FIVE MINUTES TO MIDNIGHT
[Speech given by Dr Rebecca Johnson to the No Trident Replacement Demo in London on 24 Feb 2007]
FIVE MINUTES TO MIDNIGHT
Four minutes to Armageddon
Three minutes before we die
Two minutes to say –
...Not even enough time to say goodbye to the people you love...
25 years ago I stood where I’m standing now and sang ‘4 minutes to midnight’ to a huge crowd of anti-nuclear protesters. Then Thatcher had just taken us into the Falklands war; we were opposing Trident – the first lot – and a new generation of US nuclear weapons – cruise missiles. In less than ten years of persistent and nonviolent civil society resistance on both sides of the artificial cold war divide, cruise missiles were abolished by treaty, the US had closed their flagship base at Greenham Common and the Berlin wall had been pulled down. And as the cold war ended, the Doomsday clock was pushed back to 17 minutes to midnight.
Yet here we are again, opposing the next generation of Trident, another artificial divide and the catastrophic war in Iraq. And just in case we hadn’t realised that Tony Blair was trying – for some strange pyschological reasons of his own – to recreate a distorted version of Thatcherism, we’re now hearing that he wants the US to deploy its Son of Star Wars missile interceptors in Britain – notwithstanding the fact that they would make Britain even more insecure and America actually wants to put them in Poland.
It’s wonderful to see so many people here today, but marching through London is not going to be enough. Millions marching to prevent the war on Iraq were ignored. We have already won all the rational and security arguments against renewing Trident but we won’t stop it unless we undertake the kind of massive civil resistance we did in the 1980s directly against the bases – Aldermaston, where the warheads are made, and Faslane, where the nuclear subs are deployed.
Sian has already talked about Aldermaston, so I’ll tell you about Faslane in Scotland. Faslane 365 is a civil resistance movement dedicated to nonviolently disrupting the nuclear sub base for a whole year, to put pressure on the navy, the Scottish and Westminster parliaments, and to make Trident undeployable.
Since October, thousands of people have joined protests at Faslane, including pensioners, musicians and writers, academics, students, doctors, Christians, Muslims, gays and lesbians, humanists, Women in Black, even members of various parliaments... groups of people from all over Scotland, Wales, and England, as well as other countries. More than 500 have been arrested and charged with breach of the peace. These nonviolent protests, involving up to 100 people a day, have blocked the south gate, the north gate, blocked all roads leading to the base, and in the last few days – thanks to Greenpeace – have blocked the sea entrance on the Gare Loch. Yet whether we’ve used our bodies or closed the gates with bicycle locks and wheelchairs, hardly anyone has been taken to court. Why?
Because the prosecutors know that it is the nonviolent protesters that are keeping the peace, keeping international law, and upholding Britain’s treaty obligations, which are to eliminate the nuclear arsenal. And it is the government which – as they did in invading Iraq – have violated international law and further breached the peace and security of millions of people, in the Middle East and here.
But though we are glad that many groups have signed up to the rota of blockades over the next few months, these will not be enough. We need YOU. We’re asking for only two days of your time to come to Faslane between now and the end of September. There are stalls and leaflets here in Trafalgar Square. Look on the Faslane 365 website for information and ideas on what to do. Get a group together – there’s nothing like sharing a blockade or a night in the cells to cement lasting friendships!
You came on this demo because you want to stop Trident, stop the bloodshed in Iraq and prevent a war on Iran. But London is used to big demos. You would be ten times more noticeable and effective if you came to Faslane for a day or two. And if you were prepared to risk arrest for upholding human security and international law, just a fraction of the large numbers here today would put incredible – unbearable – pressure on the governments of Scotland and Britain.
Faced with climate change and the resurgence of nuclear weapons, the Doomsday clock recently moved two minutes closer – it now stands at five minutes to midnight...
With over 70 % of Scottish people opposed to Trident and elections due in May, the nuclear base at Faslane is the weakest link – exerting maximum pressure there with large numbers of peace-full, peace-demanding protesters over the next few months could break the nuclear chain once and for all.
The best way to stop Trident being replaced is to stop it being deployed NOW. And that means using nonviolent direct action to close the Faslane base as much as possible over the next few months. Join us at Faslane 365 in scrapping Trident. Come and show what you really want – real human security, with the billions spent on preventing poverty and climate change, for example.
We need your active participation at Faslane. We can win this with real concerted civil resistance. Join the Faslane 365 blockades and you’ll have the time of your lives.
Don’t let the clock keep ticking...