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

Tear Down the Walls Workshop in Cardiff / Gweithdy Chwalwch y Cawelli

Facebook event.

This is a chance to learn about struggles against prisons across England, Wales & Scotland from The Empty Cages Collective http://www.prisonabolition.org and Community Action on Prison Expansion http://www.cape-campaign.org

The two hour workshop explores the role of prison in our lives, how the Prison Industrial Complex harms individuals and communities and alternatives to it. We introduce examples of state violence, like the IPP sentences, and we focus on prison expansion, as well as the role of prison labour.

We explore recent resistance & ongoing struggles and aim to support new groups to emerge that can fight this racist, sexist, brutal system.


Dyma siawns i ddysgu am y brwydrau yn erbyn carchardai ar draws Lloegr, Cymru a’r Alban gan yr  Empty Cages Collective http://www.prisonabolition.org ac Community Action on Prison Expansion http://www.cape-campaign.org.

Mae’r gweithdy dwyawr yma yn ymchwilio i rol carchar yn ein bywydau, sut mae’r Cyd-Berthynnas Diwydiant Carchar yn niweidio unigolion a be sy’n amgen iddo. Rydym yn cyflwyno esiamplau o drais gan y wladwriaeth, fel deddfrydau IPP, a rydym yn ffocysgu ar ehangu carchar, yn ogystal a rol llafur carchar.

Ystyriwn y mudiad yn erbyn carchardai achefnogaeth i grwpiau newydd sydd yn cwffio y system hiliol, rhywiaethol, ciaidd yma.

Tour-2016-Cardiff

Supporting Someone Through the Legal System // Cefnogi Rhywyn Drwy’r System Gyfreithiol

*Scroliwch ilawr am y Gymraeg*

Over the last year over 20 people have been arrested in protests and actions in South Wales, from short term detention at a protest to comrades being remanded in custody we have attempted to suppourt each other through this.

In order to better equip ourselves to deal with state repression of this sort we have invited Bristol Defendant Solidarity to do a workshop, sharing their of experiance in Suppourting Someone thrugh the legal system.

Bristol Defendant Solidarity is an independent group run by local volunteers, formed after the Stokes Croft riots in April 2011. They aim to provide effective, lasting unconditional support and solidarity to anyone arrested or imprisoned as a result of demos, riots, direct action and escalating class war. They also stand in solidarity with all people facing harassment from the state – whether that is a “random” Stop and Search on the street, or dawn raid as part of their investigations into “subversive” groups. We take a clear stand against state repression and police brutality.

All Welcome!

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Dros y flwyddyn ddiwethaf mae dros 20 o bobl wedi cael eu harestio mewn protestiadau a gweithredoedd uniongyrchol yn Ne Cymru, gan popbl yn cael eu dal am gyfnod byr yn y ddalfa i ein cymrodion cael eu cadw am remand am wythnosau yn y carchar rydym wedi ceisio cefnogi ein gilydd.

Er mwyn paratoi ein hunain yn well i ddelio â gormes o’r math hwn o dy’r wladwriaeth rydym wedi gwahodd “Bristol Defendant Solidarity” i wneud gweithdy, gan rannu eu profiad o gefnogi rhywyn trwy’r system gyfiawnder.

Mae Bristol Defendant Solidarity yn grŵp annibynnol sydd ei redeg gan criw o wirfoddolwyr lleol, a ffurfiwyd ar ôl y terfysgoedd Stokes Croft ym mis Ebrill 2011. Eu nod yw darparu cefnogaeth, effeithiol, parhaol ac unoliaeth diamod i unrhyw un sydd wedi eu harestio neu carcharu o ganlyniad i protestiadau, terfysgoedd, gweithredu uniongyrchol a’r rhyfel dosbarth cynyddol. Maent hefyd yn sefyll mewn unoliaeth gyda’r holl bobl sy’n wynebu cael eu harasio gan y wladwriaeth – boed hynny yn Stopio ar Chwilio ar “hap” ar y stryd, neu cyrch wawr fel rhan o’u hymchwiliadau i grwpiau “chwyldroadol”. Rydym yn cymryd safiad clir yn erbyn gormes y wladwriaeth a chreulondeb yr heddlu.

Croeso i bawb!

Reclaim the Fields International Action Camp

Am y fersiwn Cymraeg cliciwch yma.

South Wales Anarchists will be participating at this camp.

If you are intrested in joining us email gaggededitorial[at]lists[dot]riseup[dot]net

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About the camp

Reclaim the Fields (or RTF) UK was born in 2011, as a star in a wider constellation of food and land struggles that reaches around the globe. Since 2011, camps and other RTF gatherings have helped support local communities in struggle, share skills, developed networks, and strengthened the resistance to exploitation, in Bristol, west London, Gloucestershire, Nottingham and Fife among other locations.

Every two years there is also an international camp, where people from around Europe and beyond meet together to support a local struggle (from gold mining in Romania to open cast coal mining in Germany, for example). People share share stories and ideas about resistance and reclaiming our food system beyond national borders. This year, an international gathering will be held in in Wrexham, Wales.

The aims of the camp are:

To support local communities in the west and north west of England, and the north of Wales with their struggles against fracking
To increase participation in Reclaim the Fields
To demonstrate visible, active opposition to prison construction
To support Borras Community Protection Camp build a garden and infrastructure to become more self-reliant
To demonstrate the interconnection between these struggles
To inspire and radicalise everyone involved

What’s taking place?

Actions – demonstrations & actions against companies involved in the construction of the North Wales prison, as well as local fracking-related targets. Everything from solidarity demos at local prisons to leafleting on Wrexham highstreet.

Workshops & Skillshares – Over the bank holiday weekend there will be abundant opportunities to learn, share, discuss and connect with other people.

Building & Growing on the site – Be part of installing gardens & low impact infrastructure at the community protection camp. Learn about permaculture, agroecology, forest gardening, mushroom growing, pallet construction, compost toilet making, off-grid electrics and more.

Why this camp? Why now?

This camp has been organised to support the local community in Borras to resist fracking in their area (as well as working with other local anti-fracking groups & protection camps in the North West who have been resisting extreme energy developments for a number of years). To find out more about their struggle visit: http://www.frackfreewrexham.org.uk/the-camp/

It has also been organised to give attention to the North Wales Prison Project that is being constructed. This will be Europe’s second largest prison holding 2100 prisoners and the first of a number of ‘mega prisons’ that the UK Government wish to build. Click here for more information about the prison, why we are against it & links to articles about the prison industrial complex in the UK

Practical Information about the Camp

Click on the links below to find more practical information about the camp and how to get involved:

Workshops & programme – what’s happening & how to contribute
Planning Actions
Directions & public transport information
What to bring
Safer Spaces Agreement
Accessibility of the site
Food & donations

Getting involved

This is a DIY camp and everyone is needed to get stuck in to make it happen. People are needed to:

Support with publicity before the event – sharing the gathering online, putting posters up, encouraging your local group to get involved. People are also needed to help design the programme, respond to emails & plan facilitation.

Helping with site set up & building infrastructure (planning this in advance & being on site a few days before the gathering)

Signing up to a shift over the weekend to help with cooking, site set up & safety, being on the welcome tent & so forth

Supporting local groups to organise actions

If you can help with any of these tasks please email info@reclaimthefields.noflag.org.uk
Who are Reclaim the Fields?

Click here to read a history of Reclaim the Fields in Europe
Click here to read a history of Reclaim the Fields in the UK

We are a group of peasants, landless and prospective peasants, as well as people who are taking back control over food production.

We understand “peasants” as people who produce food on a small scale, for themselves or for the community, possibly selling a part of it. This also includes agricultural workers.

We support and encourage people to stay on the land and go back to the countryside. We promote food sovereignty (as defined in the Nyéléni declaration) and peasant agriculture, particularly among young people and urban dwellers, as well as alternative ways of life. In Europe, the concept ‘food sovereignty’ is not very common and could be clarified with ideas such as ‘food autonomy’ and control over food systems by inclusive communities, not only nations or states. We are determined to create alternatives to capitalism through cooperative, collective, autonomous, real-needs-oriented, small-scale production and initiatives. We are putting theory into practice and linking local practical action with global political struggles.

In order to achieve this, we participate in local actions through activist groups and cooperate with existing initiatives. This is why we choose not to be a homogeneous group, but to open up to the diversity of actors fighting the capitalist food production model. We address the issues of access to land, collective farming, seed rights and seed exchange. We strengthen the impact of our work through cooperation with activists who focus on different tasks but who share the same vision.

Nevertheless, our openness has some limits. We are determined to take back control over our lives and refuse any form of authoritarianism and hierarchy. We respect nature and living beings, but will neither accept nor tolerate any form of discrimination, be it based on race, religion, gender, nationality, sexual orientation or social status. We refuse and will actively oppose every form of exploitation of other people. With the same force and energy, we act with kindness and conviviality, making solidarity a concrete practice of our daily life.

We support the struggles and visions of la Via Campesina, and work to strengthen them. We wish to share the knowledge and the experience from years of struggle and peasant life and enrich it with the perspectives and strength of those of us who are not peasants, or not yet peasants. We all suffer the consequences of the same policies, and are all part of the same fight.

No Borders meeting tonight

Meeting of No Borders South Wales tonight (plus people from the ShareDYDD destitution network).no borders march 157pm- 9pm at the Red and Black Umbrella, Clifton Street. Hope to see you there 🙂

Palestine Film Night – Monday 2nd March – at Red and Black Umbrella

The Red and Black Umbrella will host a screening of Roadmap to Apartheid (2012).

palestine film march

This is part of a week of events to mark the coming spring. Full list of events that are happening:

March15

We hope to see you there as we celebrate, learn from and build together connecting the environment, social justice and other struggles.

More info at: http://redandblackumbrella.squat.net

 

Cardiff Anarchist Bookfair / Ffair Lyfrau Anarchaidd Caerdydd

The Cardiff Anarchist Bookfair / Ffair Lyfrau Anarchaidd Caerdydda 2015

…Saturday 21st February at Cathays Community Centre…

“Bookfairs are the anarchist movement’s shop window and main gathering space outside protests.”

It’s been five years since one has been held in Cardiff.

“Ffeiriau llyfrau yw siop ffenestr y mudiad anarchaidd a’r prif gofod i gyfarfod ar ol protestiadau.”

Mae wedi bod yn bum mlynedd ers cynnal y ffair lyfrau anarchaidd diwetthaf yng Nghaerdydd.

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Running order now online.

This and more info (and a website banner/header of the poster) can be found by clicking on the ‘Bookfair’ tag above.

Also see the Farcebook page