A portrait photo of Kate Hudson
Dr Kate Hudson
CND General Secretary
Kate Hudson has been General Secretary of CND since September 2010. Prior to this she served as the organisation's Chair from 2003. She is a leading anti-nuclear and anti-war campaigner nationally and internationally.

Where our money goes is a big issue in this election. More weapons and nuclear spending? Investment in health, jobs and education? CND Vice-Chair Sam Mason shares a trade unionist’s perspective in this guest election blog.

As the UK heads to the polls on 4th July, the election result looks all done bar the shouting. Minor, albeit important, details need to be decided such as the number of seats for parties or independent candidates outside Labour and Tories, but odds are on for a Labour victory. But how favourable will this victory be for peace, economic, and social justice?

Unfortunately, rather than looking forward to a new dawn committing to a nuclear-free world, we will be confronted with Labour’s “unshakeable” commitment to NATO, an “absolute” commitment to a nuclear deterrent, and being “fully committed” to AUKUS.

Labour has set out commitments to a triple lock for nuclear weapons including the construction of four new nuclear submarines in Barrow-in-Furness, maintaining a continuous at-sea deterrent, and delivery of all future upgrades needed for those submarines.

This goes alongside plans to increase defence spending to 2.5% of GDP, and a new defence industrial strategy. All wrapped in a flag of national security and jobs.

But what about the investment desperately needed to tackle the cost of living and welfare crisis, the health and social care crisis, food insecurity, housing, education, and the climate crisis? Investment into public services and jobs are essential to the fabric of society and real security which were applauded just a few years ago during the height of the Covid pandemic.

In the BBC Question Time leaders special on 20th June, Keir Starmer was asked how he could increase spending on the NHS, the care system and defence without raising taxes. In response, he said “we will always make the money available for defence”.

Therefore, tight fiscal rules for socially useful things but which don’t apply to increasing militarisation of our societies and nuclear weapons spending, actually make us less secure. This is out of step with how the public define their security. A survey from Rethinking Security found that when unprompted, people are “much more likely to be concerned about their own wellbeing and socioeconomic conditions than about external threats”.

The ramping up of political rhetoric for war, also belies public support for our politicians leading us into a “pre-war” world, as current Defence Secretary Grant Shapps has called it. Analysis by the election expert Sir John Curtice shows a deep mistrust of politicians to serve people’s interests, and linked to a declining vote, implies whatever the size of the parliamentary majority for the Labour Party, they will not be going into government with a massive share of the overall popular vote.

Trade unionists, like many, want to see the back of the Tories and along with it, austerity and the cost-of-living crisis. But we cannot accept a government programme that says there is a magic money tree for war and nuclear weapons, and certainly not at the expense of investment in areas such as public sector pay, financing of health and social care, welfare including for children and disabled people, and tackling the climate crisis, among others.

The latest report by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear weapons “Surge: 2023 Global Nuclear Weapons Spending” showed a global increase of $10.7 billion on nuclear weapons, with nuclear armed states found to be spending the equivalent of $2,898 a second. For the UK, “spending was up significantly for the second year in a row with a 17% increase to $8.1 billion”.

Money spent on war and nuclear weapons is money not invested in real human security. While some trade unions support increases in defence spending, and back nuclear weapons for jobs, we should never be part of the drum beat to war. Instead, we should be demanding an industrial strategy built on peace, and socially and ecologically useful work.

The CND Trade Union Advisory Group believes we urgently need to develop strategies to confront this within our movement. For this reason, we are calling on all trade unionists within CND to join us after the election for an online meeting on July 10th at 7pm to start the discussion on how we can build the case against nuclear weapons and war in our unions.

More details and registration here.

We also encourage all trade unionists to support the Workplace Day of Action for Gaza on 27th June.