Interview with Eddy Newman, former lord mayor of UK’s Manchester, vice president city of Mayors for Peace

Efforts at city level have power to transcend national boundaries

Eddy Newman, former lord mayor of Manchester, in the United Kingdom, a city that serves as a vice president of the Mayors for Peace organization, participated in an online interview with the Chugoku Shimbun ahead of the general conference of Mayors for Peace. Mr. Newman currently serves as the permanent representative of the Manchester City Council in the Mayors for Peace and, in that role, advocates the importance of calling for the elimination of nuclear weapons from the perspective of a city in the nuclear-armed United Kingdom.

What efforts has Manchester made for peace and the elimination of nuclear weapons?
In 1980, we declared our city a nuclear-free zone in the nuclear-armed United Kingdom, making clear our vehement opposition to nuclear weapons. That declaration was copied soon after by other local city councils and authorities in Britain, and with that the Nuclear Free Local Authorities network was formed. We promote peace education for children and young people. We’ve called on the national government to adopt, sign, and ratify the Treaty on Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). We straightaway condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and illuminated prominent civic buildings in the center of Manchester with the colors of the Ukrainian flag.

Manchester joined Mayors for Peace in 1985. What’s your view on the organization’s 40th anniversary?
I think it’s very fitting that Hiroshima and Nagasaki lead the Mayors for Peace because those cities’ people were victims of, and suffered from, nuclear attacks. The nuclear powers, starting with Russia, say there are no winners in nuclear war but are still not making progress in disarming their arsenals. That’s why it’s so important for those of us that represent millions of people who live in our cities to unite, cooperate, and demand a world without nuclear weapons.

What do you think of the significance of city solidarity beyond national borders?
Cities are the prime targets of an attack with nuclear weapons. Just because we have not had a nuclear attack on a city since the last atomic bombing of Nagasaki doesn’t mean that such a tragedy can’t happen again. So long as nuclear weapons exist, they are a threat to the people living in our cities. We are a local city government that doesn’t have the authority to eliminate nuclear weapons at the national level. However, by forming solidarity among cities that transcends national boundaries and advocating the elimination of nuclear weapons, we can put political pressure on national governments.

Meanwhile, disarmament talks between nations have stalled.
Many people including local city council members and mayors even in the nuclear power that is the United Kingdom are in favor of nuclear disarmament. Similarly, in cities in other countries, there is a movement for nuclear disarmament. Solidarity among cities has the power to break down barriers between nations.

(Originally published on October 18, 2022)