BRIGHTON, United Kingdom – Radical left group the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) have proposed substituting Britain’s successful defence industry for wind turbine factories instead.
Under normal circumstances, the pronouncements of Cold-War warriors the CND would never normally be worthy of national press attention. Yet the country suddenly finds itself in the unusual position of the CND’s long-standing vice chairman and most famous member having been elevated to leader of the Labour Party – becoming the most influential left winger in the country in the process.
Regardless, Jeremy Corbyn was due to speak at Monday’s CND fringe event at the Labour party conference. He has been a stalwart of the meetings for decades and despite his new role all indications pointed towards his attendance, unlike the plethora of other small events he had agreed to speak at months ago and quietly withdrew from.
The small conference room at one of the peripheral conference venues was by far adequate for the few dozen hardcore supporters the CND could rely on year-on-year to keep the faith, yet the clear signs Corbyn was due to speak saw the room crammed this year from wall to wall – with delegates, members, and press.
When CND General Secretary Kate Hudson opened the meeting and gave Jeremy’s apologies for having to cancel at the last minute due to other commitments, the groan of disappointment from the gathered was near deafening. Perhaps none sighed so loud as the Sky cameraman set up at the back – he’d had to lug his equipment half way up Brighton beach from the main conference venue in hope of getting footage of the leader himself.
A message to the CND from Brighton’s most in-demand man read out to the audience said: “Please tell CND meeting JC as committed as ever to a nuclear free world, and the non renewal of Trident. I will do my persuasive best. Love from Jeremy Corbyn”.
Launching into the turgid speeches themselves, one of the key recurring themes was the conflicting priorities of the group. On one hand, the CND is militantly dedicated to making a nuclear free world. Yet the CND’s paymasters are the unions, and thousands of their members rely on Britain’s civil and military nuclear programmes for their livelihoods.
Balancing killing off nuclear with the potential loss of some 11,000 stable, skilled jobs was a problem the gathered seemed to have no answer to, except for newly elected Labour National Policy Forum member Joanne Rust. Despite her recent failed bid to enter parliament, Rust’s aptitude for unusual policy ideas is clearly appreciated by the party – her new position lends her a certain modicum of power and her involvement with the CND will only ingratiate her with the new leadership.
Articulating her grand plan to wean Britain off nuclear weapons without creating at a single stroke thousands of unemployed skilled engineers and technicians, Rust said: “the stronger argument, the argument we should all be making, is the money spent on Trident would be better invested in skilled jobs that would be of benefit to us all… we definitely need sustainable energy”.
“Jobs like offshore wind and wave power could generate 50-per-cent of the UK’s energy needs and create between 25,000 and 30,000 new jobs. We are the party that brought in the ground-breaking climate change act. We are the party that genuinely want to invest in a greener, cleaner environment. Unlike David Cameron’s ‘green crap’!”.
“The skills of those people currently building those seven Astute submarines in Barrow, and others whose livelihoods who currently rely on the defence sector can be easily adapted to manufacture turbines to harness marine and wind [power].
“A government led defence diversification plan involving the trade unions and the community, properly planned with real resources would ensure continued employment for those employed in the defence sector”.
Beating swords into ploughshares indeed. Never mind that authoritative studies have shown wind power is significantly more expensive and less efficient than the industry generally likes to admit. Such facts can be terribly inconvenient when you’re trying to wreck the defensive backbone of a nation.