Archive for ‘CND’

Sep 17, 2017

50 years ago today Aberdeen Youth CND beats in bid to stop the war but only stopped a car


Fifty years ago today: 17 September 1967

cnd demo crathie 1967

Aberdeen Youth demonstration outside Crathie Church


Hostility as two dart in path of Queen Mother’s car
Part of the 3000 crowd at Crathie Church turned hostile yesterday towards two youths who stepped in the path of the Queen Mother’s car waving a “Peace in Vietnam” banner.

One man lifted his walking stick to tear down the banner, and a woman came out of the crowd pulling at it with her hands. They had to be restrained by the police.

Apparently the demonstrators ‘ plan was to wave the banner in front of the Prime Minister’s car, but this misfired.

The incident happened as the procession of three cars with the Royal Family and Mr And Mrs Wilson was leaving the small Deeside church after the morning service.

One car with the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, Princess Anne and Prince Andrew had passed the corner of the roadway leading to the green bridge near the Balmoral entrance when two young men darted on to the roadway with a banner reading:

Aberdeen youth for peace in Vietnam

Up went the banner as the Queen Mother’s car approached the corner. Two police officers leapt forward and pushed the youths back to the verge.


People standing nearby became hostile. There were angry murmurings and the man with the walking stick hooked it under the banner in an effort to pull it down.

The crowd were told by the police to quieten down.

Mr Wilson’s car was following that of the Queen Mother but was some distance behind. The banner was down by the time he passed.

The Royal Family had driven to the church under low cloud and overcast skies. Mr Wilson and his wife were first to arrive, followed by the Queen Mother, wearing a lime coat and dress with petalled hat.


There were smiles and waves from the Queen, dressed in a powder-blue linen coat and dress with matching hat, and Princess Anne, wearing a spring-green coat and white hat topped by a pompom.

The Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales and Prince Andrew wore the kilt.

At the service, Mr and Mrs Wilson, who are spending the weekend as the guests of the Queen at Balmoral, were seated in the Royal transept.

Text of the sermon – from the Sermon on the Mount – was “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works.”

(Aberdeen Press & Journal 18 September 1967)


Smothpubs blog link to other Aberdeen YCND anti-Vietnam war activity

Feb 20, 2017

British-American Project – grooming leaders

You will all be familiar with the British-American Project. No? Here’s a clue – it is a British/American networking organisation sponsored by several well-known businesses including Monsanto, Philip Morris (tobacco), Apple, British Airways, BP Coca-Cola, Unilever.

In the words of BAP:

“The British-American Project is a transatlantic fellowship of over 1,200 leaders, rising stars and opinion formers from a broad spectrum of occupations, backgrounds and political views. It is an extraordinarily diverse network of high-achievers on rising career paths in public, professional and business life.


BAP operates on a not-for-profit basis, funded through its membership and a small amount of support from corporate partners. We also receive support in kind from a number of bodies [see above] who share our values and objectives.”

 In 2007 the journalist John Pilger wrote that:

‘The BAP rarely gets publicity, which may have something to do with the high proportion of journalists who are alumni. Prominent BAP journalists are David LipseyYasmin Alibhai-Brown and assorted Murdochites. The BBC is well represented. On the Today programmeJames Naughtie, whose broadcasting has long reflected his own transatlantic interests, has been an alumnus since 1989. Today’s newest voice, Evan Davis, formerly the BBC’s zealous economics editor, is a member. And at the top of the BAP website home page is a photograph of Jeremy Paxman and his endorsement. “A marvellous way of meeting a varied cross-section of transatlantic friends,” says he’[21].

BAP has been described as a Trojan horse for American foreign policy/business/influence in the world – the Special Relationship grown large. I’ve read it has folded yet its website is still up and BAP’s annual conference is advertised for Newcastle later this year so it looks as though it is alive and kicking.


The Labour Party features largely, New Labour’s usual suspects, along with several Conservatives and assorted others. Tony Blair, not a member, described BAP as a wide-ranging pro-active organisation for “young leaders.”

Wendy Alexander, remember her? was one of those expected to take on a leadership role. Blink and you would have missed her leadership of Labour in Scotland but get there she did.

“BAP network …committed to “grooming leaders”

“Casual freemasonry” was Pilger’s description – and “by far the most influential transatlantic network of politicians, journalists and academics.”


It appears this self-selective organisation of like-minded people who saw themselves as movers and shakers able to influence all of our lives and mould attitudes relating to politics, culture, trade, defence, war and so on grew out of an idea of the late US president Ronald Reagan to develop a network of co-operation between the UK and America then developed by Sir Charles Villiers (Etonian banker and former member of Special Operations Executive) and Lewis Van Dusen. This was no peace organisation, very anti-CND.

“In the summer of 1997, a few weeks after New Labour won power, a striking article about the election appeared in a privately circulated newsletter. Under the cryptic headline Big Swing To BAP, the article began, “No less than four British-American Project fellows and one advisory board member have been appointed to ministerial posts in the new Labour government.” A list of the names of these five people and of other New Labour appointees who were members of BAP followed: “Mo Mowlam … Chris Smith … Peter Mandelson … Baroness Symons … George Robertson … Jonathan Powell … Geoff Mulgan … Matthew Taylor …” The article ended with a self-congratulatory flourish and the names of two more notable BAP members: “James Naughtie and Jeremy Paxman gave them all a hard time on BBC radio and television. Other fellows, too numerous to list, popped up throughout the national media commenting, criticising and celebrating.”

In 2003 John Pilger noted that “Five members of Blair’s first cabinet, along with his chief of staff, Jonathan Powell, were members of the British American Project for a Successor Generation, a masonry of chosen politicians and journalists, conceived by the far-right oil baron J. Howard Pew and launched by Ronald Reagan and Rupert Murdoch.” 

In the beginning advisory boards were established in the US and Britain through the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) of the Johns Hopkins University, Washington DC in the US and in Britain the rightwing Royal Institute of International Affairs at Chatham House in London currently headed by Eliz Manningham-Buller, former DG of the Security Services. Former presidents include Douglas Hurd, George Robertson and Paddy Ashdown.  It describes itself as ‘independent’ and not funded by government-

“The institute receives no subsidy from the UK government or any other source.” although, curiously, among its funders, those who do not wish to remain anonymous, is the British Army, Ministry of Defence and the BBC.

The BBC? Explains why it uses is so much in its news reports. Isn’t there a question over BBC’s independence when it pays into this think tank? How many others does it help fund?

See more at:

Let’s cut to the chase – who are/were some of these anointed if not by predestination then something not dissimilar?


Apart from Wendy Alexander, sister of former Labour foreign and trade minister, Douglas Alexander, other alumni include – well, Douglas Alexander, Labour Party Foreign and Trade minister; Stephen Dorrell, former Conservative minister; Alan Sked founder of Ukip, David Miliband, Labour Party; Baron Mandelson, Labour Party, EU trade commissioner; Baron Robertson of Port Ellen, ex-Labour Party Minister, Adviser to BP, on Board of Equilibrium Gulf Ltd; Baroness Symons, Labour Party former Foreign Office minister; Jonathan Powell, Labour Party former chief of staff to Blair;  Baroness Scotland, Labour Home Office minister; Geoff Mulgan, former head of Downing Street’s policy and strategy unit; Sadiq Khan, Labour Party, Mayor of London; Matthew Taylor, Downing Street head of policy; David Willetts, Conservative minister; journalists Jeremy Paxman, BBC; Evan Davis, BBC; James Naughtie, BBC; William Crawley, BBC; Jane Hill, BBC; Ben Hammersley, BBC; Trevor Phillips, BBC; Isabel Hilton, BBC, the Independent, the Guardian; Margaret Hill, BBC producer of current affairs; Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, The Independent, London Evening Standard; Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph, Sunday Telegraph, The Spectator; Rowan Pelling, Daily Telegraph and many, many more.


BAP was designed to be an active professional networking medium for young professionals so many in the list above will have dropped out to be replaced by the future. And on the subject of the future at a time when there is great concern at the erosion of the NHS and the prospect of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership aka TTIP I think there are reasons to be very worried indeed over this close and cagey liaison.

Nov 9, 2014

Remembrance Day 1960s Aberdeen

Mac 11nov protest

Ian MacDonald has sent in a cutting of his anti-war protest in the 1960s at Aberdeen’s war memorial lion.

‘Archive photo of myself and a friend attending a Remembrance service at Aberdeen in the 1960s.

My message today is the same – blessed are the peacemakers, bring all our troops home, scrap Trident.’

Sep 12, 2012

Agnes, Jean, Ian Jack and Trident




Ian Jack’s Scotland is a sepia comic-cut, a wistful D. C. Thomson-inspired world which only exists in his imagination. Little old ladies, scones and genteel tearooms and no doubt un soupçon of och aye the noo thrown in for good measure.

The division of wealth is an east-west split in Scotland, he observes, which has some truth in it although I doubt his contention would survive real scrutiny. I’ll pass over his benchmark of wealth indicator, the existence of a Waitrose store, for he himself introduces an element of doubt over its applicability.

The essence of Jack’s article is the threat to Trident of a ‘yes-vote’ for Scottish independence in 2014 and the impact this would have on the Ministry of Defence workforce employed in and around the Faslane and Coulport bases close to Helensburgh where ‘Agnes’ and ‘Jean’ indulge in a post-high tea genteel bicker over who should treat the other.

It is Jack’s contention that the area, – “The most militarised district in western Europe”- is so dependent on maintaining the UK’s weapons of mass destruction that were an independent Scotland to banish Trident the impact on the region’s current relative prosperity would be severely threatened.

He hints at the English composition of the MoD’s workforce for he tells us – ‘English voices mingle with Scottish ones’ on the streets of Helensburgh underlining the point with an observation that the profusion of union flags decorating properties hint at a significant workforce which has migrated into the area from England. What will become of this 7000 of a workforce and a further 4000 peripheral jobs? he asks.

Similar circumstances were faced at Kinloss and Lossiemouth with Westminster’s cuts pushing for the removal of the RAF to England. There were grave concerns in Moray over ‘lost’ employment with all that would mean for the local economy. But much of the displaced military personnel followed their jobs south so reducing the number of ‘lost jobs’. As for civilians working with the MoD in Moray many were in lower paid work than their military colleagues – having fewer qualifications or employed part-timers. The point being non-skilled work is easier to find than specialised employment and many skills are transferable.

If the Trident bases go then it could be expected that, as with the Moray experience, a bulk of the MoD personnel would leave along with it echoing in reverse their migration north. The effect would be to reduce Jack’s 7000 although admittedly doing little to reduce concern over the estimated 4000 associated jobs which are likely to affect permanent or indigenous rather peripatetic personnel. Certainly Jack’s figures become improbable.

If Trident is removed from the area or scrapped then there are real issues regarding employment in this part of Argyll and Bute but should we be prepared to continue paying our taxes to maintain these nuclear defence jobs at any price?

Jack boils down his argument to three main points.

1. These MoD ports and defence infrastructure are big, so big that it would be hard to move them.

2. Their removal would destroy the local economy “for the sake of its (SNP) anti-nuclear principles”.

3. The “rump government of the UK” would struggle to build an equivalent base to retain Trident – “even if it could find a locality willing to take it.”

The first point demonstrates how out of touch Jack has become with the mood in Scotland.

As for point two – God preserve us from a political party sticking to its principles, eh Jack?

And three the idea that no other place outside Scotland would want this type of installation beggars belief – were we ever asked if we wanted it here?

The article peters out with Jack asserting that Trident will become an important bargaining chip in any independence negotiations. Indeed. He forecasts that by not replacing Trident the issue will just disappear by the 2020s, in which case Mr Jack what will happen to the 7000 plus 4000 workers you are so concerned about? Are they only important as a tool to knock the SNP/nationalist movement? Will your next piece be about the Ministry of Defence throwing its workforce on the nuclear scrap heap when Trident is finally abandoned?

The paucity of any proper understanding or conception of how Scotland has grown in confidence sufficient to challenge its exploitation as a dumping ground for the UK’s weapons of mass destruction would have Jean and Agnes spluttering over their Earl Grey teas and dropped scones.

For a columnist who formerly wrote pointedly and with sparkle his recent output has become disappointingly tired, stale outbursts of prejudice signifying nothing much at all.


Ref: Guardian Sat 8 September 2012

Gruinard and anthrax

Sep 9, 2012

Singing Ding Dong Dollar: A diary of Aberdeen YCND 1965


The diary of a 15 year old girl involved with Aberdeen Youth Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in 1965 was recently given to me. It is in fact a blue school jotter and the few entries run between August and October of ’65.


One or two parts have been edited and most names have been shortened to initials. A few spelling changes have been made.  Clicking on images brings them up to become more legible.

Megaton was a magazine produced by YCND in Aberdeen.

From 7th August 1965

Sat 7th                   Vigil at Union Terrace in memory of Hiroshima day – Aug 6th 1945. Time was 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.. I left about 5 and there wer e many people taking an interest. Hiroshima day leaflets and copies of Sanity were distributed.

Sun 8th                  March at Northfield – different groups – about 50 – for Hiroshima but mainly in protest at the fall-out shelter situated in Northfield . Had a number of people speak but practically no-one from the houses came out though many were gaping from windows.

Sat 14th                 About 20 of us – not wearing badges – went up to the open day at the. Barracks. (Bridge of Don) . It was fantastic. Little G had stinking water and some other things, we left slogans and signs. All in all caused a bit of sabotage! Eventually we were found out to be CND and from that time on – about 4 o’clock until 5.45 – we were followed everywhere, by soldiers and officers. Plain clothes police were around taking photos. We made a fool of the soldiers following us, some of the time. Hoards of them. They lined up between us and the grass – where the bands were parading in case we chanced running on to the field. Had an argument with the chaplin outside the gate at the end.

Sun 15th                Meeting at 2.30. Discussed a march by the Y.S. (Young Socialists) on the 28th for Vietnam and the anniversary of the death of Trotsky. We are having a continuous march up and down Union Street on the 4th September. I signed the schools pledge. Large amount of people – over 30 at  the meeting.

Sun 22nd               Over thirty at meeting B and C did most of the speaking. I.S. was outside for some reason. I ordered a number of magazines and papers. We’re having out own newssheet soon – Megaton – the Y.S. march set for this Sat is off. Something to do with it not being Trotsky’s death anniversary or something. There’ll will be some-one from Y.C.N.D.  at the Adelphi every  night this week, making posters and duplicating bit from Aug Resistance. A list in it about to-days Educational system is to be duplicated.

Tues 24th               I went along about 3.45 and they are distributing the ‘schools’ leaflets. Most have gone to the Grammar, so there should be a big outcry in the near future. The area convenor system started about a week ago is in full swing. There are special leaflets duplicated with information to help the convenor with his/her work. I am convenor for Rosemount – Area 11.

Wed 25th               Went along to the Adelphi. Most of the schools leaflets gone. Some small posters were made. B and I were out white-washing last night until 5 a.m.. M says B not coming back to Y.C.N.D. .

Thur 26th              In to-day’s Evening Express there was a long column in the front page giving a write-up on the ‘school’ leaflets. There were things quoted from Goldie – rector of the Academy – he treated it all as a school-boy prank. They tore the thing practically to pieces.

We had a schools CND meeting . Little G doing most of the speaking. Only about two new faces. Jimmy Milne wasn’t going to let us have the place – I think he’ll be very sticky in the future. The meeting didn’t go altogether too well – approx 15 there – small leaflets are to be distributed in different schools, as a campaign to get more supporters – and a name and address of a person, or class, that the folk can get in touch easily.

C, G and me went along to the Evening Express afterwards about the write-up in the paper concerning the ‘schools’ leaflets. It was a bit hellish. C spoke most of the time. G opened his mouth a few times and more or less kept putting his foot in it. I only spoke about twice but I think I was more careful. I’m sure the reporter knows, though we denied the fact, that we are part of the schools anarchists – though actually the organisation doesn’t exist – G was keeping his ears flapping and found some reporters discussing the South Y.S. split up. When we left they were getting in touch with N M.

I’s excited about all this but P’s pressing him to get out of CND and I think he will be – very soon. C’ also getting fed up and B may have left also.

Friday Aug 27th   JG and DT asked to join the Y.C.N.D.  and I  got CM to do so as well. There was nothing at all in the papers- morning or evening to do with last night’s interview.


3red Sept             Went round to see KM – on Convening Area- she was out. I got her mother. Left a sheet and note to come to meeting on Sunday. Don’t think her mother’s too keen.

5th Sept                 Went to meeting. Over 40 there. There is a march next Saturday. Were supporting the Y.S.. KM never turned up that I could see. Were looking for premises so I’ll write to that place in Bon-Accord Crescent. B’ back. I stayed out of everything. P’s wanting him to give up Y.C.N.D.  altogether. Yesterday people were out selling Resistance. We hope to have a dance at Christmas and a fast lasting from Christmas eve to Boxing Day. Hope to march to Faslane at Easter instead  of the Aldermaston to London one. Trying to get a name for out peace-factory. CND are meeting to-morrow night in Y.M.C.A. Union Street.

Typed out a letter to SH, HP and JD – convening system – save me going down to them and letter to London Assurance to see about renting their basement.

Today’s Sunday Mail had an article on Aberdeen’s School Anarchist’s Federation. Someone went to see them from Y.C.N.D. . Were mentioned as having something to do with it. Rosemount is one of the 5 or 6 school mentioned. Wait for it on Monday!

Mon 7th Sept                   Went to Adult CND meeting to which Y.C.N.D.  was invited. There was a great majority of us including Y.S. and Y.C.L.. IS took a great hand and other speakers from our side spoke sense though sometimes it was a bit obvious they were hazy on what to say next. The adults cried us down for everything. IS was refused permission to answer back sometimes except when he did it forcibly. What the majority of the adults put forward was complete trash. KC made a very concise and good voicing on  just what or rather what not, the adult CND were doing in trying to win peace. They had described us in some article a while ago as young homeless layabouts who went around sleeping with each other in old houses. I should think they’ve changed their minds. A resolution was put forward by Mrs Clopper and one by NM was at first not going to be accepted but after a disturbance from us, was. With our majority, N’s –a Vietnam piece- was passed while Clopper’s – on Vietnam, much the same but not so definite was not. They said they would not give it to the press as they had decided – because they had paid their subscription fee – that they had a right to stop it. We argued and later they said they would give it but N, G, C and myself went along to P & J office – gave it to one of the blokes. J and his female friend joined us. C & I left so we don’t know how N got on. A*** asked C why CND was doing what it was as it was supposed to be a non-political group. He told me (C) that he  put his foot in it so whatever was said, I hope A***, the rat, doesn’t print it, knowing him, he will.

Sat 11 Sept           A march up and down Union Street about Vietnam and supporting the Viet-cong. It was a Y.S. march with a minority of Y.S. there. Y.C.L, School Anarchists, A.A. (Aberdeen Anarchists), Y.C.N.D  there.

Total amount about 55. More had intended coming so it was a bit of a let down. I think, though, it was in fact, quite successful. Dave Langley from the Y.S. in the south spoke at St. Margaret’s afterwards. What a lot of mush at one time. He was pathetic, all  doo-daddy and join the Y.S. – to hell with everyone else. B made a few words for Y.C.N.D but was insulted by Langley. IS and some others were taking photos of the march.

Night    A Y.C.L. party at 8 that night. I went with C and ended up with KC. Paid 5/- to get in. I got very little food, only a handful of peanuts. Plenty of booze. It was very good.

Sunday 12th                  Y.C.N.D. meeting in Adelphi. Taled a great deal about last night’s party. NM got into an argument over Dave Langley’s talk yesterday. IS really gave him it. Was proposed that a big number of us make trouble for the army etc and one Saturday go to the Information Bureau and start arguing and demanding to join the  army – in other words – make trouble. Over 40 at meeting got over 30 names. Suggestions to hold a picket outside Marks and Spencers in protest against South African goods. It was supported. Still on the search  for premises. Convening system is scrapped.

Sunday 19th                  Y.CN.D. meeting. No meeting next week-end unless some  folk want to hold one, the main folk are going to the hills. Decided against a picket. Each person gave 6d to enable Y.C.N.D. join.

Suggested we form a Scottish Y.C.N.D.. JG etc are writing letters putting us in touch with other Scottish Y.C.N.D groups. Suggested that starting in  a couple of weeks Y.C.N.D should break into small groups of a few people, given a subject to discuss and then give the opinions of the members this way. Were doing this because everyone seems too shy to speak and it may be easier if there’s only a few people altogether. Decided to have a special date when parents can come and argue about Y.C.N.D.

Fri 24th                 B, L, C. M, M, B, C, DR, A, JG, DT, HP, I and me went to the hills. Stayed at the  stable at Gelder. Met the Queen  etc on Monday before leaving.


Sat 2nd                  Wilson  arrived for weekend at Balmoral. Y.C.N.D. went out along with Y.S. etc to meet him at Dyce. About 40 of us. He got away by another exit and we chased after him without any success.

Sun 3rd                 Y.C.N.D. meeting. About 60 attended. Took 6 Resistances to sell and a collection sheet. There was a strong reaction against some of the whitewashing done. We divided into groups at the end of the meeting and had discussions. There is a lot of strong feeling against the Anarchist supremacy in Y.C.N.D. mainly by Y.S. and Y.C.L. Sold almost 200 Resistances.

Mon 4th                 Public meeting on Vietnam War in Music Hall. Same old stuff. Bit of spoken conflict between the youth and older members of the audience in open debate after the talk. Quite a few Y.C.N.D. members attended. IM is going along to try and get into the ’62 Club folk singing to-morrow night with my help.

Tues 5th              Met IM and M outside Club. JI obviously told Mrs B of them and I was worried about having them in the club. ‘We don’t think  that they are particularly the kind of people we desire in the club’ – quote from B. Folk singing was pretty much a drag. The IM – Y.C.N.D. relationship is not exactly good! I was invited back by the members, they seemed to have liked him.

Fri 8th                   Phoned IS in the morning about some members going out to look for the Cults fall-out shelter. Skipped school by playing ill in morning and being sent home. Met M, M and IS at ‘Edward’. At Cults IS and M went in one direction and M and IS went in the other. Searched for about 2 hrs. Only found a possibility the  erection of a new part to a hospital or home.

Sat 9th                  (Some references to direct action ending with) This town’s getting busy!

Sun 10th               Meeting. About 60 attended. Bit of a shambles. Split up into groups again. JG, DT and I decided to go to I’s late birthday party on Fri and then go whitewashing. Some members think we have a spy and the no 1 suspect is T – which I refuse to believe!

Mon 11th               M, M and me went magic markering! We covered quite an area. People should be realizing there’s a Y.C.N.D.  by now! The  Revolution’s near!

Tues 12th              Anarchist meeting Skene Square School. Only 12 of us were there. Nothing was really discussed – not to do with anarchy at any rate! IS was speaking on the subject at the University. F managed it.

Fri 15th                 Some of us went up to B’s flat and prepared whitewash. International Vietnam day is to-morrow and we’re advertising out vigil and march.

Sat 16th                Went out whitewashing at about 12.30 a.m. . Did a lot of work. M and M were picked up by the cops at 2.10 a.m. and kept until 5 a.m.. They went back whitewashing when they were released.  There was also another group out whitewashing. We left B’s flat at about 9 in the morning. Some folk waiting for the vigil so it ended at about 12.45 p.m. . Not a great success at all. March  at 2.30 Market Stance. There was about 60 of us. Went down Union Street to Albyn Place and came back. Dumped some banners in the Adelphi and had a public meeting, decided on the spur of the moment, at the big space beside Marks & Spencer’s. As F was ending it, a couple of cops, after phoning the station, came over and broke the meeting up. We all then – about 40 – walked right into the main hall of the police place in Lodge Walk and sat down. G and F acted as spokesmen and went into another room with a sergeant.

A sergeant came into the hall and chased us out. We were protesting against the lack of free speech in Aberdeen so most of us wrote a complaint and handed it in. They weren’t accepted because they weren’t headed correctly or in envelopes. It was decided to re-do them and send them all in together. G and F got absolutely nothing from them.

Had the teach –in in St K’s at night. Not many new folk there.

Sum 17th               Meeting. Almost 60 there. It wasn’t very good. Nothing much was discussed.

Sat 23rd                Made up some small posters advertising Y.C.N.D. and stuck some up – needless to say, they very soon will be pulled down. The rest of Y.C.N.D. don’t know I’ve done this but they are always on at us to do things off our own steam  so this is my contribution.

Sun 24th               Meeting. Discussing possible ways of getting more funds for Y.C.N.D. . J, D and I have an idea which we don’t expect to carry out! Suggestions – Folk Song Concert, poetry magazine, jumble sales etc. Someone from Ilford is supposed to be coming up next week-end. Over 60 at meeting.

Mon 25th               About 40 of us went in groups to the R.O.C. open night at Northfield.  Some whitewashing was done outside. Two cops were there. Some nasty questions were asked by us and we got some nasty but not surprising answers. It was admitted that Aberdeen’s population would have no-where to go in the 4 minutes warning, if a bomb was dropped on the city.  140 people can get in the R.O.C. place and unless a bomb is directly dropped on the building, these people will be completely safe. The Is, M and M weren’t up.

Tues 26th              Again we went up to the R.O.C.  place. It is opened for two nights, last night and tonight. M and M were there but still not the two Is – they were going to try and get into the 62 Club folk singing. Those of us who had been in the R.O.C. place last night were recognised and didn’t get in. Two cops were outside and took us all up to the gate. Bangers etc were let off. Some stink bombs and things were put in the building by those who got in. Nothing of great value was done. The folk treated us like morons trying to make us believe that all we said about dying was rot.

The argument put forward on Monday night by the bloke I was with was absolute crap. After asking what good was their signals to the people in Aberdeen if they had nowhere to go for safety but had in fact the knowledge that in a few minutes they would all die a horrible death – he said that the governments who built them didn’t really expect them to be used – that no bomb would be dropped.

‘Then what good are they – the money used in building these places could provide food for the starving in Vietnam or China.’ He couldn’t say anything, just sighed pretending we were mad in what we said. This was a bloke who had over 90% in his R.O.C. exams and was given a high post.

‘Why should it be that 140 people can find refuge and inhabitants of Aberdeen have no-where to go?’

Reply:- ‘They don’t expect a bomb to be dropped in Aberdeen and you can always  join the R.O.C. and you’ll be o.k. in here.’

Quest:- ‘But what about the rest of the people in Aberdeen – why have they no shelters?’

Reply:- ‘If a bomb was going to be dropped they would build shelters.’

Quest.:- ‘In 4 minutes of the warning?’

He looked away and shook his head – we waited for a reply but were told it was time to go. It was pathetic. These are some of the questions I asked, the others were also firing ones at other R.O.C. folk.

Sat 30th                Y.C.L party. JG and I went by accident. A crowd of Y.C.N.D ers there but for a long time no Y.C.L. . There was an admission fee of 2/6 which some of us didn’t pay. We also had to pay for drink and when a fuss was made were told we could have our 2/6 back and leave. We left along with some  2/6 which weren’t put in by us in the first place. A great amount of their literature is now blanketing George Street.

J and I hope to go to Dundee tomorrow and see some Y.C.N.D. folk there. Couldn’t find IM to get money for fares off him so N lent us £1.

Sun 31st                 J and I went to Dundee. Went to EQ’s house and he took us down to Bob and Una’s place in Peddie Street. Discussed the different Y.C.N.Ds and possibility of Scottish Y.C.N.D. etc. Stayed for our tea and caught the last bus home. Dundee Y.C.N.D. does need a lift to say the least – it’s stale.  They do practically nothing. The law in Dundee is much worse than ours.

Aberdeen             The boy from Ilford did not turn up for the meeting. Many people away at hills, different towns and I thinks some stayed away because of him.

Oct 25, 2011

Scotland’s Radical Youth – 1960s Scotland: Ban the Bomb and anti-Vietnam Movement in Aberdeen

Radical youth in 1960s Scotland

Guest Blog

For those too young to have known the Cold War, especially the bristling confrontations of the 1950s-60s, it is hard to appreciate the oh-so-real feeling that nuclear destruction was imminent. This sense of threat of the coming global obliteration reached fever pitch in 1963 with the Cuban missile crisis and the stand-off between the US and the Soviet Union. The Soviets sought a military base within striking distance of the US mainland as a counter to the American’s strategic positioning of military forces and nuclear weapons in Europe and Turkey which targeted and encircled the USSR. Regardless of one’s politics, left or right, people thought the world was set for nuclear confrontation. In the event Kennedy won when it was said Khrushchev “blinked”; the missiles were withdrawn.

The Cuban Crisis was a high point which emphasised the reality of inter-imperialist rivalries between the Soviets and the USA which would probably end in all-out war. But years before this crisis, Britain had seen an opposition mobilised against nuclear weapons which culminated in the formation of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (probably best remembered for its marches to Aldermaston). CND drew together elements from the left, ranging from Christian pacifists, moderate Labour through to the Communist Party and more radical groups such as anarchists. Faced with a clear British Government policy (both Labour and Tory) of retaining an “independent” nuclear deterrent and agreement that US forces could use Britain as a nuclear base, it was not surprising that CND’s dolly-mixture support base was liable to splinter over both political goals and strategies. So it was. Some argued that peaceful marches to Aldermaston were of no use and that more direct, confrontational action was required. It was this thinking which gave birth, in 1960, to the Committee of 100 dedicated to direct, if non-violent, confrontation with forces of the state. Mass sit-down demonstrations became the tactic of choice. These, often far from peaceful acts, led to arrests and the gaoling of activists. Trafalgar Square, the Holy Loch and US air bases became focal points of activity.

Radicalisation increased which, with the emergence of the Vietnam War, again raised the possibility of nuclear confrontation as a result of the roles played by the contending powers of the USSR and the USA in this bloody conflict. So anti-nuclear forces found themselves confronted not simply (if that’s the right word) with the morality of nuclear weapons but questions over imperialist struggles in the larger world.

Aberdeen YCND emerged around 1963 from this melange; moral and political oppositions to nuclear weapons. One of the founders played a crucial role in creating what turned out to be a very radicalised and confrontational body. He not only began an active Aberdeen group but also brought with him knowledge of the Committee of 100 (by 1963 a significantly more radical group than it had been in 1960). In addition, and this put a clear stamp on Aberdeen YCND, he was committed to anarchist politics. This meant he rejected, at least in principle, working with other political factions such as the Labour Party and the Communist Party and rejected peaceful action as a way forward. Just in passing it’s worth noting that he, along with another prominent member, was also active in the folk music world. In the 1950s and ‘60s folk music was highly political with, for example, Pete Seeger in the States and Ewan MacColl in Britain linking the tradition to current political and class struggles. The American folk singer, Tom Paxton, was cheered on by Aberdeen YCND as he burned his draft card in the Castlegate (although no-one present would have known if it was genuine or not). YCND’s historical moment of coming into being also coincided with that time when the 1950s youth culture of Teddy Boys and early rock and roll was making way for new cultural identities and the austerity of post war Britain was being replaced by the “consumerist society”. There was a buzz in the air. YCND promised a place for youth to be radical, a place where young people could build their own identity, a place where they could be distinct and separate from the world of parents and elders and betters (in 1963 the oldest member was probably about nineteen). At the same time youth could look to creating a better and fairer world and it must be said have fun. And very soon the group became associated with the wide ranging politics of “flower power”. YCND members saw themselves as part of a global movement which protested against racism in the USA, bloody war in Vietnam, repression in the Soviet bloc and resisted the mind-numbing conformity of the West.

Aberdeen YCND being a product of youth, not an off-shoot of a parent CND, was dynamic and unrestrained in what it thought it could and should do. It was no respecter of persons or institutions. Not surprisingly this drew a response from many youngsters and the organisation attracted huge numbers of kids, some as young as 13 or 14, with an average age of probably no more than 16 or 17. Younger elements of the group were involved in a school strike among Aberdeen schoolchildren, and ran off literature on the group’s messy duplicator, to hand out among their fellow school pupils. It often fell to the younger members to run down to the local newspaper on Broad Street with copies of motions carried at meetings and statements for the press, insisting that well-known journalist Arthur Argo made sure copy appeared, as demanded, in the edition of the paper.

The group met weekly, on Sunday afternoons in the city’s Trades Hall (and sorely tested the patience of the the Secretary of Aberdeen Trades Council, Jimmy Milne). YCND became both an alternative political centre but also a social focal point with members of the organisation spending many hours in local cafes, older ones in pubs when money allowed. At weekends there were often demos, comprising large numbers of participants and the street lined with hundreds of onlookers as marches paraded noisily up Union Street, turned, then walked back down again, causing no little disruption to city centre life. Weekends were also the times for parties on the beach or in houses when parents were out of the way. The extensive social aspects of Aberdeen YCND extended to “bohemians” from the art school. Socially members of YCND came from the skilled working class and petty bourgeois/management backgrounds. Although many of the members eventually became students at university, YCND was never a student organisation. There were a few Trotskyist students who came along but they were somewhat the oddballs and on occasion looked on as too stuffy and tight-arsed.

Hill walking and climbing became part and parcel of Aberdeen YCND’s social circle. Large numbers of variously attired youths would descend on Deeside by bus while lucky ones got a lift in the car belonging to the only member with his own vehicle. Hitch hiking was the common means of getting around on the cheap.

Mountain bothies became second homes for weekend stays: on one occasion a large party of hairy and boisterous YCNDers were about to pack up after a stay beneath Lochnagar at the Gelder bothy when some practising climbing techniques in a tree spotted a convoy of Land Rovers approaching from Balmoral. A group of royals spilled out. I don’t know who was more shocked however, possibly feeling the necessity to address her subjects, the Queen sauntered over and asked about our organisation,  ‘the YMCA’. Momentarily puzzled, then the penny dropped, someone had scrawled YCND across the gable of the bothy with a charcoaled branch from the previous evening’s fire. She was disabused of her error and offered a packet of pea soup. We had, after all, eaten our dinner and were about to leave. She declined. The minders in her party encouraged a swift retreat for the YCNDers who had no desire to linger on in the company of the British Establishment.

From the start Aberdeen YCND refused to stand on ceremony, refused to acknowledge any debt to the local peaceful marchers. Local marches by CND (made up largely of “old folk”) were disrupted by YCND members who would frequently hijack a demo to lead it with its own banner. When the Labourites and Communists called for the US to get out of Vietnam YCND denounced Ho Chi Minh and his backers. YCND did not ask for permission to march, it was taken to be a right not a privilege. Apart from local protests, which were frequent, big, noisy demonstrations along Union Street on a Saturday as well as fasts and collections were organised against poverty – often at the King Edward statue on Union Street and Union Terrace ; the US base at Edzell was a particular target for marches (someone’s mother’s bedsheet requisitioned as a US flag – the stars and stripes painted onto the sheet as it hung against a bedroom wall and while the flag came our fine, so too did the imprint of the painted stars and stripes on the bedroom wall. Such is the price of radicalism). There were vigils and bold direct actions, and the magazine Megaton was published which was sold by hand in the town and local housing schemes. Small and large direct action was taken against offices and institutions regarded as part of a military state which led to arrests of members. Whitewashing slogans on pavements (a nocturnal activity inherited from militants of the 1930s) was a regular affair which often led to a night in the cells (even though it was perfectly legal) or other hassles by the police (young supporters would be asked their father’s occupation when they were too young to have one themselves).

Although YCND was explicitly set up to oppose nuclear weapons it was such a wide-ranging body that questions of class struggle, the politics of war and imperialist rivalries became more important than the single issue. For the more politically engaged members, who irrespective of any anarchist commitments tended to be viewed as “leaders”, the single issue of nuclear weapons was seen as a product of the problem. And the problem was capitalism. So there slowly emerged more politically directed analysis of class, tactics, strategies and goals. The first signs of this were debates about anarchist syndicalism which evolved into a split between those who stayed with an anarchist-centred view and those who favoured “libertarianism” with a Marxist tinge. At the same time young folk grew older and for those with no commitment to strong political positions YCND became increasingly irrelevant. Leaving school, going to university or jobs brought them alternatives to YCND. For the politicos, debate tended towards forming factions committed to differing world views and this inevitably led to YCND being seen as a vehicle no longer capable of supporting new political goals.


Similar blog