28 September 2005: for immediate release
The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament today expressed outrage that CND Vice-President Walter Wolfgang was ‘manhandled’ off the floor of the Labour Party Conference today for shouting ‘nonsense’ during Jack Straw’s speech. Walter Wolfgang, 82, has been a member of the Labour Party for 60 years. He was one of the original members of CND, and one of the organizers of the first Aldermaston march. Frustration at both the stifling of honest debate about the occupation of Iraq, and the direction of UK foreign policy at this year’s Labour Party Conference led to Mr Wolfgang’s outburst.
Walter shouted out “nonsense” in response to Jack Straw’s speech at the Labour Party Conference today. He was responding to Mr Straw’s comments on Iraq and Kosovo. He was venting the frustration felt by many at the lack of debate on the withdrawal of UK troops from Iraq, specifically in light of recent events in Basra. Walter was ‘manhandled’ and removed from the Conference, along with a fellow delegate, who was thrown out after defending the 82 Labour Party member. Walter was initially held under the Prevention of Terrorism Act and then refused re-admittance to the conference.
Walter Wolfgang expressed concern at a the heavy handed approach of the Labour Party,
“New Labour has lost confidence in its self because if it hadn’t this wouldn’t have happened. All I did was shout nonsense at a particularly frustrating point in Straw’s speech.”
He expressed frustration at the lack of debate on Iraq at the Labour Party Conference,
“No one who was critical of the situation in Iraq could speak in the debate today, with the exception of Barry Camfield, of the Transport and General Workers Union, who spoke very effectively and said we should leave Iraq. No other delegate was allowed to speak on Iraq, or on the true direction of UK foreign policy.”
Kate Hudson, Chair of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, said,
“It is outrageous that Walter was manhandled off the floor of Labour Party Conference. He has been a member of that party for 60 years and has had a life long commitment to peace and social justice. He was clearly expressing anger and frustration at the lack of real debate in his own party and by the government on the issues that matter. This is a worrying example of how out of touch the government is with popular feeling. Thousands marched on the streets of London this Saturday to say no to the occupation and a majority of the British population wants the troops brought home. But the issue was not debated at this party conference. Indeed, Blair’s speech yesterday only served to increase anxieties that there will more of the same to come – his main foreign policy statement was the declaration that Britain must remain America’s strongest ally. Where will this approach take us next?”
Notes to Editor
1. For further information and interviews with Walter Wolfgang please contact Ben Folly on 07968415847
2. CND’s Labour Party briefing is available by contacting Ruth Tanner on 07968 420859
3. CND held a packed fringe meeting at the Conference on Monday night discussing the very issues Walter raised. No more wars-no more bombing. Foreign Policy for Labours third term Montpelier Room, Royal Albian Hotel, Old Stein, Brighton –7-9 on the 27th September 2005.
4. The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) is one of Europe’s biggest single-issue peace campaigns, with over 32,000 members in the UK. CND campaigns for the abolition of all nuclear weapons everywhere.