Notts Arms Companies

In March this year the BBC TV program The One Show showed a report on the hidden companies of Nottinghamshire. With the realization that the UK were selling arms to Libya and Bahrain the One show decided it was time to report on the UK’s arm trades. Kirk Jackson from Campaign Against Arms Trade and Notts Anti-Militarism took Simon Boarzman the One Show reporter to a few local arms companies including Heckler and Koch which had been the target of a long-running local campaign.

It is understandable that media reports like this will be subject to some inaccuracies and commissions. Campaigners do not claim as reported that Nottingham is a key player in the arms industry, there are other bigger areas in the country, the point being that no matter where you are in the UK you are never far from an arms company. When Kirk said, “Jobs that were shed from the arms industry would be soaked up in other industries” and was started as wishful thinking by Simon Boarzman. Kirk was quoting Sandy Wilson the Vice President of the trade organisation that represents the UK arms industry.

The One show took one company off the report as they had libel concerns. The company was Easy Tiger International in Cotgraue who deal in small arms and ammunition. The arms fair mentioned is Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEi) and it takes place in London every two years. The One Show would never have time to provide an in depth report and therefore campaigners were unable to respond to the points made from the government assurances that the UK arms industry is under strict controls.

The licensing system is merely a smoke screen, seemingly to convince of the controls whilst companies are still exporting to repressive regimes. This rings true with Libya where the license was revoked after the deals had taken place. Although the One Show confirmed the importance to the economy of the arms industry it never asked why the UK had such a large industry. The UK arms industry is so big because the UK government have protected and nurtured even at the loss to other industries. This is due to Britain wanting to still be a force and have influence on world affairs.

For Britain to say in the hierarchy they need to be classed as a major military power and have hi-tech arms manufacturing base. Maintaining this though is at extreme expense so to try and keep the costs down the government helps the British arms companies to sell to other countries. When Francis Tusa an arms trade apologist states of the importance to the economy we must challenge the militarist policies that have allowed this area to prosper whilst more positive endeavours have lacked any government backing.

If we focus on the economic value alone this give the supporter’s free rein to set the facts to argue. The importance of the arms trade could be comparable to the slave trade in the 18th century. Back then people used the economic importance to back the slave trade but there were no objections made when it was abolished. The strongest argument Is the moral argument. A studio guest on the One Show stated her concerns that the arms the UK were selling could end up being used to kill British soldiers, although a very good question it also opened the question that it was ok for such an invasion from the UK. It is not right and Anti-Militarists are not only against the arming but also providing our own forces with the weapons to wage wars as seen in Iraq.

Despite the obvious lack of content the report by the One Show raised the issues concerning the immoral arms trade to millions who would not have been aware previously.

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