David Cameron has just returned from yet another overseas trade mission – this time to India.
It’s been billed as the largest UK trade mission ever, with over 100 delegates – government ministers, MPs, “leaders of industry”, university grandees and assorted hangers-on. In the name of cementing trade ties we have seen Cameron playing cricket, laying wreaths and promising quicker visas for Indian students.
“Would you like to buy this Eurofighter Typhoon, sir?”
All this flummery rather disguises the main aim of the trade mission to flog arms to India, which in recent years has emerged as one of the world’s largest arms buyers. So it is worth having a closer look at who accompanied Cameron and what they might be selling.
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UK Students tell their universities it’s time to ditch their arms shares
On 27 February Students across Britain joined protests against their universities’ links with the arms trade. They called for an end to university arms investments. Students dressed as arms dealers roamed the campuses of University College London (UCL), Warwick, Manchester and other universities and tried to “sell” toy guns and missiles to their fellow students to raise awareness about the links between their universities and arms companies.
Student campaigners at UCL wearing black suits and sun glasses approached fellow students with the opening line “Excuse me, can I interest you in any missile components today ?” Many students, staff and prospective students, who had a look around UCL that day, stopped to sign a petition and to talk to campaigners about the continued arms investments.
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Just to let you know that the spontaneous meeting some students activists had at the CAAT National Gathering back in November has now actually led to a National Day of Action on 27 February around lunchtime. Join us and campaign for ethical investment at your university.
Campaign Against Arms Trade and People and Planet will be helping coordinate a national day of action in protest against university shareholding in arms companies. The event was initiated by activists at University College London and Manchester University.
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At the end of last term the Disarm UCL campaign put on a fake graduation ceremony to protest against UCL’s investment in arms shares. One student dressed as a military general handed out fake diplomas and toy guns to other students graduating in camouflage uniforms.
The action definitely turned a few heads including the one of the UCL Provost who happend to pass by. It was a fun action to put on and we got quite a bit of news coverage including the Times Higher, the Independent, the Evening Standard, the Guardian Comment is free website and the New Statesman website.
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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 »
UCL Provost Malcolm Grant was yesterday presented with a petition signed by over 1,000 UCL staff and students calling on him to sell UCL’s shares in an arms
company. The provost also received a hand-signed copy of a book by UCL alumnus Richard Wilson, in which he describes how his sister died as a result of the arms trade.
Richard Wilson is just one of the UCL graduates who has given his backing to
Disarm UCL, which calls for the College to divest from arms trader Cobham plc
and to adopt an ethical investment policy. Read more »
I’ve been so busy lately that I forgot to tell you about this really cool campaigning success we had at Disarm UCL last week:
Quick reminder: we are campaigning to get UCL to sell its disgraceful 1.5 million pounds worth of arms shares. We tried to get UCL Union support on this. And now we’ve got it 🙂
We presented our motion for ethical investment at the UCL Union Council meeting and they voted overwhelmingly in favour of our motion ! The motion states that the Union will fully support our campaign to get UCL to divest its’ shares in arms companies Cobham plc and Smiths Group. Read the details here.
This is fantastic news for us. Read more »