In a speech on Friday 26 May 2017, Jeremy Corbyn reiterated his condolences to the families and friends of the victims, paid tribute to the emergency services and Manchester’s mood of unwavering defiance. ‘The man who unleashed carnage on Manchester,’ he emphasised, ‘was not representative of Muslims.’
The war on terror was not working, Corbyn said. Whoever led the next government must do better. Labour’s approach means change at home and abroad:
Labour would reverse cuts to emergency services and police. The UK cannot be protected on the cheap.
Labour would be tough on terror and on the causes of terror. The causes of attacks like Manchester can’t be reduced to foreign policy decisions alone.
An informed understanding of the causes of terrorism is indispensable for effective response. Many professionals acknowledge connections between wars the UK has fought and terrorism in Britain. This connection in no way reduces guilt of those who carry out attacks like Manchester.
Bringing end to conflict will almost always involve talking to people we profoundly disagree with. But the responsibility of government is never surrender the freedoms we have won. Carrying on as normal is an act of defiance of those who do reject our commitment to democratic freedoms.
Labour CND activists are working flat out for the election of a Labour government on 8 June. We are certain that securing a government led by Jeremy Corbyn is the most urgent task for all those of us campaigning for peace and nuclear disarmament and against unjust wars. Under Corbyn, Labour will no longer be the party of the Iraq War.
Labour’s manifesto commitments include:
putting conflict resolution and human rights at the heart of foreign policy
backing effective action to alleviate the refugee crisis
working through the UN
supporting reform to make UN institutions more effective and responsive
ending support for unilateral aggressive wars of intervention
a comprehensive peace in the Middle East, and
the creation of a Minister for Peace and Disarmament.
The manifesto recognises the UK’s ‘responsibility to fulfil our obligations under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty’. And it pledges Labour to ‘lead multilateral efforts with international partners and the UN to create a nuclear-free world’.
Labour’s vision stands in sharp contrast to the outgoing Tory government’s boycott of UN negotiations for a treaty to ban nuclear weapons in March. Talks reconvene on 15 June, a week after the election.
The manifesto affirms that a Labour government will undertake ‘a complete strategic defence and security review when it comes into office, to assess the emerging threats facing Britain, including hybrid and cyber warfare’. The recent cyber attack on the NHS has demonstrated that Labour is right to focus on the real security threats facing Britain.
It comes as no surprise that the manifesto supports the renewal of the Trident nuclear weapons system, wrongly referring to it as a ‘deterrent’.
Corbyn has acknowledged an in-coming Labour government’s commitment to Trident. He has also emphasised his commitment to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and support for a global nuclear ban, consistent with his personal opposition to all nuclear weapons and reflected in his vote against replacing Trident on a free vote in the last parliament.
Labour CND remains opposed to all nuclear weapons, including Britain’s. We strongly support Labour’s commitment to a nuclear free world. Equally, we will continue to take every opportunity and use every avenue to campaign against Trident replacement which we believe is an important component part in achieving such a world.
HELP GET A LABOUR PARTY COMMITMENT NOT TO REPLACE TRIDENT
Emily Thornberry, Shadow Defence Secretary has published her terms of reference for Labour?s defence policy review (attached), asking individual members and local parties to send submissions before 30 April 2016. Labour CND urges you to make your opposition to Trident known, and to encourage your branch and constituency to do? likewise.
Emily points to the changed nature of security threats facing Britain today, and asks ?what role should Britain play in building a world that is more peaceful, more just and safer?.
Her key question on Trident is: Will renewal of Britain?s nuclear capability aid us in protecting Britain?s security and pursuing the values that guide our foreign and defence policy?
Branch and Constituency Submissions
Please ensure that your CLP passes a resolution demanding that the Trident missile system should not be replaced, and sends it to the Defence Policy Review. You are the best judge of how to maximise support for such a resolution. But consider keeping it as short as possible, and if you need suggestions, please get in touch with Labour CND.
If your CLP has already made decisions on defence and security policy, ask that these are communicated to the Review. This should be done even if previous submissions have been made to the National Policy Forum.
You should make an individual submission too, and encourage others to do so. Your submission can go into as much or as little detail as you like. We attach our Trident Fact File which may be of help. All submissions must be sent to email@example.com to arrive before 30 April 2016.
Labour must take the lead in getting rid of Trident. We depend on you.
In recent months a number of CLPs have held discussions on Trident ahead of the policy review which will be undertaken by the Labour Party this year. You can see a selection of the motions which have been passed.
If your CLP would like a Labour CND speaker for a meeting on Trident, or if a motion is passed, please let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
East Devon CLP
East Devon Constituency Labour Party is opposed to the renewal of Trident
Richmond Park CLP
This CLP is in favour of scrapping the Trident Missile System and not replacing it
This CLP believes that the Labour Party should oppose the replacement of the Trident nuclear missile system
Brent Central CLP
This meeting agrees that Trident should not be renewed
We call upon the next Labour government to scrap Trident due to the high cost, and the danger of maintaining it.
Littleborough & Lakeside Branch (part of Rochdale CLP)
This meeting notes that the projected replacement of the Trident Nuclear Missile system:
Is set to cost ?167, 000, 000,000 at a time when Conservative austerity measures are depriving our local authority of the resources to pay for much needed and valued services,
Will not address the real security challenges to this country such as climate change, terrorism or cyber attacks,
Is a first strike, not defensive, weapon of mass destruction, incapable of distinguishing between civilian and military targets and whose effects will devastate this country as well as any enemy against which it is used,
Is neither independent from the US nor a deterrent to warfare and serves only to maintain the illusion of power,
Is illegal in that its effects are genocidal and therefore it contravenes the Geneva Convention. Renewing it would breach our commitment to the Non-Proliferation Treaty which the UK has signed and ratified.
This meeting resolves therefore to declare its opposition to the renewal of the Trident system and calls on the government to dedicate some of the resources saved by cancelling its renewal to be used to stimulate employment opportunities for those who would lose their jobs.
The meeting also calls on the Rochdale Constituency Labour Party to endorse this resolution and to recommend that it is adopted by the Party as part of its review of the national defence policy.
Hackney North and Stoke Newington CLP
This General Meeting notes:
The current Government’s commitment to replace the existing Trident nuclear weapons system at a cost conservatively estimated at ?100 billion over a period of more than four decades. Indeed, the Tory chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, Crispin Blunt MP, has suggested a figure exceeding ?165 billion.
The likelihood of a parliamentary vote in 2016 on authorisation of a Trident replacement.
The demonstration called by Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) and numerous civil society organisations for Saturday 27 February 2016 in opposition to Trident renewal.
This General Meeting believes:
Trident and similar ‘weapons of mass destruction’ do nothing to enhance the security of the population resident in Britain, especially in a post-Cold War world.
The expenditure of billions of pounds on a new, extraordinarily expensive weapons system is especially objectionable against a background of remorseless cuts in social welfare spending and most other areas of public expenditure.
The campaign pledge from Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn to develop a Defence Diversification Agency policy to ensure socially useful, skilled employment for those workers in industries currently tied into the production of nuclear weapons and delivery system.
This General Meeting therefore resolves to publicise the 27 February demonstration to members and make sure the Hackney North CLP banner is present on the march; and copy this motion to our MP and the National Executive Committee.
Hackney North and Stoke Newington CLP
The General Meeting is against the renewal of the Trident system as it is not a deterrent; and because it makes no moral, practical or economic sense.
Stephen Low, Glasgow Southside CLP, who moved the anti-Trident motion at Scottish Labour Party conference writes:
The debate on Trident renewal at Scottish Conference was passionate and delivered an unequivocal verdict. With a near identical 70% vote from both CLPs and Trade Unions the UK’s possession of nuclear weapons was condemned and the concept of defence diversification was promoted. Hav ing been passed by more than a 2/3 majority it is now part of the Scottish Labour’s programme and will form the submission of the Scottish Labour Party to the Britain in the World Policy forum.
The debate stemmed from the results of a priorities ballot where Trident renewal was by some measure the most popular topic. Although this decision by CLP delegates was itself described in the session as “”a nonsense and utter indulgence”” by Gary Smith, Secretary of GMB Scotland.
The first indication that the vote might well go against Trident renewal was when a reference to Jeremy Corbyn’s statement that he would never launch a nuclear strike received loud applause from the hall.
Those arguing for the motion cited a large number of factors; the morality of weapons which would kill so indiscriminately, the lack of utility in Trident a new Trident system in tackling the requirements under the Non Proliferation Treaty, the staggering cost and the loss of potential to diversify our industrial base if we are keeping so much of our industrial workforce locked into what is in many respects an economic dead end.
What was noticeable in the arguments of those who were advocating building what is one of the most destructive weapons system s in human history was how little they talked about the defence of the realm. Even the few, like ex MP Thomas Docherty and MSP Jackie Baillie who gave more thn passing reference to the role a new trident system would supposedly play in securing the UK concentrated in what they claimed would be the impact on jobs.
Without Trident renewal it seems that British manufacturing will just collapse. This argument was pursued to such an extent that in my right of reply. I felt obliged to apologise to conference for failing to notice the change in construction techniques which mean that the only possible use for British steel is in the construction of nuclear weapons.
The “Gie’s mair bombs – cos bombs means jobs” approach – and this is a paraphrase, not a cariacature – of the argument laid out, is both curious and dispiriting. The purpose of a defence policy is in fact defence, not job creation. Incidentally Trident renewal scores very poorly in terms of job creation. The likelihood is that it will force cutbacks in other defence spending). Moreover it represents an appalling failure of social and economic ambition. It’s implication is that the only employment that can be envisaged for our most skilled craftspeople, our most highly trained technicians, is in making nuclear weapons. That defence diversification is something that only other countries can make work.
By a thumping majority, Scottish Labour decided otherwise.
The following is the motion passed by Scottish Labour Conference in Perth. It passed with the support of 70% of delegates from both CLPs and Trade unons.
“Conference recognises that the question of Britain’s nuclear weapons system is a moral issue and a strategic one concerning Britain’s place in the world and the international environment we wish to see. Such weapons would, if used, constitute a moral threat to humanity’s survival; they are massively expensive; senior military figures have described them as ‘militarily useless’ and said that they should be scrapped; and our possession of them encourages other countries to seek similar arsenal.
As a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Britain should, therefore, give a lead in discharging its obligations by not seeking a replacement for Trident and abandoning plans to spend billions on a new generation of nuclear weapons. This is more relevant than ever at a time of so-called austerity and it cannot be right to spend large sums on weapons of mass destruction when essential services are facing cuts.
However, conference also recognises the genuine and understandable concerns of workers engaged in Trident related work regarding their security of employment and believes that we need a policy that would see the jobs and skills of those workers preserved.
Conference believes that money saved by ending our nuclear weapons system could be used to sustain a process of defence diversification vital to our manufacturing future, as well as freeing resources for investment in other socially useful forms of public spending.
Conference therefore calls for the establishment of Defence Diversification Agencies at Scottish and UK levels, with a focus on ensuring a just transition for communities whose livelihoods are based in the defence sector and that: jobs, engineering and scientific skills are not lost; Britain’s defence equipment needs are met from domestic producers; there is proper forward planning of the defence budget; and that it is used to protect jobs and promote the smooth transition of manufacturing to alternative production.
Conference believes that; prior to any decision to cancel Trident, firm commitments must be made to trade unions representing defence workers on the retention of defence workers’ jobs and recognises that until they receive form commitments to this end trade unions will continue to support the continuity of employment of their members.”
Labour CND held a successful fringe meeting at the Scottish Labour Party conference in Perth. The meeting took place in the Perth Art Gallery just hours after delegates from both Trade Unions and CLPs voted to put Trident on the conference agenda. Arthur West, Chair of Scottish CND, chaired the meeting.
The first speaker was Neil Findlay MSP, who was involved in the leadership election for Scottish Labour last year. Neil used his contribution to call for the widest possible coalition against Trident to be built. He noted that while the movement within the party appeared to be away from Trident, it is vital that concerns around jobs are addressed.
The next speaker was Malcolm Chisholm MSP, who has been a long-standing opponent of Trident. Malcolm said that it is his firm view that there has never been a better chance to build a wide-ranging coalition against Trident. He said that it isn’t a left-wing issue, citing former Conservative Defence Secretary Michael Portillo and Chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee Crispin Blunt. Malcolm finished by echoing Neil Findlay’s call for jobs issue to be addressed, but stated clearly “Trident is not a good job creation plan”.
Elaine Smith MSP started her remarks by paying tribute to the late Alan MacKinnon, who put so much work into Jeremy Corbyn’s plan for defence diversification. Elaine said that it’s her view that many people in the Labour Party are opposed to nuclear weapons but differ on the way we reach the goal. It is the duty of those who believe in a nuclear weapon free UK to make that case within the party, she said. Elaine ended her contribution by calling for those who support nuclear weapons to say who it is deterring, where they should be aimed and under what circumstances they should be fired. Not passing the motion before conference would send Scottish Labour candidates “naked into the 2016 election”, she said.
Cara Hilton MSP recalled her first speech at Scottish Labour conference, which was also against Trident. She said that Scottish Labour is now attracting people who haven’t been involved in politics for many years. She said that while millions of people are relying on foodbanks it would be unthinkable that we are writing a blank cheque for nuclear weapons which we could never use, citing new estimates that Trident replacement might actually cost as much as £167 billion. Cara ended her contribution by calling on Britain to set an example in the world by rejecting immoral nuclear weapons.
Cathy Jamieson, MP for Kilmarnock and Loudoun from 2010-2015 started her remarks by saying that it wasn’t always easy to be a member of CND and on the Labour front bench. Cathy served in many front bench positions, including in the shadow Treasury team. She said that she is as committed to non-replacement of Trident as ever. Cathy called for a reinvigorated and re-energised Scottish Labour CND to emerge from the weekend. This suggestion gained a large amount of support from the audience.
The next speaker was Lesley Brennan, who stood in the 2015 General Election in Dundee East. Lesley started by saying how satisfying it was that Scottish Labour would debate Trident, as she previously spoke at the CND fringe meeting at the 2014 Labour conference in Manchester. She said that she was looking forward to Scottish Labour taking the lead in voting to move towards a future without nuclear weapons. Lesley finished by saying that, while we have to acknowledge the fact that Trident does employ people with high skills and genuine concerns about the future, for the money being spent we should be creating many more jobs.
The final speaker of the evening was April Cumming, a Labour Party researcher and activist who recently addressed one of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership rallies in Scotland. April started her comments by paying tribute to Malcolm Chisholm, who she decsribed as a “politician of highest principle”. April called on the entire Labour movement to unite to “raise our voices to protect the high-skilled jobs involved in Trident and lead the transition to the hi-tech jobs of the future. In decribing nuclear weapons as ‘window dressing’ April said that Labour must “share the desire to stand as a moral compass with leaders of the past including Keir Hardie”.
The CND, Labour CND and Labour Action for Peace fringe meeting is a firm fixture at the Labour Party Conference. This year, following delegates deciding not to put Trident on the conference agenda, the meeting was given an extra sense of urgency.
The meeting, which took place at the Mercure Hotel in Brighton was full long before the first speaker addressed the crowd. Delegates and party members were joined by members of the press to hear Kate Osamor MP, Julie Ward MEP, Chris Williamson (MP for Derby North 2010-2015) and Jo Rust and Simeon Elliott (both National Policy Forum). The meeting was Chaired by Kate Hudson, General Secretary of CND. There were also a host of jounralists in attendance, including several political editors and film crews from the UK and Germany. Kate Hudson started the meeting by reading out a statement from Jeremy Corbyn, who was due to speak at the meeting but was unable to attend due to his commitments as leader. The statement reaffirmed Jeremy’s position on Trident and he pledged to do his “persuasive best” to change Labour policy, for which he has a massive mandate.
Kate Osamor, recently elected in Edmonton, told the meeting that opposition to Trident had been a key part of Jeremy Corbyn’s platform in the Labour leadership election, and she was commited to doing everything she could to oppose spending £100 billion on a new generation of nuclear weapons.
Julie Ward MEP, representing the North West of England, spoke about the work she is involved in at the European level, but also locally. Her constituency includes both Barrow, where work on the replacement submarines will take place, and Manchester, one of the UKs many nuclear-free local authorities.
Chris Williamson spoke about the need for Labour to have a coherent, consistent policy on Trident, and his conviction that changing position would be electorally beneficial. Chris also spoke about the need for defence diversification, as set out by Jeremy Corbyn in his election campaign.
Jo Rust and Simeon Elliott, both recently elected to the National Policy Forum, both spoke about the need to engage members in the policy making.
After the opening remarks from the panel there were a range of questions from the floor including on the morality of nuclear weapons, the so-called deterrent effect and ideas for what else the money would be better spent on.