6 Dec 2010

Lib Dems support biggest defence export drive in decades?

As the government reveals more cuts to public services, it has quietly pledged to do even more to promote arms sales.

On the same day that higher education cuts were announced Business minister Vince Cable spent the morning wooing the arms industry, at an event where one of his colleagues pledged that “we are proud to support the biggest defence export drive in decades.”

Pics: CAAT campaign to be launched in new year and below local artist Russ

In 2011 Government plans once again to support one of the world's largest arms fairs. Hundreds of arms dealers exhibitors will be invited to London to do business with tyrants and human rights abusers.

The Campaign Against the Arms Trade have a very clear message: This is not OK. You can email your MP and Vince Cable from the campaign website. It is vital Lib Dems don't support this move. The UK has failed to stop military sales into regions of conflict, to governments which abuse human rights and to countries where there are significant development needs. Worse still the Government has actively promoted sales, in particular through the UKTI Defence & Security Organisation. This has a devastating impact on the millions of people whose lives are damaged by the international arms trade. It also threatens our own security as the UK has little control over how weapons are used once they have been sold.

There is no credible economic justification for this. The support given to arms industry in entirely disproportionate. UKTI devotes 180 staff to promoting arms sales, whereas the specific support provided to ALL non-arms sectors amounts to 142 staff - despite arms being only 1.5% of total UK exports. Add to this the fact that the arms industry already receives heavy subsidies - in the range of £500 million to £1 billion. Even at the lower end this would mean that each arms export job was subsidised by £9,000 each year.

Also check out here what Mark Thomas had to say at the National Gathering.

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