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From the archives: The triviality of Labour politics

The inability of the Labour Party to come together round a genuinely progressive vision of the world, especially over issues of peace and war, has a long pedigree.

In listening to ... the Chairman of the Labour Party, one gets the impression that there is no more important goal in politics today than achieving unity in the Labour Party. The answers to the questions that are dividing members of the party are really of secondary importance so long as they can agree to give the same answer...

There is a great deal more discussion around the kind of policies that must be adopted to ensure electoral victory than there is about the most suitable way of applying in the present circumstances the principles upon which the party was founded...

For responsible people today, however, politics must be dominated by the all-important question of whether mankind is to survive in the age of nuclear weapons. Although this question has figured in the debates at recent Labour Party conferences, there has never yet been, either from the platform or the floor, any evidence that the Conference is prepared to measure up to the importance of the subject; considerations as to what would be the effect on the electorate have always bedevilled the issue.

Peace News is, of course, on the side of those who believe that the most promising way out is through the unconditional abandonment of reliance on armed power; holding that although this is a policy attended with danger it is far less dangerous than our present course... It is not, however, ... the rejection of unilateralism that we most deplore. It is the persistent refusal to give serous attention to the question in discussion at all that is the most tragic aspect.

From a front page editorial in the 6 October 1961 issue of Peace News, during the editorship of Hugh Brock, who had been a key figure in the development of direct action against nuclear weaponry. Archive items edited by Albert Beale author of Against All War: 50 years of Peace News.