Report from Labour Party Conference

by Shaughan Dolan ~ September 28th, 2017. Filed under: News.

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Our Campaign Manager went to the Labour Party Conference to sell one vision to the Labour Party – a Minister for Peace. So we went to the Fringe and talked about how a Minister for Peace might work in different contexts, its benefits to disarmament campaign groups, NGOs, and charities that deal with the fallout from failed states.

Leading up to the Conference, Conscience was lucky to meet with Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell and Emily Thornberry in Parliament. With John McDonnell, we discussed how we could improve the funding of the Minister for Peace Position and how it might work in synergy with the Conflict Security and Stability Fund. The Shadow Chancellor added that the new position will have the full backing of the Chancellor in the next Labour government.

We also asked Emily Thornberry how the Minister for Peace might with work with the foreign office. She saw it as a junior ministerial position that would work with the department to promote the peace agenda through better diplomacy.

At Conference Conscience also met with Vijay Mehta – Director of Uniting for Peace (UfP), who agreed to collaborate with Conscience in the future for an event. UfP has already said they will introduce Conscience to the Minister for Peace at their next event on the 12th of October. We look forward to it!

We also grilled Stephen Kinnock MP, and Conor McGinn MP, on what a Shadow Minister would do to meet the rising challenges of disarmament in an age where foreign policy is becoming defined by the belligerence of two nuclear states – the USA and North Korea. Whilst Conor argued any form of disarmament is unlikely for the foreseeable future, he backed this approach to foreign policy, commending the work of peace campaigners in his own constituency.

Later Conscience attended a Fringe about the how we can improve the field of International Development, and were very lucky to be joined by Kate Osamor MP the Shadow Minister for International Development. An interesting discussion broke out about how violence manifests itself in many different forms across many different departments.  Conscience pointed out that the experience from Africa has been that many East Africans see trade policy as so destructive it is often perceived as a weapon of war – designed to bring them so low so that they can exploit their resources.

We added that if we had Minister for Peace they be would like the Minister for Equalities – not having an individual portfolio but going from department to department with a simple brief – to reduce violent conflict. It could have a major impact on departments not associated with military spending but act in a way that promotes violence and impedes disarmament around the globe.

In addition to this with Conscience met briefly with Kate Hollern, Jeremy Corbyn’s Personal Private Secretary and MP for Blackburn – perhaps most importantly his diary manager! We hope that Jeremy can speak at Conscience event at some time in the New Year.

We also made friends with Young Fabians and the Fabian Society – a very influential Labour think-tank – both interested to hear more about the Conscience. We also were very pleased to hear Jeremy’s conference speech include so much about peacemaking:

But we also know that terrorism is thriving in a world our governments have helped to shape, with its failed states, military interventions and occupations where millions are forced to flee conflict or hunger. We have to do better and swap the knee-jerk response of another bombing campaign for long-term help to solve conflicts rather than fuel them…We should stand firm for peaceful solutions to international crises. 

A productive conference we raised the Minister for Peace with every organisation, Labour member and MP that would listen.  We think this idea could change British foreign in the 21st century and build a more peaceful future for us all.

Thank you all for backing our Crowdfunder!

Now next week – Green Party Conference begins!


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