It’s time to call time on WMDs – and back Jeremy Corbyn.


So Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party has said he would not use nuclear weapons? Phew, what a relief.

 Well that is hardly astounding News, but he is right to point it out nonetheless. It highlights the senselessness of spending resources on Weapons of Mass Destruction which can never, ever be used because it would be a suicidal act. For all those of who believe in humanity, in peace and abhor human suffering, there can be no alternative. Jeremy Corbyn was elected with a huge mandate and has opposed the replacement of Trident. Even former Tory Defence Minister Michael Portillo is opposing Trident’s replacement, claiming it is a waste of money.

I wonder, if Mr Cameron will not say he is also unwilling to use them, how can we trust such a man with the future of the human race, the continued existence of life itself? After all, this was the man who went against parliament’s decision to involve our servicemen in attacks on Syria. Please remember that David Cameron ‘was aware’ British pilots carried out Syrian air strikes despite Commons vote, and chose to disregard the democratic decision.

Why do these weapons exist at all?

Without going blindly into such a replacement wasting our precious resources on such a pointless exercise, it is time to have the debate and look at the facts. It is time to stop, think and call time on weapons of mass destruction. It’s time to educate younger generations about the facts. It’s time to face up to the reality – they offer no deterrent, they cost the earth, no one can use them; they certainly didn’t help the USA on 9/11.

Nuclear Weapons are Horrific, Pointless and Extraordinarily Costly


What else is as unimaginably horrific as nuclear war? The horrors are so awful that the human mind cannot endure to see  images or to contemplate the physical, mental and emotional pain. It is now 70 years since August 6, 1945, when the United States used a massive, atomic weapon against Hiroshima, Japan. This atomic bomb, the equivalent of 20,000 tons of TNT, flattened the city, killing tens of thousands of civilians. While Japan was still trying to comprehend this devastation three days later, the United States struck again, this time, on Nagasaki. ( 9th August 1945)

It is not good enough to turn away – the images and the facts must be faced up to. We cannot uninvent nuclear missiles, but we can discover why they should not be in existence. I am appalled that there are plans to replace Trident, a nuclear missile which must be never used. No, not my name. It must not happen.

Face up to these images, the ones they don’t want us to see: listen to the stories.

Although the names of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were incised into our memories, there were few pictures to accompany them. Even today, the image in our minds is a mixture of devastated landscapes and shattered buildings. Shocking images of the ruins, but where were the victims?

The American occupation forces imposed strict censorship on Japan, prohibiting anything “that might, directly or by inference, disturb public tranquility” and used it to prohibit all pictures of the bombed cities. The pictures remained classified ‘top secret’ for many years. Some of the images have been published later by different means, but it’s not usual to see them all together. (see more here )

All the watches found in the ground zero were stopped at 8:15 am, the time of the explosion.


Within a certain distance from the site of explosion, the heat was so intense that practically everything was vaporised. The shadows of the parapets were imprinted on the road surface of the Yorozuyo Bridge, 1/2 of a mile south-southwest of the hypocentre. Besides, in Hiroshima, all that was left of some humans, sitting on stone benches near the centre of explosion, was their outlines.

6th Aug 2

On August 6, 1945, 8.15 am, the uranium atom bomb exploded 580 metres above the city of Hiroshima with a blinding flash, creating a giant fireball and sending surface temperatures to 4,000C. Fierce heat rays and radiation burst out in every direction, unleashing a high pressure shockwave, vaporising tens of thousands of people and animals, melting buildings and streetcars, reducing a 400-year-old city to dust.
Housewives and children were incinerated instantly or paralysed in their daily routines, their internal organs boiled and their bones charred into brittle charcoal.

Beneath the center of the explosion, temperatures were hot enough to melt concrete and steel. Within seconds, 75,000 people had been killed or fatally injured with 65% of the casualties nine years of age and younger.

6th Aug 3
Radiation deaths were still occurring in large numbers in the following days. “For no apparent reason their health began to fail. They lost appetite. Their hair fell out. Bluish spots appeared on their bodies. And then bleeding began from the ears, nose and mouth”.

Doctors “gave their patients Vitamin A injections. The results were horrible. The flesh started rotting from the hole caused by the injection of the needle. And in every case the victim died”.
Hibakusha is the term widely used in Japan referring to victims of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Japanese word translates literally to “explosion-affected people”.

They and their children were (and still are) victims of severe discrimination due to lack of knowledge about the consequences of radiation sickness, which people believed to be hereditary or even contagious.

Many of them were fired from their jobs. Hibakusha women never got married, as many feared they would give birth to deformed children. Men suffered discrimination too. “Nobody wanted to marry someone who might die in a couple of years”.
Yamahata, the photographer of Nagasaki

On August 10, 1945, the day after the bombing of Nagasaki Yosuke Yamahata, began to photograph the devastation. The city was dead. He walked through the darkened ruins and the dead corpses for hours.

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By late afternoon, he had taken his final photographs near a first aid station north of the city. In a single day, he had completed the only extensive photographic record of the immediate aftermath of the atomic bombing of either Hiroshima or Nagasaki.

Aug6 6jpg

“A warm wind began to blow – he wrote later – Here and there in the distance I saw many small fires, like elf-fires, smoldering. Nagasaki had been completely destroyed”

Mr. Yamahata’s photographs are the most complete record of the atomic bombing as seen in the most immediate hours after the bombing. The New York Times has called Mr. Yamahata’s photographs, “some of the most powerful images ever made”.

Mr. Yamahata became violently ill on August 6, 1965, his forty-eighth birthday and the twentieth anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. He was diagnosed with terminal cancer of the duodenum, probably caused by the residual effects of radiation received in Nagasaki in 1945. He died on April 18, 1966, and is buried at Tama Cemetery, Tokyo.

Everyone should see them and understand. Hiding and pretending will not do.

Atomic Bomb survivors never forget, and while they inevitably diminish in number , their resolve to fight to rid the world of nuclear missiles grows ever more determined.


We cannot help but wonder what is the point and sense in developing more and more horrible weapons, which can never, ever be used, and if they were the consequences of modern weapons would be far worse. They can never be used without a suicidal action. In modern times of suicidal terrorism, suicide itself is no deterrent, the existence of nuclear missiles is not only pointless but an incredible waste of money, resources and human effort which could be much better used elsewhere.

Colin Powell:  I became Chairman of the Joint chiefs of staff in 1989 and I had 28,000 nuclear weapons under my supervision. And every morning I looked to see where the Russian submarines were off the coast of Virginia and how far away those missions were from Washington. I kept track where the Russian missiles were in Europe and in the Soviet Union. The one thing that I convinced myself after all these years of exposure to the use of nuclear weapons is that they were useless. 


They could not be used. If you can have deterrence with an even lower number of weapons, well then why stop there, why not continue on, why not get rid of them altogether…This is the moment when we have to move forward and all of us come together to reduce the number of nuclear weapons and eliminate them from the face of the earth. “Nuclear Weapons Are Useless”   

The pointlessness of it all is clear – the danger of nuclear weapons is such that they should not even exist. That there are stockpiles of radioactive uranium and plutonium around the world is alarming – should these ever get into the hands of maniacs it would surely be an end. The expansion of nuclear power holds the same dangers,  and at a time when there are effective renewable sources for energy, why is it even being considered?

Who can we trust? Why is David Cameron in favour of supporting a replacement to Trident?  Parliament voted against British forces being used in Syria in 2013. Recently, it has transpired that David Cameron lied, and that was against Parliament’s explicit  instructions, British Forces were involved in an air campaign. David Cameron was fully aware of the action.  We must consider what are the reasons for Cameron’s support for a Trident replacement. Is it financial? Whatever is his reason, it is clearly very, very silly.

In January 2015, A Commons motion against renewal of Trident was crushed by 364 votes to 35 after Tory and Labour front benches joined forces to back the weapons of mass destruction. A number of Labour MPs abstained.
The motion was moved by the SNP, Plaid Cymru and Green MP Caroline Lucas.
Mr Blunt, the only Tory supporting the motion, said he was wearing the regimental tie of the Light Dragoons.
He told MPs that when he worked as a special adviser at the Ministry of Defence, he found it impossible to find a scenario in which Britain would decide to use nuclear weapons.

Labour MPs voting against Trident renewal were:
Diane Abbott, Ronnie Campbell, Katy Clark, Michael Connarty, Jeremy Corbyn, Ian Davidson, Paul Flynn, Roger Godsiff, Kelvin Hopkins, David Lammy, Mark Lazarowicz, John McDonnell, Grahame Morris, Fiona O’Donnell, Sandra Osborne, Dennis Skinner, Andrew Smith, Graham Stringer and Joan Walley. (From Morning Star)

The SNP’s manifesto for the 2015 General Election opposed Trident’s renewal. and their landslide on May 7th, winning all but three seats in Scotland demonstrates that there is a huge opposition to this policy.

In 2016, there is to be another vote in Parliament on the replacement of Trident. Jeremy Corbyn, and several other MPs  will oppose  Trident replacement. Even if renewal is rejected, after the Syria vote was totally disregarded, I cannot help but wonder, whether Mr Cameron is taking much notice of parliament at all. What power does he hold over the use of nuclear weapons. It is truly terrifying.


If the cost to the planet of nuclear war is obliteration, it seems trivial to even consider the economic implications.The government is in favour of replacing Trident at a cost of around £100 billion. This money would be enough to fully fund A&E services for 40 years, employ 150,000 new nurses, build 1.5 million affordable homes, build 30,000 new primary schools, or cover tuition fees for 4 million students. It is astounding, and extraordinarily costly. So much good  could come of savings from the cost of the maintenance and replacement of Trident’s replacement, and the related  nuclear energy industry. The nuclear industry is massively subsidised by the British public. Sizewell B, the UK’s most recent power station cost the taxpayer around £3.7billion just to install Decommissioning and cleaning up all of our current nuclear sites is costing more than £70 billion.

Many people are employed in the nuclear industry – there is no logic in retaining it on the grounds of employment. Diplomatic solutions to conflict need personnel equipped  with necessary skills. We should be developing education, communication and understanding, of issues of other societies, not dividing the world further. We are one people. Jobs could be provided for scientists and experts developing our green energy policy.


 People must protest against this renewal and demand an end to these weapons. Our politicians must stand alongside us. On this our opposition must oppose. Abstention will not do. There are protests (AWE) demanding disarmament all around the world including in the UK where 4 Day Fast Protest against Trident is planned  in London. (August 6th-9th).

CND have been campaigning since 1958. There is a host of information on their website.CND.jpeg

The Battle to save the NHS


The crisis in the NHS grinds on inexorably.  In just the last day, former LD health minister, Norman Lamb warns that the healthcare system will crash in two years and says Tories are being dishonest over crisis.   Furthermore, NHS junior doctors have condemned a new contract imposed on them, fearing that it will cut their pay by up to 40%, force them to work more antisocial shifts and put some off becoming GPs or A&E medics.

They have pledged to resist the move by ministers, which they say is “bad for patients, bad for junior doctors and bad for the NHS”. The joint leader of the 53,000 junior doctors in England affected has indicated that they may even go on strike in protest.

Tony O’Sulivan sets out the current position in the piece below, re-posted from openDemocracy

The NHS stays centre stage as the political ground shakes

By Tony O’Sullivan – Consultant Paediatrician and member of Keep Our NHS Public and the Save Lewisham Hospital campaign.  First posted 14.09.15 openDemocracy

The English NHS is likely to stay centre stage in political fights.  New Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s first official visit as Labour Party leader was to Camden & Islington NHS Mental Health Trust yesterday.  His new shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, last night highlighted his opposition to the EU/US TTIP trade deal which many see as a huge threat to the NHS.  And – uniquely amongst leadership contenders,  Corbyn is a signatory to the NHS Bill 2015 – which aims to reinstate the NHS and was re-tabled in Parliament by Caroline Lucas, Green MP with cross-party support on July 1st.

Yesterday, Corbyn wrote

“We as a labour movement have to be strong enough to stand up and ensure that we have a system that prevents anyone falling into destitution, supports those going through mental health crises and ends the internal market and privatisation of our health service.”


Later today, parliament will debate a vote of no confidence in health secretary Jeremy Hunt, Health Secretary, after two petitions calling for such a debate attracted over 300,000 signatures – though the Government has relegated it down from the main chamber of the House of Commons, to the significantly more low-key Westminster Hall venue.  Doctors have been asked to ensure their MP attends this debate and to ensure the focus is on Hunt and his record.

NHS campaigners will be out in force to show the Government the depth of feeling for the NHS and against Conservative ideological direction at the Tory Party conference in Manchester on 3-7 October.

The greater openness of political debate, first in the Scottish independence referendum and now in the Labour Party leadership election, means that many more will be ready to get involved.  And we must be ready to respond to every anti-NHS argument.

The ideological untruths and practical assaults on the NHS and public sector that we saw under the coalition government are being ramped up under the new Tory government.

If a public service is starved of essential finance for long enough it will start to fail – and the NHS is no exception.  Just earlier this month, GPs in Worcestershire were told not to refer patients to local NHS hospitals for three months so that they could clear a backlog – and encouraged to pay private hospitals to take patients in the meantime.

The NHS is ‘broken’, wrote James Bartholomew in the Telegraph electing to place the NHS bottom of the pile of European health systems.  He concludes that the ‘failed’ NHS must be replaced by a compulsory insurance system, such as that of Switzerland.

In the UK of course, there is a compulsory contribution to the NHS from public taxation made in the UK.  The great difference is that the UK system is not run for profit and is free at the point of need.

This principle makes the NHS far more cost effective – out-performingSwitzerland in effectiveness and value for money according to a 2015 Commonwealth Fund report.

No doubt other systems have lessons that we can learn from.

But Bartholomew’s argument is a purely ideological one. Like the Government, he wants us to equate publicly funded health systems with failure.

His 2004 book The Welfare State We’re In was praised by Thatcher’s guru, Milton Friedman, as “a devastating critique of the welfare state”.  During the 2010 pre-election period, Bartholomew advocated the abolition of the NHS on Radio 4.

Our NHS has been amazingly effective despite ongoing underfunding compared to other advanced national health systems.  Just why is it that the NHS has lower number of doctors and acute hospital beds per 1000 population and second lowest number of MRI scanners per million compared to other advanced European health systems?  It is a failure of funding rather than a failure of the NHS.  It receives less funding than the OECD average and less than the European comparators.

Nonetheless, the Commonwealth Fund’s comparative analysis of 11 advanced national health services, using data and surveys from 2010-13, placed the USA bottom and the NHS top.  The NHS was best in 8 out of 11 criteria and was the most cost-effective national health system.

In fact, despite significant underfunding, the NHS has punched above its weight for three generations.

It is now under threat from cleverly disguised ideology, worsening cuts, PFI payments and privatisation, not from its ‘failure’.  The failure to adequately fund front-line NHS services over the last five years has increased waiting lists.  We need more GPs, hospital doctors, more nurses and therapists and better equipment.  Not an insurance based system such as the USA or Switzerland.  The USA spends double the UK on health but over 30% of that funding is wasted on private insurance administration and profit margins.  In insurance-based health systems, the incentive of profit regarding who gets investigations, procedures and treatments, can be a more powerful motive than what is bestfor the patient.

Efforts to privatise whole swathes of health services have failed to deliver more effective care and are proving more costly.  We now face a national health service increasingly without national coordination of standards, with shrinking resources and accelerating fragmentation.  This will devastate patient care pathways which rely on many services cooperating together (including social care).

We must get back the NHS.  In the example of New Zealand we can see the immediate benefits if we succeed.  New Zealand privatised their health service in 1993.  Perverse incentives dominated and costs escalated.  The new 1999 government looked this failure in the eye.  They made a political decision to act on the evidence and renationalised their health service in 2000 with clear benefits.  Following the calamitous Christchurch earthquake of 2010, public conclusions were that the privatised and fragmented health service would not have been able to respond to such magnificent effect as New Zealand’s reinstated NHS.

There is one category where the UK comes out close to bottom in international comparisons like the Commonwealth Fund (though still above the USA).

It’s ‘healthy lives’, a category which reflects more specifically health inequality: the effects of poverty, education and societal attitudes to promoting early child development (see the Marmot Review).

The greatest single determinant of health outcomes is of course poverty. The impoverishment of the British people through austerity, unemployment, low wages and zero hour contracts, the mental and physical stress that places on us, coupled with the assault on the funding of the NHS and escalating privatisation, means that the battle to save our NHS is more important than ever.

With additional reporting by Caroline Molloy.

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Hat-tip Chelley Ryan for bringing this celebratory video compiled by Nenasadie to Think Left’s attention – it’s a joy!

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