Trident: the establishment has a delusional approach to our role in the world

Scrap-TridentThe CWU is proud to be affiliated to CND. We regard the struggle for a nuclear free world as essential for humanity’s survival. Your work gives us hope that we can secure our common future.

Now, this year at the TUC, the CWU moved composite motion 2 on the economy. The general line of the composite was hostility to the government austerity programme. The CWU believes that the alternative is for investment in the economy by the government not cuts. We believe that expanding the economy is the best way to get out of stagnation or recession. Obviously we want jobs from this, but we are discriminating.

So part of the CWU’s contribution to the motion was the following:

Public finances can also be improved by addressing tax avoidance and scrapping the replacement of Trident. Money saved by ending our nuclear weapons system could be used to sustain the process of defence diversification, vital to our manufacturing future.

This was carried without opposition. So CND has very strong allies inside the trade union movement. Like you, we think that the ruling establishment has a delusional approach to our role in the world. We are the seventh largest economy in the world, yet we have the fourth largest military budget the world. If you are pouring money into nuclear weapons and armaments then you would not have money to guarantee the welfare of our citizens.

Tagging on behind the coattails of US imperialism is not a role we should continue with. We want to be a force for peace. Trident, and its replacement, only makes sense if you envisage our country’s future as enforcing some sort of order upon the world.

This is not the future desired by the majority of people in Britain. Nothing demonstrates this as clearly as the Parliamentary vote against bombing Syria. Confused as the process may have seemed, the position finally carried was one that reflects the war weariness of the British public. This opposition is essentially a product of the work of CND, the Stop the War Coalition and all those who have argued consistently against military assaults upon poor and developing countries.

This vote was an immediate help to the people of Syria, saving numerous lives. It was sufficient to revive anti-war sentiments in the US – preventing President Obama from getting a mandate for war. Make no mistake – all your efforts have had an impact.

Of course, our resident warriors will want to overturn this – but we can play a major role in keeping up the pressure for peace. This means continuing to press for a political solution to the Syrian crisis. It means supporting the proposals from Egypt, Iran, and others, for a Middle East free from nuclear weapons. And it means keeping up pressure for a new direction in UK foreign policy.

The new initiative CND is launching around Trident is a vital part in the struggle for a more positive international role from Britain. The CWU will do what we can to aid your efforts. Like you, we understand the dangers and costs of Trident.

Your latest pamphlet, “The Real Alternative”, suggests the actual costs of Trident replacement could be over £100 billion. I certainly re-call the Lib Dems – when in opposition – suggesting that it would be £100 billion over its operational lifetime. So this is a vastly expensive weapon which, if used would create such unimaginable destruction that only the insane would consider using it.

And, we have to get permission and technical assistance of the US government if we are going to use it anyway. What is the rational argument for this weapon? Surely it is financial as much as anything. The new report from IKV Pax Christi finds that financial institutions have made over $314 billion available to the nuclear weapons industry.

That’s a very powerful lobby. That lobby is allied to an establishment in the US, UK, France, etc, who think that bullying is the height of international diplomacy. So perhaps CND and the anti-war movement have a monopoly of rational arguments in this debate. Our opponents have a monopoly of interests and power.

Fortunately, we have the numbers. The vast majority of people, here and in the world, do not accept this nuclear extortion of the world. Our job is to give an effective voice and lobby to the opposition. CND is central to this.

If I can quote from Kate Hudson’s book “CND-now more than ever” where she writes:

For CND to be effective and ultimately successful, we have to build alliances for change at every level within society, in every walk of life. That is why we work broadly, linking with other organisations and movements, reforging our relations with the trade union movement, working with institutions as well as with activists, cooperating internationally, basing our work on the principles of unity and diversity.

This approach from CND completely harmonises with our own, it allows us to build a broad anti-war alliance which can rid this world of nuclear weapons. Keep up the good work – you have the CWU’s support.

This is the full text of Billy Hayes’s address to the CND 2013 AGM, held last week. It was published by the CWU here

  1. Trying to give poor old Ed a heart attack, he’ll be telling the conference you know the one to throw out the Unions but keep the donations your dead, your finished .

  2. @Ray

    I’m wondering what you found difficult to understand – it all made sense to me.

    Though I am puzzled by one related matter: why does the CWU give money to the Labour Party when the Labour Party has done as good as nothing to oppose the privatisation of the Royal Mail.

    Wonder if Billy will send Labour a thank-you note when, following fragmentation and contracting-out, he finds himself with very few members to represent.

  3. Rod – with a 78% yes vote , on a 63% turnout, it looks like the CWU is ahead of you. Didn’t you know about strike ballot? Wonder if you’ll send an apology?