Labour leader calls for a ‘war powers act’ during an appearance on BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show. Corbyn made the comments following Theresa May’s decision to take part in joint military strikes in Syria without first consulting parliament.
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.
Thanks to everyone who responded to Shadow Defence Secretary Emily Thornberry’s invitation to participate in Labour’s Defence Policy Review. Her report will be presented to the International Policy Commission which reports to the National Policy Review. The NPF will meet on 2nd July, after which it will prepare a report for Labour Party conference in September.
Labour’s review of defence policy is not over. It has now entered another stage, and the next deadline is Wednesday 8 June. Please participate, by responding to the International Policy Commission’s consultation. We explain how to do so below. You don’t have to be a member – anyone can express their views.
CONTACT THE IPC via the yourbritain website at http://www.yourbritain.org.uk/agenda-2020/commissions/international or search on ‘IPC consultation’. The page which comes up invites you to share your views, and allows you to download the consultation document, Britain’s defence and security priorities. Anyone can read anything on the site.
TELL THE IPC YOUR VIEWS Anyone can participate, Labour Party member or not. You can put forward your own views by making a submission. You can also read, comment and vote on the views of others.
To do so, you must first log in. If you’re a member of the Labour Party and registered for Membersnet, just click log in in the top right corner and give your Membersnet username and password. (Depending on the browser you use, you may need to log in after each comment or vote you make.)
If you’re not a Labour Party member, or not registered for Membersnet, you will have register by clicking register. You’ll then be asked to give your name, postcode, and email address, and to choose a username and password. The information you give is not shared with others.
You can now express your views by clicking make a submission. You?ll be asked to give a title and a summary of not more than 600 words. You can also choose whether to give your full name or a shortened version – eg Josephine Smith or Jo S. You can attach a longer document if you wish, putting your views at length -?but if so, it helps to make a summary as not everyone browsing the site will take the time to download and read the long version.
What you say will be posted for others to see, and to comment and vote on. You can also respond to other people?s comments on your submission. Here’s an example taken from the website:
Renewal of Trident does not increase our security
Posted on 19-05-16 by Annie Tunnicliffe
Number of votes: 1 | Number of comments: 2
Top threats to our national security are Terrorism, cyberwarfare, global epidemics, natural disasters, instability in Middle East and chemical/biological WMDs. Trident has no relevance to any of these. Also advances in cyber technology underwater mean that by the time Trident is renewed, tracking the “secret” submarines will be on stream??
Comment posted on 21-05-16 by Simeon Elliott
Thank you for your submission Annie. I agree with all the points that you have made, and like George I shall be supporting your views in the International Policy Commission. Sim Elliott, an NPF representative (South East CLPs) on the International Policy Commission.
COMMENT & VOTE ON OTHER SUBMISSIONS
Commenting and voting on the submissions of others is important. The number of comments and votes will be recorded and may be taken as evidence of support for a point of view.
That helps tell the Labour Party know how much opposition there is to Trident replacement. We encourage you to visit the yourbritain website from time to time, to look at and respond to other submissions.
Thanks for your patience in reading through this, and please share it with others. Together we’ll let the Labour Party know that the majority wants to Stop Trident!
- Read the Labour CND submission to the Defence Review
- Read the CND response to the Defence Review
- Read the Greater Manchester Labour CND submission
The Labour Party Defence Policy Review undertaken by Emily Thornberry has now closed. However the consultation by the International Policy Commission remains open until 8 June.
If you’ve send a response to the Defence Policy Review, we ask you to send it to the IPC too; if not, we urge you to make a short submission.
You do not need to be a member of the Labour Party to take part. You are, however, required to register and log in to do so. You can read the IPC consultation details by clicking here.
Please share these details to ensure the maximum level of participation in this important review.
The Labour Party is reviewing its defence policy, including Trident. Everyone is eligible to participate in this review by making their views known to Labour’s Shadow Defence Secretary Emily Thornberry, before the 30th April deadline.
Individuals and organisations can participate. You don’t have to be a Labour Party member or affiliate to do so. Submissions opposing Trident replacement can help influence the eventual outcome of Labour’s deliberations, and I urge you to consider making your views, and those of organisations you belong to, known. The advice below will, I hope, help you to do so.
WHO CAN PARTICIPATE?
Any individual or organisation, whether or not they’re a Labour Party member or affiliate. Shadow Secretary of State for Defence, Emily Thornberry, the author of the policy review document says: ‘We want to seek the widest possible range of views, spanning academia, the defence industry, NGOs, parliamentarians, the public and, of course, members of the armed forces themselves.’
IS THERE A PARTICULAR FORMAT?
You can express your opinion in whatever way you find easiest. The Defence Policy Review document (attached) sets out Ms Thornberry’s terms of reference expressed as a series of questions which you might consider addressing.
The one about 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?’
Ms Thornberry begins by explaining that the nature of the threats facing Britain has changed in the past 50 years, and outlining the overall context of Labour’s review with questions such as: ‘What role should Britain play in building a world that is more peaceful, more just and safer?’ and ‘What should be the values and principles that drive Britain’s strategic defence policy?’
HOW MUCH SHOULD I WRITE?
You don’t have to produce a magnum opus or a details scientific tract -?a paragraph or two will do. Say what you think of Trident and give a couple of reasons why. There’s an example below, use it as encouragement. But please don’t copy it -?large numbers of identical submissions won’t be effective.
I oppose the replacement of Trident because nuclear weapons cause indiscriminate harm to the planet and its people. Their possession by countries such as Britain encourages proliferation by others who don?t have nuclear weapons. Replacing Trident doesn?t protect us from the main risks facing this country such as terrorism, cyber-attack, or the effects of climate change like floods and storms. Trident is extremely expensive, costing an estimated ?100 billion over its lifetime. The money could be better used for socially productive and wealth-generating projects, which would help create more money for the government to spend on health, education and social services.
ENCOURAGE OTHERS TO PARTICIPATE
If you’re a member of a CND group, trade union branch or local Trades Council, or community campaign, please encourage them to take a view on Trident and send it to Labour’s Defence Review with a brief explanation of what the organisation is and how Trident replacement affects its members. For example: My housing association is opposed to Trident replacement because… and would prefer the money to be spent on improving existing social housing and on providing more affordable new homes.
SUBMISSIONS FROM BRANCH AND CONSTITUENCY LABOUR PARTIES
It?s important that as many individual party members as possible send their views to Ms Thornberry. This helps to give a true reflection of party opinion. If your Labour Party branch and/or constituency has adopted a policy against Trident replacement, send a copy of the resolution to the Defence Review, with a few comments about the views members expressed.
Many branch and constituency parties aren?t meeting in April because of elections. If your party has adopted a policy against Trident replacement in the past few years, send that to the Defence Policy Review with an explanation that the elections have prevented a contemporary discussion in time for the Defence Review deadline.
WHERE TO SEND YOUR VIEWS
Your submission should be emailed to email@example.com If you don’t have email access, mail it to The Labour Party, Southside, 105 Victoria Street, London SW1E 6QT
– A copy of Labour?s Defence Policy Review can be downloaded through the through the Labour CND website
– Labour CND has produced a Trident Fact File which can provide some information you need to draft a submission.
–CND UK website has a number of briefings you can use to dig out pertinent information.
Good luck, and thank you for your efforts,
Vice Chair, Labour CND
Labour CND held a successful AGM on 29th November 2014 to renew our campaigning against Trident ahead of the General Election.
Parliamentarians, prospective candidates, bloggers and campaigners came together for two discussions on nuclear weapons and foreign military policy, entitled Delivering Disarmament and Ending Military Missions.
— Labour CND (@LabourCND) November 29, 2014
The first session on Trident saw prospective parliamentary candidates Catherine West (Hornsey and Wood Green) and Jane Basham (South Suffolk) joined by blogger Maya Goodfellow from LabourList.
— Labour CND (@LabourCND) November 29, 2014
The PPCs referenced a poll at Labour Party conference which showed 51% of Labour candidates would disarm Trident, while the growing list of senior party members rethinking policy, including John Prescott and Des Browne were highlighted.
— Labour CND (@LabourCND) November 29, 2014
Discussion focused on using the momentum from the national policy forum to encourage candidates to express their support for disarmament ahead of the election, and how to prepare the way for an end to the Trident replacement programme under a Labour government.
The conference welcomed the Labour frontbench support for the Vienna conference on humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons but urged the leadership to commit to a nuclear weapons convention or ban on nuclear weapons as part of a commitment to scrap Trident.
Ending Military Missions
The second session on foreign interventions saw parliamentarians Diane Abbott MP and newly-elected Julie Ward MEP joined by writer Owen Jones and campaigner Carol Turner.
The focus was on the failure of the UK’s military interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya over the past decade and the significance of Ed Miliband’s role in preventing a further bombing campaign in Syria in 2013 as a potential turning point in Labour foreign policy.
— Labour CND (@LabourCND) November 29, 2014
The AGM saw a new enlarged executive committee elected, including representation from Scotland and across the country.
— Jane Basham (@Jane_Basham) November 29, 2014
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.
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.
- The National Policy Forum will meet on 18-20th July in Milton Keynes.
- If you are a Labour member – identify and write to your NPF rep here.
CLPs submitting amendments on Trident
East of England
- Luton North
- Luton South
- North East Bedfordshire
- 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
- Lancaster and Fleetwood
- Westmorland and Lonsdale
- Cunninghame South
- Cunninghame North
- Dundee City West
- Glasgow Kelvin
- Glasgow Maryhill and Springburn
- Isle of Wight
- Tunbridge Wells
- Bristol West
- North Somerset
- North East Somerset
- South Swindon
- South West Wiltshire
- Cardiff West
- Preseli Pembrokeshire
- Swansea West
- Solihull Meriden
Yorkshire and Humber
- East Yorkshire
- Harrogate and Knaresborough
- Leeds North West
- Leeds West
- Beverley and Holderness
- Skipton and Ripon
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?
Jeremy Corbyn EDMs following NPT PrepCom 2014
- EDM 1322 on UK Attendance at Humanitarian Consequences of Nuclear Weapons Conference in Austria
- EDM 1323 on Marshall Islands and Nuclear Disarmament
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.