DSEI video blog

On the 8 September the DSEI arms fair opened in East London.  I spent the day meandering around CAAT’s demonstration outside the offices of UKTI DSO talking to all and sundry.

I wanted to see the range of reasons why such a large group of people had gathered to fight actions our government deems to be legal. The range of passionate and articulate responses are collected in the video blog below, and stand as a testament to those who wish to stop British companies from profiting through war. They will surely rank with those who have fought such accepted abberations as the slave trade in the past.

It was a great day to feel part of such a positive movement for change, and I would encourage all who are inspired by the film to become an active part of CAAT in the future.

acronyms and activism

Eight O’clock one rainy morning outside Victoria Station, a crew of CAAT activists assembled with high hopes and higher necked woolly jumpers. Their aim, to descend on the unwitting offices of Kingsgate House, the home of UK Trade and Investment, and alert them to the rather clandestine and immoral activities now taking place within.

Considering the keenness of the hour and the biting frost, spirits ran high. In the moments to be grasped before the zero hour, we debated whether or not it was credible to combine ridiculously base pop anthems with a catchy acronym to achieve a campaign chant. In the case of Daphne and Celeste’s turgidly dire “U.G.L.Y.” the answer was deemed no. It seems however well one could substitute “U.K.T.I you ain’t got no alibi you ugly” into its insipidly feverish brogue, the price of being associated with such bilge was deemed too high. The decision was postponed, but it was decided to float the idea of a new workshop at the next national gathering entitled: “the art of incorporating acronyms into catchy campaign chants.” We did however congratulate ourselves on having higher standards and considerably more scruples than your average pop music producer.
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Sitcoms don’t kill people, guns do…

A few weeks ago I was sat in a large canteen basking in the modicum of glamour that had been injected into my day. It may have merely manifested itself as a mediocre cappuccino at the BBC building (mediocre being as positive as I can be), but the company I was keeping more than made up for any beverage based shortcomings.

I was speaking to Laurence Howarth, a funnyman who writes funny things for Radio 4 as well as penning gags for a whole host of performers you would know and love. To be more specific, he recently penned a sit-com about arms dealers called Safety Catch. Now I know what you’re thinking, canned laughter and cartoonish characters are hardly the crucible in which an anti-arms trade ideology can be forged.  Well you would be wrong.

The show takes a satirical sideswipe with a warts-and-all portrayal of the life of death merchant Simon McGrath, and raises a few ironic chuckles along the way. Though it may seem a strange topic to base a comedy show around, Laurence is keen to argue the case for raising awareness through a vector such as this. Some of the murkier aspects of the civil service were brought to rib tickling life in Yes Minister to popular and critical acclaim, and in my mind this is no different.
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Appellate Acrimony

On the 30th July the Appellate Committee of the House of Lords delivered their legal verdict on the Serious Fraud Office’s decision to cancel the now famous corruption investigation into Saudi Arabia and BAE Systems. Having been present at the hearing, I had heard the very eloquent and erudite arguments put forth by CAAT and The Corner House’s legal team. Thus it was with considerable chagrin I discovered the Law Lords had contradicted the superlative glory of the High Court judgement last summer.

Central to the case was the apparent disregard shown to article 5 of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development convention, which the UK is a signatory to. Although not incorporated into UK law, the Director of the SFO and the Attorney General both publicly avowed that the decision to discontinue the investigation was taken with the OECD Anti-bribery Convention in mind and, crucially, that the decision was permitted under its terms. However, it was later argued in the courtroom that had these actions breached the treaty after all, they would have continued regardless and broken it.
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High Court Ruling: Hot off the press

“You’ve arrived at a good time” I was hailed whilst I scanned the lunch table licking my lips in anticipation, and I suppose I had! Hello, my name is Todd, recent addition to the CAAT team in the capacity of a rather wet behind the ears media volunteer. So it was with some trepidation and considerable excitement that in only my second week on the job CAAT earned a landmark victory in court. As some of you will know, last week the High Court ruled that the Government acted illegally in preventing the Serious Fraud Office investigating accusations of corruption and bribery levelled at the paragons of morality and transparency that are the Saudi Royal family. The allegations in question concern a string of transactions relating to arms dealers BAE systems. BAE are a company who espouse more moral indifference to their stock trade than a fox hunter with sidelines in battery farming and extraordinary rendition flights. In a stunning and momentous blow against the power of Britain’s ever presidential executive Lord Justice Moses ruled that “no one, whether within this country or outside, is entitled to interfere with the course of our justice.” The enduring pressure and hard work put in by CAAT and The Corner House had received an epic official justification.
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