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Elvis, Aliens and the unlikelihood of BAE’s innocence

As part of the Control BAE campaign, London CAAT set up stall near Old Street station on Friday 30th November to call for the reopening of the Serious Fraud Office’s enquiry into alleged corruption in deals with Saudi Arabia. We chose the location because it was outside the BAE/HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd) joint venture company located at 4 City Cloisters, 196 Old Street.

The main objective of the afternoon (in the absence of any media for our photo opportunity stunt) was to inform people in the area of the issues and get signatures on the petition to reopen the enquiry. In addition, we were able to point out the presence of an arms company to many surprised local residents and garner some interest in the local group.
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Disarm UCL campaign steps up the pressure

A quick update on “Disarm UCL” the campaign to get University College London (UCL) to ditch its arms shares.

The campaign is going very, very strongly at the moment. Last week was official “Disarm UCL campaign week” with full support of the Student Union.

We launched our new petition and got lots of signatures.

SIGN OUR ONLINE PETITION HERE
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CAAT wins again !

Just a quick one to say how excited I am that CAAT and Corner house have won the court case last Friday :). The permission has now been granted to bring a full judicial review against the governments decision to cut short a Serious Fraud Office (SFO) investigation into alleged corruption by BAE Systems in recent arms deals with Saudi Arabia.

That really is fantastic news!

 CAAT Control BAE protest in May

Well done to everyone who campaigned for the SFO inquiry to be re-opened and thanks a million to those of you who helped me raise 280 quid  on pledegebank for CAAT to go ahead with the legal challenge. The money really helped to make a difference. Or as my friend Masa put it: “That was 10 quid well spent!”:)
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Get your uni to come clean !

A new academic year has just begun and student campaigners at University College London (UCL) are starting to kick a fuss to Disarm UCL again. Despite the decision of the UCL Council to move towards ethical investment UCL still currently holds £884 000 worth of shares in arms trader Cobham plc.

We think this is a disgrace. How serious is UCL about ethical investment when it keeps clinging on to the arms shares? 

The first thing we did was to get a stall at Freshers Fayre last week to tell everyone new to UCL about the arms investments. Turns out the majority of the Freshers and new graduate students we talked to had already heard about UCLs arms investments and the Disarm UCL campaign. We took this as an indication that our campaign is going well Read more »

Diary of an anti-arms trade campaigner in exile

The reason why I have not been blogging for ages is simple:

I haven’t been around. Here are a few lines on the difficulties of being an anti-arms trade campaigner in exile:

Three months ago I left London for a research trip to Ukraine and that’s when things really started to get going:

Two days before my departure University College London, my university we had so desperately tried to persuade to ditch its shares in arms companies, quite unexpectedly announced that it wants to develop an ethical investment policy.

What an incredible campaigning victory!

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DESO down, DSEI to go

The Prime Minister’s statement of 25th July that the Defence Export Services Organisation, based in Bloomsbury, will be shut by the end of the year is a great success for the peace movement in general and Campaign Against Arms Trade in particular. CAAT’s Shut DESO campaign, which included encircling the building with a human chain in October 2006, culminated with the handing in of a petition calling for DESO’s closure with over 10,000 signatures to the Chief Secretary of the Treasury.

Ouside DESO

I had signed that petition and got involved with the Shut DESO campaign because it was so obvious how wrong it was to have 500 civil servants in the heart of the government working for the interests of the arms trade. Read more »

The new regime

Until the recent shocking events of the past couple of days our new Prime Minister Gordon Brown seemed to have a permanent grin attached to his face. In every photo in every paper there he was beaming from ear-to-ear, an expression that I had never seen him reveal as Chancellor. Gordon Brown had obviously been waiting a very long time to be PM and he was going to enjoy it.

So here it is then, a new Prime Minister and a new political era of sorts.

I imagine the way Brown conducts his activities will be less tainted with the cringe-worthy sense of celebrity that Tony Blair always seemed to want to espouse.

And also, we hope, less tainted by the sleaze that was becoming a daily fixture during the last years of the Blair premiership.
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Could you be the next Attorney General?

Many of us will agree with Lord Goldsmith’s own assessment that “it is a particularly appropriate moment for [him] to move on” but perhaps he would not concur with those who believe his next position should be on a bottom bunk in a cell. In case you are thinking of applying for the now-vacant position, here are a few questions that may help confirm your suitability for the post.

1. Which of these is the best way to be noticed?

a. Work hard as a barrister and then obtain extensive political experience.

b. Be friends with a friend of the PM and make a donation to the Labour party.

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Global university without a global conscience

Just to let you know that I am now blogging against the arms trade on the New Statesman website :)))

They have just put my comment piece “Global university without a global conscience” up on their Campus Radicals blog.

It has attracted quite a few comments already and was nicely timed to go live just before the UCL Council tomorrow looks at the issue of an ethical investment policy. Hopefully the UCL Council will listen to the voices of over 1200 UCL students, staff and alumni and ditch the arms shares.

Stop the Arms Trade Week

The beginning of CAAT’s designated “Stop the Arms Trade Week”, 2nd June, coincided with activities organised under “The World Can’t Wait” banner and London CAAT produced a small leaflet to tie in issues of poverty, lack of development and the more than £1118 billion spent annually on arms, which puts into pathetic perspective the amounts the G8 promises and does not deliver to the world’s poorest countries.

A few of us headed down to Archbishop’s Park by Lambeth Palace and later to the banks of the Thames, to offer our support to the idea of “waking up the G8”. Dressed in white and packing alarm clocks, bells, horns and drums, the protesters were up for it. At 2:00, Westminster Bridge, Lambeth Bridge, the banks between them and even boats on the river resounded with unheeded wake-up calls.
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