The Labour Party in Blackpool: Defeat on defence expected

LABOUR leaders last night appeared resigned to defeat over defence cuts after a debate in which one activist accused them of being 'too scared' to present Labour as a party that believed in peace, writes Stephen Goodwin.

For three years running the conference has voted to cut defence spending to the level of other west European countries and use the peace dividend to improve public services. The result of a card vote on a motion reaffirming the policy will be announced today, with party leaders expecting defeat.

David Clark, Labour's defence spokesman, said his task over the next two years would be to devise a feasible defence diversification agency, but said there was still a need for a defence industry.

'I see a new opportunity which should unite most of us. We have seen the breakdown of the old world order and we have the possiblity of a new world order. And that should be governed by the UN,' Dr Clark said.

'We have the responsibility of developing a socialist defence policy for this country based on the UN. I want British troops to work alongside troops of other countries, peacemaking, peacekeeping, to try and make sure we have a better world.'

The result will also be known this morning of a card vote on a motion calling for the immediate ending of the Trident nuclear-armed submarine programme. Last year a similar call was rejected by 3,230,000 votes to 2,232,000.

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