Peace activists deplore Cameron's slur and Cold War claims

By staff writers
13 Mar 2010

Peace campaigners have deplored Conservative leader David Cameron's recent parliamentary jibe at them, and his claim that the Tories "won" the Cold War. They say the remarks are cheap and historically flawed.

The response came after comments made by Mr Cameron at Prime Ministers Question Time in the House of Commons on Wednesday 10 March 2010, in the context of a row between government and opposition over military spending and the ongoing crisis of armed operations in Afghanistan.

"Under the last Conservative government we won the Cold war ...while that lot were all wearing CND badges," declared the Tory leader, jabbing his finger at Labour members.

CND stands for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, which went through a significant revival in the 1980s, as the threat of nuclear war increased.

But many historians dispute the notion that the Thatcher government's introduction of Cruise missiles, the purchase of Trident mark I and revival of civil defence and support for US President Reagan's 'Star Wars' military space programme had any tangible impact in the demise of the Soviet Union - which occurred largely for political and economic reasons.

The US has subsequently claimed that encouraging the Soviet Union to overspend on arms was the key factor. But critics point out that the high percentage devoted to the military in the GDP of the USSR and its satellites did not change dramatically. They say it was the onset of what we now call globalisation that rendered the command economy obsolete. The other major factor was political pressure internally that peace and human rights groups like European Nuclear Disarmament (END) in the West, which consciously linked the two themes across the 'Iron Curtain', actively aided.

CND members are also incensed that the slur against peace campaigners occurred days after the death of former Labour leader Michael Foot, who was pivotal in the movement, along with church groups, members of a range of political parties and civic organisations.

Kate Hudson, Chair of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, said: "Michael Foot's principled position on nuclear disarmament has long been used to explain Labour's defeat in 1983, and justify pro-nuclear policies from the Labour Party leadership. But the 1983 election was not an endorsement of Mrs Thatcher's nuclear policy."

She added: "Opinion polls show that his views on nuclear disarmament are today shared by the majority of the British electorate across the political spectrum - a fact that our politicians would do well to recognise as they head into a general election. We send our deepest sympathy to Michael's family and friends."

[Ekk/3]

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 England & Wales License. Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.