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Glasgow Arms Fair

Categories: BLOG | Published: 10/08/2018 | Views: 218

Activist Brian Quail offers a personal reflection on the recent arms fair in Glasgow and his involvement in a nuclear weapons protest in London.

UDT - these unfamiliar letters stand for Undersea Defence Technology, the name given to the huge arms fair that was held in Glasgow from June 26 to 28. This event promoted Trident, the Israeli military, and companies that sell to human rights-abusing regimes in Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Babcock and BAE are leading the Trident renewal. They were also the lead sponsors for the UDT event.
BAE Systems, UDT’s lead sponsor, is the UK’s biggest seller of arms to Saudi Arabia. The Saudi regime is currently leading bombing runs on Yemen. The UN says Yemen is the world’s biggest humanitarian crisis.
UDT exhibitors Lockheed Martin are “proud of the significant role” they play in the Israeli armed force. They are a major supplier of fighter jets. The current Israeli government has been repeatedly accused of human rights violations.
Israeli arms firm DSIT Solutions Ltd was also exhibiting and the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) linked media outlet, Israel Defence, is a UDT partner. Several of DSIT’s directors are ex-Israeli military.
The aerospace company Leonardo also sponsored UDT. Leonardo supplies the same kind of jets to Turkey that were used to bomb the formerly peaceful Kurdish region of Afrin in northern Syria. Tens of thousands were forced to flee their homes and hundreds died as a result of the attacks.
Sustained pressure from campaigners led Glasgow City Council to drop the logo ‘People Make Glasgow’ from this arms fair, although it continued to give practical support.
So much for the technical details.
I found it difficult to focus on this event as I was concentrating on another action I was involved in. This was on June 20, when along with some 50 Trident Ploughshares supporters I chained myself to the railing round the Westminster Parliament. We did this in protest at the UK government’s refusal to support the international treaty to ban nuclear weapons signed by 122 states on July 7 last year at the UN in New York.
Normally, this sort of action would be an arrestable offence, so I went to London expecting to be detained there as a guest of her majesty.  Never having been arrested in London before, I was unhappy about the prospect of having to return there for the consequent trial.
As it happens, the Met adopted a “softly softly” approach and simply stood by while we chained ourselves to the railings, like the Suffragettes of 100 years ago. So I was able to return to Scotland a free man, ready to concentrate on action against the UDT extravaganza. But it did mean we missed a chance to raise the illegality of Trident in an English court.
What particularly incensed me about the UDT event was that the SNP/Green controlled Council was supporting this arms fair. Both parties have a strong anti-Trident position and a powerful anti-military record. Indeed, Glasgow is a city with a proud history of standing up against war and militarism.
It seems that the mouth-watering prospect of lots of lovely money coming into the city swayed their judgement. This shame will endure for long after the junketing is over.
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