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Anger at Royal Navy museum’s ‘pro-nuclear’ exhibition via The Guardian

Exhibition to mark 50th anniversary of Polaris submarine is ‘propaganda’, say activists

Anti-nuclear campaigners have described plans by the National Museum of the Royal Navy for a major new exhibition marking the 50th anniversary of Britain’s first nuclear submarine patrols as a “propaganda offensive”.

Firing triggers for Polaris nuclear missiles, warhead nose cones as well as Cold War cultural items such as posters of the 1990 Sean Connery film The Hunt for Red October will form part of the event, which will open on 15 June at the navy’s submarine museum in Gosport, Hampshire.

“The exhibition will highlight the need for a continuous at-sea deterrent but will not shy away from debate,” according to documents describing the show, which comes at a time when there are divisions in society over Britain’s continued possession of nuclear weapons and plans to replace the current Trident missile system.

Kate Hudson, general secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), has taken issue with the project. “At a time when the defence budget is severely stretched and key equipment is unfunded, it is shocking to read that the Ministry of Defence-sponsored navy museum is undertaking a propaganda offensive at taxpayers’ expense,” she said.

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The £60,000 cost of the exhibition has been raised privately, according to the museum, which is a public body sponsored by the MoD and in receipt of lottery funding.

Existing items from the museum’s collection will be used, including a radar mast from a Resolution class submarine, while the exhibition will also give an insight into life on board a nuclear submarine through items such as the books taken on Polaris patrols. But voices of opposition will also feature, including subversive works from the artist and political cartoonist Darren Cullen, who last year placed spoof posters, mocked up to look like Royal Navy recruitment advertisements, in bus shelters around London. They bore the slogan: “Become a suicide bomber”.

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“Museums are an important record of the peaks and troughs of human civilisation,” he said. “I hope this exhibition is housed deep enough to survive the Royal Navy’s plan to destroy civilisation entirely if Britain loses a war.

“Nuclear bombs are suicide bombs – it is impossible to use these weapons without also killing ourselves. They are an expression of a genocidal and suicidal, not to mention very expensive, form of national insanity.”

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