Grace Cookall-Greening and Rosalie Huzzard, Labouring for Peace

IssueMarch 2012
Review by Bruce Kent

People forget too quickly. This little book is a great reminder of much that has been achieved, so far, by Labour Action for Peace which began life in 1940 as the Labour Pacifist Fellowship.

Long before then, back to the days of Keir Hardie, there have been those in the Labour party with the same vision and hope.

The book is a fascinating trip down memory lane, from the introduction by Tony Benn to the cheery photo of current LAP president, Jeremy Corbyn.

The cast is enormous. Included amongst many others are Frank Allaun, Ron Huzzard, Fenner Brockway, Jo Richardson, Mo Mowlam, Robin Cook, Audrey Wise, Jim Addington and Alice Mahon.

Just as important are the many, many unnamed rank and file of LAP activism.

Labour Action for Peace has always done its best to move the Labour party in a peaceful and internationalist direction. It has never been an easy task. Power, prestige, nationalism and perceived electoral advantage have always been major blocks .

180 degree policy turns have never fazed some Labour leaders.

Perhaps too much LAP emphasis was put on securing this or that conference resolution and too little on grassroots education and the culture of war and militarism. Top-down, bottom-up or a mixture of both is ever a challenge.

There are many “what ifs”. If John Smith and Robin Cook had not died? If Harold Wilson had kept his nuclear weapon promises? If Ernest Bevin had not bounced aggressively into a 1947 Cabinet meeting which was on the edge of admitting that Britain could not afford a British atomic bomb?

This is an encouraging slice of peace history and a tribute to many who have kept the light of peace burning in the Labour party. Change is always two steps forward and one back. LAP has never lost heart, energy or persistence. Long may that last.

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