Labour’s Defence Policy Review and NPF

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

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

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

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

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


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

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



Labour and Trident replacement

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

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

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

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

Supporting arguments:

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

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

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

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

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

Labour and a new foreign policy

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

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

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

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

Supporting arguments:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Labour, war and liberal intervention


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

Yasmin Qureshi MP
Jeremy Corbyn MP
Sonia Klein

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

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

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

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

Organised by Labour CND •

Stop Western intervention in Middle East, by Walter Wolfgang

The Washington Post has published an advertisement signed by many retired American generals opposing war with Iran. Their position is right.

The development of nuclear power by any country, whether Britain, France or the USA is regrettable – powerful fissile material can be used for the production of nuclear weapons. But it is equally clear that Iran has not broken any international agreement.

The right way to stop any possible development of nuclear weapons by Iran – which it has not yet got – is to ensure the UN holds a discussion on a nuclear weapon free zone in the Middle East, and oblige Israel – which has got nuclear weapons – to attend it.

There is no case for intervention against Iran by Israel or by the United States. Western intervention in Libya has plunged the country into civil war. Fortunately the Chinese and Russian veto at the UN of a NATO-Arab League resolution in Syria may possibly result in a negotiated solution of the Syria impasse.

There is resistance to Assad in Syria but there is also significant support. Syrians are intensely nationalistic and rightly suspicious of Western nations. The United States and NATO have had to present their interference in the Middle East as bending the ‘Arab Spring’ in their direction. Meanwhile, some of the Syrian representatives are in China trying to broker a ceasefire.

The Syrian National Council itself is divided. A section of it does not want the West to arm them – a policy promoted by those great champions of social liberties Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Even the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, while angry about the Russian and Chinese veto, states that Western intervention is unlikely and would pledge unity not civil war.

The danger is a proxy war fought out in Syria between those linked to Iran and the pro-western section of the Syrian rebels back by NATO, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States.

Ed Miliband made the mistake of backing NATO over Libya. Labour should now make it clear that it will lead the resistance to any intervention – whether overt or covert – in Syria and Iran.

Stop spending on war, writes Jim Mortimer

Much of the discussion about the economic problems facing Britain is based on a myth.

Put simply, the myth is that Britain’s national deficit between income and expenditure is attributable to unsustainably high wage levels, excessively generous pension schemes (particularly for public sector workers), high levels of social service benefits which discourage the search for jobs, too low a retirement age and unnecessary subsidies for social benefits including social housing, higher education and some disability allowances.

The main advocates of this myth are to be found in and around the Conservative Party and among newspapers sympathetic to the Conservative Party.

Unfortunately, some Labour politicians also subscribe to some of these myths, though almost always in a less emphatic manner than their Conservative counterparts. They subscribe to the ‘responsible’ view that the Labour Party should acknowledge the need for economy in social spending as an essential prelude to recovery. Labour politicians are also usually more ready than their Conservative opponents to draw attention and to criticise the excessive incomes and bonuses received by many of the top people in banking and commercial services.

Nevertheless, some Labour politicians have not vigorously defended or identified themselves with the efforts of working people through their unions to defend their jobs, wages and conditions. They are, in my view, wrong not to have done so.

The reason why they are wrong is that Britain’s economic deficit is attributable primarily to the commitment to unjustified and unnecessary wars in recent years. War, particularly when fought at great distance, is extremely expensive.

There was the war in Iraq. It was conducted by a Labour Government under Tony Blair. It was ‘justified’ on the false assertion that Iraq was in possession of nuclear weapons capable of a destructive attack on Britain or British possessions at very short notice.

No evidence was ever found to justify this allegation, nevertheless an extremely expensive war was conducted which not only added heavily to Britain’s financial burden but led to many deaths both among Iraqi citizens and among the military of the invading forces.

The other very costly military adventure is in Afghanistan seems interminable.

The origin of the Afghan war was partly internal and partly external. The USSR withdrew in 1988 because it became clear that they could not decisively influence the outcome of the internal struggle in Afghanistan and because of their own casualties. The conflict continued and now ten years after invading, NATO continues to suffer casualties, without being able to strike a decisive blow. The Taliban remain in Afghanistan and has neither won nor been defeated, so the war continues.

The third military conflict in which the British Government chose to intervene was in Libya. Whatever the rights and wrongs of the Gadaffi regime – and there were both rights and wrongs – it was not the legitimate role of Britain to intervene with extensive bombing raids under the claim that it was defending civilians. Gadaffi was defeated, above all, by foreign military intervention including British forces.

There have also been other expensive military interventions by Britain in recent years. One such intervention was in Kosovo in the determination of some of the Western powers to bring about the disintegration of Yugoslavia. NATO acted independently of the United Nations, being well aware that Russian and China would have vetoed the bombing of Kosovo. The Yugoslav war removed the pretence of the sanctity of the UN Charter. It was Harold Pinter who said as long ago as 1999, that ‘the NATO action in Serbia had nothing to do with the fate of the Kosovan Albanians but was another blatant assertion of US power.’

Spending on war on the scale of recent years needs now to be eliminated from Britain’s expenditure. This is essential for Britain’s economic recovery.


Jim Mortimer was General Secretary of the Labour Party from 1982 to 1985.

This blog was from his contribution to the 2012 CLPD AGM.

Photo shows an All Terrain Jackal vehicle of the Household Cavalry in Afghanistan, by Sergeant Russ Nolan RLC. Defence Images.

Contemporary issues for Conference 2011

Suggested contemporary issues for Labour Party Conference 2011

Labour CND has drafted three contemporary issues, on Trident, Libya and Afghanistan which you are welcome to amend as necessary for your CLP.

Your CLP can submit one contemporary issue, of ten words, with a supporting statement of up to 250 words.

You must submit your contemporary issue by 12 noon on Friday 16th September.

If your CLP does submit a contemporary issue on one of these subjects, please do let us know by emailing



Scrap Trident and its replacement, support a Nuclear Weapons Convention

We note the view of the Commons Defence Committee, in its report of 3rd August 2011, that the Strategic Defence and Security Review was ‘unfinished business’.

The Chair of the Committee, James Arbuthnot, stated that the review was ‘rushed and done without proper consultation’ whilst Labour Shadow Defence Secretary, Jim Murphy, said ‘The decisions made in the review now clearly need themselves to be reviewed.’

The Trident nuclear weapon system was excluded from consideration in the Strategic Defence and Security Review process, with its future guaranteed in the final report, yet the National Security Strategy confirms a nuclear weapon system does not address our real defence and security threats.

Conference believes that Trident should not be replaced and that the existing system should be scrapped.

The achievement of a global Nuclear Weapons Convention – banning all nuclear weapons – should become a major objective of an incoming Labour government’s foreign policy.

Supporting statement: 149 words



UK forces should withdraw from Afghanistan immediately and unconditionally

Conference regrets the tragic loss of life in the attack on the British Council in Kabul on 19th August on the 92nd anniversary of Afghan independence from the UK in 1919.

Conference further notes the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan July report which stated the 1462 conflict-related Afghan civilian deaths over the first six months of 2011 represented a 15% increase compared to the same period in 2010.

The number of UK troops killed since 2001 now stands at 379, including 32 this year.

The Commons Defence Committee estimated in July that the cost of UK military operations in Afghanistan was more than £18bn, according to Ministry of Defence figures.

Conference resolves that the UK should withdraw its troops from Afghanistan immediately and unconditionally and encourage the United States and NATO to do likewise.

Supporting statement: 134 words



Labour condemns UK military intervention in Libya’s civil war

The military intervention by NATO in Libya’s civil war has caused needless death and destruction.

The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon has expressed deep concern at reports of unacceptably large number of civilian casualties. On 12th August he stated that there can be no military solution to the Libyan crisis and that ‘a ceasefire linked to a political process … is the only viable means to achieving peace and security in Libya.’ Amnesty International has called for an investigation into the deaths of 85 civilians following a NATO airstrike near Zlitan on Monday 10th August.

We are concerned at reports on 28th August from NATO sources that Britain may have deployed troops in Libya, contrary to government policy.

Labour Shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander has stated the UK ‘would not be entitled to a mandate to pursue armed regime change’ yet the UN resolution 1973 has been used to pursue the illegal objective of regime change.

The concerns at mission creep, expressed by many Labour MPs, have been well-founded, including Shadow Defence Secretary Jim Murphy warning against an ‘escalation of the conflict’ as the UK announced new commitments of military resources.

Conference demands an end to NATO’s military intervention in Libya and UK participation in it.

We call for a lasting ceasefire and urge the UN to facilitate negotiations with all the people of Libya for a peaceful settlement to include reparations from NATO for civilian casualties.

Supporting statement: 237 words