Kate Hudson observes that the outcome of the general election marks a significant shake-up in British politics and a surge in support for qualitatively different policies:
“It is clear that the narrative of investment in homes, health, education and jobs, has been very popular. In fact, it has led to Labour’s first increase in seats since 1997 and its biggest increase in the share of the vote since 1945”.
She views the election as a significant shift towards the politics of hope, peace, inclusivity, justice and equality.
“Jeremy Corbyn’s long – standing opposition to nuclear weapons, and his personal opposition to Trident replacement, did not deter millions of people from voting for him. Indeed the likelihood is that many – particularly young people – have voted for him precisely because he opposes war, intervention and weapons of mass destruction.
“Support for Trident replacement is negligible amongst the younger generation and it is clear that the narrative of investment in homes, health, education and jobs, has been very popular. In fact, it has led to Labour’s first increase in seats since 1997 and its biggest increase in the share of the vote since 1945”.
The right wing of the Labour Party, and a small but powerful section of the trade union movement, have ‘peddled the myth’ that Labour needs to look ‘strong on defence’ to win – and that this means supporting Trident replacement.
But, Kate believes, support for the party has surged because it has a radical vision of a different society, and because everyone knows that Jeremy Corbyn does not support Trident replacement. When he first became leader, he commissioned an extensive Defence Review throughout the Labour Party. That review has been shelved – because it showed the extent of anti-Trident opinion within the party?
She calls for that review to be published and debated at the next Labour Party conference: “This issue must not be kept off the agenda any longer”. There is no popular mandate for a Tory security policy, or a Tory-lite security policy pushed on the Labour party by a minority of pro-nuclear forces that are living in the past. Those trade unions that have put unreasonable pressure on Jeremy to keep Trident are urged to change:
“The way for them to secure and extend high quality, well-paid jobs is to support Jeremy’s policy on defence diversification. Rather than shunning this initiative they need to work with politicians and industry to develop a diversification plan, as part of a national industrial strategy that will secure their jobs without holding the rest of the country over a nuclear barrel”.
As she points out, there is now strong public backing for industrial planning and investment and this needs to go into sustainable industrial production to meet public needs, for energy, housing and public resources, not weapons of mass destruction.
Labour’s support has grown because of Corbyn’s policies based on peace, respect and our shared humanity. And this vision goes beyond national boundaries to his vision of how we relate to the rest of the world. No longer Blair’s ‘war-fighting nation’, ‘punching above its weight’, but a decent part of a shared community of nations.
Read her article here: http://www.cnduk.org/images/stories/Summer_2017.pdf
Kate Hudson, British political activist and academic, General Secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND)
This link takes readers to Mark Steel’s article in the Independent, but the small ‘i’ Independent has a crisper version. Below is an amalgam of the two.
We knew Jeremy Corbyn was mad, but now we know he’s psychotic. It turns out he won’t press the button to annihilate cities in a nuclear holocaust. How could anyone be that mentally unstable?
Corbyn revealed himself as a danger to us all by saying quietly “no”, in response to a calm and measured radio presenter yelling “Would you be prepared to press the button?” at him.
This should be a test in institutions for the criminally insane, to check whether an inmate should be released back into the community. If they suggest that, on balance, they wouldn’t obliterate a geopolitical region in radioactive firestorms slaughtering millions of civilians and rendering a continent uninhabitable for 50 billion years, they should go back in a straitjacket like Hannibal Lecter.
This is one more consequence of Labour choosing an extremist as a leader. It’s such a shame they didn’t select a moderate who would be prepared to press the button, such as Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader.
The shadow Defence Secretary Maria Eagle said Corbyn’s answer “wasn’t helpful”, and you can see why she was so shocked by it.
He sprung this idea of opposing Trident on his party with no prior warning – except for a lifetime of vocal support for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, and campaigning to be Labour leader on the policy of opposing Trident.
He would have come across as far more trustworthy had he said: “Having spent my life opposing Trident, of course I’ll press the button.
“’ll do it now by practising on Weymouth, if you like.”
Now we’ve established that the country would be in terrible danger without Trident, the biggest worry is that only a few countries have nuclear missiles at all. All those places must be living in constant terror. Not only should we renew Trident, we should make extra Tridents, for all the countries that don’t have them, starting with Iceland and Vanuatu, or we’ll never be able to relax.
But the main reason we must keep making weapons that could blow up the planet is to preserve jobs.
The Conservative Party is especially anxious about this, which you can understand, because for the past 40 years it thought about little else apart from making sure everyone has a job.
But, together, we can all address Corbyn’s difficulties. Because as with any mental health issue, maybe his problems can be resolved with therapy. An analyst could show him film of Hiroshima exploding, and ask in a soothing voice:
“Why do you feel uneasy about firing missiles 100 times more powerful than that? Is it because you had an argument with your father?”
Then he could be gently coaxed back to rational behaviour. He could start by injecting kittens with radiation, then spray plutonium around a school until the happy day when he answers a question about pressing the button by screaming “yes, yes, YES” like decent, normal, moderate people.
Only when he’s learned to shout “I WANT TO PRESS THE BUTTON AND MAKE EVERYONE’S SKIN DISSOLVE” should he be let free to mix safely with his fellow citizens.
The SNP’s Nicola Sturgeon has congratulated Jeremy Corbyn on his victory and offered to “work constructively with him in a progressive alliance against Tory austerity,” calling on him to “give an early commitment that Labour MPs will join the SNP in voting against the £100 billion renewal of Trident.”
Leanne Wood of Plaid Cymru has also congratulated the new Labour leader on his success, adding “we hope that he will now deliver the votes of his MPs to join Plaid Cymru MPs in opposing those Tory policies that are causing great harm to people in Wales and beyond.”
On a similar theme, Natalie Bennett of the Greens has remarked that the result shows “how many people support an alternative to austerity economics, to the head-in-the-sand approach to our environmental crisis and to tired, business-as-usual politics.”
As the leader of MK, I share these views and I sincerely hope that Jeremy Corbyn’s election really does reinvigorate progressive politics across the UK.
But there has also been concern about the nature of the Labour Party that Mr Corbyn has inherited. Nicola Sturgeon has described Labour as a “deeply, and very bitterly, divided party,” adding that “if Labour cannot quickly demonstrate that they have a credible chance of winning the next UK General Election, many more people in Scotland are likely to conclude that independence is the only alternative to continued Tory government.” Leanne Wood has meanwhile stated that “his election cannot alter Labour’s dismal record in government in Wales” which she described as “one of failure and managed decline.”
From my perspective, I have always been extremely disappointed by Labour’s unwillingness to support greater powers for Cornwall through a Cornish Assembly. Labour’s non-response to the 50,000 individually-signed declarations calling for our own Assembly – delivered to Tony Blair in 2001 – was particularly galling for me. This opposition to Cornish devolution has stretched from the local party in Cornwall to the party bosses in Westminster.
I am reassured though that Jeremy Corbyn is one of only a handful of Labour MPs who have not been afraid to support calls for a Cornish Assembly. He was, for example, one of only three Labour MPs who backed an EDM (Early Day Motion) in 2011 marking the 10th anniversary of 50,000 declarations demanding a Cornish Assembly and calling for proper democratic devolution to Cornwall.