Nottingham CND supporters protest against Government 'glorification' of war
ON the eve of the Great War centenary commemoration year, Nottingham CND supporters protested against the glorification of war.
A dozen members of the anti-nuclear weapons movement, demonstrating outside the Council House, also protested against the proposed replacement of Britain's nuclear deterrent – the submarine-borne Trident missile system.
Campaigner Russ Longhurst rejected the argument that a £55 million programme of First World War commemoration events was intended to underline the tragedy of war.
"The Government is using the centenary of the First World War to glorify war," said Mr Longhurst. "And that especially includes the recent wars Britain has been involved in – Iraq and Afghanistan.
"They have been disastrous wars for this country in which hundreds of soldiers have been sacrificed." He added that the Government was "whipping up militaristic and jingoistic sentiment" in the year Britain's front-line forces would be returning from Afghanistan.
The First World War began for Britain on August 4, 1914, and ended in 1918 on November 11 – known every year since as Armistice Day.
The total number of military and civilian casualties was more than 37 million, including 16 million deaths.
During the war, 8.6 million men served in the British Army. Of those, 956,703 were killed in action, or died of wounds, disease or injury, or were missing presumed dead.
Plans for this year's events are being led by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport – the aim being "a commemoration fitting of this significant milestone in world history".
Local events will include the Trent to Trenches exhibition at Nottingham Castle from July to November.
Newark MP Patrick Mercer, a former commanding officer of the Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters (now 2 Mercian) said CND had got the wrong message. He said: "It will be a time to remember the enormous sacrifices made in Notts by thousands of young men who never had any expectation of serving as soldiers and who not only defended their country but were killed in the process. It is not about the glorification of war."
On Trident, Mr Mercer said: "My own view is that we need a nuclear deterrent. Trident is a hideous waste of money but it is the least expensive option. CND needs to get real. China is expanding and Russia is re-arming. Without deterrence, we would be walking blindfold into the future."
A decision on whether to replace Trident will be made in 2016.
Source: Nottingham Post