By David Fairhall
Whilst a small team of ladies got down to march to Greenham one summer time day on the finish of August 1981, none of them may have imagined that this trip might switch their lives without end. Nor did they dream that their gesture that day may touch off a feminist protest flow that may final for many years spreading its impact internationally. This hugely exciting and evocative heritage of the typical lines the advance of the protests from the summer time of that yr in the course of the climax of the chilly warfare to the current day. it's a quintessentially English story during which a disparate team of devoted and infrequently fractious girls confront the whole army may well of the USA, not just to elevate their voices opposed to nuclear guns but additionally to guard the traditional customs and rights of universal flooring. As alive to the women's issues as to the broader political implications, Fairhall paints a vibrant photograph of lifestyles at Greenham, from the demanding situations and frustrations of the evening raids and appearances in court docket to the exuberant self-expression of the camps on the a variety of rainbow-coloured Gates. extra lately, he exhibits how the decent citizens of Newbury, the place the ladies have been usually given this kind of adverse reception, have used an analogous legislation exploited by way of the ladies of their personal struggle to revive the traditional rights of public entry to the typical and safeguard it as open heathland for destiny generations. The protests at Greenham universal are a strong image of the 20 th century which nonetheless arouse powerful emotions this day. there are various "Greenham girls" nonetheless round. yet what did they truly in attaining? As public obstacle focuses either at the proliferation of recent guns of mass destruction and the necessity to shield the threatened British panorama, this can be a well timed second to contemplate their legacy.
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Extra info for Common Ground: The Story of Greenham
Eventually, the district council and the DoT were joined by Berkshire County Council (urged on, no doubt, by the MoD and its American guests) in a coordinated campaign to eliminate the protest. It never succeeded. On the contrary, the publicity provided by the evictions (women against bulldozers – wonderful pictures) attracted still more women to Greenham. It also made them increasingly aware that the law, though certainly not on their side, could often be used to their advantage – especially where common land was concerned.
Helen John had only gradually come round to the idea of women-only, on pragmatic grounds, though in retrospect she regards the decision as ‘pivotal’. Karmen Cutler, among the organisers of the original march, was never reconciled to it. She recalls collecting generous contributions from the Welsh miners only to be told, when she delivered the money to Greenham, that the miners themselves would not be welcome there – ‘just because they were male’. As for the men who were actually asked to leave, some were outraged.
At Greenham, far more was at stake than the outcome of a domestic election. The US military had chosen to plant their nuclear banner there to challenge what they perceived as a threatening deployment of mobile Soviet SS- missiles throughout eastern Europe. The British base was part of a collective NATO programme, which it was hoped would also involve Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Belgium in the counter-deployment of Tomahawk cruise and Pershing II missiles. As Defence Secretary, Heseltine also became ex ofﬁcio Britain’s representative in NATO committees, such as the Nuclear Planning Group, which developed this controversial strategy.
Common Ground: The Story of Greenham by David Fairhall
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