With only a few days notice before the deadline, 5 Constituency Labour Parties submitted an emergency motion on AUKUS promoted by Labour CND – Beverley and Holderness, Shipley, Brighton Pavillion, Hazel Grove, and Pendle called on the Labour leadership to oppose the agreement, maintain the party’s commitment to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and encourage diplomatic steps to repair damaged relations with France, Germany and China.
Moving the motion, Marisa Aitkin from Shipley CLP argued that the provision of nuclear powered submarines to non-nuclear Australia was likely to put the UK in breach of the NPT. It was ‘absolutely incumbent upon the Labour party to oppose the treaty, in opposition and in government’. Far from promoting stability in the Indo-Pacific, it would encourage a new nuclear arms race and cold war with China. ‘Real security comes from international cooperation, and a will to tackle together the global crises of our time,’ she said.
Claire Wadey seconded the motion for Brighton Pavillion, highlighting the Maritime Union of Australia’s response to AUKUS and speaking about the opposition of her relatives and friends in the region. In a strongly-worded statement, calling for ‘jobs and health, not nukes’, the MUA expressed total opposition to ‘billions wasted on submarines’.
The result was spectacular. Despite opposition from Labour’s front bench, it was passed with 70% support of conference on a card vote. 77% of trade unions and 62% of CLP delegates backed it. Only the GMB and a few smaller unions on the right of the party voted against.