labour party

Videos from London CND's 2019 Conference

If you missed our conference in January, no fear - all the sessions were recorded on video and are available now on YouTube. You can watch them all below!

Palestinian Ambassador Dr Hasan Zumlot


Dr Hasam Zumlot Q&A


Catherine West MP and Ann Feltham from CAAT

Video interview with Medea Benjamin of Code Pink USA


Rae Street, former CND Vice Chair, and Carol Turner, London CND


Rebecca Johnson, ICAN, and Bruce Kent, CND

Hannah Kemp-Welch, CND, and Sara Medi Jones, acting CND Vice-Chair


Jonathan Bartley, Green Party Co-Leader, and Nobu Ono, SOAS CND



London CND blog: May 2018

Hello and welcome to the first of our monthly blogs from Georgia - London CND’s staff member. I’ll be writing once a month or so to keep you updated on London CND’s activities, and give you an insight into the work I’m doing! If you have any questions, or there’s anything in particular you’d like to hear about, email me on info@londoncnd.org.

May started out, as every other month does, with sending out PeaceLine. PeaceLine is our bi-monthly physical newsletter; it goes out to around 300 people, and it’s A3 and double-sided so it’s quite a task printing, copying, folding and mailing it out. I often have lovely volunteers in to help out - if you’d be keen to come and lend a hand, please do get in touch!

We kicked off our events for May with an event at SOAS on the topic of social justice and nuclear disarmament. I invited three speakers - Green Party Deputy Leader Amelia Womack, London CND Vice-Chair Bruce Kent, and Labour CND member Ian Chamberlain. We had a decent audience and a lively discussion - you can read a full round-up here!

This month, I started work (very early!) on preparations for Freshers’ Week at universities in September. For lots of universities, there are requirements to have a society set up well in advance in order to register for the Freshers’ Fair, so I’ve been making contact with Youth and Student CND as well as students who have previously been involved or come to our events, to talk about how I can support them to get those societies established.

Carol and I had a great meeting with a young sixth-former who is passionate about international politics and keen to do a work placement with us over the summer. We’re really excited about this, and can’t wait to start working with her! Hopefully, you’ll hear from her on this blog once she starts work here.

We’re beginning to start work now on our Hiroshima commemoration activities. If you’d like to be involved with this, please do drop me an email - info@londoncnd.org.

Don’t forget, we also have a volunteers hub where you can let us know how you’d like to be involved!

In peace,

Georgia  

The obsession to renew Trident – a misguided allegiance

London Region CND’s evening event on 2 May – “A conversation on social justice: where does nuclear disarmament fit in” – was introduced by Georgia Elander, London CND’s staff member. A platform shared by one of CND’s Vice Presidents, and campaigners from two different political spectrums ensured a lively debate.

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Georgia touched on the interesting times that we are currently living in at home and abroad. There’s the possible denuclearisation of North Korea plus progress with the UN global ban treaty. We have a lifelong CND member as leader of the Labour Party, yet there is deadlock on the issue on much of the left.

The idealistic position taken by young people on the early Aldermaston marches is not really seen nowadays, and we need to find ways to engage young people to be active in the nuclear disarmament movement.

Amelia Womack, Deputy Leader of the Green Party, argued that ‘the nuclear deterrent’ makes it sound like something it isn’t. Other countries – non-nuclear countries – have enjoyed the same level of peace and security that we have. Government austerity has decimated our public services. Trade unions talk about jobs in the nuclear industry, but these are not the best jobs in the world, and it is perfectly feasible to transfer skills into other sectors, such as renewables.

Amelia talked about the obsession to renew Trident, describing it as a misguided allegiance. Is it really strong to press a button to kill thousands of people? Decades upon decades of people defending nuclear weapons has somehow seeped into people’s consciousness so that it is considered the norm, and we need a cross-party approach to tackle the dangers of nuclear power and nuclear energy. “It’s not just about political parties, it’s about political movements.” The government needs to come clean about its defence policy – for example, is the Hinkley power station going to pay for Trident or will we all pay for Trident through our electricity bills?

Young people seem very distanced from the nuclear atrocities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki which did not even happen in their parents’ lifetimes. Amelia concluded by saying that we are living in an age of quite violent nationalism, with moral judgements being made that affect all our lives.

Ian Chamberlain, anti-nuclear campaigner, started by talking about President Trump’s tweets over the past year and the way he has been ratcheting up tension and asked whether we felt safer by having Trident.

As a Labour Party member, Ian wants the movement to promote trust, cooperation and solidarity across the world; yet nuclear weapons are antithetical to that. We can’t advocate social justice while holding onto nuclear weapons: the people who advocate war and nuclear weapons are the same people who are responsible for growing levels of inequality, such as advocating privatisation of the NHS.

Although 53 per cent of Labour Party members oppose Trident, there are deeply entrenched sections of the Party who remain in favour, even with Jeremy Corbyn as leader. We also have the challenge of government hypocrisy: while it claims to support multilateral nuclear disarmament in theory, it has actually in practice done absolutely nothing to engage with the UN treaty to ban nuclear weapons multilaterally. Yet even Jeremy Corbyn cannot say in public that the Labour Party would sign up to the treaty. Ian argued that we must not accept this logic. Millions of people voted for Jeremy, who had made his position on nuclear weapons crystal clear.

We also need to question the so-called special relationship between the UK and the USA. Trump wants to tear up the Iran deal, but we cannot accept the establishment view on this. When the Labour Party gets into government it needs to be much more ambitious. We want a government of social justice, and this has to start by abolishing nuclear weapons. Ian said that when a Prime Minister goes to war, it is the most heinous thing and it is at that point (as with Blair and May) that they lose their humanity.

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Bruce Kent, Vice President of London Region CND, started off with a history lesson about how we got nuclear weapons in the first place. He made the connection between war, nuclear weapons and social justice - comparing the world’s total defence budget with the amount it would cost to eradicate world hunger. Trident only feeds national vanity, and people don’t make the connection between this obscene military expenditure and the money we need for our public services.

Bruce quoted from the preamble to the 1945 Charter of the United Nations: “We the peoples of the United Nations determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and[…] to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom…”

Introducing London CND’s Vice Presidents

We pleased to announce that three well-known Londoners – Bruce Kent, Jenny Jones and Catherine West – have agreed to take up honorary positions as our Vice Presidents. They will be helping attract support and increase interest in nuclear disarmament among Londoners in the months ahead.

Bruce Kent needs little introduction. Ordained as a Roman Catholic priest in 1958, Bruce became a monsignor before he left the priesthood in 1987 to take a more active role campaigning on some of the issues closest to his heart. Our ‘meddlesome priest’ was already a prominent opponent of nuclear weapons, as CND’s General Secretary from 1980 to 1985, then Chair for three years, and nowadays Honorary Vice President of CND UK. In his spare time you’ll find him speaking at public meetings big and small across the capital and beyond.

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Jenny Jones settled in London in 1991. By way of contrast, Jenny had a wide range of jobs before rising to political prominence – from mucking out horse stables, through crafts teacher and office manager, to qualified archaeologist. A former Chair of the Green Party, she’s best known in London for her role as an elected member of the Greater London Assembly and as Deputy Mayor of London in 2003-4. Nowadays Jenny is Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb, the first Green Party representative in the House of Lords from where she continues to campaign on the dangers of climate change and the need to reduce greenhouse emissions. Jenny took her title from the Brighton council estate she grew up on, she tells us, and despite becoming a peer of the realm has no car and still grows her own vegetables.

Catherine West is MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, a former leader of Islington Council – and proof positive of London’s cosmopolitan character. Born and raised in Sydney, Australia, Catherine took her master's degree in Chinese politics at the School of Oriental and African Studies and worked for a time in Nanjing. As a China expert and Mandarin speaker, she’s served on Labour’s front bench as Shadow Foreign Office Minister with responsibility for Asia Pacific. Catherine is a Quaker, which perhaps helps explain her trenchant opposition to Trident and frequent appearances on CND platforms. She also keeps a wary eye on UK arms sales from the benches of the Select Committee on Arms Export Controls.

 

Syria shows the need for a War Powers Act

Following Theresa May’s decision that Britain would participate on an attack on Syria, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has called for a Wars Powers Act so that governments are held to account by parliament for what they do in our name. He called for the UK government, through the UN, to take a diplomatic lead to negotiate a ceasefire in the Syrian conflict