In October 2017 the Shipley Branch of the Shipley CLP unanimously passed a motion calling on the Labour Party, as a matter of urgency, to create a shadow Defence Diversification Agency. This Agency would examine all aspects of the industry creating Arms and Weapons with a view to converting them to produce socially useful products, including Green Energy, while preserving jobs and skills. This resolution was later passed also by the Shipley CLP in December 2017 with the instruction that it should be widely circulated, including to the National Policy Forum, and hopefully to be adopted as Labour Party policy.
Our resolution followed from one passed in September 2017 by the TUC at it’s Congress in Brighton. This started as a resolution from Newcastle Trades Union Council, which was debated extensively at all levels of the trade union and trade council movement, throughout the country, and was eventually passed by the TUC Congress.
The resolution was also adopted by the Campaign Against the Arms Trade, national CND, Labour CND and Unite Community, Bradford and Huddersfield.
Creation of a Shadow Defence Diversification Agency
Following the successful adoption by the TUC at its September conference in Brighton of the resolution ‘Defence, Jobs and Diversification‘, we call on the Labour Party to set up a Shadow Defence Diversification Agency (DDA) as a priority.
Labour’s 2017 Manifesto commits that Labour will lead multilateral efforts with international partners and the UN to create a nuclear-free world and implement the Arms Trade Treaty to a consistently high standard, including ceasing arms exports to countries where there is concern that they will be used to violate international humanitarian law .
A shadow DDA, in collaboration with a National Investment Bank and National Education Service, will work with all involved in the arms and nuclear weapons industry to prepare plans for conversion to alternative, socially useful products, such as green energy generation by off-shore wind and tidal power.
The announcement in October 2017 by BAE Systems of plans to axe 2000 jobs shows once again that not only are these plants producing weapons which can have devastating humanitarian consequences and, through the desire to sell, mute UK criticism of human rights violations, but that jobs in the arms industry are not secure.
A DDA will help fulfil a future Labour government’s longer-term goals of an ethical foreign policy, of nuclear disarmament through support of the UN global ban on nuclear weapons and of the provision of secure, sustainable jobs. This agency will report annually to Labour Party Conference until Labour in government has established a Defence diversification Agency.
The inspiration for this resolution stems from the work done in the 1970’s by the Lucas Aerospace Shop Stewards Combine. These workers in the Arms Industry realised that their jobs were not secure, a large number were being laid-off, and also they were building products designed to kill people. They drew up plans to build socially useful products including medical equipment , road-rail buses, hybrid cars, heat pumps and energy efficient houses. This would preserve jobs using existing skills and equipment. Unfortunately these ideas were not taken up either by the Company or by the government.
A similar situation exists today. Jobs with BAE Systems and other Arms Manufacturers are not secure. BAE Systems has recently laid-off 2000 workers. They are building weapons of mass destruction designed to kill and maim as many innocent people as possible. The Defence Diversification Agency will look at how to convert these industries, without loss of jobs or skills, into industries building socially useful products, things society really needs, such as green, sustainable, energy, based on wind, solar, wave and tidal power. In addition, the industry will only build products that are Defensive, needed to defend this country, and not Offensive, as at present.
Chris Butler, Shipley Branch 17 Dec 2017