Blurring the boundary: Cardiff event links Whitehall to arms trade

Shoal Collective investigates the links between the weapons business and the UK government.

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Campaigners have announced a day of protest against a controversial Cardiff event which they say “totally blurs the boundary between government and the arms trade”.

DPRTE (Defence Procurement, Research, Technology & Exportability) is to be held at the Motorpoint Arena on Tuesday 28 March. Although it bills itself as “the UK’s leading defence procurement event”, opponents insist it is an arms fair.

Last year six people were arrested during protests against DPRTE and another day of action has been called for 2017, with the aim of shutting the event down.

BAE Systems, whose fighter jets have been used by the Saudi regime to bomb schools and hospitals in Yemen, as well as by the Turkish and Israeli states against Kurdish and Palestinian civilians, will be exhibiting in the “Prime Contractor Village” at Cardiff’s Motorpoint.

DPRTE is open about its aims to deepen and increase existing ties between arms businesses and the government.

These links between the UK state and the weapons industry have come under heavy scrutiny in recent months, with Prime Minister Theresa May being forced to defend ongoing arms sales to Saudi Arabia in the face of international criticism.

Event organisers BiP Solutions boast: “With an annual spend of over £19bn on equipment and services the UK defence sector represents a fantastic opportunity for organisations looking to supply to this marketplace. DPRTE 2017 will provide a unique opportunity to gain access to defence procurement buyers”.

BiP Solutions, a private company based at Pacific Quay, Glasgow, is deeply embedded within Ministry of Defence (MOD) operations, running its Defence Contracts Online, through which all MOD contracts valued at £10,000 and above are advertised. It also publishes the fortnightly MOD Defence Contracts Bulletin.

Established in 1984 “to facilitate business between the public and private sectors”, BiP Solutions has had a “a sixteen-year relationship” with civil servants at the MOD in London.

A keynote speaker at DPRTE 2017 will be 62-year-old Les Mosco, who was the most senior procurement professional in the MOD from 2007 to 2014, managing 2,500 staff and directing the MOD’s annual multi-billion pound spend.

Before his seven-year stint at Whitehall, Mosco enjoyed a successful career in the private sector, with roles at the NatWest banking group, and at the US-based oil and gas business Amerada Hess, now the Hess Corporation.

Less than a year after leaving the MOD at the end of September 2014, Mosco took up a position on the Strategic Advisory Board of BiP Solutions.

He also runs his own private company, Commercial Strategies Ltd, of which he is CEO and director, with his 65-year-old wife Barbara as company secretary. It is registered to the couple’s home in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire.

Originally set up in October 2003 as Purchasing Strategies Ltd, its name was changed to Commercial Strategies Ltd in October 2014, just after Mosco left the MOD.

Mosco’s go-between role is no anomaly. The UK government does not hide its links to DPRTE, with Barry Burton, Director of Corporate Affairs at the MOD’s Defence Equipment and Support organisation, declaring in his 2016 opening speech in Cardiff: “An event like DPRTE today provides an excellent opportunity for industry professionals to meet with the MOD’s procurement team. The Ministry of Defence wholeheartedly supports this event.”

The official event partners listed on the DPRTE website include sections of the MOD like Defence Equipment and Support, the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, Defence Infrastructure Organisation and the Defence Export Service Organisation (DESO), which promotes arms exports by arms companies based in Britain.

Alongside these government entities sit other event partners whose status is less clear. One of these, for instance, is Defence Growth Partnership (DGP), which describes itself as “a partnership between Government and the Defence Industry”.

There is also the UK Defence Solutions Centre (UKDSC), which explains on its website that it is “an established, independent partnership between the UK Government and the UK Defence Industry”.

The UKDSC claims to work with “the best of the defence industry” and names arms companies such as Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Thales, Cobham and BAE Systems as key partners.

Another DPRTE “partner” is Defence and Security Accelerator, a new entity launched in December 2016 to “help government defence and security departments collaborate with industry, academia and allies”.

Further official event partners at DPRTE entirely represent the interests of the powerful weapons manufacturing industry.

One of these, ADS, terms itself the “Premier Trade Organisation for companies in the UK Aerospace, Defence, Security and Space Sectors” and claims to represent 1,000 businesses.(17)

Its website reveals that it acts as a lobbying group, pressuring the government to behave in ways that benefit its members’ interests – which in this case would mean spending more taxpayers’ money on buying weapons.

ADS admits that a key area of its activities is “influencing the policy debates of most importance to our industries,” adding: “ADS plays an instrumental role in bringing industry and Government together. We also work closely and collaboratively to maintain and grow the UK as a world leader in our industries.”

Working towards similar aims is another DPRTE partner, NDI – Defence, Space, Aerospace, Security. The arms wing of the manufacturers’ organisation EEF, NDI “actively promotes global business opportunities for its members” and says it provides “policymaking influence to magnify the voice of the industry and individual companies”. Its “global partners” include BAE Systems, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Raytheon.

DPRTE has been attracting protests for several years and was forced to move to Cardiff in 2014 because of public opposition at its original venue in Bristol.

This year the Stop the Cardiff Arms Fair / Na i Ffair Arfau Caerdydd network is advertising a Day of Action at the Motorpoint Arena in Mary Ann Street, starting at 8am on 28 March 28.

One anti-militarist campaigner said: “This event is unacceptable in so many ways. It totally blurs the boundary between government and the arms trade and uses taxpayers’ money to promote unethical profiteering in the private sector.

“These ruthless businesses build their wealth on the rubble of schools and hospitals and on the dead bodies of the children targeted by the weapons of mass destruction they manufacture and sell across the world.

“DPRTE has no place in Cardiff and the city should be ashamed of hosting these dealers in death. We call on anyone with a conscience to join us on 28 March to shut down this arms fair!”

More info on the protests

Cardiff Anarchist Bookfair 2017

On Saturday 18th February we will once again be returning to Cathays Community Centre to host our annual Anarchist Bookfair. We will be hosting a wholeday of workshops, talks and debates, plus a hall full of stall, plenty of food, live muscial entertainment, and much more.

Facebook Event

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Call for submissions for Welsh Anarcha-Feminist Zine

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VIA FFWFF

Ffwff, our Welsh/English bilingual Anarcha-Feminist zine will this year be publishing a special edition in memory of the amazing creative soul Eli, a very dear friend of one of the zine founders and many others, who sadly passed away. So we want to make it a bumper-super-special-kick-ass one! Our theme will be focusing on highlighting issues of solidarity, mental health and mental states of being outside what society considers “normal”. For this we will need your help!!

Submission guidelines: Loosely themed around mental health and different mental states outside of the parameters of what this society deems “normal”. You can approach and respond to this subject in any way you like! We are accepting articles, stories, interviews, artwork, poems (or any other creative responses however abstract) in Welsh, English or whichever language you prefer – so long as we’re able to show them effectively in printed format, size A5. The zine is mainly printed in black and white, but just let us know if there’s something specific you want to submit that’s alternative to these guidelines. Importantly, your submissions can also remain anonymous should you wish.

Ffwff is a not-for-profit Zine, and copies will be available for free once printed. It is funded from our own pockets and no revenue is generated. As you know, printing costs can be dear so whilst we are not asking for a submission fee of any kind (we do not want to restrict who can take part) any help that can be offered for getting the final publication to print, when the time comes, will be gratefully appreciated.

** The deadline is Friday, 6th May 2016! Please email your submissions directly to: Mererid (North Wales) merecoincidence@gmail.com or Heledd (South Wales) heledd.melangell@gmail.com **

And if you want to send anything by post let us know!

Diolch yn fawr // Thank you very much

Arms fair faces resistance in Cardiff

VIA Stop the Cardiff Arms Fair

One of the UK’s biggest arms fairs (DPRTE) met resistance on 16th March in Cardiff town centre.

NB Since some people are facing ongoing legal cases, we can’t say everything we would like to in this report; but even with some of the most powerful details left out, we think it’s a story worth telling.

The day started early; two people outwitted security to occupy the venue’s rooftop with a banner before the event had begun.

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As delegates started arriving, a lively crowd ensured they were very aware they weren’t welcome. Around 150 people (including banners and surreal props) were there to challenge the event; not bad for first thing on a weekday morning.

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Meanwhile Cardiff Food not Bombs had set up a structure and were providing food and music, and a place to relax or to chat with intrigued passers-by.

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Unfortunately, during the morning the police arrested 4 people on various spurious grounds. The two people on the roof were also arrested at the end of the day.

Of course, what happened on the day was just the tip of the iceberg – from bus stop subverts to comms blockades, from pickets of the venue (the Motorpoint Arena) to leafletting sessions, a lot of unseen work by all sorts of people went into making this happen.

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With DPRTE possibly returning to Cardiff in March 2017 it’s time to keep up the pressure and organise a campaign capable of shutting down this monstrosity for good.

Our statement on Saturday’s opposition to “White Pride Worldwide”

VIA Swansea Antifa

On Saturday anti-fascists from Anti-Fascist Network groups across Wales and England joined locals to oppose the National Front’s “White Pride Worldwide”.

Political and community organisations took the decision to hold a community celebration in Castle Square – involving children and other vulnerable people – meters away from where violent fascists were expected to gather. In spite of this, the majority of people were intent on actually standing up to racism, rather than standing across the road from it. When the 27 NF emerged from the pubs which chose to serve them they were greeted with a solid wall of noise, as well as some more up-close and personal confrontations.

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The gathering of about seven local bumpkins and twenty seig-heilers from as far away as Wigan was well protected by South Wales Police. Notable in their absence were The “Valleys Frontline Firm”, possibly something to do with a bizarre note, accidently discarded by one of theirs which suggests that their leader – Luke Pippen, currently wanted by Kent Police for incidents in Dover – is hiding out in Adam Lloyd’s house in Bridgend… or maybe he’s with his partner, Rebecca Thornton, in Bristol? Be more careful next time boys.

Swansea Antifa had decided not release a public meeting point for our own action. Intelligence suggested that autonomous groups of fascists would be roaming the streets and thus that people in the community celebration had to be protected. This proved to be the right decision.

Having joined the main crowd heckling the NF, we recognised members of National Action – a neo-nazi youth group, known for their rhetoric and threats of violence – who had sought to infiltrate the anti-fascist crowd, singing antifascist chants at their NF “comrades” and waving anti-fascist flags that they had bravely bought online. After numerous recent humiliations and embarrassing episodes on the streets, it seems the new kids on the block were keen to prove themselves to their fellow fascists. Apparently dressing up as antifascists and hiding in antifascist demos earns nazi brownie points. Except it didn’t work out too well for them this time. Alex Davies, Ben Raymond and Mark James were some of the figures recognised and challenged. They retreated to the police after an ineffective attempted attack on antifascist demonstrators and flinging a smoke bomb at the crowd. Antifascists followed them until they were escorted to the cells in a police van, with only two – including Alex Davies – avoiding arrest, abandoning their friends whilst fleeing from antifascists.

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Ben Raymond was easily recognised as he recently took part in a BBC documentary where he talked openly of his abhorrent views. What exactly possessed him to think that he could get away with disguising himself as one of the anti-fascists is beyond comprehension. Anti-fascists traditionally cover their faces to avoid surveillance by Redwatch fascists, but NA’s attempt at ‘disguise’ failed to mask the stench of rotting Nazism. Had it not been for the defensive actions and effective response of antifascists, the NA nazis could have successfully mounted an attack on people demonstrating solid community opposition to fascism.

Anti-fascists stayed in central Swansea to monitor the remaining fascists after the NF had staggered off. Only one was waiting for the several arrested members of National Action (or POW’s as they like to call them – how cute) – Alex Davies, all alone with a bag full of skips and coke (not very nutritious for aryan warriors). He was heard on the phone exclaiming that “it’s all gone tits up” and “no one came from north of Brum, there were only ten of us and they weren’t even seasoned activists”. Upon realising that he was being monitored, he espoused his deep “respect” for antifascists, for how organised we were, and how solid our sense of solidarity is compared to his authoritarian mates.

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Most interesting was his confession that he had spoken to Zack Davies on Skype before Zack’s attempted racist murder of a Sikh man in Mold (http://www.channel4.com/…/national-actions-zack-davies-guil…). Previously National Action have denied any contact with him or that he was a member of their group despite him having their propaganda in his home. Alex Davies said it was “horrible” when Zack carried out the attack. Evidently not horrible enough for him to leave National Action.

He claimed to have attempted to “connect with us on a human level” something quite difficult giving his views that disabled, non-white and LGBTQI* people should all be put in ovens. He flipped between apologising for his views, acknowledging the ideological incoherence, justifying that he had to keep at it as he had been kicked out of university for his dedication to Nazism and then just saying how he was going through such a hard time personally. There was something quite worrying and tragic about this scared and lonely young fascist, so clearly desperate for attention. NA would be nothing but a sad school project, were it not for the genuine threat their sick ideology poses to our communities.

To top off the day, the dregs of NA were spotted by patrolling anti-fascists in the early hours, fresh from the cells, huddling together for warmth after Alex Davies fled (again) and they missed their coaches home. No Skips, no coke, no solidarity for them, just as sad and pathetic as their 27 NF mates who were booed off the streets of Swansea earlier that day.

Big up all who confronted NF/NA nazi scum on the day. We will never let the fascists have the streets.

Swansea Antifa

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Goodbye “white pride”
❤ Swansea Antifa

Call out for May Day 2016 -We are fighting back!!

May Day greetings to workers everywhere, join in the radical workers bloc in Cardiff in May Day demonstration.

In response to the police’s burality last year to two people at Cardiff May Day 2015, we are fighting back!!!

See footage:

See shorter video of the police’s attack of one of the protesters 1.50 minutes in

Have you had problems with your boss at work? Having problems with your benefits? Has a service you used been cut? Have you had enough?

Meet at 12 noon at Aneurin Bevan Statue : Cardiff Castle side of Queen Street         Sunday 2nd of may

May day bank holiday has its roots in the fight for many of the rights we have today e.g. eight hour day, work safety, holidays… Its is celebrated across the globe as international workers’ day.

While many in Cardiff are struggling, cuts of £32 million are being implemented during 2015 to 2018. This is while government continues to waste billions of pounds. Just locally in Cardiff last May Day, two people were attacked by the police at HSBC on Cardiff. They were arrested, held in prison on remand, then on tag with ridiculous bail conditions and only found not guilty 8 months later. Police and CPS had clear footage of the police violently attacking the protesters which was available to them the whole time but they still forced it to trial at OUR expense. . HSBC bank also lied along with the police in court, directly contradicting the CCTV evidence of police brutality.

Afiach Release Two Benefit Compilations, to coincide with Cardiff Anarchist Bookfair

The two compilations ‘If It Was Easy They Wouldn’t Call It A Struggle’ and ‘Prosecute The Arms Dealers’, are both officialy released on the 20th of February 2016, to coincide with this years’ Cardiff Anarchist Bookfair.

One of the compilations will be raising money for Stop The Cardiff Arms Fair, and the other for Cardiff Defendant Solidarity. Both these causes are very worthy and currently relevant. In the Cardiff Motorpoint Arena, DPRTE will be hosting their arms fair – they moved to Cardiff after leaving Bristol following massive protests. We hope the same will happen in Cardiff, so get involved in resisting the arms fair on March 16th 2016. Cardiff Defendant Solidarity helps and supports people going through the legal system, who need funds. Often for those facing charges, their expenses and fines add up quickly and adds more pressure and worry.

Donate or purchase online, share on your social media sites and come to the Cardiff Anarchist Bookfair or any other ‘Afiach’ stalls to pick up a CD.
100% of proceeds go straight to these groups.

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The Track-Listing ……..

Afiach # 7 – If It Was Easy, They Wouldn’t Call It A Struggle
(Cardiff Defendant Solidarity Benefit)

4pp CD Booklet.ai

CD
1. Prison Abolition – Conscious Youth
2. Snow is Freedom – Tracey Curtis
3. Dangerous – WOWZA
4. Turbid Milieu – Grand Collapse
5. Tear Apart The Walls – Cistem Failure
6. Disgrace – Petrol Girls
7. I Wish There Was No Prisons – Cosmo
8. The Otherside – Will Tun & The Wasters
9. By Morning – Evan Greer
10. The Hunt – Failed State
11. Burn It Down – Jugganote
12. Jack Shit – Efa Supertramp
13. Until All Are Free – Rover
14. Fine Lines – Rufus Mufasa
15. A State of Affairs – Ap Cooper
16. Your Laws – Kilnaboy
17. Tân yn dy ‘Sgyfaint – Radio Rhydd
18. Squat Rave – SubFire
19. Don’t Worry – Jamey P
20. The Process – Brian Curran
21. Experiment – Joe Dirt
22. Watch Your Back – Primeval Soup

Full Digital Album also features:
23. P.R.S (Live) – Public Order Act
24. The World Is Ours – Gab De La Vega
25. Reveal The Sharks – We Are Animals
26. Fe Gerddaf Gyda Thi (remix) – Roughion
27. Different – Bibi
28. Too Blind To See It – Smiler
29. Yrth Quackin’ – Zhubat
30. Fuck Off – Spam Javelin
31. Gemini Whatever Happened To You – Jacob Nico
32. Think What You Like – Ferny Mac
33. Jiffy Hoof Out – Mwstard
34. One World Riot – Primeval Soup
35. Apocalypse Dub – Preppa
36. CCTV – Deadbeat
37. Coming Home – Pog

DOWNLOAD / PURCHASE CD HERE.

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Afiach # 8 – Prosecute The Arms Fair
(Stop Cardiff Arms Fair Benefit)

4pp CD Booklet.ai

1. System – Petrol Girls
2. Vampire – Black Star Dub Collective
3. Heddwch VIP – Roughion
4. Enter The International Court of Justice – Atterkop
5. Ladybug Ladybug – Conformist
6. Three Little Piggies – SubFire
7. Y Byd ar Dân – X4C
8. Missiles On The Roof – Holiday
9. Refusenicks – Kilnaboy
10. Help Define Heroes – Emissaries of Syn
11. Politricks – Spred The Dub
12. Survivor’s Parade – Pog
13. History’s Lies – Viva Zapata
14. Their Eyes (feat. Taina Asili) – Evan Greer
15. Pollution Evolution – Bratakus
16. For My Brothers – Jugganote
17. All The Girls Love a Soldier – Tracey Curtis
18. Not Wrinkles, Not Bombs – Mwstard
19. Billy Was My Buddy – Garden Folk
20. Hook, Line and Sinker – Johnny Campbell
21. They’ll Speak of us for Years – Zebedy

Full Digital Album also features:
22. F.E.A.R (feat. Efa Supertramp & Secret Weapons) – Clusterfuck
23. Byd ‘di Blino – Radio Rhydd
24. These Streets Are Ours – Cosmo
25. Nation Violation – Failed State
26. Like Waves – Gab De La Vega
27. Zero Degrees – Ferny Mac
28. It’s Not The End of The World Yet – Days & Ages
29. Black Skies – Worthy Victims
30. Be The Best – The Manifest
31. Vote Your Friends In – Smiler
32. History – Noah
33. All My Friends Are Freedom Fighters – Efa Supertramp
34. Steadiness Is Lying – Jacob Nico
35. Let’s Blow Up The World – Alaric Newnham
36. Y Stryd – Terfysg
37. War Puppet – Sods Law
38. Racists – 51st State
39. Weasels
 – Internationalcuntcircus
40. F.N.W.O – Rufus Pearce
41. Jen Dalsi Pisen Proti Valce – Hledani
42. Pork Beli – Zhubat
43. Zombie Dub – Zombie Dub

DOWNLOAD / PURCHASE CD HERE.