Friday, September 18, 2015

In the UK: Anti-Nukes + Democracy = ?

UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn

Like many people, I am excited to see that the new Labour leader in the UK, Jeremy Corbyn, is a strong advocate for the elimination of the UK's nuclear weapons.

Now I've read a very interesting story about how Corbyn is enhancing the practice of democracy in the UK. A long-standing practice in Parliament is the weekly "interpellation" - in which the Prime Minister responds to questions posed by the opposition. The tendency is for this to be highly contentious, almost gladitorial, with an emphasis on showmanship, harsh barbs, and "gotcha moments."

Two days ago, however, in the first session under Corbyn's leadership, the practice was stood on its head. Following a completely new strategy, Corbyn read questions from among thousands submitted by constituents, and the Prime Minister responded to those questions. (See "Labour’s New Leader, Jeremy Corbyn, Crowd-Sources Questions for British Premier" by Stephen Castle in The New York Times, September 16, 2015.)

This leads me to wonder: What would it look like if a Wednesday session were devoted to questions from constituents about the desirability of eliminating the UK's nuclear weapons?

For instance, what if that session took place on Wednesday, September 23, in anticipation of the September 26 UN-declared International Day for the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons?

What if we gave democracy a chance?

Related posts

People in the UK are demonstrating that when enough people bcome vocal "no nukes" activists, politicians who purport to represent them are compelled to become vocal "no nukes" activists, too.

(See "No Nukes Politician" -- IS There Such a Thing ??? )

We should all learn from the the activism of people in the UK against the stationing of Trident nuclear-weapons-equipped submarines in Scotland.

(See We're Rooting for You, Scotland! (Trident NO Scotland YES) )

Elaine Scarry demonstrates that the power of one leader to obliterate millions of people with a nuclear weapon - a possibility that remains very real even in the wake of the Cold War - deeply violates our constitutional rights, undermines the social contract, and is fundamentally at odds with the deliberative principles of democracy.

(See Reviews of "Thermonuclear Monarchy: Choosing Between Democracy and Doom" by Elaine Scarry )

The decision about whether to live with the threat of nuclear annihilation is our decision. And that is why the entire country is mobilizing for mass action for nuclear disarmament in 2015. Are we capable of making sure the messengers -- Obama, Putin, the other agents of government -- hear their instructions from us clearly?

(See NEEDED: Heroes to Bring About Nuclear Disarmament )