Big boost for military spending in the Spring Budget

Starmer: ‘We will look carefully at details of the military spending announcement, and we will support it.’

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has produced a budget for the few not the many. He has promised a £11 billion worth of military funding, while failing to address the cost of living or climate crisess.

What’s on offer for the MoD?
The Ministry of Defence gets a whopping £11 billion more over the next 5 years. It will reach 2.25% of GDP by 2025, with the intention to raise it to 2.5% when fiscal and economic circumstances allow. There’s £5bn extra in the next two years – £2bn this year and £3bn next. Of the £5bn, £3bn goes to nuclear ‘defence’ and the Aukus pact, with the remaining £1.9bn rebuilding Britain’s stockpile of munitions to replace those sent to Ukraine.

Labour’s response
Responding to Hunt, Keir Starmer had only one thing to say about the military budget hike: ‘We bill look carefully at the details of the military spending announcement, and we will suppport it.’ This response is simply not good enough from a Labour leader. None of the problems facing Britain can be resolved by nuclear weapons or war.

CND’s response
We stand with the workers and trade unions striking for better wages and a better future. Instead of spending unnecessary money on more nuclear warheads, CND calls on the government to guarantee fair wages and real pay rises for all. 

LABOUR CND statement on Nato-Ukraine-Russia

Military posturing fans the flames of war in Europe

Keir Starmer has chosen the moment of mounting tensions over Ukraine to announce that ‘Labour’s commitment to Nato is unshakable’, attempting to justify his stance with selective and inaccurate statements about the defensive and democratic character of the North Atlantic Alliance and accusing those who disagree of showing solidarity with Putin.

Nato is not ‘a defensive alliance that has never provoked conflict’ nor does it provide a ‘guarantee of democracy and security’ as the people of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and elsewhere will readily testify, whose countries have been shattered and lives destroyed by two decades of war.

Neither has Nato ‘ushered in what is now approaching three-quarters of a century of peace between the nations of Europe’. Nato’s bombardment of Yugoslavia in 1999 was the first military attack on a sovereign European country since the end of World War II. It took place without UN approval and is widely regarded as illegal under international law.

Even Denis Healey, who Starmer describes as a ‘giant of the Labour movement’, argued: ‘It was a terrible mistake to attack a sovereign state without even consulting the United Nations… we should have asked Richard Holbrooke [US ambassador to the UN] to have another go at negotiation.’

In contradistinction to the benign picture Starmer seeks to paint, Nato’s evolution includes:

  • The North Atlantic Alliance is a nuclear-armed alliance committed to using nuclear weapons pre-emptively in a military conflict whether or not its adversaries possess nuclear weapons. Since the 1950s, Nato has rejected successive calls to adopt a nuclear no-first use policy.
  • Declassified US documents testify to the fact that the use of nuclear weapons was actively considered during Nato’s first military engagement, the Korean war of 1950-53.
  • The Warsaw Pact dissolved in July 1991 after the collapse of the Soviet Union. By contrast Nato extended its area of operations. In the ensuing three decades, it has expanded its mission statement and enlarged its membership.
  • There are currently 30 Nato member states. Additionally, Nato works with 40 non-member partner states across the globe on a wide range of political and security-related issues. Full Nato members in East Europe include Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Rumania, and Albania, and the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania which border Russia. Nato partners with borders on Russia include Finland, Belarus, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan. Russia’s near abroad – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan – are also Nato partners.
  • Three Nato members are nuclear weapons states – Britain, France and the US. Five European members – Belgium, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, and Turkey – host US nuclear weapons on their territories and are pledged to deploy them if Nato so commands.

Tensions between Nato and Russia have been building for three decades. Ukraine must not become the pretext for a military clash between two nuclear armed adversaries.

Labour CND calls for de-escalation and dialogue, not a build-up of armaments and troops leading to the brink of a war in which the people of Ukraine will be the losers. This is a strategy of sanity, in contrast to the military posturings of Britain and the US which fan the flames of war in Europe.

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Minister for Peace & Disarmament remains

Fabian Hamilton, MP for Leeds NE since 1997 retains his Front Bench post as Shadow Minister for Peace and Disarmament

Labour CND is delighted to see that the Front Bench post of Shadow Minister for Peace and Disarmament is to be retained under the new leadership, and will continue to be ably filled by Fabian Hamilton MP. Fabian will be working with colleagues in the Shadow Foreign and Commonwealth Office team, including Catherine West, another committed nuclear disarmamer and Vice President of London Region CND. Congratulations both.

Labour’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office team, led by Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy, comprises Wayne David (Ministter for Middle East and North Africa) Stephen Doughty (Africa, jointly with DFID) Stephen Kinnock (Asia and Pacific) Catherine West (Europe & Americas) and Fabian Hamilton (Peace and Disarmament). It is not yet known if Fabian’s post has the same brief before, which also ranges across policy areas within the defence team.

Thanks to everyone who participated in Labour CND’s online lobby in support of the Minister of Peace post.

Details of Labour’s new front bench here

Save Labour’s Minister for Peace

Labour’s 2019 manifesto promised that ‘international peace and security will be a primary objective of a Labour government’s foreign policy’. Under Jeremy Corbyn a new post of Shadow Minister for Peace and Disarmament was established, with a brief to pursue these issues across policy areas.

Labour CND urges everyone who supports nuclear disarmament to help ensure this post is retained by the new Labour leader. Please contact Keir Starmer and ask him to retain this post, and write to your local Labour MP if you have one to let them know that this is important to you.

It only takes a minute to participate in our online lobby. Here’s how