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

 

Join Labour’s Trident debate

Get involved in Labour’s Trident debate

The debate around Trident in the Labour Party is now developing and it is important that Labour CND activists get involved.

The Financial Times recently claimed that said Ed Miliband was open to alternatives to like-for-like Trident replacement.

This followed former Defence Secretary Des Browne’s statement that‘Since 2006, important things have changed and it is time for a more honest debate about the defence choices facing the country.’

Going further, Labour’s Former Defence Minister, Frank Judd, recently said, ‘I strongly believe that the case and need for, and relevance of, a new Trident have never been established.’

 

What we need to do

A debate on nuclear weapons will be more difficult to secure in the final months before an election. Therefore the Labour Party needs to debate Trident in 2013 if it is to do so before the 2015 General Election.

Labour CND activists need to take action to ensure Trident is fully debated at the National Policy Forum (NPF) on the 22nd June this year.

 

1. Contribute to the YourBritain website

The YourBritain website is Labour’s online policy site and submissions to the site will be considered by the NPF.

We need as many submissions sent by individual activists, branches and constituencies, as possible.

 

2. Contact members of the National Policy Forum

To contact members of the NPF’s Global Role Commission:

 

To contact your NPF regional reps:

 

3. Discuss Trident at your CLP

 

Keep Labour CND updated on your local discussions and submissions by emailing us at  info@labourcnd.org.uk.

Cutting Trident ‘essential to credibility’

Labour CND’s ‘Cutting Trident’ meeting in Parliament on 4th December saw the overwhelming case made for Labour to pledge its opposition to replacing the Trident nuclear weapon system at the next General Election and urged the party to open up to the debate in the coming months.

Addressing the meeting first was Nick Brown, former Chief Whip to Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, said, ‘Labour can’t sit back and watch Coalition disagree on Trident – we need our own debate and clear position’. He argued that rather than waiting for reviews by other parties, Labour needs to debate Trident as soon as possible, including at the conference in 2013, then get out and explain it on the doors. He made clear his long-standing concerns about Trident had become outright opposition in the changed circumstances from when it was first commissioned.

His key argument against replacement were the changed security circumstances, when Trident was conceived as a weapon to ‘flatten Moscow’ whereas the latest National Security Strategy made clear that the likelihood of state-on-state conflict was low and decreasing. But the economic circumstances compound the security case against Trident, and in particular the cuts to education that threaten the futures of young people today, should be reversed by transferring the funds allocated to Trident to lowering university fees.

Clive Lewis, Labour’s candidate seeking to retake Charles Clarke’s old seat of Norwich South from the Lib Dems, spoke next and drew on his experience serving with the Territorial Army in Afghanistan in emphasising the security case against Trident replacement. In particular he said there was a strong military case with ‘conventional forces being hollowed out’ and listed the growing number of former senior officers who have condemned the allocation of funds to the submarine programme while conventional equipment ages. In his words, he said ‘I’d rather have more Chinooks than Trident’.

Katy Clark MP arrived fresh from voting against the Public Sector Pensions Bill and attacked the Tories for their public sector spending and welfare cuts while maintaining projects like Trident. She said the Labour Party needed to decide how it deals with Trident replacement in light of the attacks on living standards for ordinary voters and that, in that context, scrapping nuclear weapons would not be an electoral problem for the party. Addressing also the issue of Scottish independence, she said many in the Scottish Labour Party wanted to see Trident scrapped altogether, not just moved south, which was the risk of a yes vote in the Scottish separation referendum.

‘If Ed Miliband can be brave taking on Murdoch, he can be with Trident as well’, was National Policy Forum member Lucy Anderson’s view. On the party’s policy-making process, she said Labour should be talking to both the unions and employers about regional industrial strategies and the prospects for defence diversification. She said it was vital for Labour members to engage with the policy process, contributing directly to the Your Britain website – submitting proposals, voting on others and making comments – but also directly contacting NPF and NEC representatives.

There was wide agreement that the party should urgently debate Trident this year – a number of activists expressed doubt that the party would have such a debate at the conference before an election – so a conference debate and vote in September 2013 is vital. Nick Brown appealed to trade unions to use their influence to facilitate that debate at the conference.

And in rounding up, Walter Wolfgang from the floor said ‘the country is fed up with the Tories but not yet convinced Labour has a progressive alternative’ and that ‘cutting Trident is essential to Labour’s credibility drive ahead of the next election’.

 

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Labour cannot remain silent on Trident

By Tom King

Labour’s policy review, much needed after 13 years in Government and a drubbing in May 2010, was said to have started from a blank page and would review all our commitments across the board. All, it seems, except Trident.

There has been some positive movement, the Britain in the World policy document stated there will be a discussion about Trident –

but only once the Lib Dem alternatives review has been completed. The fact that Ed Miliband welcomed the review is in itself an important step in itself. But why should Labour let the Liberal Democrats lead this debate?

At a grassroots level, this discussion is already being had. While the National Policy Forum proposal for a debate at some point in the future was presented to conference, MPs, MSPs, AMs, councillors and activists packed out the CND fringe in Manchester.

Neil Findlay MSP said spending £100 billion on renewing Trident would be “economically incompetent” and Katy Clark MP a

nd Julie Morgan AM both agreed that nuclear disarmament would be an electorally popular policy for Labour.

With the Government now pledging to spend £350 million on the next stage of Trident renewal, whilst cutting benefits from the disabled and slashing vital public services, its clear just how little economic sense nuclear weapons make. It also demonstrates that the Tories are determined to plough ahead with renewing our nuclear arsenal, regardless of Lib Dem opposition.

Labour’s lack of response to the latest announcement is remarkable and, in Scotland, the SNP are already atta

cking Johann Lamont for failing to respond when Trident’s submarines are based in Faslane.

Lamont has previously stated her opposition to Trident; saying in 1999 that she would support a motion calling for the weapons system to be decommissioned. If the party is truly to renew under Ed’s leadership then, Lamont should, as leader of Scottish Labour, be able to restate her belief in nuclear disarmament and show she’s in touch with public opinion.

The party cannot remain silent on Trident.

When even Tony Blair now admits that Trident is of no use as a strategic deterrent and itssignificance is purely political, surely Ed can admit its time to ditch this cold war relic.

If the Labour leadership are serious when they talk of making tough econom
The ‘Promise of Britain’ is not to deliver a future for the next generation where security is based on mutually assured destruction, it is about providing a society in which everyone has a fair chance to get on. Ed Miliband must be frank and say, in the words of the former chief whip Nick Brown, “we don’t need Trident and we can’t afford it”.ic choices in the next Parliament, there’s no way they could then go on to spend £100 billion on weapons of mass destruction that could kill millions.Scrapping Trident will send a bold signal to the world that the nuclear age needs to be put behind us and, as Nick Brown advocates, would allow the next Labour government to deliver a tuition fee cut that would re-open the doors to higher education for ordinary working class young people.

Nick Brown: No to Trident renewal

At the next General Election every Parliamentary candidate will be asked which way they are going to vote on Trident renewal. This is essentially the same question that was asked of Parliamentary candidates in 1983.

The issue is not should Britain continue with an existing strategic deterrent. The issue is should Britain commit the resources for a new generation of platforms and weapon systems. The answer should be no.

The changing nature of military threats to the UK needs to be responded to. That response should place defence in the context of Britain’s broader diplomatic stance and military alliances. It should also place Trident renewal firmly in the context of present public spending priorities.

The Coalition Government is pulling apart public services and is raising taxes on those who can least afford to pay them. If Labour is to put forward a coherent economic alternative we have to take a good look at all areas of public spending. In these circumstances it’s hard to see a case for renewing our nuclear deterrent. In what crisis could Britain conceivably use an independent strategic deterrent? And against who? The real nuclear dangers to Britain come from rogue states and terrorism. The possession of an independent nuclear deterrent of our own doesn’t make us safer. A better investment would be antiterrorism capabilities.

The Government projects a total cost for Trident renewal of up to £25bn, though CND believe that the lifetime cost could come in as much as four times that figure.

The Liberal Democrats’ move to postpone a final decision until after the next election has already added an extra £1.5bn to the bill.

There are far more urgent demands on the public purse. To name just one, the Coalition have trebled the cap on tuition fees at Britain’s universities. This threatens to price out of higher education an entire generation of youngsters of less than ordinary means. If we are to reverse this decision, as Labour is committed to doing if possible, we will have to find the money to pay for it.

It is my view that excluding youngsters from higher education, starving public services more generally of necessary resources, poses a far bigger threat to the United Kingdom than the idea that a foreign power with nuclear weaponry would uniquely threaten to use them against us without the rest of NATO and be able to somehow disapply NATO’s founding terms.

 

Nick Brown is the MP for Newcastle East

Trident drains money from public services

In an article on LabourList, the Shadow Defence Minister Kevan Jones has adopted the mantra of ‘too far and too fast’ in relation to recently announced cuts to the Army.  He concluded his attack on government spending decisions by stating “recent decisions made by the Government will shape our ability to meet future strategic threats for years and years to come. But they have been made on the basis of making short-term savings over the next 12 to 18 months”.

Yet not all recent decisions within the Ministry of Defence have been made with on the basis of short-term savings.  Indeed, another Shadow Defence Minister wrote a piece on LabourList just a few weeks earlier, endorsing the government’s confirmation of £1 billion expenditure on Trident Replacement. And we already know that the Coalition plans to spend £4 billion on Trident replacement design before the decision on whether or not to replace it is taken in 2016 – and while Lib Dems research alternatives to a like-for-like replacement.

The two articles stand alone but looked at together there is a lack of joined up thinking in the defence team. The Treasury has decided the procurement costs of Trident replacement must come out of the Ministry of Defence’s budget, yet Trident was specifically excluded from the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR), which directly led to the recently announced defence cuts.

Kevan Jones linked to Labour MP Dan Jarvis’s piece in The Guardian last week where he wrote “Does any sensible, independent military thinker believe this decision is based upon strategy? No, the only strategy is to pay down the deficit at all costs.”  Not quite at all costs though; the government is spending billions on Trident and its replacement despite huge cuts elsewhere in government including in the Ministry of Defence.

So what is Labour’s policy?  Well, at the most recent meeting of the National Policy Forum the differences of opinion in the party on Trident were acknowledged and there are signs of a more inclusive discussion.

Meanwhile Ed Balls has stated that the next Labour Government will have difficult spending choices to make and he has expressed the view that it cannot or will not reverse all of the cuts.  In that context, endorsing billions more for Trident while blogging the following week that the Government’s defence policy is only focused on short term cuts makes Labour’s defence team incoherent, not to mention inconsistent with Ed Ball’s cautious approach to public expenditure under a future Labour government.

What would be coherent is to implement the position of Ed Miliband during Labour’s leadership election – that Labour “should look at the totality of our conventional and nuclear capabilities, considering both our defence needs and what our priorities are in the changing economic climate.”  Labour’s defence team has failed to look at conventional and nuclear capabilities in totality.  They should – and correctly conclude that Trident is draining money away from other areas of government expenditure, whether in the Ministry of Defence or other vital public services.

 

By Daniel Blaney


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 officeoflfof@gmail.com 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 – http://members.labour.org.uk/npfrep
  • Please tell us if you have made such a submission, on info@labourcnd.org.uk

 

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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.

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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.

Challenge to Labour front bench

The Commons was enlivened by a debate on Trident replacement once again on Monday afternoon as the Defence Secretary was called to the Commons to answer an Urgent Question on his new £1.1 billion contract – heavily trailed in the Sunday press – to redevelop the Rolls-Royce plant at Raynesway in Derby and to produce the reactor for the first of the submarines replacing Vanguard.

The idea of ordering a submarine reactor ahead of the main decision on constructing the rest of the submarine, at a cost of several hundred million pounds, is something I’ve repeatedly condemned in debates with the Defence Minister. As one part of the £4 billion declared ‘necessary’ to design the submarines before the construction decision, it is simply part of achieving a fait accompli so that a future government’s hands are tied. On the Today programme on Monday morning, the Lib Dem Defence Minister said it would be down to a future government to negotiate its way out of the contracts in 2016, but the Defence Secretary yesterday afternoon clearly said that Rolls-Royce depend of the commitment of the government.

One only needs to look at yesterday’s Evening Standard to see the arguments stating that ‘Trident is too costly to cancel’.

It was not made clear but it looks like we need to add another £500 million to the Trident replacement tab if these new facilities are necessary. The whole thing is a project which everyone expects to grow in cost exponentially, and yesterday illustrated that it is already doing so.

I was encouraged to see more Labour MPs questioning the government. Not only Paul Flynn and Michael Connarty but the questions from David Lammy, Nick Brown and Sheila Gilmore show there is a serious debate to be had in the Labour Party. Why should police numbers be cut to pay for Trident, rather than the other way round, as David asked.

But given this announcement arguably adds £500 million to the cost of delivering the replacement, it was disappointing that Labour’s front bench response gave such a wholehearted welcome of the ongoing programme, rather than offering serious scrutiny.

Alison Seabeck wrote that ‘keeping our nation safe’ should be ‘above partisan politics’. Indeed it should, but how we achieve that should be open to discussion, particularly in the Labour Party. Even the government’s own National Security Strategy said the threat of another state attacking with nuclear weapons is now of ‘low-likelihood’ but we are cutting all manner of other defence and public sector programmes and workers while saving Trident.

The reports from last weekend’s National Policy Forum sound very positive for the future and Jon Cruddas’s appointment as chair of the policy review is welcome given he joined me and many other MPs in demanding a debate on Trident at annual conference in 2006 ahead of the Commons vote and he has argued in favour of scrapping Trident to focus on forces welfare or conventional equipment, I hope we can now have an honest and mature debate about our defence spending priorities.

By Jeremy Corbyn MP

Originally published on LabourList on 19th June 2012