Why we think it’s important to be at the factory gates

Campaigners in Wales hold an annual vigil at their local BAE Systems factory as well

For fifteen years, a dedicated group of campaigners have kept a monthly presence outside the gates of their local arms factory – BAE Warton in Lancashire. In the run up to September’s month of action against the arms trade on our doorstep, Jan Harper spoke to us about what inspires them to action.

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Return to Goodwin Street

Dot, Jean and Brenda outside 11 Goodwin Street, August 2012
Dot, Jean and Brenda outside 11 Goodwin Street, August 2012

At the end of May Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) moved from 11 Goodwin Street, Finsbury Park, to a more modern office in nearby Wells Terrace. I wrote a nostalgic account of CAAT’s quarter of a century in Goodwin Street, celebrating its history as the home of many peace organisations and radical groups.

And that, I thought, was that. Then I received a message from Brenda, telling me that 11 Goodwin Street was her childhood home and she would love to see it again before it was demolished. There followed another message, this time from Brenda’s sister Jean, with the same request, and as it turned out, there was yet another sister, Dot, who also wanted to visit. Good things definitely come in threes.

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London CAAT visits Brighton to support Summer of Resistance

London CAAT outside Brighton Free Radio London CAAT display their banner outside Radio Free Brighton.

London CAAT group took a day trip to Brighton to support Smash EDO’s “Summer of Resistance”.

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Citizen’s weapons inspection at Brighton arms factory

Smash EDO march with banner reading "Brighton Citizen's Weapons Inspection Team"
Photo courtesy of Smash EDO

This week I travelled down to Brighton to take part in the Smash EDO citizens weapons inspection of the EDO/ITT factory. My protest buddy and I, armed with waterproofs and jelly babies, met the demonstration in the centre of Brighton and were given ‘weapons inspector’ outfits and face masks as well as legal advice on the protest.

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A night at the museum

The Natural History Museum is not the most obvious place to have an anti-arms trade protest – but then again it’s not the most obvious place to have the official welcome reception for an arms fair either. Yet it was under ‘Dippy’, the Museum’s famous diplodocus, that delegates from Farnborough International were to be found nibbling canapes and ‘networking’ on the evening of Monday 9 July.

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Goodbye to Goodwin Street

11 Goodwin Street
11 Goodwin Street, home to Campaign Against Arms Trade for a quarter of a century

Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) has just moved its office. Although the distance from the old to the new office is a mere 200 yards, and the move itself went smoothly, the process has still been a difficult one, physically and emotionally.

Why? Well for starters we had been in our office at 11 Goodwin Street, Finsbury Park, for a quarter of a century – that’s a long time in a world of short leases, changing rent demands and new organisational needs. But even more, we were attached to Goodwin Street.

Goodwin Street memories
The building has had a long connection with the peace movement. Owned by Peace News Trustees, over the years it been home to dozens of organisations, including Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, support organisations for Palestinians, Oromos and Kurds, local neighbourhood groups – even an organisation to aid street drinkers.

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An exciting year ahead for London CAAT

The London CAAT group looks ahead to a busy year of protesting.

Members of London CAAT protesting outside the Spirit of Summer FairWho we are

London CAAT is a friendly group, made up of both new and more seasoned campaigners, who are committed to making a difference in London, the global hub of the arms trade. We’re an active bunch and there’s plenty to get involved with!

Coming up
Global Day of Action on Military Spending – 17 April

In April, London CAAT will be gearing up to take part in the second annual Global Day of Action on Military Spending.

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Power and Counterpower

Tim Gee writes on the strength within protest – our Counterpower

Anti-arms protesters outside parliament on DSEI Day of Action - 13 September 2011
Anti-arms protesters outside parliament on DSEI Day of Action – 13 September 2011 (credit CAAT)

I started my life as a campaigner because I was horrified at the arms trade. As a teenager I joined the minibuses to London to join the DSEI protests. At university I helped organise against BAE Systems on campus and even got rid of them, for a year at least.

Since then I’ve spent every moment I can campaigning against climate change and cuts, for human rights in Burma, with travellers at Dale Farm and so on. But a couple of years ago I decided to take a bit of time out to read up on the campaigns that constitute our heritage to try and get closer to understanding why some campaigns seem to be so successful while others go awry.

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