From demos to FO memos: CND grows up - News - The Independent

From demos to FO memos: CND grows up

Steve Boggan on protesters coming in from the cold

The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, whose members were regarded as enemies of the state during the dark years of the Cold War, has been secretly briefing senior civil servants and MPs on future defence policy.

Leading members of the campaign - including one who was once arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism Act - have held meetings with officials from the Ministry of Defence and the Foreign Office, and with Ian Soutar, Britain's new ambassador to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva.

Since Labour's election victory in May, CND's role has changed from that of an outside irritant of government to a valued partner in developing policies. It is hiring an advertising agency to spread the message that nuclear disarmament is still a live issue.

In Parliament, it was behind a submission on disarmament proposals signed by 30 left-wing MPs and presented to George Robertson, the Defence Secretary, as part of his strategic defence review. And, in the next few weeks, CND officials are expected to meet Tony Lloyd, minister for arms control and disarmament.

Most remarkably of all, CND has been invited into the heart of Whitehall to help formulate policy. It has held two meetings, one over tea and biscuits in the office of Richard Grozney, head of the Foreign Office security policy division, and the other at CND's north London offices with Mr Soutar, arranged at his request shortly after his Geneva appointment was announced.

CND was represented at the first meeting, in June, by its chairman, Dave Knight, and its parliamentary officer, William Peden. On the Foreign Office side was Mr Grozney and two other FO officials. A representative from the Ministry of Defence was also present. Political sources described the meeting as "bizarre but ground-breaking".

"We got the impression that Mr Grozney expected the CND people to be hippies and wear sandals, and that the CND people expected the civil servants to be very stuffy - but they got on very well and left understanding each other's point of view a little better," said one source.

The meeting with Mr Soutar was held the following week. It is understood he requested the meeting to establish CND's position and, according to one source, to "ask for advice".

Present at both meetings was Mr Peden, 31, CND's parliamentary officer, a softly-spoken Scot who founded the peace camp outside the Faslane nuclear naval base in 1983. From 1983 to 1987 he was routinely arrested during protests, his phone was tapped and he was held under the Prevention of Terrorism Act for publicising the movement of nuclear missiles. No charges were ever brought.

He refused to discuss the meetings yesterday but he did agree that CND's outsiders have come in from the cold.

"Under Tony Blair's government, there is a new openness and a willingness to discuss fresh ideas," he said. "Doors are now open to us that years ago would have been slammed in our faces.

"After being treated as an enemy of the state, it is nice to be regarded as someone who can make a positive contribution."

Founded in 1958 by, among others, the philosopher Bertrand Russell and the author JB Priestley, CND has always been viewed with suspicion by the security services due to the early support it received from members of the Communist Party, to which it was never affiliated.

Its profile was highest during the 1960s when protests were held at the nuclear research establishment at Aldermaston and during the 1980s when American Cruise and Pershing missiles were stationed in Britain.

However, from a high of 100,000 in 1984, membership has fallen to around 40,000 since the end of the Cold War and the removal of the missiles, prompting a fresh campaign to recruit members and raise its profile.

A week ago, it appealed for advertising agencies to run its campaigns for free. Ten applicants have since been considered and the successful agent will be announced soon.

"We want to raise the issue first, and our own image second," said Louise Edge, CND's spokeswoman. "It has gone from people's minds a little, but we have to remind them that disarmament is by no means complete - there are still thousands of nuclear weapons out there."

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape
music
News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
filmMatt Damon in talks to return
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Life and Style
tech... and together they're worth at least £100 million
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig is believed to be donning skies as 007 for the first time
Arts and Entertainment
Fringe show: 'Cilla', with Sheridan Smith in the title role and Aneurin Barnard as her future husband Bobby Willis
tvEllen E Jones on ITV's 'Cilla'
Life and Style
Bono and Apple CEO Tim Cook announced U2's surprise new album at the iPhone 6 launch
tech(but you can't escape: Bono is always on your iPhone)
Sport
Tim Wiese
sport
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Programme Test Manager

£400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client are currently seekin...

IT Network Manager - Shepherd's Bush, London

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Network Manager - Shepherd's Bush...

Secondary supply teachers needed in Peterborough

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Secondary supply teac...

Modern Foreign Languages Teacher

£100 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Group: Full time German Supply Teacher...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week