Labour CND annual meeting postponed

With apologies to those of you who had the date in your diaries, our AGM has been postponed. We’re busy organising for Lakenheath combined with tech problems. We will announce a new date shortly.

Labour keeping stum on return of US nukes

Jeremy Corbyn protesting at Lakenheath in 2008. US nuclear were withdrawn later that year

As tensons mount over Ukraine, the British and US goverments continue beating their war drums. Labour CND Chair Carol Turner argues the UK govenment must not be allowed to stay silent. The prospect of a nuclear war in Europe is closer than it’s been for decades, and US nuclear weapons returning to Britain put us all on the front line.

SNP MP Kirsten Oswald and Green Party MP Caroline Lucas have both tabled parliamentary questions to the Secretary of State for Defence about US nukes returning to Lakenheath. In written replies MoD junior James Heappey MP, avoided the issue with the reply: ‘The Ministry of Defence is unable to comment on US spending decisions and capabilities, which are a matter for the US government’.

The Labour Party leadership are also maintaining a determined silence. Asked about US nukes at Lakenheath at a Britain in the World Policy Committee recently, Shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy made no reply despite protests from NPF members.

Based on an article Labour OutlookRead, read it in full here, and
What we know so far about US weapons at Lakenheath here

We don’t want US nukes! Join CND at Lakenheath on 21 May

Since we learned that US nukes are coming back to Britain, CND has been busy organising a protest at RAF Lakenheath airbase in Suffolk – RAF in name only, run by the US Air Force. Transport is bringing protestors from around the country – Sheffield, Bradford, Manchester, East Midlands, London.

Visit CND for details, or London CND to book a seat from London to Lakenheath

Read about what’s on our doorstep here
Get more details about what’s in the offing here
Sign up to Labour CND’s newletter to stay in touch


Government energy strategy: security for the nuclear lobby, not for people or planet

Samantha Mason is a member of the Labour CND committee and a well-known climate and just transition activist. In the second of her regular climate blogs she takes a cold hard look at the government’s recently published energy security strategy.

The government energy security strategy means security for the nuclear lobby, but not for energy or climate

MUCH ANALYSIS has now been made of the UK Government’s British Energy Security Strategy since it was announced on 19th April. Namely its failure to meet its stated “mutually reinforcing goals” of security, sustainability and affordability, and address energy demand side measures i.e. energy conservation or reduction of use. Whilst some may welcome the Government’s ambition in aiming to produce 95% of electricity by 2030 through low carbon means, as ever there is no plan for how this will be achieved.

A roll call of technologies from offshore wind to nuclear power is no substitute for this, and further demonstrates that the UK’s energy crisis is part of the historic complexity and incoherency of government energy policy. Dieter Helm, an energy policy expert and recent adviser to the Prime Minister, has aptly referred to this as a “lobbyists utopia” and, in this case, the nuclear lobbyists are having a field day.

Energy policy is not rocket science. It is about achieving core objectives – security of supply and decarbonisation – and achieving them at the lowest cost. Neither will be met by purely private markets — Professor Dieter Helm

The British Energy Security Strategy says it will “reverse decades of myopia” by investing massively in nuclear power. This includes the deployment of 24GW of nuclear power by 2050 to meet around 25% of projected energy demand. This will be achieved, it claims, by developing up to 8 new nuclear reactors with one final investment decision (FID), therefore nuclear project commitment, in this Parliament, and two more in the next including Small Modular Reactors (SMRs).  The Government claims this will provide “cleaner, cheaper power, lower energy bills and thousands of high wage, high skilled new jobs”.

Contrary to reversing decades of myopia, investment in new nuclear is far from long-sighted, and does nothing to help the climate or energy crisis.

On 4th April, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the final part of its sixth assessment report on climate change. The first one on the science of climate change, was issued ahead of the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow. The UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called this “code red for humanity”.  The next part on adaptation, issued in February, was referred to by Guterres as an “atlas of human suffering”. This final part on mitigation talks of the shrinking timeframe – just years to stabilise the climate.

WE ARE WATCHING as the world is ravaged by conflict and war (not just in Ukraine but Yemen, Syria, Palestine, Ethiopia, the DRC among others) and “clobbered” by climate to quote Guterres again. It is irresponsible for our politicians to carry on as if old technology such as nuclear and business-as-usual energy models will solve the twin energy and climate crises. The liberalised and privatised energy model, particularly in the UK, is at the heart of our energy crisis.

Energy nationalisation of itself does not necessarily cure all the ills of our energy system. A lot depends on the design of a new public ownership model, and when the taxpayer is bailing out energy companies it defies logic not to pursue this. Labour’s current proposals for a windfall tax hark back to an energy policy of New Labour focused on making “liberalisation work better”. The party seems to have learned nothing from this, including that the unbundling or break up of the energy companies would not “hit hardest those least able to pay”.

Labour’s current proposals for a windfall tax hark back to
an energy policy of New Labour focused on
making “liberalisation work better”

History tells us otherwise. We are now in a very changed landscape for energy and environment policy. In the face of climate change, we have no time left to flip flop on energy strategy and this means firm opposition to nuclear power.

The Government can pluck any target out of thin air it likes but evidence – decades of evidence – tells us their ambition and reliance on economies of scale will not be achievable – on construction costs, delivery timelines, and finding solutions to deal with waste.  Aside from an incompetent Government, market forces won’t fund this agenda and once again it will be foisted on tax payers. The new Nuclear Energy (Financing) Act, will frontload costs onto consumers, further increasing fuel poverty. Labour acknowledged this in the debate on the passage of the bill before it came into force, but still backed it.

NUCLEAR POWER is also at the behest of shifting geo-political relationships as evidenced by moves to remove China from investments in UK nuclear power projects.  To suggest that nuclear gives us a home grown source of energy is quite misleading . Uranium is needed and the global leaders in supply are Australia, Khazakstan, Canada, and indeed Russia. 

Investment in nuclear power will only lead to delays in building up our renewables capacity and generation, storage technology, and the system to deliver on this, the national transmission grid and distribution networks. Importantly too, investment in nuclear continues to detract from decades-overdue energy conservation measures that include retrofit and insulation of UK homes which would also help energy affordability.

The only way to address these crises is by having a national energy transition plan, based on renewable energy as a global public good which is essential to all our activities. Such a plan would enable us to map out the transition for workers, rather than lay waste their skills as is happening at present. It would harness their knowledge and experience, for the much needed work on decarbonisation. 

Above all an energy security strategy must be for people and planet not nuclear lobbyists.

Stop US nukes coming to Lakenheath

As news that US nuclear weapons are coming to Britain again begins to spread, CND has organised our first protest at RAF/USAF Lakenheath in Suffolk. With the cooperation of local CND groups, the Stop UK nukes coming to Lakenheath protest takes place outside the base on Saturday 21 May, 13.00 to 15.00. CND groups across the country are already mobilising.

The United States is the only country that sites its nuclear weapons outside its own territory. The return of US nukes to Britain will increase global tensions and put the UK on the front line of a Nato/Russia war.

What’s happening at Lakenheath is part of an upgrade of US/Nato nuclear facilities across Europe. Increasing Nato’s capacity to wage nuclear war in Europe is dangerously destabilising and further undermines the prospects of international peace.

It’s vital that we build the biggest opposition to siting US nuclear weapons in Britain. It means spreading the word across the labour movement, and that’s  up to us all.

Labour CND will play our part in keeping you up to scratch with developments in the weeks and months ahead.

Read Are US nuclear weapons coming to Britain again? and stay in touch for more reports.
Join Labour CND’s mailing list here

Where is the outrage over Yemen?

Labour CND committee member Rae Street is doing her single-handed best to keep the UK government’s shameful role in the war and humanitarian crisis in Yemen in full view, with regular letters to the national press. Here’s why….

Understandably, there is at the moment much in the media about the war in Ukraine where there is absolute carnage. However, what is not understandable is the complete lack of coverage of other conflicts in Somalia, Gaza, Ethiopia, but especially the  war in the Yemen. 

The Campaign Against Arms Trade estimates that over 377,000 have died  in the Yemen, either directly through the fighting or indirectly from hunger and disease. Shelter Box, the donations point for the charity Shelter, is appealing for funds for shelters which they are now managing to get through to the Yemen.

Their leaflet describes Yemeni families living in ‘nests’, that is a form of pitiful shelter built from scraps of metal and material.  I have never before heard the word ‘nest’ used in that way.

The UK government has been instrumental in bringing this about. The UK is part of the Saudi-led coalition and it is UK arms, including fighter planes from BAE Systems, which have been sold to Saudi Arabia.

Those arms are currently pounding the Yemen and murdering the people.  It is shameful that the UK government supports Saudi Arabia.  The UK should not be in the war coalition, should not be selling and shipping arms to Saudi Arabia.

Where is the outrage at the humanitarian catastrophe there?

Are US nuclear weapons coming to Britain again?

Labour CND Chair Carol Turner’s blog on the Ukraine crisis launches with the announcement that the UK is about to become the sixth European Nato member to host American nuclear weapons. Keep tuned in for updates

The world is closer to nuclear war than we’ve been for decades, closer perhaps than ever before. Strained relations between Russia and the US over Nato’s eastward expansion touched boiling point at the end of February, when Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was followed by the announcement that Russian nukes were being moved to special alert.

What’s needed is cool council, encouragement to de-escalate the war and negotiate a stable end to this dangerous conflict. Instead, the belligerent rhetoric of the US, Britain and other European Nato members adds weight to the emerging view that Nato would welcome a long and protracted war in order to exhaust Russia – and consequences for the people of Ukraine be damned.

Against this looming possibility of nuclear war, a report by Hans Kristensen, Nuclear Information Project Director at the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) gives cause for us to be very afraid. The UK, he says, is set to become the sixth European Nato member to host American nuclear weapons on our territory.

Belgium, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, and Turkey already have US nuclear weapons stationed within their borders. FAS estimates around 100 US nuclear bombs are deployed in these five countries.

US Department of Defence (DoD) documents suggest the UK has been added to the list of nuclear weapons storage locations. Kristensen believes RAF Lakenheath, 80 miles northeast of London, is likely to be that facility. In the past, Lakenheath was used to store US Air Force (USAF) nuclear gravity bombs. The facilities to do so are still intact.

This analysis by FAS comes as Lakenheath is getting ready to become the first USAF base in Europe equipped with the latest generation of nuclear-capable fighter-bomber aircraft. The first of the F-35As arrived at Lakenheath in December last year; the US is due to begin training in the next 12 months.

Kristensen points out there is no public indication from Nato yet that it intends to store nuclear bombs in Lakenheath. He speculates that its upgrade ‘could potentially be intended to increase the flexibility of the existing nuclear deployment within Europe, without increasing the number of weapons’. In other words, with a war with Russia in the offing, Lakenheath could receive nuclear weapons from existing European Nato locations to ‘better realign the overall nuclear posture in Europe’.

Arms Control Association Director Daryl Kimball, however, told the Guardian he saw the upgrade of the UK storage facilities as: ‘an early sign that the US and Nato are preparing to engage in a protracted and maybe heightened standoff with Putin’s Russia.’

Meanwhile, the British government is working hand in glove with Nato and the US on Ukraine. Prime Minister Johnson’s recent announcement of increased military assistance to President Zelensky, including supplying offensive weaponry, is fanning the flames of a war that could stretch across Europe and beyond.

Keeping the people of Britain safe should be foremost amongst the UK government’s concerns. Creating the conditions for siting American nuclear weapons in Britain is tantamount to painting a target on the back of everyone in the UK.

This Tory government could and should be playing a supportive role in negotiations to end the Ukraine conflict, not helping escalate it. And Labour should be demanding it do so from across the opposition benches, not trailing in Johnson’s wake.

Read Hans Kristensen full report, Lakenheath Air Base Added To Nuclear Weapons Storage Site Upgrades, 11 April 2022 here
See Julian Borger and Sam Sabbagh, UK military vaults upgraded to store new US nuclear weapons, Guardian 12 April 2022 here

Nuclear power: the jobs myth

Join Labour CND’s Sam Mason and Daniel Blaney at this webinar organised by CND’s Trade Union Advisory Group on Monday 9 May at 19:00. Sam Mason, who represents her union on the Trade Unions for Energy Democracy initiative, will be speaking on sustainability. She joins MV Ramana , a physicist and expert on small modular nuclear reactors, who is Professor of Global and Human Security at the University of British Columbia . Daniel Blaney will chair the webinar on behalf of CND. Register here

Labour CND’s 2022 conference

Register now for Labour CND’s not-to-be-missed annual conference. We’ll be debating the way forward for a Labour foreign policy based on peace, people and planet, with:

Richard Burgon MP // Tom Unterrainer CND Chair // Margaret Kimberly Black Alliance for Peace // Katy Clark MSP// Jess Barnard  Young Labour // Stuart Parkinson Scientists for Global Responsibility // Mish Rahman NEC // Sam Mason Labour CND’s climate specialist // with a musical interlude from Labour CND’s own Sam Browse.

Events in Ukraine bring the prospect of nuclear war closer. The AUKUS pact with Australia and the US intensifies a new Cold War with China. The British government is pledged to increase its nuclear weapons stockpile. Energy price hikes have renewed dthe role of nuclear power in the UK’s energy mix.

Now more than ever Labour needs a foreign policy based on peace and climate justice.