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

Call to Action Against the Cardiff Arms Fair

Come to Cardiff on the 16th of March 2016 to take action against the DPRTE arms fair at Cardiff Motorpoint Arena.

motorpoint

According to its website, DPRTE (the Defense Procurement, Research, Technology and Exportability exhibition) is the “UK’s Premier Defense Procurement Event” and is now being hosted annually at Cardiff Motorpoint Arena. They hosted the arms fair in Cardiff for the first time in October 2014, with exhibitors including BAE Systems, the world’s 3rd largest arms producer. BAE has a very special relationship with the UK government & Saudi dictatorship.

*BAE sells equipment to Saudi Arabia, which is being used in the current bombardment of Yemen.

*BAE supplied the tactica armored vehicles, used by Saudi Arabia, in 2011, to brutally crush pro-democracy protests in Bahrain.

*BAE systems supplies Israel with the tools to wage war on the Palestinians, and provides display units used to equip Israeli F-16 fighter jets.

*BAE is one of many companies at DPTRE which supplies weapons to Turkey. In 2015, people in towns across Turkey’s Kurdish region have barricaded their city centers and declared autonomy from the state. The Turkish army has responded by attacking residential areas with tanks, combat helicopters and mortars, killing hundreds of people.

BAE are just one of over 80 exhibitors set to participate in the arms fair. Some are giants of the international arms industry that might be expected; others have a more local dimension, including the Welsh Assembly’s National Procurement Service and the University of South Wales. Household business names like BT and Panasonic are also all over the programme. It seems that a lot of people stand to make a lot of blood money out of the various weapons and other technological approaches to waging warfare that will be displayed.

There has been active opposition to DPRTE since 2013. The arms fair had originally been hosted at the UWE campus in Bristol, but was driven out by determined resistance; hence the move to Cardiff. The protests involved a variety of actions, including blockading the UWE north entrance, causing queues trailing back along the A4174.

Having relocated to Cardiff in 2014, South Wales Anarchists, Stop NATO Cymru and other groups and individuals resolved to show the arms dealers that there is no welcome for them in Wales either. Food Not Bombs Cardiff had a presence; people confronted the arms dealers and tried to get inside; and three arms dealers were covered in red paint as they tried to enter. Those arrested for this action had their charges dropped when it came to trial, due to insufficient evidence.

We urge all that can to join the growing resistance in Cardiff, and in particular, to take action against this arms fair and all those taking part in it on wednesday 16th March 2016. We know that when the richmake war, it’s the poor that die, and we won’t stand for business people profiting from racist mass murder, displacement and torture.

Our website will be updated with news and information and you can contact us by email on: stopcardiffarmsfair at riseup dot net

Stop the Cardiff Arms Fair / Na i Ffair Arfau Caerdydd suppourted by the Anarchist Action Network, Smash EDO, Campaign Against the Arms Trade and South Wales Anarchists

Anti Militarist Court Solidarity – 6th January

Via Anarchist Action Network

No arms

6th Jan 2015
Time: 9:15am
Date: Tuesday 6th January 2015
Location: Cardiff Magistrates Court
Address: Fitzalan Road, Cardiff CF24 0RZ

Court solidarity demonstration to support two much-loved people who are facing excessively harsh charges for allegedly seeking to disrupt the DPRTE arms fair in Cardiff last year. They stand accused of damaging the luxury goods of arms dealers and organisers with childrens play paint.

There will be a short solidarity demonstration outside the court from 9:15am on Tuesday 6th January 2015. Antimilitarist banners and well-wishers welcome. Afterwards some of us will be supporting the defendants from the public gallery.

URGENT WITNESS APPEAL:
***********************
Were you present at the protest against DPRTE Arms Fair at Cardiff Motorpoint Arena in October 2014? Even if you think you didn’t see anything you may be able to provide useful defence evidence as to the nature of the day.
If you think you may be able to help please email: bristoldefendantsolidarity@riseup.net

 

On trial: Anti-Nato protesters who demanded Barclays divest from the arms trade

Barclays Bank will be back in the spotlight today at Newport Magistrates Court, when 4 activists stand trial on charges of aggravated trespass. The activists were arrested when they occupied the Newport branch of Barclays as part of the anti-NATO week of action organised by Stop NATO Cymru at the beginning of September. The trial is set to last for a day and a half. All defendants have plead not guilty to all charges

On Friday 5th September this year, scores of people occupied the bank on Newport high street. They held banners calling on Barclays to divest from the arms trade and to stop investing in Israel’s war crimes.

The protest was part of a campaign, called for by Palestinians in Gaza,[1] aimed at persuading Barclays to pull its money out of Elbit Systems, Israel’s largest military company which manufactures the unpiloted drones used to bomb Palestinians in Gaza.

During July and August 2014, 2,150 Palestinians were killed as Israel carried out another massacre of Palestinians in the besieged Gaza strip. Entire neighbourhoods were destroyed and mosques, market places, UN relief compounds and schools were deliberately targeted. There was no safe place for the 1.7 million people in Gaza to take shelter from the Israeli bombardment. Israeli drones, carried out over 800 major strikes.

Barclays has been condemned in recent years for its excessive use of tax havens, for creating a special ‘tax avoidance division’, for paying well below the nominal UK rate of corporation tax and manipulating the Libor rate. But this protest was more reminiscent of those which plagued Barclays through the 1970s and 1980s when the bank was heavily invested in apartheid South Africa.

The activists claim that Israel’s drone programme is dependent on the investments of companies like Barclays. They called on customers and staff to boycott Barclays, just as anti apartheid campaigners did over
30 years ago.

The occupation of Barclays had been timed to coincide with the NATO summit. Elbit’s drones are also used by NATO members. The company is part of a partnership manufacturing the Watchkeeper drone for use by the UK military.

Opposing the DPRTE arms fair in Cardiff

On the 8th of October, DPRTE – “The UK’s Premier Defence Procurement Event” was held in Cardiff’s Motorpoint arena. A demonstration had been called by Stop NATO Cymru, Anarchist Action Network and South Wales Anarchists to oppose it, starting at 8.30am to coincide with the start of delegate registration, when the those buying and selling weapons and toys of war would be entering the arms fair.

Several times people managed to get very close to the entrance before being kicked out by security, giving the delegates a piece of their mind in the process. At around 9am 3 men in suits entering the arms fair were covered in red paint. Two people were arrested and subsequently kept for 12 hours. They were both charged with criminal damage for staining the suits.

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Food not Bombs Cardiff gave vegan breakfasts to passers by and the demonstrators. Food not bombs are a group who draw attention to food waste, and also the absurd fact that under capitalism we can afford to go to war but yet so many are going hungry and in many parts of the world people are starving to death.

FNB

The arms industry benefits from perpetual war that has become the norm. Arms dealers make money from the deaths of innocent people. They came to Cardiff, a city that had a small taste of what it is to be in a militarized zone with the NATO Conference coming to south Wales just a month ago. If DPRTE come back next year people will be there to oppose them again. We don’t want these dangerous psychopaths in our city, buying and selling weapons that kill people.

Protesters continued to have a frank exchange of views with delegates at the fair for the remainder of the day.

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Callout to Demonstrate against 2014 DPRTE Arms Fair.

8.30 am at Cardiff Motorpoint Arena. Wednesday, the 8th of October

“When the rich wage war, it’s the poor who die.” – Jean-Paul Sartre

def proc

On the 8th of October Cardiff will host one of the UK’s biggest arms fairs at the Motorpoint Arena. Let’s show them what we think of their dirty business! We call on people from south Wales and beyond to come and picket outside the arena that day from the time they open for registration at 8.30 am.

DPRTE this year will be attended by some of the UK’s biggest arms companies, as their exhibitor list shows. They also host a conference, with keynote speakers from industry and government.

The arms fair was previously held in Bristol, but was forced out by protests.

We hope to see you there. If you would like to be a legal observer contact us at stopnatocymru@riseup.net . You can also contact us by that email address for any additional information regarding the demonstration

Mayday Mayhem For Police As Summer of Rage Continues!

The head of the march as it charged through the streets of Brighton

South Wales Anarchists joined up to 2000 people from around the UK in Brighton on May 4th for the largest demonstration to date against Brighton based ‘EDO/MBM’ bomb component factory, organised by Smash EDO.

The MayDay Mayday Street Party against war, the arms trade and capitalism was a lively and colourful march that started at Brighton’s sea front. It continued through the town and paid visits to a number of local branches of multi-national corporations, including McDonalds, RBS, HSBC and Lloyds which invest in ITT, the corporation which owns EDO.

Activists scaled scaffolding on Barclays bank to drop a banner demanding “arms dealers out of Brighton”. Police paid special attention to protect a branch of McDonalds which proved to be a flash point with a police van nearly being tipped over and a flare set off underneath it.

Mayday McMayhem outside a certain fast 'food' outlet that owns 61,500 shares in ITT

Mayday McMayhem outside a certain fast 'food' outlet that owns 61,500 shares in ITT

Compared with previous EDO demos, policing was relatively hands-off initially, without the automatic attempt by police to cordon every man, woman, child or dog in sight. However, batons and pepper spray were used on activists during the day as riot police attempted to control the march and activists successfully forced back mounted police a number of times. Of course, the police ‘Forward Intelligence Teams’ were present but were forced to retreat behind police lines as FIT- watching activists made their job of intrusively filming protestors more difficult.

A police officer attempts to de-escalate the situation...

A police officer attempts to de-escalate the situation...

It seemed that many activists had learnt from the G20 protests and refused to be drawn into long fights with the police. Activists instead found alternative routes and kept moving around the streets when unable to break through police lines quickly, outwitting the cops and leaving them stranded waiting for orders. At one point the cops themselves were ‘kettled’ (penned in) thanks to protestors’ quick thinking. The demonstrators’ refusal not to be kettled or subjected to violence by the police meant that officers were often surrounded and outflanked.

Towards the evening, as the march appeared to retire to the park by St. Peters church and just as riot police had storm-trooped away, the party took to the streets again taking us all by surprise! The streets were again re-claimed by activists and local young people, running through the streets of Brighton, through the Pavilion and back towards the beach for more partying.

Police on the back foot

Police on the back foot

Many felt that the police were on the back-foot at this time since the G20 protests and due to the associated bad press officers received for their tactics. While the police may have been aware of the public eye upon them and tried to behave themselves a bit more on this occasion, the fact is that the police continue to protect private corporations who profit from war and death; meeting resistance to this with violence and repression. While slightly less violent and oppressive policing may be an improvement, better still would be no police at all and the complete freedom to shut down EDO and all corporations who are responsible for the continuation of the bloody war machine.