In a further attack on the rights of members, local Labour Parties are being banned from affiliating to Labour CND and a number of other progressive peace and justice campaigns. Labour CND campaigns within the party for the global abolition of nuclear weapons, including Britain’s Trident system, and for peaceful foreign policies. These ideas merit discussion, these principles deserve support, and we believe the overwhelming majority of party members agree.
Labour CND committee unanimously agreed the following statement in response to the ban. The basis on which the Labour Party has introduced this ban is outlined below.
2023 is the centenary of the birth of Walter Wolfgang. Walter was a childhood refugee from Nazi Germany and later became a member of the party’s National Executive Committee. Walter devoted his life to nuclear disarmament, particularly campaigning in the Labour Party against nuclear weapons as a founding member of Labour CND which works within the party for the global abolition of nuclear weapons, including Britain’s Trident system, and a peaceful foreign policy.
Walter campaigned for a progressive foreign policy and spoke out against the Iraq war. New Labour quickly expressed its regret at the ejection of Walter Wolfgang from the Labour Party Conference in 2005, and the event cemented Walter’s place as a figure in the party. In 2018 the Labour Party awarded Walter a merit award which was presented by then leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Walter died in 2019, but Labour CND’s work continues. For many years Labour CND has campaigned, held fringe meetings, drafted motions, and gained affiliations from Constituency Labour Parties, Branch Labour Parties, and affiliated trade unions.
Labour CND regrets the decision of National Executive Committee to end CLPs’ right to affiliate to Labour Party orientated campaigning groups like Labour CND. We thank all the local parties and affiliates which have supported us over the years. Our work for peace and justice will continue.
A few hours before one London CLP was due to hold its 2023 AGM, a message was received from Labour’s Head of Internal Governance that the CLP could not renew its affiliations without approval from the NEC. To do so would breach party rules.’ The following organisations were listed:
- Labour Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
- Palestine Solidarity Campaign
- Stop the War Coalition
- London Irish
- Abortion Rights Campaign
- Jewish Voice for Labour
- Somalis for Labour
- Sikhs for Labour
- All African Women’s Group
- Health Campaigns Together
- Campaign Against Climate Change Trades Union Group
- Peace & Justice Project
The email also warned that organisations which are nationally affiliated to the party are eligible to affiliate to any CLP provided they pay the appropriate fee and the CLP cannot debate or decide on their affiliations.
This is yet another attack on the rights of local parties. The basis was laid at 2021 Labour Party conference which passed a series of rule changes promoted by the General Secretary. They included a catch-all rule change which bans local parties from affiliating or donating to organisations without the approval of the National Executive Committee.
Chapter 7, Clause XI .5 of Labour’s 2023 Rule Book now reads: ‘This CLP and units of this CLP shall not enter into affiliation with or give support, financially or otherwise, to any political party or organisation (or ancillary or subsidiary body thereto) without the prior permission of the NEC. Nor shall they give any such support to individuals ineligible for membership of the Party.’
Under CND’s constitution, only members of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament who are also members of the Labour Party are eligible to participate in Labour CND. We have operated under the same rules and constitution for four decades without experiencing any objections, which provide for affiliations from CLPs, Labour Branches, and Labour affiliates.