HELP GET A LABOUR PARTY COMMITMENT NOT TO REPLACE TRIDENT
Emily Thornberry, Shadow Defence Secretary has published her terms of reference for Labour?s defence policy review (attached), asking individual members and local parties to send submissions before 30 April 2016. Labour CND urges you to make your opposition to Trident known, and to encourage your branch and constituency to do? likewise.
Emily points to the changed nature of security threats facing Britain today, and asks ?what role should Britain play in building a world that is more peaceful, more just and safer?.
Her key question on Trident is: Will renewal of Britain?s nuclear capability aid us in protecting Britain?s security and pursuing the values that guide our foreign and defence policy?
Branch and Constituency Submissions
Please ensure that your CLP passes a resolution demanding that the Trident missile system should not be replaced, and sends it to the Defence Policy Review. You are the best judge of how to maximise support for such a resolution. But consider keeping it as short as possible, and if you need suggestions, please get in touch with Labour CND.
If your CLP has already made decisions on defence and security policy, ask that these are communicated to the Review. This should be done even if previous submissions have been made to the National Policy Forum.
You should make an individual submission too, and encourage others to do so. Your submission can go into as much or as little detail as you like. We attach our Trident Fact File which may be of help. All submissions must be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org to arrive before 30 April 2016.
Labour must take the lead in getting rid of Trident. We depend on you.
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 email@example.com
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
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
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:
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,
Will not address the real security challenges to this country such as climate change, terrorism or cyber attacks,
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,
Is neither independent from the US nor a deterrent to warfare and serves only to maintain the illusion of power,
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:
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.
The likelihood of a parliamentary vote in 2016 on authorisation of a Trident replacement.
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:
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.
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.
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.
Stephen Low, Glasgow Southside CLP, who moved the anti-Trident motion at Scottish Labour Party conference writes:
The debate on Trident renewal at Scottish Conference was passionate and delivered an unequivocal verdict. With a near identical 70% vote from both CLPs and Trade Unions the UK’s possession of nuclear weapons was condemned and the concept of defence diversification was promoted. Hav ing been passed by more than a 2/3 majority it is now part of the Scottish Labour’s programme and will form the submission of the Scottish Labour Party to the Britain in the World Policy forum.
The debate stemmed from the results of a priorities ballot where Trident renewal was by some measure the most popular topic. Although this decision by CLP delegates was itself described in the session as “”a nonsense and utter indulgence”” by Gary Smith, Secretary of GMB Scotland.
The first indication that the vote might well go against Trident renewal was when a reference to Jeremy Corbyn’s statement that he would never launch a nuclear strike received loud applause from the hall.
Those arguing for the motion cited a large number of factors; the morality of weapons which would kill so indiscriminately, the lack of utility in Trident a new Trident system in tackling the requirements under the Non Proliferation Treaty, the staggering cost and the loss of potential to diversify our industrial base if we are keeping so much of our industrial workforce locked into what is in many respects an economic dead end.
What was noticeable in the arguments of those who were advocating building what is one of the most destructive weapons system s in human history was how little they talked about the defence of the realm. Even the few, like ex MP Thomas Docherty and MSP Jackie Baillie who gave more thn passing reference to the role a new trident system would supposedly play in securing the UK concentrated in what they claimed would be the impact on jobs.
Without Trident renewal it seems that British manufacturing will just collapse. This argument was pursued to such an extent that in my right of reply. I felt obliged to apologise to conference for failing to notice the change in construction techniques which mean that the only possible use for British steel is in the construction of nuclear weapons.
The “Gie’s mair bombs – cos bombs means jobs” approach – and this is a paraphrase, not a cariacature – of the argument laid out, is both curious and dispiriting. The purpose of a defence policy is in fact defence, not job creation. Incidentally Trident renewal scores very poorly in terms of job creation. The likelihood is that it will force cutbacks in other defence spending). Moreover it represents an appalling failure of social and economic ambition. It’s implication is that the only employment that can be envisaged for our most skilled craftspeople, our most highly trained technicians, is in making nuclear weapons. That defence diversification is something that only other countries can make work.
By a thumping majority, Scottish Labour decided otherwise.
Labour CND held a successful fringe meeting at the Scottish Labour Party conference in Perth. The meeting took place in the Perth Art Gallery just hours after delegates from both Trade Unions and CLPs voted to put Trident on the conference agenda. Arthur West, Chair of Scottish CND, chaired the meeting.
The first speaker was Neil Findlay MSP, who was involved in the leadership election for Scottish Labour last year. Neil used his contribution to call for the widest possible coalition against Trident to be built. He noted that while the movement within the party appeared to be away from Trident, it is vital that concerns around jobs are addressed.
The next speaker was Malcolm Chisholm MSP, who has been a long-standing opponent of Trident. Malcolm said that it is his firm view that there has never been a better chance to build a wide-ranging coalition against Trident. He said that it isn’t a left-wing issue, citing former Conservative Defence Secretary Michael Portillo and Chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee Crispin Blunt. Malcolm finished by echoing Neil Findlay’s call for jobs issue to be addressed, but stated clearly “Trident is not a good job creation plan”.
Elaine Smith MSP started her remarks by paying tribute to the late Alan MacKinnon, who put so much work into Jeremy Corbyn’s plan for defence diversification. Elaine said that it’s her view that many people in the Labour Party are opposed to nuclear weapons but differ on the way we reach the goal. It is the duty of those who believe in a nuclear weapon free UK to make that case within the party, she said. Elaine ended her contribution by calling for those who support nuclear weapons to say who it is deterring, where they should be aimed and under what circumstances they should be fired. Not passing the motion before conference would send Scottish Labour candidates “naked into the 2016 election”, she said.
Cara Hilton MSP recalled her first speech at Scottish Labour conference, which was also against Trident. She said that Scottish Labour is now attracting people who haven’t been involved in politics for many years. She said that while millions of people are relying on foodbanks it would be unthinkable that we are writing a blank cheque for nuclear weapons which we could never use, citing new estimates that Trident replacement might actually cost as much as £167 billion. Cara ended her contribution by calling on Britain to set an example in the world by rejecting immoral nuclear weapons.
Cathy Jamieson, MP for Kilmarnock and Loudoun from 2010-2015 started her remarks by saying that it wasn’t always easy to be a member of CND and on the Labour front bench. Cathy served in many front bench positions, including in the shadow Treasury team. She said that she is as committed to non-replacement of Trident as ever. Cathy called for a reinvigorated and re-energised Scottish Labour CND to emerge from the weekend. This suggestion gained a large amount of support from the audience.
The next speaker was Lesley Brennan, who stood in the 2015 General Election in Dundee East. Lesley started by saying how satisfying it was that Scottish Labour would debate Trident, as she previously spoke at the CND fringe meeting at the 2014 Labour conference in Manchester. She said that she was looking forward to Scottish Labour taking the lead in voting to move towards a future without nuclear weapons. Lesley finished by saying that, while we have to acknowledge the fact that Trident does employ people with high skills and genuine concerns about the future, for the money being spent we should be creating many more jobs.
The final speaker of the evening was April Cumming, a Labour Party researcher and activist who recently addressed one of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership rallies in Scotland. April started her comments by paying tribute to Malcolm Chisholm, who she decsribed as a “politician of highest principle”. April called on the entire Labour movement to unite to “raise our voices to protect the high-skilled jobs involved in Trident and lead the transition to the hi-tech jobs of the future. In decribing nuclear weapons as ‘window dressing’ April said that Labour must “share the desire to stand as a moral compass with leaders of the past including Keir Hardie”.
The CND, Labour CND and Labour Action for Peace fringe meeting is a firm fixture at the Labour Party Conference. This year, following delegates deciding not to put Trident on the conference agenda, the meeting was given an extra sense of urgency.
The meeting, which took place at the Mercure Hotel in Brighton was full long before the first speaker addressed the crowd. Delegates and party members were joined by members of the press to hear Kate Osamor MP, Julie Ward MEP, Chris Williamson (MP for Derby North 2010-2015) and Jo Rust and Simeon Elliott (both National Policy Forum). The meeting was Chaired by Kate Hudson, General Secretary of CND. There were also a host of jounralists in attendance, including several political editors and film crews from the UK and Germany. Kate Hudson started the meeting by reading out a statement from Jeremy Corbyn, who was due to speak at the meeting but was unable to attend due to his commitments as leader. The statement reaffirmed Jeremy’s position on Trident and he pledged to do his “persuasive best” to change Labour policy, for which he has a massive mandate.
Kate Osamor, recently elected in Edmonton, told the meeting that opposition to Trident had been a key part of Jeremy Corbyn’s platform in the Labour leadership election, and she was commited to doing everything she could to oppose spending £100 billion on a new generation of nuclear weapons.
Julie Ward MEP, representing the North West of England, spoke about the work she is involved in at the European level, but also locally. Her constituency includes both Barrow, where work on the replacement submarines will take place, and Manchester, one of the UKs many nuclear-free local authorities.
Chris Williamson spoke about the need for Labour to have a coherent, consistent policy on Trident, and his conviction that changing position would be electorally beneficial. Chris also spoke about the need for defence diversification, as set out by Jeremy Corbyn in his election campaign.
Jo Rust and Simeon Elliott, both recently elected to the National Policy Forum, both spoke about the need to engage members in the policy making.
After the opening remarks from the panel there were a range of questions from the floor including on the morality of nuclear weapons, the so-called deterrent effect and ideas for what else the money would be better spent on.
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.
The following Contemporary Resolution has been submitted by the Executive of Labour CND for consideration at Labour Party Conference in Brighton. It calls on Labour to support the scrapping of Trident, following comments from the Japanese Prime Minister at the Hiroshima commemorations.
“Labour should scrap Trident and any plans for Trident Replacement”
On August 6th at the commemoration ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing, Shinzo Abe, the Prime Minister of Japan, said that he would submit new resolutions to the United Nations General Assembly in Autumn this year and to the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting to be held at Hiroshima next year, for real determination for the total elimination of nuclear weapons.
Conference notes that the estimated lifetime cost of the Trident nuclear weapons system is £100 billion; believes that this is wholly unjustified at a time of devastating cuts in public spending; believes that nuclear weapons do nothing for the security of Britain or the world; further believes that Trident replacement would breach Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Conference resolves to support the scrapping of Trident and any plans for its replacement. Conference urges all Labour MPs to vote against Trident replacement and calls on the Labour Party to prioritise practical plans to transition the highly-skilled work-force away from nuclear weapons production into more socially productive industries to protect jobs and skills and to help grow the British economy.
Conference calls on all Labour Party members, Labour Party units and affiliates to campaign against Trident and against plans for its replacement. Conference calls for support at the UN and G7 for the new resolutions from the Prime Minister of Japan for international agreement for the total elimination of nuclear weapons world-wide.