“Opposition from [Labour] members to war and nuclear weapons is clear”
Stop the War Coalition Labour Party fringe meeting report
On the day of two important speeches on the future direction of Labour’s foreign policy delegates gathered at a Stop the War fringe meeting to reflect on the failure of fifteen years of the ‘War on Terror’.
Earlier in the day Shadow Defence Secretary Clive Lewis delivered a speech to conference, praising NATO and committing Labour to spending 2% of GDP on US-led wars.
In stark contrast to Clive Lewis’ remarks earlier in the day, Diane Abbott made clear that opposition to Trident remains a widespread view amongst the leadership of the Labour Party. Speaking at the launch of the Stop the War Labour Activists Network she told a packed room that she was “not just a Trident sceptic” but actively opposed Trident and would continue to do so.
As Lewis signalled the sharp u-turn on defence policy for Labour, Claudia Webbe who sits on its NEC told the meeting that “opposition from [Labour] members to war and nuclear weapons is clear” - vowing to press that view home as strongly as she possibly could.
Kate Hudson, chair of CND, questioned why the Labour Party was so afraid to discuss the issue of Trident amongst its members, pointing out that party has not had a discussion on it for over twenty years.
Considering Jeremy Corbyn has just been re-elected with an increased majority on an anti-war platform the scrapping of Labour’s Defence Review seems bizarre. Expressing her frustration with the decision to ignore the Review she told the meeting to step up the fight against Trident.
As the floor was opened up for contributions the debate widened to Syria and the issue of refugees. One speaker warned that further calls for intervention in Syria must be resisted as further imperialist intervention will only worsen an already ‘catastrophic’ situation.
Another contribution called on Corbyn to stand up to those around him on issues of defence. It must be acknowledged that Corbyn’s resolute commitment to peace and justice is one of the primary reasons for his ascendancy and there is no better time for the Labour Party to construct a new foreign policy that breaks with war and foreign interventions.