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
As 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?
Investigative 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?
The 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.
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.
Anne-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
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
Ken Veitch: the Friend, 8 November 2013
“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.
“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.
“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.”