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Rethink Trident: Atomic weapons campaigners launch new effort to stop missile replacement

Thom Yorke, Frankie Boyle and Russell Brand and other figures join CND to put end to a weapons system as 'useful as bubonic plague'

Anti-nuclear campaigners opened a new front yesterday in the fight against Tory plans to splash £100 billion on weapons of mass destruction that are as “useful as bubonic plague.”

Leaders of the three main political parties had skipped Parliament for Scotland in a bid to shore up the campaign against Scottish independence.

But activists filled the void in the heart of Westminster to launch Rethink Trident — a new push to reverse plans to retool the nuclear weapons arsenal and instead put Britain at the heart of global disarmament.

Dozens of high-profile celebrities including Radiohead singer Thom Yorke, comedians Frankie Boyle and Russell Brand, and fashion designers Vivienne Westwood and Katharine Hamnett have thrown their weight behind the campaign.

At its parliamentary launch, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) general secretary Kate Hudson said the goal was to “broaden and deepen” the alliances that have ensured that public opinion remains sharply opposed to Trident replacement.

“We haven’t yet gone far enough,” she said.

“We need to pinpoint the arguments and push forward at the top political level.”

Pointing out that nuclear war between states was no longer seen by military strategists as a “level one” threat, she said the government was wedded to a nuclear arsenal due to the idea that “it provides Britain with a certain status in the world.”

“This needs to be challenged,” said Ms Hudson.

Anti-poverty charity War on Want’s executive director John Hilary recalled the words of a military officer in austerity-hit Spain that in the past 20 years billions had been spend on “weapons we never used, for circumstances that never existed, bought with money we didn’t have and still don’t have.”

“That’s exactly what we’re about to repeat with the replacement of Trident,” Mr Hilary said.

Branding nuclear WMDs “as useful as bubonic plague,” he added: “The idea that at a time of savage attacks on public spending we’ve £100bn in the other pocket to spend on something with absolutely no purpose is absolutely criminal.”

Green MP Caroline Lucas argued that the economic arguments for replacement were a “myth” that needed to be exposed.

“Investing £100bn wisely could create 2 million new jobs compared to 7,000 with Trident,” she said.

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