Nick Brown: No to Trident renewal

At the next General Election every Parliamentary candidate will be asked which way they are going to vote on Trident renewal. This is essentially the same question that was asked of Parliamentary candidates in 1983.

The issue is not should Britain continue with an existing strategic deterrent. The issue is should Britain commit the resources for a new generation of platforms and weapon systems. The answer should be no.

The changing nature of military threats to the UK needs to be responded to. That response should place defence in the context of Britain’s broader diplomatic stance and military alliances. It should also place Trident renewal firmly in the context of present public spending priorities.

The Coalition Government is pulling apart public services and is raising taxes on those who can least afford to pay them. If Labour is to put forward a coherent economic alternative we have to take a good look at all areas of public spending. In these circumstances it’s hard to see a case for renewing our nuclear deterrent. In what crisis could Britain conceivably use an independent strategic deterrent? And against who? The real nuclear dangers to Britain come from rogue states and terrorism. The possession of an independent nuclear deterrent of our own doesn’t make us safer. A better investment would be antiterrorism capabilities.

The Government projects a total cost for Trident renewal of up to £25bn, though CND believe that the lifetime cost could come in as much as four times that figure.

The Liberal Democrats’ move to postpone a final decision until after the next election has already added an extra £1.5bn to the bill.

There are far more urgent demands on the public purse. To name just one, the Coalition have trebled the cap on tuition fees at Britain’s universities. This threatens to price out of higher education an entire generation of youngsters of less than ordinary means. If we are to reverse this decision, as Labour is committed to doing if possible, we will have to find the money to pay for it.

It is my view that excluding youngsters from higher education, starving public services more generally of necessary resources, poses a far bigger threat to the United Kingdom than the idea that a foreign power with nuclear weaponry would uniquely threaten to use them against us without the rest of NATO and be able to somehow disapply NATO’s founding terms.


Nick Brown is the MP for Newcastle East

Conference Resolutions and Fringe

Contemporary Resolutions

Scrapping Trident and ending foreign military interventions are the subjects of our two model contemporary resolutions to Labour Party Annual Conference this year.


It is time the Labour Party seriously debated Trident, a throwback to the Cold War which consumes enormous resources that would be better spent elsewhere and with no relevance to the UK’s security needs.

Similarly, after the Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya invasions, it is time the party discussed rejecting military interventions and focusing on real UK defence needs.

It is vital that Labour CND supporters ensure these debates are heard at Labour Party Conference.

  • Make sure your CLP discusses and submits one of these resolutions.
  • Make sure your delegate is present at any relevant Conference Arrangements Committee meeting before conference.
  • Make sure you promote the resolution to ensure it is prioritised for debate.


The deadline to submit motions is noon on 21 September 2012.

Please email and let us know if your CLP is submitting one of these or a similar motion.


Labour CND’s fringe meeting at Labour Party Conference


Join the debate on Trident the Labour Party needs to have. It is time the Party discussed Trident, a throwback to the Cold War which consumes enormous resources that would be better spent elsewhere and which has no relevance to the UK’s security needs.

Cut Trident: Not Jobs, Health and Education

6pm, Monday 1st October
Arora Hotel, Princess St, Manchester [map]

Nick Brown MP
Katy Clark MP
Jeremy Corbyn MP
Julie Morgan AM
Neil Findlay MSP
Christine Shawcroft, NEC
Kate Osamor

Refreshments provided

Email for more information.

Labour’s hesitation on Trident

A muffled debate on the nuclear deterrent took place on 18 June which – for those who noticed – was deeply depressing. The news that the government is going to order the first reactor for a new generation of nuclear-armed submarines provoked mild anguish among some LibDems – and much more from the SNP which is opposed to Trident altogether, so that Defence Secretary Philip Hammond was obliged to make a statement to the House. But from Labour there was first silence, and then support.

Here, for those who support both Labour and CND to ponder deeply, are some key parts of the statement/question put to Hammond by Alison Seabeck (Plymouth Moor View), Labour shadow defence minister. I have added my own comments in square brackets.

“In a security landscape of few guarantees, our independent nuclear deterrent provides us with the ultimate insurance policy, strengthens our national security and increases our ability to achieve long-term global security aims….”  [This is indistinguishable from the Conservative view that Britain, unlike most other nations, must rely on nuclear weapons].

“…the development of the new reactor needs to go ahead whether or not there is a final decision on Trident, because it relates to the UK’s defence capability and to our submarine programme….” [This seems to mean that Labour believes Britain must retain nuclear submarines come what may].

“The country would therefore be deeply disappointed if defence of the Government ever took precedence over defence of the national interest.” [This appears to be a warning to the Tories not to make any concession – in order to keep the coalition government together – to LibDem unhappiness over Trident renewal].

“When the Government do the right thing on defence, we will support them. We look forward to the evidence that they will provide and to a clear commitment to multilateral disarmament. [Finally Ms Seabeck comes to her question, which is pushing at an open door. Everyone says they are in favour of multilateral disarmament and support the Non-proliferation Treaty].

Only a few MPs willing to speak up independently on defence raised the simple question: why continue with the  nuclear deterrent. “Do we not need to think again?”, asked Jeremy Corbyn (Labour, Islington North) , describing Trident as “a weapon of mass destruction of dubious legality and total morality”. Paul Flynn (Labour, Newport West) called it “little more than an impractical vanity and virility symbol”. David Lammy (Labour, Tottenham) asked which would make his constituents safer – “cutting Trident to fund extra police officers or cutting police officers to funds Trident?”

In theory the decision to go ahead with the replacement of the submarines which carry Trident (which is what the short-hand term “Trident renewal” really means) is still subject to a parliamentary decision in 2016. And again in theory, the LibDem sponsored Trident Alternative Review could come up with a different solution to maintain a British “nuclear deterrent in some different form. Hammond barely acknowledged even that possibility, saying instead that

“The investment in Trident and the successor class submarine is a long-term programme to provide for Britain’s strategic security over the next 40 to 50 years. I believe that it is one of the most important functions of government to protect the population against the strategic threats in the world, which, if anything, are growing, not diminishing.”

This expresses the core belief in the Conservative defence establishment, and in the MoD, that for all the talk of disarmament, nuclear weapons should be kept indefinitely because one cannot predict what may happen in the future. Tony Blair and Gordon Brown when in office subscribed to exactly the same doctrine: how can we persuade their successors to have the political courage to revise it?

By John Gittings

John is a member of Witney CLP, and author of The Glorious Art of Peace: From the Iliad to Iraq (OUP)

Article originally published on John’s website.


Trident drains money from public services

In an article on LabourList, the Shadow Defence Minister Kevan Jones has adopted the mantra of ‘too far and too fast’ in relation to recently announced cuts to the Army.  He concluded his attack on government spending decisions by stating “recent decisions made by the Government will shape our ability to meet future strategic threats for years and years to come. But they have been made on the basis of making short-term savings over the next 12 to 18 months”.

Yet not all recent decisions within the Ministry of Defence have been made with on the basis of short-term savings.  Indeed, another Shadow Defence Minister wrote a piece on LabourList just a few weeks earlier, endorsing the government’s confirmation of £1 billion expenditure on Trident Replacement. And we already know that the Coalition plans to spend £4 billion on Trident replacement design before the decision on whether or not to replace it is taken in 2016 – and while Lib Dems research alternatives to a like-for-like replacement.

The two articles stand alone but looked at together there is a lack of joined up thinking in the defence team. The Treasury has decided the procurement costs of Trident replacement must come out of the Ministry of Defence’s budget, yet Trident was specifically excluded from the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR), which directly led to the recently announced defence cuts.

Kevan Jones linked to Labour MP Dan Jarvis’s piece in The Guardian last week where he wrote “Does any sensible, independent military thinker believe this decision is based upon strategy? No, the only strategy is to pay down the deficit at all costs.”  Not quite at all costs though; the government is spending billions on Trident and its replacement despite huge cuts elsewhere in government including in the Ministry of Defence.

So what is Labour’s policy?  Well, at the most recent meeting of the National Policy Forum the differences of opinion in the party on Trident were acknowledged and there are signs of a more inclusive discussion.

Meanwhile Ed Balls has stated that the next Labour Government will have difficult spending choices to make and he has expressed the view that it cannot or will not reverse all of the cuts.  In that context, endorsing billions more for Trident while blogging the following week that the Government’s defence policy is only focused on short term cuts makes Labour’s defence team incoherent, not to mention inconsistent with Ed Ball’s cautious approach to public expenditure under a future Labour government.

What would be coherent is to implement the position of Ed Miliband during Labour’s leadership election – that Labour “should look at the totality of our conventional and nuclear capabilities, considering both our defence needs and what our priorities are in the changing economic climate.”  Labour’s defence team has failed to look at conventional and nuclear capabilities in totality.  They should – and correctly conclude that Trident is draining money away from other areas of government expenditure, whether in the Ministry of Defence or other vital public services.


By Daniel Blaney

Labour should not idealise the military

On 10th July, the Shadow Defence Secretary Jim Murphy and the Shadow Education Secretary Stephen Twigg unveiled in an article for The Telegraph their support for broader involvement of the military in the British education system. The article acts as a clarion call for a mass “invasion” of schools by the military, and articulates their belief that civilians should adopt a “service ethos” which can be cultivated in our nation’s education.

Murphy and Twigg call for the establishment of military academies in “communities with the greatest social and economic need” and more involvement of local cadet forces in extracurricular activities for deprived areas. The logic of their proposal asserts deprivation and a supposed lack of aspiration can be remedied with military discipline and an idolisation of the military as an institution. This simplistic analysis fails to realise the problems in these communities lie not with aspiration, but that deprivation is the cause which forces many young working-class people into the military in the first place.

Murphy and Twigg claim that military veterans can serve as role models for ‘troubled youth’, but fail to point out that 10% of the current prison population are ex-military, and many suffer from mental, physical and substance abuse issues after leaving the force. This is not to demonise those who have served in the military, but rather to point out that the military itself is not an institution which corrects society’s ills in a vacuum. Many of those who will leave the force for the worse come from the kind of communities Murphy and Twigg claim are in need of military academies, communities which still face the kind of deprivation and lack of opportunity when they joined the force originally.

It is incredibly dangerous for Labour to make the link between community spirit and an institution which sends a disproportionately high number of working-class men and women to their deaths from these same communities. Glorifying conflict through desensitising young people to the realities of the military’s primary function, which is to engage in combat, sets a dangerous precedent for the future of the education system and the values which children take away from their time in school. Labour must challenge the conflict consensus through education, promoting the history of peaceful activism and warn of the horrors of war, rather than idealising the nature of the military and its purpose.

Labour would be far better to promote the same values of public spirit and community activism Murphy and Twigg asserts their proposal aims to embody through positive institutions, such as the NHS, which save lives rather than end them. There can be no greater army in Britain than the legion of doctors, nurses and health professionals who serve our country as our first line of defence against illness and death. Investing in communities, in the health service, in schools, and redeveloping our nation’s industry are solutions to the problems Murphy and Twigg believe can be resolved through sending military officials to run our schools. Military role models, like Nicola Murray’s Fourth-Sector Pathfinders in The Thick Of It, cannot ‘inspire’ people out of poverty.

It is incredibly important for young people in disadvantaged communities to feel part of society, but Labour would be better to stay clear of believing this occurs through an institution which tears societies apart. Murphy and Twigg claim their aim is to ensure “there is mutual support before and after military service” in these communities, but this does not occur by normalising the military in education. It comes about by providing jobs for people, rooted in their communities and families, not abroad fighting foreign wars. Public service doesn’t have to be about donning a uniform and a gun, but about building a sustainable future for your community.

By Calum Sherwood

Labour’s Defence Policy Review and NPF

The Labour Shadow Defence Team has launched the Labour Party’s Defence Policy Review and is seeking submissions.

It is vital that members engage in and shape the debate particularly regarding the Labour Party’s current policy on the continued possession of nuclear weapons and engagement in foreign military interventions.

We must ensure the party commits to scrapping Trident and ending our role in destructive wars.

Labour CND has drafted two model responses for you to consider submitting both to the Defence Policy Review and to your National Policy Forum representatives.

You can do so both as an individual member and via your CLP.


The National Policy Forum Britain in the World Commission is meeting in mid-June so we suggest you do this immediately after the elections in May.

  • Please ensure you submit this to the Labour Shadow Defence Review by emailing and posting to Shadow Defence Secretary Jim Murphy at the House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA
  • You should also send it to your National Policy Forum representatives, via the MembersNet section of the Labour Party website –
  • Please tell us if you have made such a submission, on



Labour and Trident replacement

Labour will put greater importance on working with other nuclear weapon states to increase progress on nuclear reductions and disarmament towards the goal of global abolition.

Labour will encourage non-nuclear states to also keep up their pressure for nuclear disarmament as required by the Nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty.

Labour will back a global nuclear weapons convention with the ultimate aim of the total elimination of nuclear weapons.

Labour will make a clear commitment to scrap Trident and all plans for Trident replacement.

Supporting arguments:

The Labour Party needs to change its policy on Trident and its replacement.

Trident or its replacement does not address our real threats. Even the Coalition Government has confirmed that the UK does not face a nuclear weapon threat from another state, according to their National Security Strategy published in 2011. The possession of Trident does not increase our security. It is not a means of defence, it is means of attack. As such it could prove a magnet for attack in a conflict situation.

Trident or its replacement is a green light to nuclear weapons proliferation. It sends the wrong message at a point when the US and Russia are taking further disarmament steps. It is through honouring our nuclear disarmament commitment that we can achieve a nuclear weapons free world.

Trident replacement is unaffordable. Constructing and maintaining Trident’s replacement will cost over £100billion over its lifetime to 2060. In the shorter term the maintaining the existing Trident system and constructing the Trident replacement will cost us £55billion over the next 15 years.

Trident replacement is unpopular. There is clear and consistent polling evidence that shows the public is opposed to Trident replacement. Even amongst the defence community, many do not favour a costly nuclear weapon system in the face of other public spending cuts.

Labour and a new foreign policy

Labour will adopt a foreign policy that rejects military interventionism and nuclear aggression.

Labour will reject the principle that UK forces should operate anywhere in the world. Their only purpose should be for the defence of these islands.

Labour will support peaceful negotiations and dialogue through the UN and its member states, in conflict situations.

Labour will immediately withdraw troops from Afghanistan and advocate global disarmament, including a Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone in the Middle East and the scrapping of Trident here in the UK.

Supporting arguments:

Ed Miliband stated in his first speech as leader that ‘This generation wants to change our foreign policy so that it’s always based on values, not just alliances.’

The UK’s alliances, notably with the US and NATO or other Western powers, have led the country into numerous military strikes and wars in recent years, particularly Iraq and Afghanistan, under the justification of ‘liberal interventionism. This policy has damaged our international standing and lacks public support in the UK.

These interventions have been selective, seizing on certain internal conflicts and perceived threats, whilst ignoring others.

These interventions have left thousands dead and injured, harming rather than helping the people who live there and leaving behind countries that are neither stable nor safe.

These interventions have only been for the benefit of multi-national corporations and Western powers seeking to gain access to natural resources and infrastructure contracts.

Any justification for these wars has been seen to be lies to disguise the real intention of extending Western strategic control and interests.

The UK’s Cold War-era alliance, NATO, has expanded its sphere of influence by encouraging former Warsaw Pact countries to join and engaging in ‘out of area’ operations. Given the Warsaw Pact was dissolved twenty years ago, serious questions remain unanswered as to the role of NATO.

A progressive, socialist foreign policy requires resources and skills to be committed to reducing poverty and improving living standards rather than supporting military action and the instability and misery it causes.

Labouring for Peace reviewed

Labouring for Peace, by Rosalie Huzzard and Grace Crookall-Greening is a history of Labour Action for Peace; a campaigning group within the Labour Party.

It started as a Pacifist Organisation in World War I as ‘Labour Pacifist Fellowship.’ Afterwards it was joined by non-pacifists and it changed its name to ‘Labour Peace Fellowship’ and ultimately ‘Labour Action for Peace’ . This happened when the MP Frank Allaun had a leading role in it, joining that consistent worker for peace and nuclear disarmament, Ron Huzzard. Labour Action for Peace became part of the ongoing campaign in the Labour Party for unilateral nuclear disarmament and a sane foreign policy based on the principles of the United Nations Charter.

The book starts with a tribute to Frank Allaun by former Labour MEP, Stan Newens and to Ron Huzzard by former Labour Party General Secretary, Jim Mortimer. It then details the history of the campaign and its relations with the Labour Party.

It is an interesting book which deserves a wide circulation . However, I have two criticisms of its general approach.

Firstly, it understates the connection between the struggle for a sane anti-nuclear policy with the struggle for inner-party democracy. The Tories have always believed that it is all right for the electorate to choose between the alternatives put before it every four or five years but that these alternatives must be determined and shaped by so called ‘experts’. This belief is shared by many establishment minded people, including most Liberals and the Labour Party right. Tony Blair adheres to this approach. Yet from the days of Keir Hardie the majority of the Labour Party has believed that the citizen has the right to shape these alternatives. In the Seventies we made some progress towards this. The very success of CND, Labour CND and Labour Action for Peace to commit party conferences to unilateral nuclear disarmament helped to make ‘New Labour’ more resolute to destroy the power of Labour Party Conference in accordance with the old anarchist slogan : “If voting meant anything they would not allow you to do it.”

At the time of writing this (January 2012) Ed Milliband’s initial attempts to re-establish the power of conference and to revise Labour’s nuclear policy have both been temporarily shelved. But the struggle for both can and must be the norm. The Labour Party issued in October 2011 a statement ‘Britain’s role in the World’, which does not mention Britain’s nuclear weapons and advocates ‘Liberal Internationalism’ . Individuals and Parties should send in their comments.

Secondly, there are grounds for hope. There has never been a time when there has been such interest in world affairs and foreign policy like the present. Neither nuclear weapons or Britain’s adventures in Iraq, Afghanistan or Libya have popular support. There, however, is a feeling of impotence. We have to convince people they have power if only they are prepared to use it.

The struggle continues. We have no right to opt out. With the perseverance exemplified in this challenging book we shall win.

Walter Wolfgang.

Copies of Labouring for Peace  are available £6.75 including postage and packaging from:

Richard Hart, 94 Newbury Road, Bromley, Kent, BR2 0QW.

Email: rhart45 [at]

Home: 020 8290 5325

Mobile: 07729 263 226

Challenge to Labour front bench

The Commons was enlivened by a debate on Trident replacement once again on Monday afternoon as the Defence Secretary was called to the Commons to answer an Urgent Question on his new £1.1 billion contract – heavily trailed in the Sunday press – to redevelop the Rolls-Royce plant at Raynesway in Derby and to produce the reactor for the first of the submarines replacing Vanguard.

The idea of ordering a submarine reactor ahead of the main decision on constructing the rest of the submarine, at a cost of several hundred million pounds, is something I’ve repeatedly condemned in debates with the Defence Minister. As one part of the £4 billion declared ‘necessary’ to design the submarines before the construction decision, it is simply part of achieving a fait accompli so that a future government’s hands are tied. On the Today programme on Monday morning, the Lib Dem Defence Minister said it would be down to a future government to negotiate its way out of the contracts in 2016, but the Defence Secretary yesterday afternoon clearly said that Rolls-Royce depend of the commitment of the government.

One only needs to look at yesterday’s Evening Standard to see the arguments stating that ‘Trident is too costly to cancel’.

It was not made clear but it looks like we need to add another £500 million to the Trident replacement tab if these new facilities are necessary. The whole thing is a project which everyone expects to grow in cost exponentially, and yesterday illustrated that it is already doing so.

I was encouraged to see more Labour MPs questioning the government. Not only Paul Flynn and Michael Connarty but the questions from David Lammy, Nick Brown and Sheila Gilmore show there is a serious debate to be had in the Labour Party. Why should police numbers be cut to pay for Trident, rather than the other way round, as David asked.

But given this announcement arguably adds £500 million to the cost of delivering the replacement, it was disappointing that Labour’s front bench response gave such a wholehearted welcome of the ongoing programme, rather than offering serious scrutiny.

Alison Seabeck wrote that ‘keeping our nation safe’ should be ‘above partisan politics’. Indeed it should, but how we achieve that should be open to discussion, particularly in the Labour Party. Even the government’s own National Security Strategy said the threat of another state attacking with nuclear weapons is now of ‘low-likelihood’ but we are cutting all manner of other defence and public sector programmes and workers while saving Trident.

The reports from last weekend’s National Policy Forum sound very positive for the future and Jon Cruddas’s appointment as chair of the policy review is welcome given he joined me and many other MPs in demanding a debate on Trident at annual conference in 2006 ahead of the Commons vote and he has argued in favour of scrapping Trident to focus on forces welfare or conventional equipment, I hope we can now have an honest and mature debate about our defence spending priorities.

By Jeremy Corbyn MP

Originally published on LabourList on 19th June 2012

Labour, war and liberal intervention


Labour, war and liberal intervention:
Why it’s time to change

Yasmin Qureshi MP
Jeremy Corbyn MP
Sonia Klein

7pm, Monday 11th June
Committee Room 17
Houses of Parliament

Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya. Three countries with thousands of civilians dead, infrastructure destroyed and ongoing conflict. Billlions committed to Trident replacement.

Labour’s policy review is a chance to challenge the legacy of war during the New Labour years and end support for liberal interventionism.

Labour members want a foreign and defence policy based on peace and justice, join us as we discuss the way forward.

Organised by Labour CND •