On Saturday 27 February, tens of thousands of people braced the cold to march the streets of London in the name of a Britain free from its sadistic Trident nuclear weapon system. Such a passionate and well-attended demonstration was essential in showing how opposition to the government’s nuclear weapons system is both growing and becoming increasingly dynamic.
Despite the mainstream media’s myth that such demonstrations are only attended by aging activists of a bygone era, a great number of young people joined the march, with many joining the designated student bloc. Having young people fervently engaged in the fight against Trident is pivotal in shifting media perceptions and pushing the issue to the heart of national debate.
Thousands of activists gallantly waved inspiring and powerful banners and placards, calling for the money wasted on Trident to be redirected to schools, hospitals and jobs. The post-march rally echoed across the thousands gathered within Trafalgar Square, with each speaker given a rapturous reception. As activists from up and down the country filled the square, a series of zealous speeches rewarded their efforts and further added to the zest of the afternoon.
Among the speakers were Vanessa Redgrave, Rou Reynolds (of Enter Shikari), Francesca Martinez, Giles Fraser and writer Tariq Ali. As integral as their contributions were, it was the presence of four major UK political party leaders that garnered unique significance. As the leaders of the SNP, Plaid Cymru, the Green Party and the leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, electrified the animated crowd, the significance and magnitude of proceedings really hit home. Shakira Martin, NUS Vice President Further Education also addressed the crowds.
In what was the largest anti-Trident demonstration since 1983, the leaders of four mainstream political parties were in attendance, demonstrating that anti-Trident is sentiment increasingly part of political debate and proving that the movement against the UK’s nuclear weapons operation is at its strongest point in a generation. As students and young people we should take immense heart from this, however, Saturday’s demonstration alone with not cease the government’s plan to renew Trident.
We must take encouragement from last Saturday’s demo and use it to build support amongst our peers, ensuring the movement can continue to expand and pressure those in power.