Committee of 100

Making peace with a mother’s death – and life

A fundamental question is posed midway through this narrative by Michael Portillo. Speaking in his guise as a colourfully dressed TV presenter rather than politician, he demands of Natasha Walter as the cameras roll: ‘What did your parents actually achieve?’ They are standing in a nuclear bunker, the site of her parents’ most audacious stunt, but the implication of futility resounds throughout the book, probed most rigorously by their daughter. Walter counts as royalty in left-wing activist circles, her parents, Nicolas and Ruth, having been foundational in the nuclear disarmament movement of the 1960s alongside many other progressive campaigns. Nicolas served time in prison and Ruth was arrested. Both repeatedly