The current Coronavirus pandemic represents a significant challenge for our society and YSCND offers solidarity to all our supporters affected by the crisis and extends our gratitude to all our essential workers who have put their own health at risk for the benefit of us all.
While CND’s national office has been closed since the lockdown began in March, our staff has continued to work from home to advance the cause of disarmament as the need for us to continue to make our arguments in this time is crucial. Already we are seeing the limitations of our current understandings of ‘Security’, as whilst the U.K. Government is committed to spending £205bn on the replacement of Trident under the notion of keeping us safe, we are finding our healthcare system has been underfunded to the point where we are critically underprepared for this pandemic. Moreover, the U.K. government’s own strategic defence review in 2015 listed a ‘health crisis’ a tier one strategic threat, as opposed to a nuclear attack which it only mentioned briefly as a tier two threat.
This raises obvious questions about how that money could be better spent and reinforces our message of NHS Not Trident. Our friends at Scottish CND have produced the infographic found at the bottom of this post which really demonstrates how much better equipped the NHS would be if the government were to divest from Trident.
We have also witnessed companies such as Airbus and Rolls Royce temporarily divest their manufacturing capabilities away from arms towards ventilators, which will play a crucial role in nursing patients suffering from COVID-19. Those of us in the disarmament movement should undoubtedly welcome this move from the government and take the opportunity to ask why we can’t permanently re-orientate arms companies away from the production of weapons of war and towards production for the purpose of human good.
Our existing status quo, where our health service is critically underfunded and our care workers and nurses underpaid whilst we spend billions each year on nuclear weapons we will likely never use, cannot last. Moreover, with the growing threat of climate catastrophe becoming more of a reality each year, the need for divestment from arms production and toward green technologies couldn’t be clearer.
In the aftermath of this pandemic, there will be a discussion about how we can be better prepared for future pandemics and similar national crises and it will be imperative that YSCND and other campaigns continue to put forward our arguments.
On a practical level, YSCND continues to remain active with student groups such as SOAS CND conducting their reading group meetings over Zoom. Whilst our AGM previously scheduled for the 28th March had to sadly be postponed, we are still accepting applications for those interested in taking up committee positions and will reschedule our AGM for a future date as the situation becomes clearer.
The next few months will be challenging for all of us, but we hope to keep organising around the cause of peace and disarmament with the tools available to us.