Charity & social welfare
Kent, Bruce (6 of 6) National Life Stories: General
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2009-08-31, 2009-09-05, 2009-09-24, 2009-10-06, 2009-10-29
Interviewee's home, London
Kent, Bruce (1929-) (speaker, male)
Brodie, Louise (speaker, female)
Part 6: [Session 5: 29 October 2009] In 1992 BK decided to stand as a candidate for the Labour Party. He stood in Abingdon. It was an education on the political system. BK realised quite quickly that he had no chance of winning the seat. It had been difficult getting selected though. The count was a wonderful experience. The next election BK took part in GROT, “get rid of them” (the Tories), strategic campaigning. BK resigned from the Labour Party when Tony Blair said that he might use nuclear weapons. BK is delighted he didn’t win a Labour seat. [6:04] The big thing in the 1990s was The Hague Peace conference in 1999. There were 10,000 there. It took a lot of work. They wanted to remember what the Tsar had done in 1899, about ending war. The seeds of the present international court of justice emerged. It was held over a week. They then set up the Movement for the Abolition of War, which still goes on. BK was on the committee for the United Nations Association. They had a big rally in Central Hall Westminster to mark the peaceful end of the war in 1995. BK went to Molesworth where the Cruise missiles were based. BK has always been keen on the legal arguments. BK wanted to get prosecuted so that he could argue in court. [14:40] Looking at one year 1990, it consisted of endlessly going to groups around the country talking about nuclear disarmament, sometimes several times a week. In 1988 having just got married, BK left almost immediately for the “long walk”. It was designed to illustrate that Europe did not need to be divided. They started in Warsaw. Interesting incidents. The East Germans were the most sensitive. It took two months. It was an important thing to do. The Berlin Wall fell the next year. CND sold kilometres of the route. [19:56] BK did other walks too, in the UK and London. He wanted to do the New York marathon. A blind man in the parish is doing it, Richard Moore, but BK has been vetoed. BK has been to Moscow several times. It can be quite worrying to get ticked off when there. In 1981 BK went to Japan, it was very moving. Again there were splits in the movement. BK went again last year and they come here. There was a demonstration at Aldermaston, and it is curious going to Greenham Common where cows graze now. The bunkers are now ancient monuments! Around the base there were different attitudes among the groups of women. It was a remarkable network supporting them round the country [29:25] CND now is about 30,000 national members. They had the horrible experience of making people redundant as numbers dropped in the early 1990s. BK had to resume being active secretary. CND came out of it, with Kate Hudson now. Now it is refocused with Obama and the new Trident. BK has just come back from giving talks around Scotland. They are all against the money which would be spent on Trident. There is now a convention which covers all aspects of the process. That is ICAN International Commission to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. There are fractures in the political front. BK is trying to get the new parliamentary candidates to publish whether they would vote for or against Trident at the next election. George Robertson hated CND but is now coming round. Most of the media is not interested in CND, but when they were, they demonised it and BK. It is a bit different now. BK is proud to have been part of CND. He has met so many wonderful people, Cuthbert Leigh for instance. [38:28] The churches have moved so much too. BK’s personal faith has got more personal. Details. More details of wonderful people who work for the good of humanity. His faith is sustained by this and by his reading. His local parish is St Mellitus in Finsbury Park. It is the 50th anniversary of them buying the church building. They have had many events. It has been a lot of work. Valerie devised a bond system for raising money. It is a church demographically changing from Irish to Africans. Mellitus was buried in Canterbury Abbey, not the cathedral. BK has been scouring the country to find nuns who worked in the parish some time ago. [47:50] Canon Groves discovered there was money for a school to be called Christ the King. The school have been involved with the jubilee. They found a box with lots of mementos from 1984, the silver jubilee, and will prepare another now. The kids are putting things in as well. BK was governor of Gladesmore school which was very time consuming. He realised the problems of inner London schools. Description. It is a very mixed area. BK uses his street, with its differences but peaceful, as an image for the wider world. Most of us live in non-violent ways. If Obama stays alive, then he will be a strength for good. There is an global awareness which did not exist before. Modern communications make it easier. BK is concerned about the military addition to the global warming. Wars cause climate change, climate change causes wars [55:39] BK is under a bit of pressure to write another book about himself. He would like to do stories of military people who have refused orders. Story of William Douglas-Hume. The courage to say no is an important thing. And General Jackson. The election and Trident will take a lot of time. There will be rally meetings in major cities. Tours are hard on Valerie unless she can come too. [59:29] For recreation they go out for the day, walking or historical research. Randall Kramer was the first British Nobel prize winner, they found his grave. He promoted arbitration for settling international disputes. BK is always on about the culture of peace. They went to St Peter’s chapel near Bradwell in Essex. BK also paddled a canoe with a friend down the Thames from. It was great. Hammersmith to Tower Bridge. They will go down to Greenwich next time. What is important to BK is that he has had some sense of purpose and that he can make a contribution. From now on every day is a blessing [end of recording]
Life story interview with Bruce Kent (1929-), Vice-president of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.