it is a new situation for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. The General Election marked the end of the Campaign’s first phase of life, and further meaningful existence depends considerably on whether the new situation is recognised as such. In less than two years the emphasis in the CND has changed markedly from that of a moral and anti-political movement to that of a pressure group on the Labour Party. One doesn’t easily forget the applause in the Central Hall in February 1958 for A. J. P. Taylor’s denunciation of the politicians. “Cynical references to the Labour Party,” J. P. W. Mallalieu observed in that week’s New Statesman, “were applauded as heartily as references to the Tories.” By contrast, a speech a few weeks later from Frank Allaun at the close of the first day of the Aldermaston march showed how far some people had anticipated the mood of the Campaign. His invitation to marchers to “come on in” and join the Labour and trades union movements met with a coldness bordering on contempt. But all that was long ago. From then until the Election, the CND became increasingly concerned wich the Labour Party. The aim was to “convert” the Party and return a Labour Government, preferably in that order but not necessarily so. Many rank-and-filers believed that the arrival of a Labour Government would be half the Campaign’s victory won. Well before October 1959 the CND was seeking first the kingdom of Labour in the hope that all Campaign things would be added unto it in office. Indeed, those who dared to suggest that Campaigners should vote for their own policy and not that of the Party received negligible support and much abuse.
We now have continued Tory rule, probably for another five years. This has been a serious defeat for Labour—the fourth consecutive set-back since 1950—and its significance has yet to be appreciated in some quarters of both the CND and the Party. There has also been a series of defeats for the Campaign at the hands of the Party; the cynical Labour “peace” campaign rushed forward after the first Aldermaston march (one Strachey pamphlet, two meetings, silence); the phoney “non-nuclear club” proposals when there was a hint of revolt in the unions; and the sickening recall conference of the National Union of General and Municipal Workers after it had spoken out of turn. All these kicks in the Campaign’s teeth indicate that the dessicated calculating machine and his colleagues that control the Party are more than gentlemen—they are ruthless.
They are also spineless. In the language of The Times’ Political Correspondent, the result of the Parliamentary Party’s ballot, announced on November 5,
“has given to Mr. Gaitskell a Shadow Cabinet that neatly balances intellectuals and trade unionists and contains no Left-wing extremist. It is a Shadow Cabinet with most of its weight in the centre of the Party.”
In other words the Parliamentary Party will continue to make very little use of the many occasions, particularly in foreign affairs, on which the Government acts monstrously. There is no reason to suppose from this sort of Shadow Cabinet that the Parliamentary Opposition will shake the Tories out of power—or their nuclear stance—in the coming five years.
Considerations such as these raise crucial and immediate questions for the CND, and though nobody has all the answers it is surely absurd if some Campaigners are not even trying to locate the right questions. It will be a very different nuclear world in five years’ time, even if the arms race has not come to fruition. The Bombs will have spread, the tactical weapons will be shared out and installed and the latest obsolete weapons will be coming off the production lines. What do we want the CND to do meanwhile? “Keep on as you are doing”? Is it going to be a Campaign solely “directed against the Government” (which inherited Labour’s
There are also wider questions about NATO, the British economy and the future of warfare, all of which need serious thought. We need to consider too the very basis of our campaigning. We have a rational case against nuclear weapons which has been well put by the Controller of Munitions, Lieutenant-General Sir John Cowley: