Wednesday, 20 March 2013


Peace demo at Ulverston War Memorial

Once Syd and Barbara retired from actively supporting the organisation in the autumn of 2009 the writing was on the wall - campaigning for peace and nuclear disarmament would not continue for much longer in Furness unless there was a significant increase in the number of people willing to devote some time and effort to the work.  With just three activists remaining, it would be very difficult to maintain the stall at the open air market and consistently distribute leaflets in the town centre - particularly as there were other issues such as pensioner matters and talk of looming austerity measures (involving privatisation of the National Health Service and dismantling the Welfare State) demanding their more immediate attention.    

That support was never provided so, some weeks later, it was agreed the group  
enter hibernation and it has remained in that state for the past three years.  It shall be re-awakened only when positive signs of renewed local interest are evident - highly unlikely in this region dominated by the nuclear and armaments industry and whose population is regularly subjected to military features in the local press.

Pictures of campaigns and activities that the group was involved with, together with comments, will be posted here as an historical record and an illustration of attitudes and opinions of the local population at that time.

Contemporary local peace and anti-nuclear issues will now be addressed at the following:

Sunday, 28 March 2010


THE NEXT STEP IS? If the people of this town were really honest they'd admit the 
only interest they have in the building of new Trident subs is for the work (employment) that this project provides: 'deterrence' is used as a vague excuse to make the subs appear necessary.

The picture above shows (l to r) Marcus and Kerry-Ann of Footprints for Peace and Barbara and Syd Eager (formerly of Barrow Peace Coalition Steering Committee) at Walney channel in 2007.  The Devonshire Dock Hall, in which the Vanguard class submersible launch platforms for the American Trident Weapons of Mass Destruction were built, can be seen in the background.  The new Astute class submarines are currently being constructed here.

Many conversations have been held with local residents regarding the  proposed 'Successor' fleet of Trident subs.  When asked to explain what they mean when they say "We need a deterrent!" the reasons vary from "It stops another country from attacking us." to "It's important for the war against terror."  However, they can't explain how a weapon that, if used, would instantly vapourise three million people prevents another country or group of terrorists from attacking us.  One nutcase suggested it would be used as a last resort to stop us from being forced to become Muslims

Terrorist acts perpetrated by the IRA in mainland Britain during the 1970s never gave rise to the type of hysteria we meet in Britain today and were never used as an excuse for building nuclear weapons.  The Cold War and hawkish bloody-minded leaders in Britain and America (Thatcher and Reagan)    pushed the development and deployment of ever more sophisticated nuclear weapons to highly dangerous levels. But it was recognised then, just as it ought to be recognised today, that terrorism can only be brought to an end through political discourse. 

Terrorists have no country that can be 'punished' for their acts of aggression because they come from many different nationalities - and this is why simpletons have latched onto the only thing these people appear to have in common: they all seem to be of the Muslim it follows that all Muslims must be terrorists! Hence the police must stop and search all Muslims.  And anyone carrying a bag and who 'looks like a Muslim' must be watched very carefully indeed. My word, how the soft porn gutter press tabloids love this stuff!

The Cold War ended long ago. We are not under any threat by another nuclear super-power (except, maybe, the USA).  The longer we hang onto our nuclear weapons, the more other countries will want to have their own nuclear 'deterrent' - if this is so important for us, then it must be very important for them, too.  Hence we now have India and Pakistan as members of the 'Nuclear Club' with North Korea at the door.  

So there you have it.  Trident subs do not deter terrorists - they won't prevent a plane being crashed into a nuclear power station, or anthrax being released at airports or railway stations, or viruses/bacteria being released into freshwater reservoirs, or bombs wrapped in biological or nuclear material being detonated in crowded city centres.  Nor do they serve to protect the shipping lanes that we depend upon for our very survival (95% of gross tonnage is shipped by sea).  But the people of Barrow in Furness don't want to consider any of these things because, as they insist, "We need a deterrent!"

Finally, some time ago a Trade Union official in Carlisle suggested the people of Barrow would build gas (extermination) ovens if it kept people in work.  The comment was met with expressions of outrage by locals.  But here's a question someone might like to answer - what's the difference between building weapons that can exterminate several million people in a matter of minutes and building gas ovens that might take a year or more to do exactly the same thing?

The next posting will address the potential economic benefits of introducing alternative industries into this region and releasing the town from its great dependency on BAE.


Monday, 4 January 2010



OK, it's most unlikely given that the three main political parties are in favour of a replacement fleet. However, to say that it is unlikely, rather than impossible, suggests there might just be a chance for this to happen!

It is highly unlikely that my house will ever burn to the ground - but I have got it insured against such a possibility. Most sensible homebuyers/owners do this. Now apply this to Barrow job security.

All the big nobs of this town are content to place its future economic well-being on the building of a successor fleet of Trident-bearing nuclear submarines. Indeed, at the annual meeting of Furness Enterprise held at Abbey House in December, Harry Knowles, Chief Executive Officer, 'thanked God' that BAE employed 5,000 locals. And there was much 'positive' and 'encouraging' talk about the new marina, high-tech lighting systems, new factory units and office buildings.

There was no mention of the more than 300 jobs that had been lost at Glaxo last year, the loss of the 'wonderful' carrier centre sections order that was to have created thousands of jobs, the liquidation of Strand Engineering and the recent threat of yet more job losses at Glaxo and a possible drastic reduction in the scope of an already curtailed Waterfront Development. Neither was there mention of all the small businesses that are going to the wall in the town - witness all the boarded-up shop premises on Dalton Road.

But, yes - given that there is nothing else to support the local economy - Barrow needs the new Trident order because nobody is thinking about anything else!
Consider, for just a moment, the following....The people of the United States of America have just elected a president who has a brain. President Barack Obama has stated he desires to see a reduction in nuclear weapons. Despite receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, he has agreed to send a further 30,000 US troops into Afghanistan and this makes the award look a little bit dubious. However, a new round of talks on the SALT (Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty) is due any time now and Obama will be looking for some 'bargaining chips' in those negotiations.

I don't know if he has already thought about this but I'll write to him and suggest it anyway....As a gesture of his sincerity towards nuclear arms reduction, he could instruct any British government to forget about a successor Trident fleet. Let's face it, it wouldn't be any skin off his nose, would it? No American workers would be thrown out of a job. It'd make a great impression on those who'd awarded him the Nobel Peace Prize, and the other SALT countries would be encouraged to follow America's lead! And BAE Systems would simply increase its interests in the Electric Boat Company in Houston, Texas.

Just one problem - there's been no 'Plan B' for Barrow and the local population would be reduced to the same misery it endured TWENTY YEARS AGO!

And that Public Meeting (to which the Labour candidate, the local Labour gang, the local Trade Union Council club, the local business 'selfish societies and associations' and the hypocritical 'religious' community avoided like the plague) was meant to consider 'Plan B' as the town's insurance policy. But because so few are bothered there is NO insurance policy. It's Trident or bust (in a country that's flat broke, skint, brassic!)

Monday, 28 December 2009


A public meeting to debate the long-term economic future of Barrow and Furness took place at St George's Church hall, Lonsdale Street, Barrow, on the evening of Wednesday 9th December and was well attended.
Prospective parliamentary candidates for the Conservatives, John Gough, and the Liberal Democrats, Barry Rabone, together with the leader of the Conservative Group on the borough council, Jack Richardson, and the secretary of Ulverston Trades Union Council, George Appleton, contributed to the debate.
Unfortunately, the following neither attended nor even acknowledged invitation - John Woodcock, prospective parliamentary candidate for New Labour, Dave Pidduck, leader of the Labour Group on the borough council, the secretary of Barrow Traders' Association, the Chairman of Furness Small Businesses, the secretary of Barrow Churches Together and Bob Pointer, secretary of Barrow Trades Union Council. Clearly, some townsfolk holding positions of influence wish to avoid any discussion on a sustainable economic future for Barrow and the surrounding area 'though exactly why this should be so is difficult to fathom.
Don't they really care or have they a more important agenda of their own? Let's have a look!
Take John Woodcock, a John Hutton clone quite content to go with the flow of a Trident replacement programme because Barrovians associate this with 'jobs'. A nice 'vote catcher' - except the Tories and the LibDems have exactly the same pitch on this subject!
Barrovians have forgotten that the original 'Trident Programme' cost 11,000 jobs and devastated the town's economy. And they appear willing to go down that same path yet again.
And what about the owners of local businesses - you'd think they'd have a vested interest in well-paid sustainable employment for the local workforce, wouldn't you? Guaranteed work with good pay gives working people spending power to support local businesses so it is strange that these businesses appear to be indifferent to the local jobs situation. If they are pinning their hopes on persuading the local council to provide cheap parking, to reduce business rates and to dole out generous business grants for tarting up their premises then a rude awakening does a stack of wooden sheets for boarding up their former business premises.
You'd think leaders of the local religious community would be concerned that the town is so reliant upon manufacturing weapons of mass destruction delivery systems for its economic survival - that their God-fearing congregations are faced with no alternative but to build these hellish things in order to feed their families - yet they are not. (I bet the guy whose birth this lot of hypocrites have just commemorated would gleefully give them all a sound, long-overdue, whipping)
As for the local borough New Labour Party....well, they are not allowed to think for themselves and cannot contribute to any discussion offering anything other than nuclear weapons systems.
If any group was going to be fully supportive of schemes to provide long-term, well-paid, sustainable employment you'd think it would be the local Trades Union Council, wouldn't you? Well, you'd be wrong because this is Barrow in Furness and the local TUC only meets once every three months. And the few delegates who can be bothered to attend are all employed by BAE. Draw your own conclusions.
A serious question was put before all those taking part in the Public Debate - whilst locals are prepared to contemplate the murder of millions of innocent civilians (if they weren't, they'd refuse to do any work for the Trident don't build these things at enormous expense - especially when the country is flat broke - unless you are prepared to use them) why can't they contemplate an American president ordering a British government to cancel it? Unthinkable? You'll be provided with something to think about in the next posting........

Saturday, 10 October 2009


Organising a Peace event in this town (and obtaining support for it) has never been easy but it has now become almost impossible. It is as if the population here exists in a suffocating apathetic vacuum and is quite content to do so. Ulverston Peace Group activists encounter exactly the same problem. Despite this, campaigners try to keep the flame of peace alight in this sea of darkness.
A final attempt to hold a public meeting on alternative employment is being made and letters have been sent to the secretaries of Barrow and Ulverston Trade Union Councils asking if their members are prepared to offer some assistance with the event. Previously, it proved impossible to arrive at a suitable date because Barrow TUC meets but once every THREE months. Our speaker would offer a date well before Barrow TUC met or, when a compatible date was arrived at, the Studio theatre at Forum28 was not available or a major performance was being held in the main theatre opposite the noise of which would intrude on any Studio meeting. Most frustrating.
In the meantime, John Hutton MP has resigned from his position as Secretary for Defence and inviting him to now attend a debate would not carry quite the same weight as before, especially as he does not intend to stand in next year's General Election. His successor has not yet been chosen. Should we invite Terry Waiting of Keep Our Futures Afloat (proTrident replacement fleet), borough councillor and BAE employee? Well, we can try but it is likely that, as he chickened out of taking part in a debate with Bruce Kent some time ago, he would certainly find himself 'otherwise engaged' on any future debating occasion.
Once we've got a date agreed we'll send him an invitation and see what transpires.
Barrow Peace Council now has funds to meet the cost of hiring the Studio theatre; we just need to find dates in November or early December when that theatre may be available and hope our guest speaker finds one of these convenient.

Thursday, 16 April 2009


It's always hard to leave something with which you have become familiar but a time comes when departure is necessary in order to move on.
Barrow Peace Coalition was formed in March 2003 shortly before the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq. The organisation fizzled out in October that same year owing to poor leadership by a local slithery political opportunist and lack of sustained support by the majority of those who had initially signed up on a surge of shallow emotionalism that quickly evaporated in the heat of requested commitment.
The few remaining peace activists formed a Steering Group, took control and, until recently, held a regular monthly street presence at the outdoor market in the town centre.
Furthermore, at 11am on each second Saturday of the month, the group conducted a 'Naming the Dead' ceremony - reading the name, age, rank and regiment of every British soldier killed in Iraq and Afghanistan - at the Gazebo in Dalton Road.
Loss of activists owing to age or infirmity has now reduced Peace Group activity to an absolute minimum and we have had to adapt to these changed circumstances - hence the move to a new web site and a change of name. Fortunately, the name change has not altered our email address:
and we remain in contact with the Stop the War Coalition, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Voices (in the wilderness) and the Campaign Against the Arms Trade and, whenever possible, we send letters to the local press on Peace issues.
Someone reading this and who belongs to an actively campaigning Peace group must think this is all very tame but they would not have appreciated or understood our particular situation and unenviable (for a Peace organisation) location.
This is Barrow in Furness, Cumbria. Barrow is a coastal town situated at the tip of a narrow peninsula and some thirtyfive miles west of the M6. Its MP is John Hutton, currently Defence Secretary. Generally, most local people aren't much interested in anything beyond the borough boundary and, to tell the truth, they're not much interested in anything that goes on inside the borough boundary either. In this respect, it's unlikely they are any different to most people residing in many other areas of Britain.
However, this town built the now ageing Vanguard class Trident-carrying nuclear submarines currently in service with the Royal Navy - which cost the loss of 11,000 jobs.
The shipbuilding yard, formerly Vickers Engineering and Shipbuilding Limited (VESL - geddit?), then Marconi and now BAE 'Submarine Solutions', is presently engaged in building the first of class Astute nuclear powered attack submarine (and maybe a further six boats) and hopes to be awarded the contract to build the next generation of Trident missile submarine launch platforms. This presents a pretty daunting picture for any local Peace campaign, don't you think?
But that is not all. Barrow imports irradiated nuclear waste, which is then shipped by rail up the coast to Sellafield for reprocessing after which it is returned to Barrow and exported. Furthermore, the government wants to surround us with even more nuclear installations. So environmentalist groups such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth are also 'up against it' here.
Bearing all this in mind, it is not surprising that few locals want to be regarded as supporting campaigns to end nuclear projects for weapons, for power generation or for processing when the local economy is now so dependent upon these activities especially when they are consistently promoted by the Trade Unions, local businesses, the local press, local religious groups, the local MP and many locals with family members employed in these industries. Any opposition is instantly seen to be a threat to jobs and, subsequently, the local economy.
Barrow Peace Council will continue to challenge this cul-de-sac view just as it has done in the past and show that a different, healthier and more beneficial means of achieving economic well-being is possible using the existing skilled workforce and current technological and industrial infrastructure.
The first step now is to organise a public meeting to consider diversification and conversion of the arms industry to manufacturing socially useful products whilst developing and constructing armaments that best suit our defensive requirements as an island nation in the 21st century. We are already working on it - watch this space.