Labor Party Reaffirms Anti-Nuclear Policy
BLACKPOOL, England (AP) _ The opposition Labor Party on Thursday rejected demands by leftist members that it take Britain out of NATO and close all U.S. military bases if it comes to power in the next election.
At its annual conference, the socialist party also adopted a resolution pledging that a Labor government would end British participation in research on the U.S. Strategic Initiative, a space-based missile defense system commonly called ″Star Wars.″
The party reiterated its stand in favor of unilateral nuclear disarmament. If elected, Labor would scrap Britain’s Polaris nuclear missiles. Apart from the United States, Britain and France are the only nuclear powers in NATO.
″We would not have nuclear arms carried or stockpiled in Britain,″ party leader Neil Kinnock said in an interview with Britain’s Independent Television Network.
Kinnock said Thursday night he would expect the United States to close its nuclear bases and withdraw cruise missiles within a year of a Labor government taking office.
But at the conference delegates rejected by margins of 5-1 resolutions seeking a shutdown of all U.S. bases, regardless of whether they were housed nuclear or convention forces, and withdrawal from the 16-nation North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
Party leaders had warned that a vote to pull out of NATO would likely wreck Labor’s hopes of winning the next election, which must be held by mid-1988.
″The (defense) policy stands as a whole,″ said Denzil Davies, the party’s parliamentary spokesman on defense. ″If it does not, it falls and we fall with it.″
The defense issue has overshadowed all others at the week-long conference, partly because of blunt U.S. criticism.
Kinnock, whose party has held the lead for nearly a year in polls over Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s Conservatives, repeatedly denied suggestions the United States might retaliate by withdrawing troops stationed in Britain or other Western European countries.
He said he would not be persuaded by warnings from Western European nations or the United States to change his mind about his non-nuclear defense policy, which U.S. Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger said this week could wreck the 16-nation NATO alliance.
″I think it would be contradicting ... the best of all the qualities in Britain for us to feel deference,″ Kinnock said of Weinberger’s warning.
On the possibility of the United States withdrawing troops, Kinnock said,
″That could only come about if an American administration had decided ... that the continent of Europe was not so much part of an obligation (NATO) that they had freely entered into, but was the American frontline.″
The platform on which Labor was trounced by Mrs. Thatcher in 1983 elections included unilateral nuclear disarmament.
Soundings show a majority, but a decreasing one, still oppose the anti- nuclear policy.
A Gallup poll last week indicated 62 percent of 967 people questioned thought the policy was dangerous, compared with 74 percent three years ago.
The socialists’ relatively strong lead overall has roused speculation that Weinberger’s warnings were prompted by alarm that Mrs. Thatcher, President Reagan’s closest ally, will be ousted.