When it comes to scrapping Trident, or winning support for the UN’s global nuclear ban treaty, one of our priorities has to be changing party policies. Over the past decade we’ve watched – and worked to affect – the political dance within parliament over Trident replacement. We’ve seen the argument go one way and then another, and then finally revert to the Cold War status quo for retention, in spite of all the best evidence that times have changed so much these weapons are at best redundant and at worst both catastrophically dangerous and themselves at risk. The decision to replace Trident was taken, but it’s not the end of the story. The process will take decades and hundreds of billions of pounds, and it can be stopped. Wise people will eventually step up, take courage and call time on it. But where can that wisdom be found?
Labour is in with a good chance of forming a government after the next election, but can we look to Labour for this vital change?
Having a CND member in the top Labour job hasn’t yet broken the pattern of Labour backing nuclear weapons. The idea that Labour has to look strong on defence still holds sway with some, while others think that nuclear weapons enhance Britain’s ‘status’ as a nation: this was Tony Blair’s view. Some trade unionists argue we need to keep nuclear weapons to save the jobs involved in their production.
All these arguments need to be challenged: nuclear weapons put us at greater risk, cost crazy amounts of money and don’t meet the threats we actually face. And many times more skilled sustainable jobs could be created with the money wasted on nuclear weapons systems.
The jobs question is one that we’re addressing at this year’s Labour Party conference. Contemporary motions are being submitted in support of the TUC’s call for a shadow Defence Diversification Agency to get Trident jobs onto the industrial policy agenda. At the time of writing we don’t know if these will be debated by conference or not. But we are raising the debate at The World Transformed, the radical festival which takes place in Liverpool alongside the Labour Conference. We are pleased to host the following event:
Labour and Trident: do jobs justify making nuclear weapons?
Monday 24th September, 1pm to 2.30pm
Hinterlands Theatre, 7 Mann Street, Liverpool L8 5AF
Speakers: Fabian Hamilton MP, Shadow Minister for Peace and Disarmament; Sam Mason, Policy Officer, PCS; Paul Nowak, Deputy General Secretary, TUC; Ann Feltham, Parliamentary Officer, CAAT; Kate Hudson, General Secretary, CND
We’re also hosting a fringe meeting at the conference itself, alongside Labour CND and Labour Action for Peace:
Nuclear Disarmament in the Age of Trump
Sunday 23rd September, 6pm to 7.30pm
Quaker Meeting House, 22 School Lane, Liverpool L1 3BT
Speakers include: Emma Dent Coad MP; Lloyd Russell-Moyle MP; Fabian Hamilton MP; Ann Henderson, Labour Party NEC and Scottish EC; Roger McKenzie, Assistant General Secretary, UNISON; Sam Mason, Policy Officer PCS; Cllr Daniel Blaney; Kate Hudson CND.
Come if you can – all are welcome!
Meanwhile, debate at the Liberal Democrat conference has a different focus: activists are pressing for their party to back the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. We’re working together for a fringe meeting on the issue. If you’re in Brighton area please join us:
Time to support the UN nuclear ban treaty: joining the global majority
Monday 17th September, 12.30pm to 1.30pm
St Paul’s Parish Church, West Street, Brighton BN1 2RQ
Speakers: Baroness Sue Miller, Lib Dem peer and co-President of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament; Dr Kate Hudson, General Secretary CND;
Chair: Kevin White, Lib Dems against Trident
I hope to see you at one of these events. Let’s try and get this change underway!