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.
Continue reading “The new regime”
Just came back from the CAAT protest at the BAE Systems AGM. It was a great success. Before the start of the AGM we gathered in front of the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in Westminster.
Some protesters had prepared a stunt: One of us dressed up as a judge. Two others were dressed up as Tony Blair and as BAE Systems CEO Mike Turner. They grabbed the judge and gagged him.
The stunt was very popular with the media. There were loads of photographers taking pictures. Our stunt was also really popular with the tourists on their way to Big Ben. Continue reading “Protest at BAE Systems AGM”
I used to live, for several years, in Eastern Europe. I have since resigned myself to the fact that there probably is a nice little folder with my name on it somewhere in the Belarussian KGB archives documenting most of my life (where I went, conversations I had etc.) in Minsk. It’s a chilling thought.
What had I done to deserve being spied on? I worked as a volunteer with people with disabilities. How subversive! I always tried to shrug being spied on off as something you get when you live in a country which is under authoritarian rule. As Belarus wasn’t “my country” I could always leave if I didn’t like the spy-thing.
Well – I have left. I am back in “my country” and here I am worried that I was being spied on again. BAE Systems have previously used agents to obtain all sorts of personal and confidential information on CAAT staff and supporters. This time round Paul Mercer of LigneDeux Associates, who was hired by BAE systems has received a confidential CAAT e-mail and passed it on to BAE systems.
Continue reading “BAE spies with their (…) eyes”
London CAAT met at 11am today to start our “Central London Arms Trade Crawl” outside BAE’s headquarters. Perhaps unsurprisingly, in this first leg we were emphasising the corrupt nature of the trade in death in our home city. The secluded Carlton Gardens, where the firm that the government won’t allow to be investigated for corruption shares a building with investment bankers, is a few hundred metres from Buckingham Palace. Crime evidently pays very well.
After forty minutes of chatting with and handing out leaflets to some of the people coming in and out of the building and those around it we began the short journey to the far busier Haymarket. At noon we were outside New Zealand House, which houses the offices of Land Rover Leyland International Holdings, the parent company of Ashok, which agreed to sell military trucks to Sudan despite the embargo there. The focus here was on the indiscriminate nature of the trade and the mention of Darfur was a definite catalyst for passers by to agree to sign our petition.
Continue reading “Stop the Death Trade in London”
Sorry I am so late in posting this. But it is a good time for it, as we have just had a successful public meeting this evening organised by Bristol CAAT, on the title “A law unto themselves: BAE, the arms trade and corruption”. The speakers were Nick Gilby (fellow blogger here) and Nick Hildyard of Cornerhouse.
We relaunched Bristol CAAT just about two years ago – we’ve been a bit on and off to be honest, based most of the time round a few most active people, but we’ve managed to put on a number of pretty good events – public meetings, dayschools, forums, protests at careers fairs where arms companies were recruiting and the like – as well as a very good research programme carried out by students at Bristol University, Tom, Maeve and Sarika, pulling together information on the activities of local arms company bases – including major BAE and Rolls Royce plants. Lately, we’ve had a few new people getting involved and enthused, so we’re hoping to become more active in the near future.
Continue reading “News from Bristol”
Hi, it’s Anne here – a brand new CAAT volunteer. I was down at the Shut DESO demonstration yesterday. DESO (Defence Export Services Organisation) is a government agency which promotes the UK arms export business. It employs about 500 civil servants. About thirty people turned up which is great for a mid-morning, mid-week demo. DESO were holding their annual symposium at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre near Westminster Abbey, and we stood outside waving our banners and handing out leaflets to passers-by. Around 300 leaflets were handed out so lots of people will get the chance to learn about the influence of arms companies on government policies and CAATs campaign to Shut DESO.
It was a lovely morning standing in the sunshine talking to other protesters. Some of whom had come from as far a field as Reading and Cambridge. At 1:00pm we made our way round the corner to the Treasury to hand in a petition calling for the closure of DESO. It had been signed by over 10,000 people including such prominent names as writer George Monbiot, comedian Mark Thomas and economist Samuel Brittan. CAAT staffer Anna Jones and Chris Cole from the Fellowship of Reconciliation handed in the petition at the front desk.
Rikki from Indymedia came down to bear witness. Look at the fantastic pictures he took!
This is just a quick note to say THANK YOU to everyone who has signed my pledge to come to the SHUT DESO protest tomorrow.
We will be protesting at 11 am in front of DESO’s annual conference and then walk to the treasury to hand in our Shut DESO petition with over 10 000 signatures!
See you then!
On Thursday 15th March I am giving a talk to the very active Bristol CAAT group. Do come along if you can – details are here.
The subject is very topical – corruption. The title of my talk will be “the Ministry of Defence and the bribe culture: from active participation to passive complicity”.
It is easy to think in the current climate with the focus of corruption allegations very much on BAE Systems that the root of the problem lies with them alone. But the British Government is not as clean as it likes to point out.
In 2003 the MoD attacked a Guardian article which stated that “The government’s own arms sales department [DESO] is directly implicated in bribery abroad”. Continue reading “Bribing for Britain”
I’m getting ready for the SHUT DESO protest next Wednesday.
DESO (Defence Export Services Organisation) is a government agency that identifies potential opportunities for arms sales, then works with the arms companies and other elements of government to push for deals.
I really don’t believe that UK tax payers money should be spent on paying around 500 civil servants to help arms companies sell their products. Surely arms companies are pretty capable of selling arms to countries with a dubious human rights record all by themselves. What the hell is the UK government doing helping them?
Read more on DESO.
Continue reading “Getting ready to SHUT DESO !”
CAAT staff and supporters were down at the High Court yesterday. Some weeks ago one of Britain’s leading arms companies, BAE Systems, got hold of a confidential CAAT document and wouldn’t tell anyone how.
Well – now they have to :). The High Court ruled yesterday that BAE Systems has to deliver a sworn legally binding statement telling us how they obtained the confidential information.
It’s a great victory for us! Continue reading “CAAT celebrates BAE defeat in court !”