RESOLUTION ON COUNTRYSIDE POLICY
Congress recognises that, like urban areas, rural communities across our District are also suffering at the hands of the pro-big business policies of the government:
- There are high levels of hidden unemployment and underemployment.
- Housing for working-class people is virtually impossible to come by, as council houses are not being built and properties for sale are being bought up by commuters and for second homes or holiday homes.
- Local post offices are being closed down.
- NHS facilities such as cottage hospitals are being cut back.
- Public transport links are minimal, at best.
- Many family farmers are finding it difficult to survive, as they get squeezed, on the one hand by the big supermarket chains, and on the other by the government’s subservience the Common Agricultural Policy of the European Union.
Congress therefore calls on the Party’s Executive Committee to give some thought to elaborating a countryside policy and including key elements of it within the Left Wing Programme.
RESOLUTION ON TRIDENT REPLACEMENT
Congress condemns the government for proceeding with the Parliamentary vote on Trident replacement, and furthermore for doing so without the promised full, rational and open public debate. The decision has nothing to do with our security and flies in the face of Britain’s obligations under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which obliges nuclear powers to take concrete steps towards disarmament. It will make the world less stable, rather than more secure.
The cost of replacing Trident, as the TUC General Council has stated, “could be tens of billions of pounds, which could otherwise be invested in manufacturing, health, education and transport.” Nonetheless, non-replacement of Trident would have a significant impact on the employment prospects of BAe shipyard workers in Barrow.
BAe Systems is almost totally dependent on war preparation products, and its shareholders are keen for Trident replacement to be built at Barrow. They are being supported by local people, including Labour councillors, with a Keep Our Future Afloat campaign that argues for local jobs for local people and for the continued employment of the 3,000+ workforce at BAe. In the 1980s permanent jobs had been promised during the planning of the first Tridents, only for the workforce to be slashed from 17,000 to 3,500.
Some of the billions of pounds it is proposed to squander on a Trident update could be invested in creating other work for the people of Barrow. However the one real barrier to defence diversification is the government’s reliance on the private sector to deliver contracts.
BAe Systems should diversify to develop socially useful projects. They could build submarines for filming, research, tourism and to harvest manganese from the sea-bed. They have the potential to build drilling platforms for oil and gas; while the skills for maintaining Trident are very similar to those that would be required for clean coal combustion and for harnessing renewable energy, such as wind turbines The development of such technologies would give a massive boost to manufacturing industry in our District, with the products being be marketed internationally, thus creating long-term, sustainable jobs.
Congress therefore commends the Northern Region TUC Annual Conference for calling for “a sustained and robust programme of defence diversification to be driven by government, to have trade unions and their members at the centre, and with defence companies contractually obliged to have their own diversification programmes to ensure their status as a preferred contractor.”