By David Fairhall
While a small workforce of girls got down to march to Greenham one summer season day on the finish of August 1981, none of them can have imagined that this time out might swap their lives without end. Nor did they dream that their gesture that day may touch off a feminist protest circulation that will final for many years spreading its impression the world over. This hugely exciting and evocative historical past of the typical lines the improvement of the protests from the summer season of that 12 months during the climax of the chilly struggle to the current day. it's a quintessentially English story within which a disparate team of devoted and occasionally fractious ladies confront the entire army may well of the USA, not just to elevate their voices opposed to nuclear guns but in addition to protect the traditional customs and rights of universal floor. As alive to the women's matters as to the broader political implications, Fairhall paints a vibrant photo of existence at Greenham, from the demanding situations and frustrations of the evening raids and appearances in courtroom to the exuberant self-expression of the camps on the a number of rainbow-coloured Gates. extra lately, he exhibits how the good citizens of Newbury, the place the ladies have been usually given one of these adverse reception, have used a similar legislation exploited by means of the ladies of their personal struggle to revive the traditional rights of public entry to the typical and defend it as open heathland for destiny generations. The protests at Greenham universal are a strong image of the twentieth century which nonetheless arouse robust emotions at the present time. there are various "Greenham ladies" nonetheless round. yet what did they honestly in attaining? As public crisis focuses either at the proliferation of recent guns of mass destruction and the necessity to defend the threatened British panorama, it is a well timed second to contemplate their legacy.
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Extra info for Common Ground: The Story of Greenham
They came back ‘absolutely knackered’ and bunked off school the next day to recover. At the time she was studying science, and dreamed – as many girls do – of maybe working with animals. But politics were never far away: ‘it was part of the family culture to go on marches and stuff envelopes’. Her aunt was the stalwart feminist Labour MP Jo Richardson, member for Barking in London’s docklands, friend of Clare Short and ‘an enormous inﬂuence’ on her young niece. It was Jo who ﬁrst explained some of the issues surrounding nuclear power after taking her to see the ﬁlm The China Syndrome.
They set ﬁre to pillar boxes, slashed paintings, posted letter bombs, hurled stones at No. Downing Street. A substantial bomb was planted in Lloyd George’s house (though they probably knew it was empty at the time). Winston Churchill, an avowed sympathiser who would not deliver the political goods, was horsewhipped on Bristol Temple Meads station (much more satisfying, one imagines, than merely jostling Michael Heseltine when he visited Newbury). The question hotly debated at the time – and which reads across to the Greenham protest – was whether militant action actually furthered the women’s cause.
It was therefore essential, in Ruddock’s view, that the CND national council should take a formal position on the issue, ‘because otherwise our membership, or some of the members certainly, would have been on a collision path with the women – and that would have been hugely damaging to the peace movement’. After much debate the council did eventually agree that Greenham should be regarded, in her words, as ‘a special place for a special group of people’, and that the organisation would suppress its reservations (about tactics, as well as the question of gender) so as to offer continuing support.