Blog Archives

The action of an individual can make a difference: Clare Balding

 Accomplished, versatile broadcaster Clare Balding was invited as the keynote speaker for the ADS Dinner, an annual black tie networking event, where arms company executives dine alongside senior civil servants, MPs and Ministers, who pay up to £470 a place.

Jamie Doward in the Observer adds information about ADS:

  • it represents BAE Systems, who supply parts for the Typhoon and Tornado jets that are playing a role in the Saudi-led coalition bombing of Houthi insurgents in Yemen,
  • Raytheon, whose UK-made Paveway IV bombs have been linked by Human Rights Watch to attacks on civilian infrastructure,
  • MBDA, a missile company part-owned by BAE whose Brimstone and Storm Shadow missiles are being used by Saudi forces
  • and Lockheed Martin, the largest arms company in the world, whose bombs were used by Saudi forces in the destruction of a school bus in which dozens of children were killed.

As Mahathir Mohammed pointed out at a the Kuala Lumpur World Peace Conference many years ago: “The media belonging to the countries selling the arms condemn these small countries for entering into an arms race and wasting money. They never condemn the high pressure salesman or the vast sums expended in the research and production of these weapons by the rich”.

Caroline Jones describes how Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) approached Balding’s representatives urging her to rethink her decision, pointing out that in 2016 she hosted the Disasters Emergency Committee appeal to help the people of Yemen and saying:

“It is clear why these companies want to be associated with positive causes, and why they want to work with respected personalities and role models. We respect and admire all of the excellent advocacy work that you do, which is why we are asking you to reconsider your attendance and cancel your speech.”

Clare decided not to attend.

And as usual (above), diners were greeted by Stop the Arms Fair activists reminding them of the role played by companies like BAE Systems in the death and oppression of people around the world, governments who support and subsidise them and the people who vote for them.





Chamber of Shame’s revolving door: the interests of the already rich are served and media further compromised

Clearly at the service of the multinationals, especially arms manufacturers and United States/Israel/Gulf states – and not those whom they were elected to serve – the Conservative cabinet goes full steam ahead to consolidate these links:

From Abu Dhabi Airports to the UK Ministry of Defence

tony douglasAs the electorate sees cuts to basic services, the coalition government has decided to appoint Tony Douglas, the chief executive of Abu Dhabi Airports, with most useful Middle East contacts, as the new chief executive of Defence Equipment and Support (DE & S) on Tuesday. The FT reports: “The new chief of Britain’s armaments programme is to be rewarded with a £285,000 salary and £250,000 performance-related annual bonus, making him the highest earner in Whitehall and the latest in a new line of senior business figures lured into the public sector with the promise of private sector levels of pay”.

Now to the BBC Trust: Sir Roger Carr, arms manufacturer, representing your average license fee payer?

sir roger carrInvestigative journalist Felicity Arbuthnot adds another breathtaking example: Roger Carr, the chairman of Europe’s biggest arms company, BAE Systems and Visiting Fellow of Saïd Business School, University of Oxford, has just been appointed as Vice-Chair of the BBC Trust, ludicrously, “to represent license fee payers views”. The BBC is established under a Royal Charter and – under an agreement with the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport – is to serve the public, inform, educate and entertain.

BBC impartiality further compromised?

BBCarms88The BBC Trust is its governing body, mandated to ensure that the BBC delivers that mission – and ‘speak peace’ according to the charter coat of arms.

But truth?

On a range of issues, grossly skewed information has led to floods of public protest and the official 2004 Hutton Inquiry investigating the circumstances surrounding the death of David Kelly, a biological warfare expert and former UN weapons inspector in Iraq challenged the BBC’s journalistic standards and its impartiality.

CAAT protests that BAE Systems has armed dictatorships and human rights abusers around the world, including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Israel. It has presented a petition asking the BBC to cut its ties with Carr and the arms trade.

The Guardian’s gross omission

Disturbingly, the Guardian, still read by many thoughtful people, does not mention this affiliation, listing only Carr’s former appointments.

99%-3If any of the 99% vote for Conservatives in May, they will deserve all the ill-treatment they get – but would Labour, with previous New Labour incumbents, do much better in office?

Budget: £38 billion for military spending as public housing, transport and education deteriorates

anne marie o reilly caatAnne-Marie O’Reilly has sent an emessage pointing out that 27% of children in the UK are growing up in poor families, 20,000 disabled people will lose support for the basics in life when the Independent Living Fund closes and thirteen times more people are visiting foodbanks than did five years ago.

Despite this Britain’s military spending was set at £38 billion in 2014 – a figure confirmed by the Financial Times.

She itemised Budget proposals:

  • £570 million of public money for upgrading the UK’s nuclear weapons
  • £700 million to subsidise arms exports,
  • £2.5 billion for new fighter jets,
  • £6.2 billion for new aircraft carriers

GDAMs header

As CAAT’s Outreach Co-ordinator she stresses that it’s time to shift priorities. It is hoped that a Global Day of Action on Military Spending on Monday 14th April will turn the tide on military spending and readers are asked to share these powerful spending comparisons on Twitter and Facebook.

Global Day of Action on Military Spending event in India 2013

GDAMS india 2013 

Corporate-political jargon and illusion obscuring the immorality of the arms trade

peace via twitter

Ken Veitch: the Friend, 8 November 2013

reed elzevier arms fair

“The propaganda business is a big adjunct of the arms trade. In the US the main news channels of CBS and NBC are both owned by major arms contractors. Here, colourful military parades and breathtaking air shows attract families with children and obscure the true purpose of the weapons on display.

“The Defence and Security Equipment International (DESI) exhibition was held in London. It was attended by delegates from 121 countries, with almost 1,500 companies exhibiting, and was hailed by secretary of state for defence Philip Hammond as ‘a fabulous show’ selling ‘fantastic kit’. The exhibition included pavilions evoking the pleasantries of cricket and the hospitality – funded from public taxes – was lavish.

*The exhibition did not feature any photographic evidence of the effect that the latest high-tech weapons have on human beings. This was a global arms bazaar. It touted weapons and equipment designed to kill and main people.

trident launched“But to preserve respectability, and obscure the purpose of the items for sale, there were seminars, receptions, PowerPoint presentations by military top brass and genteel tours of visiting warships.

“Weapons exporters claim, feebly, that every country has a right to defend itself; by this logic we should be marketing Trident, the UK’s own weapon of mass destruction, which we buy from the US and parade as the mainstay of our ‘national security’.

“Soothing jargon helps the arms dealers to detach themselves from the suffering caused by their wares: weapons are ‘systems’; ‘contingency operations’ means warfare; and ‘defence and security equipment’ is a nicer classification for the machine guns, tear gas, rocket launchers, handcuffs and tank-busting aircraft that were on display.

“The global security scene has changed completely since the ending of the ‘cold war’ in 1989. Military policies, however, seem hardly changed, and the justification for arms spending, such as countering the ‘war on terror’, are becoming ever more slick.

“According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) global spending on weapons in 2012 was $1,753 billion. This figure is up by nearly 56% since 2000 and is equivalent to $249 for every person on the planet.

“The government claims that licences are granted only under strict criteria. These criteria preclude sales to ‘countries of concern’, such as those deemed to be oppressing their own citizens, or involved in, or likely to be involved in, military conflict.

“These claims are false. Arms export controls are riddled with loopholes and barely enforced. The government gladly sold arms to Saddam Hussein when he was at war and gassing the Kurds, to Argentina in the run up to the Falklands war, and to Gaddafi until his overthrow. Successive UK governments have traded arms in a moral and legal vacuum.

caat“A CAAT report claims that bribes to foreign governments and commissions to weapons salesmen are the norm. Nine countries who have just taken part in the DSEI exhibition are listed by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office as having ‘the most serious wide-ranging human rights concerns’.

“The US accounts for over 40% of global arms sales. It is seriously in arrears on its payments to the UN. The UK is a major arms exporter with about 10% of the world market.

“Saudi Arabia, with huge purchases of 21%, and Israel are principal customers of the US and the UK. Sales to developing countries have rocketed since 2010. India, where half of the population have no lavatories, made 13% of world arms purchases from 2004 to 2011.

“The UK arms industry, which employs around 250,000 people, exported more than £5.4 billion worth of military products in 2011. . .

“In relation to employment: an equivalent investment in, for example, energy-saving transport systems would create as many, if not more, jobs, and benefit the public in a way that arms sales never can.”


Civil society versus government and allied armourers . . .

home office security and policingGuildford Cathedral hosted Security & Policing’s “exclusive networking dinner” in 2012 and it was booked again for 2013, organised by ADS, the premier trade organisation advancing the UK Aerospace, Defence, Security and Space industries.

Palantir logoSecurity & Policing is an annual event, sponsored this year by Palantir (defence electronics) and  organised by the Home Office and ADS. The government’s arms sales unit, UKTI DSO, is responsible for inviting international delegations.


security and policing dinner cathedral 2012


The UK Government event is the largest of its kind in the UK and provides a platform for showcasing world leading technologies, products and solutions to police services, government departments, organisations and agencies from the UK and overseas.

Notice that the defence sector is not explicitly included in the text though very much in evidence at the events and probably inspired the information that “Entry is restricted so as to enable “exhibitors to display products which would be too sensitive to show in a more open environment.”


 Civil Society


caatHowever, Guildford Cathedral, venue for the event’s Gala Dinner in 2012, has cancelled this year’s booking after Campaign Against Arms Trade raised ethical concerns with the church authorities.

In contrast with CAAT’s efforts to promote a healthier and more productive economy, vested interest in the political/military/industrial complex seizes every opportunity to increase arms expenditure.

The latest move comes from  Ambassador Henry F. Cooper, former Director of the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization, now Missile Defense Agency, writes in the Financial Times, calling on his government to fund defences to counter North Korean missiles.


Government and allied armourers


ambassador henry f cooper

Henry Cooper, Leesburg, VA, US; Former director, Strategic Defense Initiative

In addition to his political and diplomatic credentials, Ambassador Cooper’s background includes a Ph.D. from New York University in mechanical engineering, many technical publications, and appointments such as Senior Vice President of Jaycor (communications), Deputy Director of the Nuclear Weapons Effects Division at R&D Associates, Scientific Advisor at the Air Force Weapons Laboratory, now Phillips Laboratory, in Albuquerque, New Mexico and Chairman of Applied Research Associates.

In Wild West tradition he is also Chairman of the Board of High Frontier, a non-profit, non-partisan educational corporation, formed to examine the potential for defending America against missile attack.

In the FT he writes:

“North Korea’s nuclear-armed ballistic missile quest seriously threatens the security of the US and our allies such as Japan and South Korea. Unless we deal decisively with the consequent ballistic missile threat, our Asian-Pacific allies may build their own nuclear weapons to fill the holes in our nuclear umbrella, turning this nuclear hotspot into a five-alarm fire.

“In addition to building needed defences, we should also modernise our nuclear deterrent of bombers, intercontinental ballistic missiles and submarines, so that North Korea understands that any such strike will be met with an overwhelming counterstrike.

NK weaponry could cause up to 90% of all Americans to perish within a year

“The US should also fully fund ballistic missile defences to protect us from their missiles that already can reach our west coast. With lighter warheads, they might be detonated over the US to produce an electromagnetic pulse that could destroy our electric grid, the loss of which could produce mass starvation for lack of food, water, medicine and so on. In turn, that could cause up to 90% of all Americans to perish within a year”.




A new year wish for our malign corporate sponsored plutocracy to wither and be replaced by true democracy

john cryer mp smAt present, as MP John Cryer explained:

“There’s a far too close relationship between the corporate world, lobbying, the city, big financial interests, big business and the heart of government.

It’s an access and an influence that isn’t available to resident associations, trade unions.

Ordinary citizens don’t have that sort of access . . .”


alt logoCampaign group ALT adds: “Right now lobbying happens in secret: we don’t know who is being paid to influence our government, its policies, our laws, and how public money is spent, whether it’s the private healthcare lobby pushing for the current NHS reforms; or banks lobbying against reform of the financial system; or the construction industry wanting to get their hands on greenbelt land, the activities of lobbyists affect our lives in countless ways”.

A step forward? Jim Pickard, political correspondent of the Financial Times, reports that a new regime monitored by a compulsory register for lobbyists will be introduced within a few weeks. But lobbying – and political influence bought by donations to political parties – are not the only problems.

The revolving door

caatFor years CAAT has diligently recorded interchange of employees between government and the arms industry, known as the revolving door, drawing on the website of the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACOBA). See its latest findings here.

Lucrative employment offers

There is a half-way version of this – a foot in both doors – when large corporations offer directorships and other salaried positions to senior civil servants, politicians and their family members, while still in post.

The taxpayer pays corporate staff to work in government – standard practice

There is evidence of this influence in other sectors – most obviously in those of health and biotechnology. Today a Shirley reader adds news of the latest concern in the energy industry.

caroline lucas -(damian carrington2Damian Carrington (opposite) reports that MP Caroline Lucas and others made Freedom of Information requests which revealed that 23 employees from companies including British Gas and npower are working at the Department of Energy and, in most cases, are being paid by the government. Oil companies such as Shell and Conoco Phillips also have staff inside the department, and civil servants have travelled in the opposite direction to work for the companies. Government comment: this is standard practice . . . self regulation ensures no conflict of interest . . .

Joss Garman, political director of Greenpeace, says that corporations making huge profits from the fossil fuels have “a clear financial interest in putting their people into key positions where they can exert a malign influence that runs counter to the public interest.”

Senator Michael Bennet introduced the Close the Revolving Door Act of 2010 to end lobbyist abuses, and get Congress back on track to move America forward. It was not enacted, but we can still hope that John Cryer, Caroline Lucas or some other honest parliamentarian will gather sufficient support for a similar bill to be passed in this country.