Annual Conference 2014 Resolutions

Labour CND has drafted two resolutions, one on Disarming Trident and a second on Ending US and UK military interventions in the Middle East.

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 for receipt of contemporary motions is Thursday 11th September 2014 at 12 noon.

The title has a maximum of 10 words and the motion a maximum of 250 words.

Please email info@labourcnd.org.uk and let us know if your CLP is submitting one of these or a similar motion.

 

Disarm Trident

Conference notes the Message to Congress by President Obama of 24 July on the extension of the US-UK Mutual Defence Agreement.

Conference further notes that the Prime Minister failed to consult or inform Parliament before signing the extension ofthis Treaty and regrets this disregard for democracy by the Government.

Conference recognises the extension of the Treaty is to permit ‘the transfer of classified information concerning atomic weapons’ in order ‘to assist the United Kingdom in maintaining a credible nuclear deterrent’.

Conference further regrets that the extension to the US-UK Mutual Defence Agreement runs counter to our Non-Proliferation Treaty commitment to disarm our nuclear weapons.

Conference notes that Labour’s National Policy Forum of 18-20 July discussed almost 50 submissions on Trident.

Conference welcomes the NPF decision to recognise the success of past international bans on weapons of mass destruction such as landmines, clusster munitions, and chemical and biological weapons and supports a definitive commitment to disarmament.

Conference resolves that Labour will support an international process to ban nuclear weapons, as a complementary and necessary mechanism to our commitment to disarm UK nuclear weapons under the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Conference resolves that Labour will disarm Trident and not replace it, and re-allocate spending to where it best serves our society, including developing an industrial plan to make use of the skills of those workers in the sector.

 

End US and UK Military Interventions in the Middle East

Conference notes the announcement by Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond of 15th August that the UK will provide military equipment to Iraqi and Kurdish forces in northern Iraq.

Conference notes with concern the spread of the Islamic State in both Syria and Iraq and their ethnic cleansing of ethnic and religious minorities in both states.

Conference notes with regret the US and UK military intervention in Iraq in 2003 which resulted in an estimated 500,000 civilian deaths, the creation of 4 million refugees, and enforced the destabilising disintegration of Iraqi state and security infrastructure.

Conferences expresses concern that further unilateral military action by US and UK forces could further entrench sectarian divisions and make the establishment of a peaceful and unified country more difficult to achieve.

Conference resolves that Labour will reject unilateral military action or arming of forces by the UK and calls for a UN-authorised humanitarian response and calls on the UN to facilitate urgent negotiations for the peaceful resolution of this conflict.

 

NPF: Big spending or big reform?

LabTridentDebateLabour CND statement on National Policy Forum 

Labour has promised big spending, not big reform on nuclear weapons, despite an overwhelming call to deliver on disarmament by Labour Party members.

Trident was forced onto the party agenda and a discussion took place at the weekend’s National Policy Forum after almost 50 policy submissions by local branches.

As a result, policy has moved. But not enough.

The Labour Party will now review Trident in a post-election Strategic Defence and Security Review. This must take account of the huge cost of Trident replacement diverting resources from public services.

The Labour Party has also recommitted to international efforts for multilateral disarmament. This commitment should add support to existing proposals, particularly growing calls for a nuclear weapons convention, or ban on nuclear weapons.

But despite progress, policy has not moved enough.

The agreed text fails to reflect the clear mood of party activists who have sought concrete commitments to decommission Trident.

Labour Party members want big reform, not big spending on Trident.

Labour Party members want delivery on disarmament.

It is therefore regrettable that the National Policy Forum has not offered the wider membership a say on this goal. Delegates should call for that debate and vote at the Labour Party Conference.

Labour Party members who want to see a Labour Government deliver on disarmament must continue to organise and campaign for that goal both before and after the general election.

Join Labour CND in doing just that.

 

The policy agreed at the National Policy Forum on 20th July reads:

With other nations possessing nuclear weapons, and nuclear proliferation remaining a deep concern, we can never be absolutely certain as to what the future security landscape will look like. In July 2013, the current Government published its Trident Alternatives Review which examined alternative defence systems and postures for the UK’s deterrent. Labour has said that we are committed to a minimum, credible independent nuclear deterrent, delivered through a Continuous At-Sea Deterrent. It would require a clear body of evidence for us to change this belief.

Labour recognises the importance of Britain leading international efforts for multilateral disarmament and non-proliferation. Following the action we took when in government, Labour would actively work to enhance momentum on global multilateral disarmament efforts and negotiations, looking at further reductions in global stockpiles and the number of weapons. This would be done in line with our assessment on the global security landscape.

Labour would continue to take a leading role internationally to push the agenda of global anti-proliferation with nuclear and non-nuclear states. This is a vision shared by President Barack Obama and Labour would work with the United States and other allies, such as France, to advance ‘Global Zero’, which seeks to advance an action plan for the elimination of all nuclear weapons. Labour recognises that success of past international bans on weapons of mass destruction such as landmines, cluster munition, chemical and biological weapons.

The NPT Conference 2015 will be a key moment for a Labour Government to show leadership in achieving progress on global disarmament.

Labour has said that the process and debate leading up to the next Strategic Defence and Security Review in 2015 needs to be open, inclusive and transparent, including examining all capabilities, including nuclear. It must also examine the cost implications as well as the strategic necessities, recognising the importance of the defence sector to the UK economy, and the need to protect and develop a highly skilled workforce. To this end, a Labour Government will have a continuing consultation, inviting submissions from all relevant stakeholders, including Labour Party members and affiliates, on the UK’s future defence and national security issues.

 

National Policy Forum Briefing

LabCNDTridentMissile2Decommissioning Trident and Delivering Disarmament is Labour CND’s briefing for the National Policy Forum discussion on Britain’s Defence Capabilities.

The NPF meets on 18-20th July in Milton Keynes.

The report sets out how Labour in Government, should it be elected next year, will be responsible for overseeing a major decision on replacing the Trident submarines while it is committed to nuclear disarmament through the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

We set out why the changed global security environment and current economic climate make Trident replacement unjustifiable.

 

Almost 50 CLPs have submitted an amendment on Trident and 90% of them want to see it scrapped.

With submissions overwhelmingly in favour of decommissioning Trident and carrying out the UK’s historic nuclear disarmament commitment, it is time Labour delivered.

It is vital that CLP representatives on the NPF submit this issue and represent members by voting for decommissioning Trident and delivering disarmament.

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Official: CLPs back disarmament debate

CLPTrident180It’s official. With CLP submissions to Labour’s National Policy Forum consultation now in, Trident has emerged as a key issue.

It dominates the submissions to Britain’s Global Role paper.

Almost a third of all amendments submitted to the Britain’s Global Role paper, which covers all aspects of international policy, were on Trident.

Almost 50 CLPs (listed below) have submitted an amendment on Trident and 90% of them want to see it scrapped.

These numbers demonstrate that nuclear weapons – and a £100bn post-election decision on it being replaced – is a priority issue for Labour members.

Approximately 90% amendments simply want to see the system scrapped, while the rest urge Trident to be reconsidered in a post-election defence review and seek further commitments on disarmament.

Submissions came from around the country. The largest number came from London (10), South East (7) and Yorkshire (6) while East of England, Scotland, South West and Wales all saw 5 amendments submitted.

With submissions overwhelmingly in favour of decommissioning Trident and carrying out the UK’s historic nuclear disarmament commitment, it is time Labour delivered.

It is vital that CLP representatives on the NPF submit this issue and represent members by voting for decommissioning Trident and delivering disarmament.

 

CLPs submitting amendments on Trident

East of England

  • Bedford
  • Harlow
  • Luton North
  • Luton South
  • North East Bedfordshire

 

East Midlands

  • Charnwood

 

London

  • Chingford and Woodford Green
  • Croydon Central
  • Finchley and Golders Green
  • Holborn and St Pancras
  • Islington North
  • Islington South and Finsbury
  • Leyton and Wanstead
  • Richmond Park
  • Uxbridge and South Ruislip
  • West Ham

 

North

  • Lancaster and Fleetwood
  • Westmorland and Lonsdale

 

North West

  • Burnley

 

Scotland

  • Cunninghame South
  • Cunninghame North
  • Dundee City West
  • Glasgow Kelvin
  • Glasgow Maryhill and Springburn

 

South East

  • Banbury
  • Buckingham
  • Horsham
  • Isle of Wight
  • Lewes
  • Reigate
  • Tunbridge Wells

 

South West

  • Bristol West
  • North Somerset
  • North East Somerset
  • South Swindon
  • South West Wiltshire

 

Wales

  • Cardiff West
  • Ceredigion
  • Gower
  • Preseli Pembrokeshire
  • Swansea West

 

West Midlands

  • Solihull Meriden

 

Yorkshire and Humber

  • East Yorkshire
  • Harrogate and Knaresborough
  • Leeds North West
  • Leeds West
  • Beverley and Holderness
  • Skipton and Ripon

 

RIP Vladimir Derer 1919-2014

Vladimir Derer 180Vladimir Derer

6 November 1919-10 June 2014

Vladimir Derer, who died on 10th June aged 94, was a true friend of nuclear disarmament and of CND.

From the 1970s onwards, as secretary of the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy, his support for Labour CND’s efforts to promote unilateral nuclear disarmament and reductions in military spending, helped ensure these issues stayed at the forefront of Labour Party debates. With his assistance, Labour remained committed to nuclear disarmament throughout the 1980s and early ’90s, despite growing opposition from successive party leaders.

Vladimir was one of the most important post-war figures of the Labour left in Britain. His vision of a democratic and participatory mass party led him to found CLPD in the mid-1970s, promoting reforms to the Labour Party’s policy-making procedures and greater representation for women and minorities. Vladimir put CLPD on the map and – unusual among Labour campaigns – helped keep it there for four decades.

At the height of his influence, Vladimir’s strategic understanding was responsible for some of the most important democratic reforms of the 1970s-80s – giving party members a greater say in the selection of their MP and choice of party leader. Despite the erosion of these reforms during the New Labour years, CLPD continues to campaign to make Labour more like that party Vladimir envisioned.

Vladimir Derer sought neither payment nor public recognition. Unusual among figures of all political persuasions, he was a back-room person: well-known among labour movement activists but rarely seen or heard in public.

I first met Vladimir in 1975 with his wife Vera, part of the CLPD team throughout, whilst helping produce the Campaign’s early newsletters, and continued to work with him from the 1980s to 2006 as secretary of Labour CND. Though failing health restricted the role he was able to play in recent years, Vladimir continued to take an active, often critical, interest in the affairs he’d spent the majority of his political life overseeing.

I last visited the Derers around 18 months ago with CND Vice President Walter Wolfgang. As always, we passed several happy hours in hot debate about the state of Iraq, Libya, Syria, the British economy and – not least – the Labour Party. Vladimir was a good friend to me and the many others who worked with him. We shall miss him all the more for that.

Carol Turner

12 June 2014

Time to talk Trident at your CLP

TridentDear activist,

The time has come for Labour CND activists to talk about Trident and nuclear disarmament at their next constituency meeting.

The Labour Party has published its final year policy consultation documents for the election manifesto and the Britain’s Global Role document restates a commitment to Trident replacement unless the party is ‘convinced otherwise’. This is our task.

The window of opportunity for constituency parties and affiliates to submit amendments by 13th June.

Amendments will be considered by National Policy Forum (NPF) members and discussed in July at the final meeting of the NPF before Annual Conference.

________________________________________________________________________

Labour CND amendment to the Britain’s Global Role document

P5
DELETE LINES 41-48 AND REPLACE WITH:

Labour is committed to achieving global nuclear disarmament and welcomes growing discussion of the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons by fellow states.

We recognise the success of past international bans in delegitimising weapons of mass destruction such as landmines, cluster munitions, and chemical and biological weapons and support a similar process to ban nuclear weapons, as a complementary and necessary mechanism to our disarmament commitment under the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Labour will decommission rather than replace Trident. Labour will re-direct Trident spending to where it best serves our Society. Labour will develop an industrial plan to make use of the skills of those workers in the sector.

________________________________________________________________________

CLPs may submit up to ten amendments by 13th June.

Individuals can post a personal submission to the YourBritain site.

 

NPT means scrapping Trident

By Jeremy Corbyn MP

This week in New York the world’s nuclear, and avowedly non-nuclear states will be meeting at the UN one year in advance of the five yearly review of the Nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

Labour should celebrate this. Fred Mulley, the Disarmament Minister in the first Wilson Government 1964-70 advocated the idea of a non proliferation treaty as a way of encouraging a nuclear free world.

The 1970 Treaty requires no- nuclear states to stay that way, declared nuclear weapons states to take steps towards disarmament and not export technology to facilitate nuclear weapons development.

The Treaty has had limited success. Positively the majority of states have not developed nuclear weapons, there are nuclear weapons free zones in Africa, Latin America and Central Asia. Negatively Israel, Pakistan, India and North Korea possess nuclear devices.

Israel is the only nuclear weaponed state in the region. We only know this because Mordechai Vanunu told the world this and suffered 18 years in jail of which 13 were in soilitary confinement. He is still denied the right to travel and is under severe restriction for his bravery.

Iran has processing capability and is now, following the historic Syria vote in August, deep in discussion with the IAEA and P5 plus 1 to become a verified non nuclear weapons capable state.

Now, more than ever, is the time to pursue the aim of a nuclear weapons free Middle East by organising the all nations conference.

Dangerously the failure of the NPT leadership to hold the much demanded conference on a nuclear weapons free middle east has led to serious threats of proliferation by Saudi Arabia and other states to rival Israel’s possession of these weapons of mass destruction.

The five declared states have all reduced war head possession but not the fundamental nuclear capability that the weapons bring.

Anyone that imagines nuclear weapons are somehow a manageable and reasonable part of a military arsenal should look at Hiroshima and Nagasaki after the bombing of 1945. Seeing the total waste and cancerous inheritance of the 300,000 dead then multiply it by ten to give an indication of the threat the whole nuclear concept presents.

Anyone who advocates the possession of the weapons as a part of a security argument then has to ask themselves, would they use them?

The UN Humanitarian Effects of War conference held in Oslo last year was boycotted by the five weapons states as was its successor in Mexico in February. In December Austria will convene a successor. So far the British Government has refused to confirm or otherwise its attendance.

Labour, at the very least, should be demanding attendance and as a gesture send Party representatives to discuss the real environmental, health and economic effects of nuclear weapons. Whilst the last Government did support the NPT process it also forced through a vote in 2007 to start the process of renewing Trident. 100 Labour MP’s voted against and opposition to nuclear weapons is growing.

In 2016 the “main gate” decision will be taken and commit Britain to £100bn over twenty five years. Are Labour MP’s seriously to be asked to spend this money when the demands on housing, education, transport and jobs are so overwhelming.

We need to recognise the Labour record on nuclear weapons is at best patchy. In 1949 Attlee managed to allow the secret development of the H Bomb which even his cabinet was unaware of. Callaghan did much the same thirty years later. Is the next Labour Government to go down this road or be bolder and more moral?

A start would be to say we are not renewing Trident and have a bold plan of job guarantees in very advanced engineering to ensure the huge skills in Barrow and elsewhere are not lost.

The Scottish TUC vote on Arms Conversion shows just how fast and far the debate has moved. The Nuclear Education Trust “Barrow Alternatives” is a serious and realistic examination of the economic case of not relying solely on armaments work. It would also give Britain some moral leverage in the world where the dangers off proliferation are huge. Those countries who have renounced these weapons such as South Africa, Argentina and Brazil have shown it is possible. It would also mean that Labour would keep faith with the 1970 Treaty has fulfilling its obligation to take steps toward disarmament.

Post Cold War, with the political damage to Labour of Blair and Iraq still obvious, it is time to end the cross party military consensus that there is “security” in having indiscriminate weapons of mass destruction.

Real security is about  health, environment and education; about protecting people from destitution and sharing resources. Maintaining ourselves as part of a threat to the whole planet does not make Britain safer, or more respected.

This year’s conference will be the last before the General Election. Are we to have the chicanery by the pro nuclear elements to deny a debate or will the case for a non nuclear world be able to be put?

Blog by Jeremy Corbyn MP originally published on LabourList

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Jeremy Corbyn EDMs following NPT PrepCom 2014

 

Scottish Defence Diversification Agency

Jackson Cullinane1Jackson Cullinane explains why defence diversification needs to be back on the agenda of trade unionists.

There are several reasons why STUC Congresses and policy conferences of the major STUC affiliates have in recent years consistently reaffirmed their opposition to nuclear weapons and to Trident replacement in particular.

The possession of nuclear weapons, threatening death and destruction to millions, is widely accepted as immoral and the assertion that possessing such weapons constitutes a deterrence is, to say the least, highly questionable.

The description of Britain’s nuclear weapons as being “independent” can also be called into question given that Trident is leased from the US, guided by US satellites and overhauled at Kings Bay in Georgia.

Most analysts consider it inconceivable that the system would be deployed outside the realms of US foreign policy aspirations or without authorisation from Washington.

And then we have the fact that the development and possession of ever-larger and increasingly accurate nuclear weapons systems directly contradicts the aims and objectives of international treaties on proliferation.

There are clearly difficulties in dissuading countries such as North Korea or Iran from developing nuclear weapons if British defence policy appears to promote the “value” of such weapons and a belief that they can ensure influence in the international arena.

Perhaps the most powerful argument for trade union opposition to nuclear weapons is on the grounds of cost, particularly at a time of austerity and service cuts.

When trade unionists face job losses, wage freezes, wage reductions, privatisations, cuts to terms and conditions and are being continually told to “tighten your belts,” proposals to spend up to £100 billion on a weapon of mass destruction, which will hopefully never be used, makes no economic sense.

The opposition of the bulk of the trade union movement to nuclear weapons appears unequivocal and assured. Or is it?

Despite the “paper policy” of trade unions opposing nuclear weapons, it should be noted that approval of these policies has seldom been unanimous when they have been debated at trade union conferences.

It should also be noted that there has been a marked reduction in the number of trade unionists and visible trade union banners on anti-nuclear weapons protests in recent years.

This is in contrast to the large mobilisation of trade unions that we saw in the big demonstrations against Polaris, Cruise and Pershing when the activities of CND were at their peak during the 1960s and ’80s.

Just as the “jobs and services” argument has been pivotal in securing the reaffirmation of trade union opposition to Trident in terms of paper policy, concerns over possible job losses may also explain the seeming reluctance of trade unions to prioritise involvement in the anti-nuclear weapons movement.

It is important to remember that advocates of maintaining Britain’s nuclear arsenal consistently emphasise the likelihood of job losses if this arsenal is to be abandoned.

While many studies, such as that conducted jointly by the STUC and Scottish CND in 2007, have played a crucial role in exposing the exaggerated claims of job loss among defence workers, concerns remain.

In contemplating a situation in which Trident were to be removed from the Clyde, the oft-cited suggestion that Trident expenditure should simply and wholly be transferred to public services might well appeal to public-sector workers. However, this scenario offers small comfort to defence workers if they were expected to shoulder the loss, however temporary, of skilled and relatively well-paid employment.

Similarly, references by some in the peace movement to the loss of “only” 1,700 Trident-related jobs at Faslane is unlikely to inspire those workers directly affected to enthusiastically promote an anti-nuclear weapons position, even if this is the official policy of their own union.

Given these understandable concerns, what needs to be done in order to secure the continued support of trade unions for anti-nuclear weapons policies?

Perhaps most importantly, given that protest against nuclear weapons may need to be maintained for some time if it is to be effective, how can longer-term engagement with and involvement by trade unionists in protest campaigns be secured?

A starting point is to take seriously defence workers’ concerns over their job security and to recognise that Scottish defence jobs have been haemorrhaging over many years.

Significantly, these jobs have been reducing over the lifetime of the existing Trident programme.

Over that period, 40,000 (35 per cent) of defence jobs have been lost, including 100 at Coulport, when overhaul responsibilities shifted to the US, and 250 at Faslane, principally as a consequence of Babcock privatisation.

The clear message is that Trident and expenditure on nuclear weapons is costing, and will continue to cost, jobs in the defence sector.

Following on from this, it is important to recognise that the job concerns of defence workers extend beyond those who are currently engaged in work related to nuclear weapons.

In recent weeks and months, shipbuilding workers – notably those at BAE Systems – have been seeking assurances over future orders.

In its recently published independence white paper, the Scottish government has pledged – if re-elected in the aftermath of a Yes vote in September’s independence referendum – to ensure the construction of four frigates on the Clyde.

Some trade union representatives, however, suggest that this promise is a hollow one – they claim that two of these frigates are likely to be completed under existing contracts in any case and that contracts for a minimum of 13 frigates are required in order to secure the medium to long-term future of the Clyde yards.

Concerns have been raised over the prospect of the Clyde shipyards losing out on British defence contracts in the event that Scotland votes for independence – this issue will, of course, continue to feature in the referendum debate.

While this suggestion is refuted by the Scottish government and others, what certainly should be accepted is that defence workers’ concerns over their future job security are real and understandable.

Whatever the outcome of the independence referendum, action is required to diversify work and to secure the employment of workers currently engaged in defence-related work, whether conventional or nuclear.

For this to occur, there is a pressing case to be made for the creation of a Scottish defence diversification agency. Such an agency would need to be properly staffed and resourced and would need to engage meaningfully with trade union representatives in order to develop and implement plans that are co-ordinated, realistic and have the confidence of the workforce.

Too often in the past such plans have failed through a lack of commitment to invest or due to a limitation in ideas. There are currently trade unionists who, having been previously engaged in discussions on diversification organised at the STUC, are now disillusioned with this project due to the minimal job potential of the suggestions which were made in those previous conversations.

As a precursor to developing concrete proposals on defence diversification, there is perhaps a case for a second STUC/CND report on the employment effects of Trident removal, one that includes a definitive skills audit and begins to make firm suggestions for a transition to alternative, but equivalent – in terms of skills base and earning potential – forms of employment.

Such a report should also complement others, such as those being commissioned by Unite via the Jimmy Reid Foundation, into the future of defence, shipbuilding and aerospace in Scotland.

Raising these issues and truly taking on board the concerns of defence workers is very much in the interest of the peace and anti-nuclear weapons movement.

Doing so could ensure the continuation of supportive union policies and the active involvement of trade unions in future moves for peace and nuclear disarmament.

Jackson Cullinane is a political officer at Unite Scotland.

This article is written in a personal capacity and was first published by the Morning Star.

See the Scottish TUC Congress Motion here.

Renew Labour’s disarmament ambition

Miliband2Ed Miliband has been regularly questioned by party members and the public since being elected leader about why on earth Labour would replace Trident.He has responded every time this issue is raised by saying he is not a ‘unilateralist’. For many of us, that is a soundbite and not a real answer, but he is of course consistent with the 2010 Labour manifesto which clearly stated:“We will fight for multilateral disarmament, working for a world free of nuclear weapons, in the Non Proliferation Treaty Review conference and beyond”.

But Vernon Coaker’s speech to RUSI this week re-stated his commitment to Trident replacement with no mention of multilateral disarmament.

Further to this, the Labour Party has published its final year policy consultation documents for the election manifesto and the ‘Britain’s Global Role’ document restates a commitment to Trident replacement unless the party is ‘convinced otherwise’ with a total lack of reference to any ambition for global disarmament.

Labour’s Defence team are rejecting any open discussion on UK possessing nuclear weapons even as a Tory-led Defence Committee in a report on 21st century deterrence argues ‘it is possible to foresee an environment in which the core role of nuclear deterrence – to protect a state from attack – is achieved by the deployment of advanced conventional weapons.’

So Labour should at the very least be clear that Britain’s nuclear weapons will be considered alongside all aspects of defence and security spending, from conventional military hardware to dealing with climate change.

And what has Labour to say on multilateral disarmament?

In 2015 whoever is elected at the General Election, the next review conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty will take place in the same month and should be one of the first global gatherings of the next Government. The opportunity this creates for a new government in Britain to state a fresh commitment to global disarmament is obvious.

And Labour can make a clear statement before 2015. There is a growing momentum from states across the globe to discuss the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons and drive towards a global ban, as has been achieved with chemical and biological weapons, and more recently on landmines and cluster munitions. In 2013, 127 states met in Norway to discuss the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons. Last month 146 nations met in Mexico to continue the discussion. And that conference will reconvene in Austria this Autumn but it is unlikely the UK government will attend.

Labour should send a clear message on its commitment to global zero, by sending a representative to the Austrian conference. They will be in good company. The Austrian Social Democrats have stated their support for the conference.

The failure of the Labour Party’s draft foreign policy document to make any mention of such a commitment to disarmament generally or even re-asserting our ongoing commitments, under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, to pursue disarmament in good faith, is truly shocking. Labour’s Foreign Affairs and Defence teams must be challenged on this glaring omission, because they are missing easy opportunities to make clear statements to voters to whom disarmament matters.

But with the wider public it is the simple message: ‘Trident will be scrapped and billions saved’ that will resonate. Our next manifesto should make clear that Labour will scrap Trident and, unlike this government, we will participate in international discussions for a global ban.

Money saved from scrapping Trident must first be invested in those areas where there are high levels of employment related to Trident. Unemployment must not be allowed to rise in those areas most affected.

From a global movement of governments, to defence-focused Tory MPs or the ongoing debate in the Lib Dems, Labour must decide whether it is happy to sit back while the world moves on and towards disarmament.

 

Please urgently consider ask your CLP or affiliated organisation to submit an amendment to policy document by 13th June, removing the text that reasserts support for a ‘continuous at sea deterrent’ and replaces it with a commitment to engage in international discussions towards disarmament, while scrapping Trident at home.

Our ambition is have many CLPs across the country calling for this amendment.

By Daniel Blaney, CND Vice-Chair and Labour CND executive

European Socialists drive disarmament

europe1Ahead of the European elections this year, a number of Labour’s sister parties in the Party of European Socialists have been taking the initiative in driving forward the nuclear disarmament agenda.

In this context, the Labour Party should discuss and set out how it intends to achieve nuclear disarmament – with the decision on Trident replacement looming after the next election.

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A global ban on nuclear weapons

Most significantly in Europe, the Austrian government – a coalition led by Social Democrat President Heinz Fischer and Prime Minister Werner Faymann – have announced they will host a major conference on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons in the Autumn.

The conference is the latest in an initiative with growing global reach and momentum, which saw 127 states attend a conference in Norway in March 2013 and 146 states attend a follow-up conference in Mexico in February this year.

With official delegates hearing new research from the International Committee for the Red Cross, the World Health Organisation and Chatham House, there is a push to ‘stigmatise, ban and eliminate’ nuclear weapons – in the words of the Austrian President – in the same way that cluster munitions, landmines, and chemical and biological weapons have in the past.

The Austrian Social Democrats Foreign spokesperson, Christine Muttonen, stated, “This is an important part of our foreign policy … we want to continue to play an active and leading role in the issue of international ostracism and the total ban of nuclear weapons.

The UK, along with the other four Non-Proliferation Treaty nuclear weapon states, boycotted the first two conferences, with the UK stating its belief that the call for a ban disrupts its ‘step-by-step programme’ to disarm – which includes replacing Trident.

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Opposition to NATO nuclear weapons in Europe

In Belgium and the Netherlands a debate is taking place about purchasing F-35 stealth fighters to replace their aging F-16s, and the continued deployment of NATO-assigned US B-61 nuclear weapons which the current F-16s carry.

Reports state that in Belgium, at the recent Congress of the Flemish Socialist Party Alternative, the party stated it would not back a future coalition government that would continue to support the presence of the B-61 bombs. Socialist MP Dirk van dar Maelen said, “Those nuclear weapons must be transported – they quickly found an excuse to replace the existing aircraft and to give new aircraft €4billion.”

A report on the party’s website also states they would not purchase the F-35 planes at all, favouring greater EU defence co-ordination and prioritising spending the money on social programmes.

In the Netherlands, the coalition government that includes the Labour Party has recently decided to go ahead with purchasing 37 F-35 planes, despite the party voting not to do so in the previous parliament in July 2012.

However, reports state that despite support for the plane purchase, Labour Foreign Minister Timmermans, ‘wants to work with NATO allies to prepare proposals that lead to removal [and] realises that finding alternatives is crucial to convincing these states to stop blocking the withdrawal of the B61.’

 

By Ben Folley