'SPIRIT AND NUMBERS IN CND'

Independent – 19 November 1986

Sandra Barwick's perceptive account of the CND Conference (17 November) is slightly marred by just one misprint and a few misleading statistics.

It is not the "alleged rates" which have been causing confusion at the Molesworth "peace" camp, but the alleged rapes there of "peace" women by "peace" men in defiance of the spirit of non-violent direct action advocated by the movement.

Secondly, if CND's individual membership now stands at 84,000 as reported, this shows a return to the level announced at the 1983 CND Conference. Membership peaked at 110,000 by the 1984 CND Conference and was claimed to have remained stable at that level at the 1985 CND Conference. There has therefore been an overall fall of almost one quarter in the net CND membership figure in the past twelve months.

The unilateralist lobby made great play with these figures when they were rising, so it is only fair to challenge bogus claims that the "membership remains stable" now it is clearly in decline.

It is unlikely to be boosted, moreover, in view of the results of the latest Gallup poll on nuclear defence policy commissioned by my organisation: these show that 66 percent of the public think that Britain should continue to possess nuclear weapons as long as the Soviet Union has them, whilst only 27 percent disagree; that 48 percent disagree with removing cruise missiles from the UK irrespective of whether or not the Soviet SS-20s are dismantled, whilst only 39 percent favour unconditional removal; and that 49 percent support completion of the Trident submarine programme to replace Polaris, whilst only 36 percent disapprove.

The Labour Party may have chosen to swallow the CND prescription, but the public remain as resistant to it as ever.

Dr JULIAN LEWIS
Director
Policy Research Associates
London SE1