New Internationalist

Greenham Non-Violent Women v The Crown Prerogative

November 2005

There was always something special about the protests at Greenham Common. They were anti-nuclear at a time when nuclear war seemed an imminent threat – each of the 96 cruise missiles stored in the US base carried a nuclear warhead with the capacity of 16 Hiroshima bombs. They were women’s protests at a time when feminism was strong. They were innovative and exciting. And they would not go away.

Those of us who went occasionally to ‘embrace the base’, or to camp for a night or two, had huge admiration for the women who stayed through the winter, harassed by the police, with no warmth and little shelter.

Sarah Hipperson was one of those women. In this book, she tells the story of the resistance of the women at Yellow Gate camp. It is an important record of the many occasions when they challenged the British legal system, despite the ‘Crown Prerogative’ which states that decisions about the armed forces cannot be questioned in a court of law. It is also an uncomfortable record of the divisions between the different protest groups.

But in the end, it is also a story of success. The missiles went. A Victor Hugo quote on the fly leaf says: ‘An invasion of armies can be resisted, but not an idea whose time has come’.

Greenham is not just history: we are sorely in need of such ideas today, as violence escalates and our governments send in the armies.

This column was published in the November 2005 issue of New Internationalist. To read more, buy this issue or subscribe.

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This article was originally published in issue 384

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