There is no bomb that makes you safer

CND activist, Green MP and anti-nuclear campaigner Caroline Lucas has urged CND members to build broader alliances, including working with other movements, for example Extinction Rebellion, to draw attention to the way both nuclear weapons and the climate crisis pose existential threats to our future.

Speaking at an event hosted by Reigate & Redhill Peace Group on September 12th as part of CND’s Global Dangers tour, Caroline made the point that Trident will be redundant before it is even delivered. “That’s £200 billion wasted on an inhumane, useless – and hopefully soon to be illegal – weapon of mass destruction that is no use whatsoever against today’s threats,” she said. The threats facing us include cybercrime and the greatest threat, climate crisis, which will lead to flooding, increased migration and food shortages all of which raise the risks of war.

“Nuclear weapons are not the answer to the overheating climate”

She went on: “Our lasting safety cannot be secured by – and shouldn’t be pursued with – bombs and bullets. Weapons like Trident, designed to kill millions of people, will only make us less safe, including from the climate perspective. Nuclear weapons are not the answer to the overheating climate.”

The government is pushing for new nuclear energy with no plans for how to store the waste, Caroline pointed out, suggesting that the continuation of nuclear power has less to do with energy needs than with retaining the expertise that could later be applied to building nuclear weapons.

She likened Trident-supporting Boris Johnson – who has links with climate sceptics and whose defence secretary worked for a defence contractor – with Donald Trump, who supports the use of nuclear weapons and has pulled the US out of the nuclear deal with Iran, undermining years of hard work by many countries on nuclear disarmament. “We have two morally bankrupt and ambitious men for whom instability and chaos are just bumps in the road, but for us they are a cavernous sinkhole that threatens our future,” she said.

Caroline accused the UK government of indiscriminate arms sales, and pointed out that London recently hosted the “biennial festival of death”, the DSEI (Defence & Security Equipment International) arms fair. She called the arms trade “obscene” and said Britain has earned eight times more from selling arms to Saudi Arabia and other members of the coalition fighting in Yemen than it has spent on aid to the victims of the conflict.

The EU as peacebuilder

Caroline believes that continued membership of the EU is crucial to maintaining the peace that has lasted since the end of World War 2. She regretted the Remain campaign’s failure to emphasise the role that the EU has played in fostering good international relationships.

“The EU is far from perfect but so is Westminster,” pointed out Caroline, a former member of the European Parliament. “The EU has done more for peace and security than any number of nuclear weapons could. I worry that Brexit will do irreparable harm and that we will pay a massive price in terms of security.”

She maintained that public pressure can influence politicians’ decisions – citing Harold Wilson’s refusal to join the war in Vietnam despite huge pressure from the United States. Although Tony Blair waged war against Iraq despite public opinion, David Cameron thought twice about attacking Syria because of public pressure.

UK’s absence from talks is shameful

She argued that similar pressure needs to be brought to the issue of banning nuclear weapons. It was “shameful” that the UK’s seat was empty at United Nations talks about a nuclear weapons ban treaty that 70 other countries signed and that could have become “the foundation for security and safety”.

Also, the UK government is not keeping to its side of the bargain regarding the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, given that the treaty involved a commitment not to increase nuclear weapon stocks, Caroline argued.

“What possible moral justification can there be for telling other countries they can’t have nuclear weapons if we are planning to keep ours and upgrade them?”

Wage peace instead of war

Caroline argued for creative new ways to give ordinary people a voice in rewriting our national security strategy and asked: “Why do we spend so much more money on waging war than bringing about peace? There is no bomb that makes you safer.”

She argued for the cancellation of Trident renewal, countering the argument that the weapons industry creates jobs by suggesting massive investment in the green economy instead, with the aim of net zero nuclear weapons as well as net zero carbon emissions.

The defence industry should be supported with “serious financial resources” to enable it to use existing skills to make non-destructive products instead of weapons, she went on. This investment would create more jobs in harmless activities than can be created in making nuclear weapons. This approach was proposed as long ago as the 1970s, when the staff of Lucas Aerospace suggested, in the face of the declining military market and job losses, diversifying into socially useful products such as kidney dialysis machines, using their existing manufacturing skills.

Caroline described this approach as a “swords to ploughshares model” and added: “Safety and security is not about military boots on the ground, but about having shoes on children’s feet. It’s not about how many Typhoon jets you have but about whether your home can withstand real typhoons. It’s about justice.”


Caroline Lucas has been MP for Brighton Pavilion since 2010, and is a former leader of the Green Party. She was once arrested for cutting fences at a military bases and is chair of the cross-party parliamentary group that aims for nuclear disarmament.

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