29 January 2007: for immediate release
A number of Labour Party NEC members will attempt to submit resolutions on Trident to the Labour Party National Executive Committee when it meets on Tuesday 30th January. Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett is expected to attend the meeting to outline the government’s White Paper.
The resolutions seek to open the Labour Party’s discussion to the wider party membership, but it is rumoured the resolutions will be ruled out of order.
Christine Shawcroft, representing local constituency members, has submitted a resolution calling for a party consultation that includes all sections of the party, including local branches, so that a full debate can take place at the annual conference in September.
Walter Wolfgang, a Vice-President of CND and also representing constituency members, has submitted a resolution that would allow Labour MPs an unwhipped vote when the issue is debated in the House of Commons.
His case is backed by Early Day Motion 579 in Parliament, urging a delay in the decision to allow greater consultation, which has already gained support from 105 MPs, including 65 Labour MPs, since it began on 9th January (1).
If the resolutions at the NEC are ruled out of order, it would mirror events at the 2006 Labour Party Conference when resolutions opposing Trident replacement from 17 constituency parties were disingenuously ruled out of order by the Conference Arrangements Committee. Under party rules, if a topic is addressed in the NEC report or the National Policy Forum (NPF) report, related motions can be ruled out.
However, the NPF report simply stated, ‘The question of the replacement for the Trident system is one of central importance to our future defence and security requirements and we have said that there should be a full debate on the issue, including the publication of a government white paper.’ There has subsequently been no debate, either within the Labour Party or in the public domain, on all the options for Trident replacement.
Walter Wolfgang, Labour Party NEC and CND Vice-President, said:
‘The Labour Party Conference has had no chance to decide on whether it wants a replacement for Trident or not. The conference was not permitted to debate Trident, therefore it is inappropriate to impose a three line whip under these circumstances. MPs should vote according to their own consciences.’
Jeremy Corbyn MP, a sponsor of EDM 579, said:
‘At a time when MPs are facing serious constituency concerns over hospital cuts and closures, to be asked to vote for £76 billion to replace nuclear missiles would be absurd.’
Kate Hudson, Chair of CND, said:
‘There is a very strong desire within the Labour Party to discuss Trident replacement – a desire stifled by the leadership. As their party leadership has failed to facilitate internal party discussion of the issue, many Constituency Labour Party (CLP) groups have approached CND for speakers to discuss the issue. We have been happy to help and will continue to do so over the coming weeks and months.’
Notes to Editor:
1. Click here to read the full text of EDM 579 and see the current list of signatories.
2. For further information and interviews please contact Rick Wayman, CND’s Press & Communications Officer, on 0207 7002350 or 07968 420859
3 . An ICM poll from June 2006 showed that 81% of the British public believes that any decision on Trident replacement should be made by Parliament, not the Prime Minister alone.
4 . According to a July 2006 ICM poll, 59% of the British public opposes a replacement of Trident when presented with a cost of at least £25 billion.
5 . The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) is one of Europe’s biggest single-issue peace campaigns, with over 35,000 members in the UK. CND campaigns for the abolition of all nuclear weapons everywhere.