Labour CND statement on Gaza Ceasefire now! Stop the genocide! End the occupation!

Image courtesy of @GazaMedicVoices on X

Atrocious and disproportionate attacks on vulnerable Gazans continue day by day, hour by hour. The world watches helplessly as hospitals, schools, and other civilian facilities are targeted by Israel claiming their military actions are carried out against terrorist militias and infrastructure.

Is it any wonder that demands for a ceasefire grow, and billions of people around the world take to the streets to demand Ceasefire now! Stop the genocide! End the occupation!

Civilians on the ground in Gaza – hospital patients, babies in the neo-natal units, the vulnerable, frail, elderly, and hungry – cannot wait a moment longer for a ceasefire. More than 12,000 are already dead in Gaza as Israel continues to act with impunity.

A vote in parliament on 17 November, saw 56 Labour MPs defy the Labour whip to support a ceasefire, including 10 who resigned from shadow posts to do so. The 10 join  Imran Hussein MP who resigned from the shadow team last week, and others who signed Early Day Motion 1685, Protecting civilians in Gaza and Israel sponsored by Richard Burgon MP on 17 October.

Labour Mayors have spoken out for a ceasefire, so too Labour Councillors, National Executive Committee members, and other Labour office holders. Labour CND commends their courage and sends our solidarity.

On the morning following the vote, Shadow Defence Secretary John Healey claimed: ‘we are acting in these very difficult circumstances as if we were in government.’ Together with tens of thousands of party members, Labour CND wants Labour in government to uphold international law and be part of a positive solution to this crisis.

Hours after John Healy made his statement in support of Keir Starmer, school students marched in east London to tell Rushana Ali MP to supports a ceasefire. Days before the vote, Lambeth party members held a vigil at the constituency office of Helen Hayes MP calling for her to support a ceasefire, while trade union members blockaded a BAE systems arms factory in Rochester demanding no arms sales to Israel. BAE systems is a main supplier of parts for US F-35 fighter jets which are flown by Israel. These are just three examples of hundreds of actions taking place across Britain.

Labour CND agrees with the UN, Oxfam, Save the Children, the Pope, the Archbishop of Canterbury, 89% of Labour voters, trade unionists and school students, and with the 56 Labour MPs and Jeremy Corbyn, Diane Abbott, Claudia Webbe, and the hundreds of thousands of people who keep marching on the streets of Britain: humanitarian pauses are not working, they are no alternative to the demand for a ceasefire.

Like all the people who are taking action, Labour CND wants a Labour government that acts ethically, upholds international law, and recognise what is already evident to the majority of the world: there is no military solution to this long-enduring Israel-Palestine conflict.

This Tory government has no mandate and no morals. Labour must break with bipartisan policy on Gaza. We must have a ceasefire now.

Labour CND
17 November 2023

Labour Party Conference report

Labour CND Committee member Christine Shawcroft looks back at an eventful week in Liverpool.

The CND ad van outside Labour Conference in Liverpool

The Liverpool Conference Centre was certainly heaving with people, with the consequent huge queues to get in and shortage of places to sit down, but it later transpired that there were 15,000 visitors. There were only 1,109 voting delegates, which is less than two per constituency Labour Party. Many of the visitors were Party members and councillors, but others were corporate exhibitors and sponsors of fringe events, some of whom were really not the kind of organisations one would wish to see associated with a Labour Conference.

The agenda was also ‘fiddled ‘tweeked’ in the interests of some of these companies – after an intervention by the National Executive Committee, any resolutions opposing privatisation in the NHS were bundled into the ‘Health Services and Funding’ composite, and the powers- that-be campaigned strongly for the ‘An NHS Fit for the Future’ composite which merely paid lip service to a publicly owned NHS. The weak composite was duly prioritised and carried.

However, the CND stall attracted a lot of interest and our excellent new pamphlet, Labour, Climate Change and Nuclear Power: Not Cheap, Not Safe, Not Peaceful by Sam Mason was launched at Conference and on sale at the stall. The CND fringe meeting, held in the Conference Centre itself, was very well attended and effective.

During the meeting delegates heard from Vice President of the Fire Brigades Union Steve Wright, who spoke about the need for investment in public services and wages for workers rather than nuclear weapons. MPs Beth Winter and Bell Ribeiro-Addy demonstrated the strength of feeling of Labour members from the grassroots through to Parliament, with Bell also stressing the need to adhere to international treaties.

To address climate change, we need peace

In her latest blog, Samantha Mason addresses issues from the King’s speech on the opening of parliament.

taken a back seat as we’ve watched the horror of events unfolding in Gaza and mobilised around the call for a ceasefire and peace.  However, as climate campaigners have pointed out, including in a letter to Ed Miliband, fighting for the “cause of freedom and dignity for the Palestinian people” is not separate from the colonial violence and dispossession which is also at the heart of the climate crisis.

There’s no bigger action for climate change
than achieving peace for Gaza

The impacts of climate change continue apace as 2023 is likely to be declared the warmest on record. The UN Secretary General’s call for the world to end the madness of the fossil fuel age which is driving don’t seem to have reached the ears of the UK government who is forging ahead with the issuing of new oil and gas licences in the North Sea.

The  oil and gas bill announced in the King’s Speech follows Rishi Sunak’s statement in September pledging a “pragmatic, proportionate and realistic approach to reaching net zero“. This also included the removal of energy efficiency standards for private landlords, condemning renters to totally avoidable high energy bills – a point well made by the UK Green Building Council and Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

Of course, this is all part of the new ‘Uxbridge’ narrative of the government being ‘on the side of car drivers’ pushing-back on a number of measures including targets to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars. Unfortunately, the science of climate change doesn’t care about political posturing and the only reality here is that we cannot put off until tomorrow what we should be doing today.

Any new oil and gas in the North Sea won’t benefit
UK energy consumers because we
don’t own it

Likewise, financial and health burdens will also certainly not be ‘eased’ for people as a result. Any new oil and gas produced in the North Sea will not be to the benefit of UK energy consumers as we don’t own it. It is therefore false to say it will help bring down bills – a point the new Secretary of State for DESNZ Clair Coutinho has finally conceded.

There are undoubtedly costs in transitioning to a decarbonised economy and these should not be falling on workers in terms of jobs, pay and other terms and conditions, or hard-pressed communities. These costs should be ‘proportionately’ distributed and socialised by ending the greed of fossil fuel corporation profits and bringing all energy assets back into public ownership. Not least when we see the renewables sector trying to fashion itself on a fossil fuel ‘for profit’ business model.

A crisis in the offshore wind industry, not just impacting the UK but in Europe and the US as well, has seen the main offshore wind farm developers pulling back from bidding in government auctions.  Big players such as Ørsted and Vattenfall have also pulled out of projects due to issues of “profitability” as inflation and higher interest rates have increased costs.

And the idea that nuclear power will be an answer to the energy and climate crisis is also starting to wobble (unsurprisingly) on financial grounds.  The ‘poster child’ for small modular reactors (SMRs), NuScale in the US, has ended a major project on basis of costs defeating one of the primary arguments for SMRs that they can be built more quickly and cheaply.  Indeed, many technological fixes being proposed for tackling climate change such as Carbon Capture and Storage and Direct Airsource Capture are proving to be the false solutions many climate campaigners have always argued.

The idea that nuclear power is an answer to
climate change
is starting to wobble

It is clear that climate change will be one of the battle grounds in the next general election and this should not be allowed to turn into binary choices of cars over clean air or arbitrary fiscal rules. Right now, we need a coherent long-term plan that aligns reducing greenhouse gas emissions with addressing the energy, health, and cost of living crises all of which are inter-connected. Similarly, the plan needs to recognise the need for global cooperation and climate justice. This should be seen as an opportunity for the Labour Party to provide a real alternative to Tory climate and environmental policies that will continue to cause long-term harm to us all.

At the end of November, the global climate talks – COP28 – will take place in Dubai. There is little faith in these talking shops that fail to address the fossil fuels in the room and on 9 December there will be a Global Day of Action with mass demonstrations planned across the globe. In the UK these are being coordinated by the Climate Justice Coalition.  

People everywhere have risen up for Gaza and it’s possible, sadly, we may yet be coordinating joint actions that day.  Whether this is the case or not, one thing is clear, there is no bigger action for climate change than achieving peace for Gaza, or other areas of the world suffering conflicts, and it must remain an integral part of our climate demands.

Lobby for Wages Not Weapons!

Lobby the Shadow Cabinet

After Labour Party Conference in Liverpool, possibly the last before the General Election, Labour CND launched an online lobby calling for a change in spending priorities to fund wages for the many not weapons.

After the economic chaos brought on the country by the disastrous policies of Liz Truss, Rishi Sunak has failed to address the challenges of soaring inflation and the Cost of Living Crisis which is pushing so many people in our communities into poverty. Strikes have been taking place throughout the past two years, with railway workers, university lectures, doctors, nurses and many others seeking pay restoration after 13 years of crushing austerity.

People are crying out for something different. A change from the way politics has been run for the past years. This is the chance for Labour to be radical and set out clear spending priorities which will benefit society.

Now is the time to invest in the people who deliver services we all rely on, rather than more spending on weapons. Nuclear weapons are only part of the issue, but with the replacement of Trident set to cost well in excess of £205 billion, scrapping that would be a good start.

There is still time for the Labour Party to change course. By writing to John Healey and David Lammy you can join Labour CND in calling for Wages Not Weapons!

Labour CND statement on Gaza

Protestors gathered in Portland Place, London last Saturday to march in solidarity with Gaza. Emergency demonstrations across the UK included in Manchester, Stockport, Liverpool, Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Aberdeen. Observers put the number on the streets in London at between 100- and 150,000.

Labour CND today issued the following statement on the situation in Gaza:

In the week following the horrific attacks by Hamas which killed more than 1,300 Israeli civilians, over 2,000 Palestinians in the occupied territory of Gaza have died in retaliatory air strikes. As the first of these took place, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced: ‘We are striking our enemies with unprecedented might. I emphasise that this is only the beginning.’ Israel is now planning for an air, land, and sea attack on Gaza.

Large parts of Gaza have been reduced to rubble, and the UN estimates that almost one million Gazans are already displaced. As the situation escalates and civilian casualties mount, international agencies are warning of an impending humanitarian disaster while the media is rife with talk about the possibility of a wider war in the Middle East.

United Nations has warned against ‘indiscriminate or disproportionate action against Gaza’ and expressed concern over the ‘full siege’ of Gaza, describing shutting off electricity, water, food, and fuel supplies as ‘collective punishment’. The Secretary General has called for the immediate release of all Israeli hostages and underscored the need for ‘rapid and unimpeded’ humanitarian access to Gaza.

World Health Organisation ‘strongly condemns Israel’s repeated orders for the evacuation of 22 hospitals treating more than 2000 inpatients in northern Gaza. The forced evacuation of patients and health workers will further worsen the current humanitarian and public health catastrophe. The lives of many critically ill and fragile patients hang in the balance.’

Oxfam UK Director Danny Sriskandarajah told BBC News: ‘We work in some of the most difficult situations in the world, in Yemen, in Syria, and Somalia. But this is unprecedented. There is no way we can get things in or people out.’

Labour CND opposes all attacks on Israeli and Palestinian civilians. History has already shown that  military confrontations offer no long-term solution to a crisis which has deep roots. In the words of UN Secretary General António Guterres: ‘The most recent violence does not come in a vacuum, but grows out of a long-standing conflict, with a 56-year long occupation and no political end in sight.’

Labour CND calls for the release of Israeli hostages, for military de-escalation, and for real and meaningful peace talks, brokered by the international community and taking on board the security of Palestinian and Israeli civilians.

We do so, however, in the knowledge that the United States has already committed material support to its regional ally. This includes supplying bunker busting munitions to Israel which are banned from use in densely populated areas under the Geneva Convention due to the risk of mass civilian casualties.

The US is also deploying a second aircraft battle group to the eastern Mediterranean to join a group already in the area, and relocating a marine amphibious-ready group from the Gulf. This show of force on the side of Israel by the leader of NATO suggests escalation rather than de-escalation.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Labour leader Keir Starmer have also clearly expressed their firm support for Israel’s ‘right to defend itself’. A 100,000-strong emergency demonstration on the streets of London on Saturday, together with thousands more on the streets of Manchester, Stockport, Liverpool, Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Aberdeen including Labour members and affiliates however, showed that a significant section of public opinion in Britain strongly disagrees with this bipartisan approach by the government and opposition.

Labour CND believes Keir Starmer’s statement in support of Israel, which is using disproportionate force and endangering civilians in responding to Hamas attacks, contradicts Labour Party policy which has expressed clear support for Palestinians at successive annual conferences.

16 October 2023

Labour CND response to Daily Telegraph article

David Lammy and John Healey have used an article in the Daily Telegraph (Paywall) to argue that nuclear weapons are Labour’s “heritage” and describe the commitment to Trident and NATO as “unshakeable”. This is a clear attempt to rewrite history and gloss over the huge opposition to Trident amongst Labour Party members and in the trade unions, and the substantial periods where full and comprehensive nuclear disarmament has been adopted as the official policy. 

There has also been an emphatic tradition of advocating nuclear disarmament from all wings of the Labour Party.  In recent years large numbers of constituency Labour Parties have made submissions to party conferences and the National Policy Forum in favour of scrapping Trident, and the Labour Party Conference in 2021 passed a resolution opposing AUKUS. 

Often the disagreement within the party is said to be concerning the means to an end of a nuclear-free world – an aspiration regrettably missing from the Telegraph article.  The next Labour Government should commit to a meaningful programme of nuclear disarmament and to signing the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, known as the Nuclear Ban Treaty, which is supported by more than 120 countries as well as 68% of Labour Party members. 

We continue to believe that the billions of pounds being wasted on a new generation of nuclear weapons would be better spent addressing real security and priorities like climate justice, health, education and building a fairer and more equal society. Labour CND will continue to campaign against nuclear weapons and for peace

Why Labour must oppose nuclear power

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July 2023 was the hottest on record This year has been a story of extreme and record-breaking weather:

    • heatwaves throughout southern Europe
    • fires and pollution in North America
    • record-breaking winter heatwaves in South America
    • the warmest winter ever in Australia
    • record high temperatures and rainfall in Asia
    • severe droughts in the Middle East and Africa

Despite calls for world leaders to step up action on climate change, greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise while politicians here and elsewhere bicker over climate and energy policy.

Some see the inclusion of low-carbon nuclear power as a quick fix.  Labour CND’s pamphlet, which will be launched at Labour Party conference in Liverpool, explains why the idea that nuclear power can come to the rescue is a false and dangerous mistake.

In the face of the two biggest threats to humanity – climate change and nuclear war – Sam Mason makes a powerful case against nuclear power and explains why the Labour Party must oppose it.

Labour, Climate Change & Nuclear Power
available at conference from the CND stand price £3, or
order a copy from labourcnd@gmail

Stand with Diane Abbott MP

#ReinstateDiane #HandsOffDiane #StandWithDiane

Having engaged with Labour’s disciplinary procedure for many months, Diane Abbott MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington has broken her silence to issue a statement which is a damning indictment of the ‘fraudulent’ process, insisting ‘there is no investigation’ actually taking place.

Labour CND stands with Diane who has been a loyal and outspoken opponent of nuclear weapons and war throughout her parliamentary career and before.

Labour Black Socialists has responded to Diane’s continued exclusion from the Parliamentary Labour Party saying it ‘provides further evidence that the “hierarchy of racism” continues to thrive unabated’ and that Labour ‘can no longer call itself the Party of equality, justice and democracy’. 

LBS, which launched a petition in April to reinstate Diane, is campaigning for Labour to:

    • Lift Diane Abbott’s suspension and restore the whip.
    • Openly defend Diane and other Black MPs from racist and misogynist abuse, taking appropriate action against Labour staffers, members, Councillors and MPs who engage in such abhorrent behaviour.
    • Fully acknowledge that a hierarchy of racism exists within the Party and take immediate steps to implement the recommendations of the Forde report in relation to anti-Black racism and Islamophobia.
    • Restore its commitment to implementing the Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic (BAME) structures within the Party Rule Book and which resulted from the 2018 Democracy Review.
    • Challenge racism and misogyny within the media and wider society.

Support Centre-Left Grassroots Alliance candidates in Labour’s internal elections

Labour CND urges you to vote for Centre Left Grassroots Alliance candidates in this year’s internal elections. Details, including candidate statements are available on the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy website, CLPD

The six candidates for National Women’s Committee have also published a joint platform, including committing to: ‘support for an ethical foreign policy with peace, conflict resolution and nuclear disarmament at its core. Labour must support women struggling against oppression across the globe.’

Starmer removes Peace and Disarmament role from shadow team

The decision by Sir Keir Starmer to abolish the post of Shadow Minister for Peace and Disarmament is a backwards step and must be reversed. 

Fabian speaks at the CND fringe meeting at Labour Conference in 2019 – alongside current Shadow Foreign Sec David Lammy

Fabian Hamilton had carried out the role with distinction from its creation in 2016. Not only did he build links between the Labour Party and civil society working on issues around militarism, peace and disarmament, but he also engaged with the United Nations on issues including the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

Fabian has been a strong advocate for peace and nuclear disarmament, which perhaps ultimately led to him being asked to stand down. Without a dedicated voice for peace and disarmament in the shadow Foreign Office team there is a real danger of losing focus on non-proliferation and arms controls that are necessary to address Britain’s real security needs.

Labour must be a party firmly rooted in international law. The next Labour government must recommit to our existing international Treaty obligations on nuclear disarmament as well as engaging constructively with the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Labour Party members will not allow the party to further embrace militarism and pro-war policies while turning its back on the path to peace.

In thanking Fabian Hamilton for his work on nuclear disarmament, Labour CND calls on Sir Keir Starmer to immediately reverse this decision and reinstate the Peace and Disarmament role on the front bench.