Time to stop arming Israel

There’s dark days are ahead for Gaza in 2024, with little sign of a let-up in Israel’s bombardment notwithstanding the International Court of Justice’s ruling.

Over 25,000 are dead after three months of Israeli bombing. Three times that number are injured, and a lack of basic medical supplies means they face sepsis, gangrene, and amputations without anaesthetic.

The UN has estimated that 25% of population is starving, and everyone in is going hungry. This makes Gazans more susceptible to the spread of water- and air-borne diseases.

Despite the humanitarian horrors, Israel’s offer of a two month humanitarian ceasefire in return for the release of all hostages is unlikely to fly, and IDF spokespeople continue to suggest hostilities will go on throughout 2024.

The United States could, of course, end all this in a moment. How? By cutting off military aid.

Israel is the biggest recipient of US foreign aid. On US government figures, it received more than $3.3 billion in 2022, of which 99.7% of which went to the Israeli military. That’s right – not a slip of the pen, not a typo –99.7% of US aid to Israel was military aid. The arms industry is making a packet from the war on Gaza.

Meanwhile protests are growing across the world. Given the scale of daily slaughter played out in real-time across the world’s TV and social media, that’s hardly surprising. With no sign yet of a shift towards ‘less intense’ warfare that Israel claimed it would adopt in the new year, most people are convinced that Israel’s actions have little to do with ‘self-defence’ and much to do with genocide and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories.

The brutal bombardment of Gaza, has also brought Israelis onto the streets. Thousands marched in Tel Aviv to demand a ceasefire recently, despite police attempts to ban the protest. The organisers said public pressure was responsible for the event finally being approved: ‘After 100 days of war, the hostages have not returned, innocent Palestinians are being killed, and we still don’t have security.’

The Palestine solidarity movement here in Britain remains on high alert, and the turn-out for national marches is huge. UK trade unionists are beginning to organise pickets of companies supplying Israel; and we’ve even see a few school students protests.

Palestine Action, a direct-action group opposing Britain’s arms sales to Israel, recently covered Twickenham stadium in red paint – a reminder of the blood shed by Palestinians – just hours before an International Armoured Vehicles expo was due to begin there. The event is host to the biggest representative of Israel’s arms trade, Haifa-based Elbit Systems Ltd, as well as their British subsidiary Elbit Systems UK and the Israeli state-owned arms manufacturer, Rafael.

A Palestine Action spokesperson said inviting Israeli arms dealers as guests of honour shamed everyone who took part. ‘After developing their weaponry in the laboratory of Palestine, Elbit and Rafael then sell these technologies on to other regimes, while our government turns a blind eye to this brutality.’

With the conflict set to spread beyond Israel and the Occupied Territories into the Middle East, it’s as well to remember that Israel is not simply a heavily armed state; it’s a nuclear armed state, one of only 9 in the world.

When Heritage Minister Amichai Eliyahu suggested in a radio interview back in Novemer that ‘the nuclear option was one way’ of dealing with Gaza, most people laughed. As unrealistic as it sounds to consider dropping a nuclear bomb on your own doorstep, Israel does have tactical nuclear weapons. Given IDF belligerence and the possibility that Iran could be pushed into the conflict, who’s to say a section of the Israeli leadership wouldn’t consider threatening their use?

What seemed like a hollow threat from a few Israeli government outliers last autumn, could be a step closer as the consequences spread across the Middle East and North Africa. CND continues to call for a nuclear weapons free Middle East – an important component in a stable, long-term solution for the war-torn region.

Now’s the time to add Stop Arming Israel! to the demand for Ceasefire Now!

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!

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.’

Labour CND’s 2023 conference focuses on military spending and austerity

Our online conferfence this year focuses on high military spending in a time of austerity, with panel discussions on the rising costs of militarism and workers security. Join Warren Smith Maritime Union of Australia, Sam Mason PCS Policy Officer, Peter Evans UCU NEC, Economist Mick Burke, and more.

Register in advance here

Wages Not Weapons Conference is followed by our online AGM, 13.30 to 15.00. This is a members only meeting, open to CND members who are members of the Labour Party. Email labourcnd@gmail.com to register

Wages Not Weapons: Labour CND model conference motion

Despite the severest cost of living crisis in most of our memories, the Chancellor’s Spring Statement increased the Ministry of Defence budget by £5 billion in the next two years, with a total increase of £11bn over the next 5 years.

Forecast organisations are predicting the UK will be the worst performing economy of all G20 countries in 2023, and will have shrunk by 0.3% by the end of this year. Funding nuclear weapons and war are being pursued at the expense of workers wages.

Labour CND’s model motion for this year’s Labour Party conference argues that high military spending restricts the action governments can take in defence of the public sector and workers pay. We’re calling  for an in-coming Labour government to:

    • increase investment and promote growth
    • improve public services
    • provide an emergency support package to off-set the cost-of-living crisis, and
    • take effective action to tackle climate change.

It you agree with us, please encourage your local party to send this motion for debate at Labour’s 2023 conference. Download our motion which includes an explainer with some facts, figures, and arguments to help you make the case in your CLP.

And don’t forget to let us know by emailing labourcnd@gmail.com

Restore the whip to Diane Abbott

Labour CND joins the many organisations and individuals across the Labour movement and beyond calling for the Labour whip to be restored to Diane Abbott MP., the first black woman in parliament. Labour Black Socialists outlines Diane’s record in an eloquent and compelling call to restore the whip.

Diane has been as staunch an opponent of nuclear weapons and war as she has been a campaigner against racism. She has joined many Labour CND platforms for over 30 years.

LBS has launched a petition pointing out Diane record at the forefront of anti-racism campaigns and supporting communities and families who have been victims of racist policing, school exclusions, deaths in custody, racist attacks, murders and the hostile environment policies

No return of US nukes to Britain

Jess Barnard, now a Labour NEC member, was on the first demo at Lakenheath in May2022

In January, the Federation of American Scientists revealed that B61-12s nuclear bombs have been cleared for transport to bases in Europe, including Britain. They are the United States newest guided nuclear bombs, the same type used on the Japanese city of Hiroshima in 1945, though considerably more powerful of course.

Their locations in Europe will include RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk which last year became the sixth nuclear base in Europe funded by the US. Guided nuclear bombs were stored at Lakenheath until 2008. The silo facilities at are still intact there.

Peace campaigners only became aware of plans by the US to station nuclear weapons in Britain again when sharp eyes spotted that the US Department of Defense had added the UK to a list of NATO nuclear weapons storage facilities in Europe, which are to be ‘upgraded’ at a cost of millions of dollars. The British Government tried to keep this news secret – Parliamentary CND was originally told by the Ministry of Defence that they could ‘neither confirm nor deny’ the reports that nuclear weapons would be returning to Lakenheath, on the grounds that this was purely the business of the United States!

Irresponsible British media outlets have given this news almost no coverage, yet the weapons pose a danger to everyone in the country, particularly people in the Southeast of the country. Lakenheath, is only 70 miles north of the capital city. Millions of people live within range of the blast and radiation in the event of a terrorist attack on the base or even from some kind of accident involving the weapons.

The US aircraft which would be needed to transport the bombs to their targets are already at Lakenheath. This would be an extremely dangerous development at any time, but the war in Ukraine and increasing global tensions, with calls for NATO members to increase their military spending and step up military aid to Ukraine, put Britain on the front line in a future NATO/Russia war.

Nuclear weapons have now been declared illegal by a UN Treaty, yet the US and NATO still insist that they are vital for our defence and national security. We have to make it clear that the weapons make us a target and actually threaten our security, as well as destabilising international relations.

When nuclear weapons were stored at RAF Lakenhurst previously, there were 110 bombs kept there – enough to render the planet uninhabitable by humans and many other forms of life. After a sustained public protest led by CND, the weapons were removed from the base in 2008. Clearly, constant vigilance is needed to make sure they don’t return.

Nominate for Labour’s national committees

The Centre Left Grassroots Alliance (CLGA) has agreed unified slates for the National Women’s Committee, the National Constitutional Committee and the Conference Arrangements Committee. Although members’ eyes are inclined to glaze over at the mention of elections to these bodies, all of them are vitally important for defending democracy and members’ rights in the Labour Party.

The CLGA supported members of the National Women’s Committee have done excellent work supporting women and calling for the reinstatement of a standalone Women’s Conference. Unfortunately, despite their campaigning, this year’s Women’s Conference is just one day tacked onto the beginning of the Annual Conference in Liverpool. The members of the Women’s Committee will be elected by delegates to the Women’s Conference, so it is important to select delegates who support the work that has been done and needs to continue.

There are also positions up for election on the National Constitutional Committee (NCC) which deals with disciplinary issues, and the Conference Arrangements Committee (CAC) which organises conference business. They are also to be voted on by delegates to Annual Conference, part of anti-democratic moves away from one member, one vote ballots. OMOV was only brought in for national committees in the first place because the then General Secretary couldn’t ensure that there was no interference from Party staff during elections amongst Conference delegates!

The NCC is very important to try and ensure due process and justice for members faced with disciplinary action from the Party. The CLGA members on the CAC are vital to try and prevent constituency resolutions being ruled out of order for spurious reasons, and to try and allocate more time at Conference for delegates and less for the platform.

Members have until 12 noon on Friday, 23 June to get their CLP to nominate the CLGA-recommended candidates, but don’t leave it till the last minute! CLPD have made candidate statements for all three elections available on their website. That is also the last date to nominate Conference delegates and putting forward Constitutional Amendments (Rule Changes).

There are no National Executive Committee elections this year.

All woman panel on women, war & nukes

Join Labour CND Chair Carol Turner and her guests at our Arise Festival session, Tuesday 26 July, part of the Leftie Lunchtime 1-hour events . Register here and find out more

— Jess Barnard, Young Labour
— Lindsey German, author How a Century of War Changed the Lives of Women & STW
— Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, Jewish Voice for Labour
— and a special guest

Motion for Labour conference

Benners decorating the fence at Lakenheath air base during CND’s first protest

Labour CND’s suggested motion for this year’s annual party conference opposes the return of US nuclear weapns to Britain. It notes that US nukes left Lakenheath in 2008 which was consistent with the then Labour Government’s ambition for a ‘global zero’ eradication of nuclear weapons through multilateral disarmament, and recommits Labour to nuclear disarmament and a world without nuclear weapons. We urge you to ask your local Labour Party to adopt this as policy and put it forward for conference.