For a Labour victory

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.

Labour’s peace and disarmament policy misrepresented

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

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

Continue reading “Labour’s peace and disarmament policy misrepresented”

Labour CND fringe at Unite conference

The Labour CND fringe meeting at thelabour-1 Unite Policy Conference was a big success, with a packed room hearing from a number of speakers setting out why Unite should adopt a position opposing Trident replacement and engage in efforts on defence diversification.

The meeting heard from economist Michael Burke, CND General Secretary Kate Hudson, Labour Party activist Simeon Elliott and Hilary Wainwright, who has written a book about the Lucas Plan. The clear message from the panel and delegates in attendance was that Unite must take the issue of diversification seriously in order to protect long-term high-skilled manufacturing jobs for the future.

Michael Burke called for the money currently allocated to Trident to be used to springboard a comprehensive industrial policy for the UK. He also spoke about the proposals in the CND? Jobs not Trident report.

Kate Hudson welcomed Jeremy Corbyn’s commitment to establish a Defence Diversification Agency and called on all trade unions, including Unite, to play a full role.

Hilary Wainwright drew on the lessons from the Lucas Plan which could be applied to the current debate around Trident while Simeon Elliott talked about the policy debate underway in the Labour Party and the need for Unite to support a move away from supporting Trident.

Contemporary Motion for Labour Conference

Labour CND has prepared an anti-Trident motion for Labour Party conference delegates to vote on in September. Labour’s annual conference has avoided a vote on Trident for almost 20 years – previous motions have been ruled out. But with huge opposition to Trident amongst Labour Party members and the present leadership clearly opposed to Trident, Conference 2016 represents a strong opportunity.
A change in Labour Party policy on Trident would be a huge step towards stopping government plans to replace Britain’s nuclear weapons system. It would mean a future Labour government could stop the programme before hundreds of billions are wasted on a militarily useless weapon. It would also be a strong platform to construct a new foreign policy designed for the 21st century.

Although CLPs have not been holding meetings in recent months, meetings to consider matters relating to Conference will be taking place in the coming weeks. The text of the motion is below, if you have any questions please email info@labourcnd.org.uk

Proposed United Nations conference on Nuclear Disarmament affects domestic policy

Conference notes on the 19 August 2016 the United Nations Open-Ended Working Group on Nuclear Disarmament recommended that the General Assembly convene, in 2017, a conference to negotiate a legally-binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination. Conference condemns the United Kingdom boycott of the Open-Ended Working Group and calls on the Government to enter into negotiations in good faith to eliminate nuclear weapons around the world.

Conferences reaffirms its commitment to a world without nuclear weapons.

Conference recognises the strength of arguments against Trident from a financial point of view, and from the perspective of an assessment of the actual contemporary threats to British security, such as terrorism. Conference also accepts the compelling moral argument against the use of nuclear weapons.

Conference believes that defence diversification must be an urgent priority for the next Labour government. The next Labour Government must offer cast-iron guarantees on the security of related skilled employment, which is lacking from the existing ?Successor? programme. The priority must be to secure the employment for individuals and the future of the communities involved.

Conference therefore resolves:
1. That a Labour Government will cancel plans to replace Trident and engage in ongoing UN work towards a global nuclear weapons ban.
2. To instruct the NEC to immediately establish a ‘Shadow Defence Diversification Agency’ with trade union participation and which shall report annually to the Labour Party Conference until a Labour Government has set up a statutory Agency.

Labour CND Trident Fact File

After a very successful conference at the end of January, Labour CND is pleased to publish a Trident Fact File, which you will find useful when preparing to discuss Trident at local party meetings.

Trident FACT FILE

Alternatively if you would like a Labour CND speaker to come to your meeting please do get in touch with us.

CLPs say no to Trident

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 info@labourcnd.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

Tamworth CLP

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

Birkenhead CLP

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:

  1. 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,
  2. Will not address the real security challenges to this country such as climate change, terrorism or cyber attacks,
  3. 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,
  4. Is neither independent from the US nor a deterrent to warfare and serves only to maintain the illusion of power,
  5. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. The likelihood of a parliamentary vote in 2016 on authorisation of a Trident replacement.
  3. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Scottish Labour anti-Trident motion

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.”

The Scottish view on Trident – Martyn Cook

Lenin’s quote that, “there are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen”, is certainly getting a workout in articles about Corbyn’s victory, but it is now also applicable to the current debates on Trident.

Seemingly out of the blue, both the UK Conference and Scottish Conference will be able to have the topic of our “independent” nuclear deterrent up for discussion, when it’s been deemed strictly out of bounds for decades. The leaderships of both the Scottish and UK Labour parties should be congratulated on opening up this for debate.

It is welcome and represents what will hopefully be a longer-term shift in opening up policy within the party at all levels, allowing us to build an inclusive and democratic mass party.
In the shorter term though, changing the Party’s position on Trident – to one that would oppose renewal – would be a massive step forward. As well as the moral arguments against owning weapons of mass destruction, the financial argument of saving billions that could be re-invested in job creation and defence diversification would fit in with our repositioning as the only major party that is genuinely anti-austerity.

In Scotland this would be particularly helpful for Labour to rebuild. The SNP/Yes campaign placed opposition to Trident renewal as one of the central pillars to their project, and was duly rewarded by the electorate. Across the UK, Labour is about 100 seats behind the Tories, and if there is any hope of winning in 2020, we will need to claw back at least some of the 56 seats in Scotland that turned yellow in May.

Labour didn’t lose for being too left-wing, but for not being clear enough on major issues. By taking a clear stance in favour of unilateral disarmament Labour will shift the entire framework of the debate, and the votes at UK and Scottish Conference over the next few weeks could be the next step towards winning in 2020.

Martyn Cook is a member of Labour CND and was recently elected to the National Policy Forum representing Scotland.