TUC Deputy General Secretary Paul Nowak’s attendance at the Nuclear Education Trust’s recent launch of a report on defence diversification is highlighted in the General Council’s report to the 2018 Congress which takes place in Manchester, 9-12 September.
The report says:
‘In line with resolution 17, which called on the TUC to lobby the Labour Party to establish a shadow defence diversification agency, the TUC has met regularly with unions with an industrial interest in the sector, and with the Labour Party.
‘We have made the case for the development of a long-term strategy for defence jobs that can respond to future changes in government policy, within the context of a broad industrial strategy aimed at delivering good-quality jobs across the UK.
‘Paul Nowak, deputy general secretary of the TUC, spoke at the launch of a report on defence diversification by the Nuclear Education Trust to stress the importance of engaging workers in the defence industry in discussions about the future of the sector.
‘The TUC also welcomed the commitment by the Labour Party to build the next generation of Royal Navy ships in the UK, in order to ensure that UK government defence spending supports jobs and skills within the UK.’
The defence industry is increasingly automated, and skilled employment is in long-term decline. No surprise then to learn trade union attitudes to defence diversification are finally shifting.
In his 2015 leadership campaign Jeremy Corbyn ‘set out a clear commitment to establishing a Defence Diversification Agency’ (DDA) so that ‘engineering and scientific skills are transferred into more socially productive industries’ should a decision be taken to decommission the Trident nuclear weapons system.
Two years later, at its 2017 Congress, the TUC backed a DDA. Motion 17 recalled the ground-breaking plan for socially useful work pioneered by the Lucas Aerospace workers in 1976, and agreed to ‘lobby the Labour Party to establish before the next general election a ‘shadow’ Defence Diversification Agency, to work closely with the Shadow Department for Industry in developing an overall national industrial strategy including the possibility of conversion of ‘defence’ capacity’.
In July 2018, Unite took a step forward when the 2018 policy conference backed Executive Statement 1 which welcomed the ‘renewed focus Jeremy Corbyn has placed on defence diversification, in the context of the priority he rightly places on world disarmament’. Whilst reiterating the union’s first priority remains the protection of members jobs, the statement calls for ‘a serious government approach to defence diversification’ and ‘urges the Labour Party to give the highest priority to this on taking office’.
Fabian Hamilton: I didn’t shout at Margaret Hodge for staying in the Government, even though I had voted against the Iraq war.
Labour’s Shadow Minister for Peace and Disarmament, himself a Jew, reports that he was confronted by Margaret Hodge for not defending her for calling Jeremy Corbyn anti-semitic and a racist. He told the i newspaper: ‘shortly after she allegedly lost her temper with Jeremy Corbyn, I got the next blast in the Lobby when she shouted at me for still remaining on the Front Bench and it wasn’t very calm or dignified. In fact, even as a hardened politician with 21 years’ experience in Parliament, I came away slightly upset and a little angry at being the butt of her frustration with Jeremy Corbyn. I recalled that when she was a Minister during the Iraq war, I didn’t shout at her for staying in the Government even though I had voted against the war.’
Dozens of ceremonies were held across Britain to commemorate the atomic bombing of Japan in 1945. Labour CND’s Ruth Brown is pictured here (second left) at Tavistock Square Gardens in central London. At a conservative estimate, 250,000 were killed as a result of US bombs dropped on Hiroshima on 6 August and Nagasaki on 9 August, and second and third generation Hibakusha are still suffering the effects.
I came to Britain as a refugee from Nazi Germany, with a strong and continuing commitment to Judaism, and still attend my synagogue regularly. I have been a member the Labour Party for 70 years. As a former member of Labour’s National Executive Committee myself, I have served with Pete Willsman and know him to be a committed anti-racist and a strong supporter of Jeremy Corbyn. I am dismayed that Pete is under attack at the very time when the ballot for the NEC is taking place, and despite his deep and public apology. Pete Willsman is a staunch champion of party democracy. I will be voting for him, and urge Labour Party members to do likewise.
We held our annual conference and general meeting recently, with a focus on Trident, Jobs and Defence Diversification. Take a look at our conference programme and speakers here – and put next year’s conference date in your diary now: Saturday 2 February 2019.
Julie Ward MEP is a peace activist and member of Labour CND Executive Committee. In a recent speech to the European Parliament, she argued:
Prospects of peace between the two Koreas are unexpectedly encouraging. In our support of the talks, we must focus on young people who are essential to any lasting peacebuilding processes. Young Koreans on both sides of the border have different perspectives from their elders and they should be given a voice in the peace talks.
Women also have a crucial role to play when it comes to peacebuilding so involving them in the process is a way to ensure that peace is more sustainable and more inclusive.
I am aware that the process in the Korean peninsula is still fragile. However, I believe that any step forward is good, even a baby step, as it is one-step closer to peace and to nuclear de-escalation. In the current global context, it is hugely important for us to support disarmament campaigns.
It is particularly important that the European Parliament support all efforts at the United Nations level to make the use of nuclear weapons illegal for ALL states under any circumstances.
CND members old and new gathered at Aldermaston on Easter Sunday commemorating the Campaign’s 60th birthday by remembering our roots in the Easter marches to the UK Atomic Weapons Establishment. Labour CND members were among the hundreds who gathered there on Easter Sunday 2018.