affiliations and therefore should not be recorded under any of the usual subversive categories. In fact, she was recorded as a contact of a hostile intelligence service after giving an interview to a Soviet journalist based in London who was suspected of being a KGB intelligence officer. In Joan Ruddock's file, MI5 recorded special branch references to her movements—usually public meetings—and kept press cuttings and the products of mail and telephone intercepts obtained through active investigation of other targets, such as the Communist party and John Cox. There were police reports recording her appearances at demonstrations or public meetings. There were references to her also in reports from agents working, for example, in the Communist party. These would also appear in her file."
According to Stephen Dorril, at about the same time, Special Branch officers recruited an informant within CND, Stanley Bonnett, on the instructions of MI5. MI5 is also said to have suspected CND's treasurer, Cathy Ashton, of being a communist sympathiser because she shared a house with a communist. When Michael Heseltine became Secretary of State for Defence, Massiter prepared a report on CND for him. She was asked to provide information for Defence Secretariat 19 about leading CND personnel but was instructed to include only information from published sources. Ruddock claims that DS19 released distorted information regarding her political party affiliations to the media and Conservative Party candidates.
Brian Crozier claimed in his book Free Agent: The Unseen War 1941-1991 (Harper Collins, 1993) that The 61 infiltrated a mole into CND in 1979.
In 1990, it was discovered in the archive of the Stasi (the state security service of the former German Democratic Republic) that a member of CND's governing council, Vic Allen, had passed information to them about CND. This discovery was made public in a BBC TV programme in 1999, reviving debate about Soviet links to CND. Allen stood against Joan Ruddock for the leadership of CND in 1985, but was defeated. Ruddock responded to the Stasi revelations with "[Allen] certainly had no influence on national CND, and as a pro-Soviet could never have succeeded to the chair. CND was as opposed to Soviet nuclear weapons as Western ones."
Chairs of CND since 1958 
- Canon John Collins 1958–1964
- Olive Gibbs 1964–1967
- Sheila Oakes 1967–1968
- Malcolm Caldwell 1968–1970
- April Carter 1970–1971
- John Cox 1971–1977
- Bruce Kent 1977–1979
- Hugh Jenkins 1979–1981
- Joan Ruddock 1981–1985
- Paul Johns 1985 – 1987
- Bruce Kent 1987 –1990
- Marjorie Thompson 1990–1993
- Janet Bloomfield 1993–1996
- David Knight 1996–2001
- Carol Naughton 2001–2003
- Kate Hudson 2003– 2010
- Dave Webb 2010– present
General Secretaries of CND since 1958
- Peggy Duff 1958–1967
- Dick Nettleton 1967–1973
- Dan Smith 1974–1975
- Duncan Rees 1976–1979
- Bruce Kent 1979–1985
- Meg Beresford 1985–1990
- Gary Lefley, 1990–1994
The post was abolished in 1994, and reinstated in 2010.
- Kate Hudson, 2010–
Much of National CNDs historical archive is at the Modern Records Centre at the University of Warwick and the London School of Economics, although records of local and regional groups are spread throughout the country in public and private collections.
- Anti-nuclear movement in the United Kingdom
- Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (NZ)
- Counterculture of the 1960s
- European Nuclear Disarmament
- European Peace Marches
- Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp
- Independent Nuclear Disarmament Election Committee
- Koeberg Alert
- List of anti-war organizations
- List of peace activists
- Nuclear disarmament
- Nuclear-Free Future Award
- Nuclear-free zone
- Nuclear Information Service
- Nuclear proliferation
- Nuclear weapons and the United Kingdom
- Peace movement
- Peace symbols
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- Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
- "Thousands protest against H-bomb". BBC Online. 1960-04-18. Retrieved 8 January 2012. - Report of the 1960 Aldermaston March
- BBC Report of CND Protest in London 22 October 1983
- 20/20 Vision: MI5's Official Secrets
- Exhibition - CND: The story of a peace movement (LSE Archives)
- A British Museum expert's view of the CND badge
- Catalogue of the CND archives, held at the Modern Records Centre, University of Warwick
- 'If at first you don’t succeed...:fighting against the bomb in the 1950s and 1960s' by Rip Bulkeley, Pete Goodwin, Ian Birchall, Peter Binns and Colin Sparks, International Socialism journal, 2:11, (Winter 1981) - a short Marxist history of CND
- News items
- McGuffin, Paddy (7 March 2007). "A new generation of CND goes on the march". Telegraph & Argus.
- "Anniversary demo at nuclear site". BBC Online. 2 January 2008.
- Campbell, Duncan; Williams, Rachel (16 February 2008). "CND veterans remain unbowed, 50 years on". The Guardian (London).
- Sengupta, Kim (7 January 2012). "How Thatcher's election win launched secret war on CND". The Independent (London).