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Saturday, 17 August 2013 00:00

Campaigning in '70s was terrifying

Reading Andrew Northall's letter (M Star August 8) on the speech written for the Queen on the eve of the impending Soviet nuclear first strike took me back to the late 1970s.

As a bureau member of the Women's International Democratic Federation (WIDF) I attended a conference in Hungary where I spoke of the cruise missiles which the US was placing in Europe.

At the end the secretary of the WIDF asked if I would go to Geneva with her to discuss the issue with the arms negotiators of Nato and the Warsaw pact.

It was two days before arrangements could be made to meet the Nato team. When they came chief negotiator Pauo Nitze was not present, and I felt we would not be taken seriously.

I asked them why they would they not sign the "no first strike" agreement.

One man said that the US did not need to sign as it would not be the first to use nuclear weapons.

I was so amazed that I said: "But you bloody well have! Do you not remember the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki?"

In the silence that followed, I added that a British poll had shown that 63 per cent of the population did not want US troops in the country.

He said: "Britain was never satisfied. We did not come into the first and second world wars soon enough for you and now we are ready you are still not satisfied."

I reminded him that they did not come into the second world war for us but because Pearl Harbour was attacked.

Obviously we were unsuccessful and we left feeling very anxious.

This has been the pattern, with the West always the first to increase the firepower of its weapons.

Now there are plans to replace Trident at the cost of £100 billion, while 3.5 million children are living below the poverty line and families are living off food banks.

Surely this is the politics of the madhouse?

Betty Tebbs


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