Labour’s peace and disarmament policy misrepresented

And they actually think that nuclear weapons keep the peace?The attacks on Jeremy Corbyn support for nuclear disarmament began on day one of the election campaign.

In the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show (23/04/2017) interview at the start of the general election campaign, Corbyn said that an incoming Labour government would carry out a defence review, including the Trident nuclear weapons system. A couple of days later, the Guardian carried an article claiming this statement meant he was in breach of Labour’s manifesto commitments.

 

Labour CND says

Labour CND chair, Walter Wolfgang replied to this accusation in a letter the Guardian failed to publish:

Your article in the Guardian on Monday “Corbyn is behaving a bit like the right wingers he once denounced” is mistaken. The 2014 Labour Party conference decided that the national policy forum would seek the opinion of party members on a new statement on Trident replacement.

Statements were collected from Labour Party members and most of these were opposed to Trident replacement. The incidence of a second Labour Party leadership election meant that the review was never published.

Consequently the issue is still open and Jeremy Corbyn was correct to suggest that the best way of resolving it would be by a Labour government having a Strategic Defence and Security Review. This should be clearly stated in Labour’s 2017 manifesto.

Walter Wolfgang, Chair Labour CND

 

Media misinformation

As usual nowadays, the Guardian was acting as the purveyor of the Progress view point – cherry picking those parts of Labour policy which represent the pro-Trident standpoint.

As Walter makes clear, the defence review is Labour policy too, and the party should return to this when the election is over. We already know that a majority of members are opposed to Trident replacement, as are sections of the military and a wide variety of security think tanks and individuals.

 

Nuclear disarmament policy

Time after time, Labour’s manifesto and conference policy also include supporting multilateral steps towards nuclear disarmament and honouring international treaty obligations. This means support for the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty talks and, by extension, the global nuclear ban treaty negotiations that began last month, March 2017.

Jeremy’s statements on the Andrew Marr Show and elsewhere are entirely in line with this.

The rogue point of view is that which ignores these aspects of policy and attempts to suggest that Trident replacement must override all other aspects of Labour’s security and defence policy.

No one’s been prepared to put that to a vote at the National Policy Forum or Labour’s annual conference. And we suspect we know why!

Labour CND backs Jeremy Corbyn

JeremyDuring the nomination period for the Labour leadership election Labour CND wrote the following letter to Labour MPs urging them to nominate Jeremy Corbyn. We are delighted that the anti-Trident voice will now be heard in the leadership debates over the summer.

You can get involved in Jeremy’s campaign via his websitefacebook and twitter accounts.


Hello,

As nominations for our party’s next leader are now open we urge you to nominate Labour CND Chair Jeremy Corbyn.

As Trident replacement could be the defining issue for MPs in the current Parliament, we are writing to ask that you consider nominating Jeremy to go forward to the ballot of party members.

We believe that MPs have a duty to Party members to ensure that the widest possible debate can take place in the coming months, rather than nominating the candidate they personally support.

The renewal of the UKs Trident nuclear weapon system is estimated to cost £100 billion, at a time of continuing austerity this cannot be allowed to go unchallenged. Trident is a Cold War weapon and renewal would prevent the UK from moving on from Cold War security concerns. 

There is widespread support in the Labour Party for action on disarmament. Opposition to Trident dominated submissions from CLPs to the 2014 Summer National Policy Forum, which resulted in a manifesto commitment that a Labour Government would include Trident renewal in the Strategic Defence and Security Review. In a survey of election candidates 75% of Labour respondents supported the call for disarmament and said so publicly, including many successfully backed by the electorate.

There is no doubt that the Labour Party must have a wide-ranging debate in the coming months following the General Election defeat. Without Jeremy Corbyn taking part the voices of many Labour members will not be heard. I/we hope you will consider facilitating this debate by nominating Jeremy this week.

Yours sincerely,

Joy Hurcombe and Walter Wolfgang

Vice-Chairs, Labour CND 

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

 

Labour CND Discussion and AGM

A Labour Government can’t afford Trident

Labour CND discussion and AGM

11am – 4pm
Saturday 9th March
Birkbeck College, Malet St, London

Join us in discussing how we ensure Labour acts on its commitment to nuclear disarmament and secure a commitment to rejecting Trident replacement at the 2015 election.

 

Agenda

11am
Registration

11.30am – 11.45am
Marian Hobbs, former New Zealand Labour Disarmament Minister

11.45am – 1.15pm
A Labour Government can’t afford Trident

  • Owen Jones, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Annabelle Harle (NPF rep, Wales), Cllr Alice Perry (Islington and NPF rep, London) and Cllr Kate Taylor (Plymouth).

 

2pm – 3pm
A conversation with Walter Wolfgang

  • After the recent publication of a biographical pamphlet, Carol Turner interviews Walter Wolfgang on his campaigning life.
  • You can buy the pamphlet here.

 

3.15pm – 3.30pm
Clive Lewis, PPC for Norwich South, on the 2015 manifesto

 

3.30pm – 4pm
Labour CND AGM

  • Labour CND members are welcome to submit motions in an individual capacity (deadline of 22nd February).
  • We are keen to expand our executive committee. If you would like to join, please email expressions of interest.
  • Email address regarding motions and joining the executive committee is info@labourcnd.org.uk

 

* Discussion sessions are open to all.
* AGM open to Labour CND members. If you hold Labour Party and CND memberships you are a member of Labour CND and entitled to vote at its AGM.