I woke up so depressed on Tuesday morning," says Katharine Hamnett – evenly, quietly, the way she says everything. "I felt like killing myself, and then I thought, 'Actually, I'm going to launch a political party.'" I look for a trace of irony, and although she is – contrary to popular stereotype – entirely capable of humour, dry and pointed, and possessed of a generous capacity for fun, she is not, just now, being ironic. At all.
On Easter Monday she attended the CND march at Aldermaston, wearing ("under about 25 layers", because of the cold) one of two T-shirts she designed for the occasion – Education not Trident, and NHS not Trident – and, atop a flatbed truck, gave a three-minute speech at five of the facility's gates. Today, sitting in an east London bar, she gets out a big hardback notebook containing emphatic scribbles about investment returns on education as opposed to Trident (she says up to 10.8% on £100bn, simply from the higher taxes paid by better-educated people, as opposed to "some outdated warheads and some rusty, very expensive submarines"); the needy vanity of having nuclear weapons ("there's a huge amount of testosterone involved in the nuclear [power] … Fukushima's probably the ultimate orgasm, isn't it? It just goes on and on"). Later she will list the far-reaching health and agricultural ramifications of the accident in Japan, describe the PR muscle at energy company EDF, list the ex-cabinet ministers and their relations who have taken jobs relating to the nuclear industry … It was the march, and the fact that it still had to happen in 2013, plus the fact that the government is not only committed to renewing Trident, but is intending to do so while making such savage cuts to the welfare state, that made her feel so depressed.