The story of Talking Trident: national nukes debate led by young people


Young adults in Stratford tell us what they think about Trident.

The British government will decide whether to renew Trident, our nuclear weapons system, in 2016 at a lifetime cost of £100 billion. This will mean the system lasts for up to another 50 years.

It is the younger generation who will have to live with this decision. So we surveyed thousands of young people in Britain to find out what they think. The majority said that spending on defence should be last on the government’s list of priorities over the next 10 years, and that nuclear weapons should not be part of the country’s defence system.

MR Infographic launch 1

Survey carried out by ComRes on our behalf. Based on the views of 1,108 18-35 years olds across the UK.

What does Britain really think about nukes? 

Armed with this research our team of 30 young Ambassadors have spent the past year travelling up and down the country to find out if the general public, decision-makers (those who would speak to us), nuclear weapons campaigners and experts, and a few celebs agree with the views of young people in Britain.

They spoke to more than 300 people face-to-face at events or on the street and reached thousands more on social media and learnt skills in film-making, interviewing, event management and blogging along the way.

Talking Trident tour: follow the story and see the films

February, Stratford, London: Our first stop ahead of the Labour Spring Conference, which was held at the Excel Centre in March. We asked people how they would like the gov to spend £100 billion and showed their views to Labour MPs and Councillors. 

April, Old Street, London: We officially launched Talking Trident with a bang as we dropped some 80s beats on the streets of London and chatted to LBC and BBC Radio Cumbria. Hundreds got involved by sharing their views on Twitter. Check out our round-up of the day.

May, Hay Literary Festival, Hay-on-Wye: We spoke to comedian Marcus Brigstocke and authors Jonathon Porritt and Ian McEwan. Below you can see their views and the views of comedians we spoke to at the Edinburgh Festival in August.

June, Glastonbury Festival, Worthy Farm: We asked festival-goers one simple question – does Britain need nuclear weapons? Here’s what happened…

July, RichMix, Bethnal Green: We hosted the first in our series of public debates on nuclear weapons. Speakers included James Arbuthnot, former Chairman of the Defence Select Committee & Rebecca Sharkey, UK co-ordinator for the International Campaign Against Nuclear Weapons (ICAN UK). Check out our blog on what went down on the night. Below the speakers outline their points of view…

August, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Scotland: Ahead of the Referendum on Sottish Independence, which saw Trident become a political bargaining chip, we spoke to people on the streets, the campaigners at Faslane Peace Camp where Trident is located and a few comedians performing at the Festival.

September, across the UK: Our Ambassador Andrew Gibson launched a series of events to speak to Labour Students at universities across the UK. Here he writes about what happened.

October, Edinburgh World Justice Festival, Scotland: We returned to Scotland after the IndyRef to host an event with Bill Kidd MSP asking – is it still possible to create a world free from nuclear weapons? Here’s our write up of what happened and check out Bill Kidd’s views below:

January 2015, Warwick University: Former defence secretary Sir Nick Harvey met students to talk to them about where each of the main political party’s stand on Trident in the run-up to the General Election. Here’s what happened.

March 2015, Parliament Square & Hackney, London: To round up a year of events we took to the streets of London, where it all began, to imagine a world without nuclear weapons and let people know that we are frustrated by the current level of open debate on nuclear weapons in the UK.

Talking Trident in numbers

Our Ambassadors have been very busy raising awareness over the past year…
140,000 people reached on Twitter on launch day with hundreds using #TalkingTrident
7,000 film views on our YouTube channel
300 people engaged in nuclear discussion
37 blogs published with 4 Ambassadors published on the Huffington Post and 1 on Left Food Forward
12 articles in regional media
2 articles in national media
2 live radio appearances
1 film shown every day on the main stage at Glastonbury Festival reaching thousands

What now?

Some of our Ambassadors in London.

Some of our Ambassadors in London.

We planned to take the views we heard to the decision-makers ahead of the election, but the only leader who has met with us is Natalie Bennet from the Green Party (who wants to decommission Trident). We have been working for a year to give people the opportunity to get their voices heard and now we are frustrated.

Our Ambassador Holly sums it up: “We are not happy with the current level of open debate regarding the renewal of Trident. We are the generation that will have to live with this decision, yet our views are not being heard. The majority of parties are promising to offer votes to 16 and 17 year olds for the first time so we are calling on all parliamentary candidates to listen to our views now – not to wait four years.”

Holly and our team of young Ambassadors have written to parliamentary candidates and are calling for:

  • More easily digestible public information available about the options for Trident replacement and renewal
  • Politicians and the media need to stop using jargon and use more accessible language when they talk about nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction
  • A televised debate examining the different options for Trident renewal available from different perspectives
  • Government-led research into what the younger generation thinks about Trident replacement and consideration of these views when making a decision.

Do you agree with our Ambassadors? You can help by letting us and your new MPs know what you think. Simply:

See the results of our research into people’s views on Trident and nuclear weapons.

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