Yesterday I got trodden on by an arms dealer. How did that happen?
A group of us found out that the Annual Defence Dinner was taking place at the Imperial War Museum. At £210-£300 a ticket and billed as “one of the most prominent events in the defence and security calendar”, this wasn’t an opportunity we could miss.
We met before the event dressed up to the nines (or as much as possible) for the arms trade’s black tie event of the year. Our mission was to try and stop the arms dealers from entering the building and if a few people got inside that would be a bonus.
Tom Greenwood and Beth Smith reflect upon an excellent year of student campaigning, and outline the ways in which students and staff can get involved in the year ahead.
Arms companies need universities and they need university students. Universities produce the skilled graduates that the industry requires and undertake research necessary for technological developments. Some universities even invest money in the arms industry, often without the knowledge or approval of their students or staff.
This year, students all over the UK have taken action to show arms companies that they are not welcome at their universities. By kicking arms companies off our campuses, we have the power to hit them where it hurts!
Symon Hill reports from the Annual General Meeting of the world’s second-largest arms company.
Welcome to the weird and wonderful world of the BAE Systems Annual General Meeting. Shareholders were today welcomed into the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, to be greeted by plush carpets, free coffee and glamorous posters featuring BAE staff saying how great it is to work for one of the world’s largest arms dealers (they don’t quite put it quite like that).
Afterwards, the AGM itself was underway, with presentations and displays about “total performance” and “a culture of responsible behaviour”. A brief film attempted to demonstrate the diversity of BAE’s staff (not reflected on the board of directors), with gender, age and ethnicity very varied. None of them mentioned what BAE really does. The worker on the film with a visible mobility impairment did not mention how much cheaper mobility equipment would be if those who produce it were to receive the same subsidies that go to arms companies.
The hustings I attended on Thursday 26th April had almost more organisers than members of the public, so it was easy to raise my question about what the candidates can do to end the arms fair in London. In fact the candidates seemed to be grateful to have something not scripted to talk about!
The panel consisted of three GLA candidates who also spoke for their parties’ mayoral candidate, plus Steven Norris, whose support for Boris consisted of an after dinner speech which he began with ‘I won’t bother telling you Boris’ policies…’!