Following the success of an anti-war resolution at Young Labour's conference, Johnny Charles reports on how a similar resolution was passed at his CLP
On Friday 26th January 2018, this motion was passed at the Ceredigion CLP general meeting.
Labour should commit to working towards withdrawal from, and eventual dismantlement of, Nato, on the basis that it no longer meets our collective security needs and that its continual aggression makes people in the UK less safe than they would otherwise be.
It was moved by myself and seconded by a good comrade, Harry Rogers. I’m not sure how many CLPs can officially state they have a democratically decided anti-Nato stance, but out here in west Wales, we can. But it didn’t happen without a fight.
It was the sort of motion that needed a good degree of caucusing, that is reminding likeminded people about the meeting, offering lifts, etc. I think I asked just about everyone I knew who was a Labour member and interested in Foreign Policy to try to get to the meeting and support the motion. Being the organiser of Ceredigion Stop the War turned out to be quite useful at this point, but for anyone else trying to pass a similar motion at their CLP might want to contact the local peace activist groups – I would think a good proportion of them would be Labour.
However, in this particular case, the lifts I had organised dropped out, all but one (nice one, Si). The meeting turnout was small at 20 members, which worried me further, needlessly as it turned out. The minutes read:
Johnny gave an overview of the history of Nato and its relationship with the Warsaw pact. He argued that with its increasing aggression in recent decades, it is no longer fit for purpose as providing security for Europe.
This is pretty accurate, but I also mentioned Labour’s historical slips in ethical foreign policy: obviously Tony Blair; but although Wilson kept us out of Vietnam, he gave the US invasion legitimacy through being politically supportive of Washington.
A number of oppositional speakers spoke up, and when the vote came it wasn’t all that surprising to see that of the Exec Committee present all but one (nice one, Sam) abstained or voted against it, along with our one elected councillor.
Johnny replied to a number of the points raised. In reply to ****’s request for examples of Nato aggression, he listed Afghanistan, Serbia, and Libya. Regarding the question of principle vs. strategy, he gave the example of Jeremy Corbyn’s principled stand following the Manchester bombing, when he linked terrorism to our foreign policy. Commentators at the time expected this to be costly in electoral terms, but in fact the public responded positively. “The public want us to be brave and honest and true.”
Vote on adopting the motion as this CLP’s policy:
11 for, 7 against, 1 abstention (chair did not vote).
The motion was passed.
The motion is taken from the last paragraph of the full statement/motion which was passed at the Young Labour Party Conference, 15th October 2017. It was whittled down from this to its present state before it was passed at Ceredigion’s CLP’s North Branch, two weeks before the CLP general meeting.
The Stop the War Coalition are encouraging all anti-war activists to submit the resolution at their CLPs, trade union branches and elsewhere to bolster the anti-war message, move the Labour party from below in the direction of supporting Jeremy Corbyn's long-held principled positions on foreign policy and to reclaim the narrative on Nato.
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