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Only 1,000 turn out for CND rally in London

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CND yesterday tried to put a brave face on the low number of people who turned out for a rally in Trafalgar Square to mark the beginning of a four-day march to the Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston.

Scotland Yard said up to 1,000 people attended the rally - far fewer than the thousands predicted - to protest at the expansion of the Berkshire site, which CND claims will lead the development of the next generation of Britain's nuclear weapons.

Bruce Kent, the vice-president of CND, said he was not disappointed by the low turnout, and the CND movement was as relevant as ever.

"This event is to wake up a sleeping population that is unaware of the dangers of nuclear weapons," he said.

But Damon Albarn, the lead singer of Blur, was less diplomatic. "It makes me angry to see the number of people who have come to support the march today," he said. "I know it's Good Friday, but people could give a little bit of thought. It's not even raining.

"They don't bother at all," he said. "I think if there had been a bomb in London the place would be packed, like in Madrid, but because there's not, nobody bothers."

Tony Benn told the gathering: "Fifty-nine years ago, Hiroshima and Nagasaki were destroyed by the most terrifying weapons ever devised, and tens of thousands were killed. That was a warning to the human race that we ignore at our peril."

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I suspect most people now consider CND an irrelevance. Surely the threat from nuclear weapons now comes from terrorism, which has no bearing on whether we as a nation have them or not.

Still, I suspect many of the old campaigners were on that march out of nostalgia, more than anything else.

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