‘Education, not destruction!’ Peace activists, MPs & celebs join Corbyn at anti-Trident march

File photo: A man wearing a British Prime Minister David Cameron mask holds a sign which reads "Warmonger" stands with supporters of the 'Stop the war' coalition and 'Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament' as they march through central London © Justin Tallis
Thousands of anti-nuclear campaigners will march alongside Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in London on Saturday to protest the renewal of Britain’s nuclear deterrent. The Labour leader’s opposition to Trident has been sharply criticized by trade union bosses.

The national demonstration is organized by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), and has drawn the support of peace activists, academics, students, celebrities and others. Political heavyweights Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Green Party MP Caroline Lucas are also expected to attend.

The Stop Trident anti-nuclear rally has also secured the backing of the National Union of Students (NUS), which passed a motion to support it this week.

NUS Vice President for Further Education Shakira Martin, who will speak at the Trafalgar Square protest, said the billions of pounds used to maintain Trident should be spent on education.

"Today the National Union of Students, which represents 7 million students, voted to support this Saturday's Stop Trident national demonstration,” she said.

"If Trident was ever used, then hundreds of millions of people would be killed. Instead of spending over £100 billion on weapons of mass destruction, I believe we should be funding free education."

The high-profile demonstration has also drawn support from celebrities such as fashion designer Katharine Hamnett and comedian Jeremy Hardy.

Commenting on the costly nuclear deterrent, Hardy said he opposes the program because “it's based on this idea of mutually assured destruction.”

"In order to keep us safe, you've got to be insane enough to use a nuclear weapon, and the other person's got to be insane enough as well,” he said.

“But neither of you have got to be so insane that you actually use it. So you've only got to be insane enough to be prepared to use it but not quite insane enough to actually use it.

"And so long as we just keep that balance of insanity absolutely perfect and equal on all sides we'll be fine. Sounds like a good gamble to me.”

The Stop Trident rally comes as Labour’s shadow defense secretary Emily Thornberry conducts a review into the Trident missile system.

Leaders of some trade unions, who normally support Labour’s policies, have said the abolition of Trident would cost tens of thousands of jobs.

Lashing out at Corbyn’s anti-nuclear stance, Gary Smith, a leading official with the GMB Union, told the IB Times the debate should focus on the predicament of workers.

"This is not a debate for the wine bars of Islington and Edinburgh – this is real life for the workers and their communities," Smith said.

"This is not a fight we picked,” he added. “The people who started this argument clearly have no idea of the massive ramifications for not renewing Trident and they don't understand how the whole shipbuilding industry and defense sector is linked together."