Protest demands money for climate not military

Quakers took part in a protest outside the Ministry of Defence where 10,400 £500,000 notes were counted out to highlight the estimated £5.2 billion the UK spends on nuclear weapons in a year

Friends took part in a protest outside the Ministry of Defence last month where campaigners physically counted the £5.2 billion that the UK is forecast to spend on nuclear weapons from 2018-2019. The activists counted 10,400 £500,000 notes in protest at what it described as ‘this terrible use of taxpayers’ money’ and demanded that the money should be spent on addressing the climate emergency instead.

The group Conscience: Taxes for Peace not War, which organised the protest, said: ‘It is almost impossible to imagine the horror that would be unleashed if just one of those nuclear weapons were ever used.’

Friend Karen Robinson, whose grandfather was a conscientious objector, said the figure was ‘impossible to comprehend’.

‘It was my grandmother who inspired me to join the peace movement,’ she said. ‘She talked of the boys and young men she knew who went off to the first world war and never came back.’

Quaker Robin Brookes, executive committee member of Conscience: Taxes for Peace not War, said: ‘I refuse to pay taxes for war. [It is] the most appalling use of public money to inflict violence on other human beings… We need to spend taxes on the means and institutions to solve the underlying problem in each conflict, not violently suppress people we don’t agree with. We need problem solvers in government, not warmongers.’

The Wiltshire Friend made the news in 2003 when he appeared before magistrates after refusing to pay his income tax because of the Iraq war.

Conscience: Taxes for Peace not War began as the Peace Tax Campaign in 1979, which was founded by Cornish Quaker Stanley Keeble.

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