10 October 2016
Thanks for inviting me – great to see you all here – when Cath invited me to speak – well, you know what politicians are like – they can’t resist the chance to say something in public – and then I thought, well what can I add to the contributions from the list of expert speakers we have here with us today?
Some of you may know I’ve been involved with CND for a long time one way or another, but today I’m speaking from a Green Party point of view and also as a local councillor – the elected local representative of 10,000 of York’s 200,000 residents. York is one of England’s most historic and most visited cities – and located just over 50 miles from this joint UK/US base here at Fylingdales. Thermal radiation from a single high yield nuclear weapon detonated at Fylingdales would quickly reach my residents in York causing third degree burns and large numbers of deaths and injuries. It would have similar effects in Middlesborough, Hartlepool, Malton and Bridlington – and blast damage would destroy much of Whitby and Scarborough.
But surely, many people would say – the Cold War is over, why should we be worried about that when we have climate change, terrorism and paying the mortgage to think about? And anyway, Fylingdales is an ‘early warning station’ – it’s there to protect us, isn’t it?
The reason we are all here today is that we know this isn’t anything remotely like the full story. We know that the so-called ‘early warning’ for ballistic missiles heading towards the UK would be a matter of minutes and therefore not worth a great deal. We know that all the intelligence gathered here at Fylingdales is shared with the US military to inform their global war fighting efforts - and we know that the software upgrades in 2007 and 2010 mean that Fylingdales is a key part of a global missile tracking and targeting system aimed at giving the United States the ability to carry out nuclear first strikes. We know that as the US continues to expand missile defence into southern and central Europe and Turkey and onto mobile units on sea and land -that nuclear weapons states such as Russia and China feel increasingly threatened and act accordingly – and the world moves closer to a new Cold War, with large numbers of nuclear weapons still ready for use.
So we also know, that whilst that strange pyramid in the mist might look as if it isn’t doing anything much, it must be a prime target for any nation who feels threatened by US foreign policy and US military expansion – on those grounds alone Fylingdales should be a matter of urgent concern for everyone who lives within a very wide radius of the base.
For many of us, of course, it’s not just that it makes us a target, but also that we know that missile defence is increasing tensions and conflicts in the world and undermining peace everywhere. York has recently – eventually - welcomed a small number of Syrian refugees – and is working to support others in Middlesborough and Bradford. These people are fleeing from situations not so very different to the aftermath of a nuclear blast – homes and water supplies destroyed, terrible injuries and terrible trauma – as we have heard recently, the really unbearable news about the bombing of Aleppo - we know that the tangled web of hostilities in Syria is underpinned by superpower conflict in the region, in which the expansion of US missile defence closer and closer to Russian borders plays no small part.
I hope it will be no surprise to you to learn that Green Party policy is unequivocally opposed to so-called ‘missile defence’ and a Green Government would not allow any UK facilities to be used as part of its implementation. It’s a real privilege today to be part of this demonstration and especially to link up with the campaigns in Germany – it’s only by acting together and acting locally and globally – as part of this ‘Keep Space for Peace Week’ - that we will raise awareness and challenge what is going on here.