Glasgow Up in Arms
22nd June 2018
The arms industry is coming to Glasgow, a city that has experienced a rich history of anti-war mobilisations. The Underwater Defence Technology (UDT) exhibition will be held at Glasgow’s SEC from 26-28 of June. It will promote defence and security equipment and will host delegations from 40 different countries.
The conference is run by Clarion events and was arranged by Glasgow Life, a charitable body which provides services on behalf of Glasgow City Council. Clarion Events organises the highly profitable and contentious DSEI arms fair in London outside of which more than 100 people were arrested at protests in September last year. The event describes itself as “Undersea Defence Technology (UDT), taking place from 26 June – 28 June is the underwater defence and security community’s most relevant exhibition and conference. It brings together professionals from the military, industry and academia to focus on the cutting-edge technologies and developments within one of the harshest environments known to man.”
The exhibition will be attended by over 50 different companies, representatives of national armies and government officials and is complemented by a three- day conference that will include sessions such as ‘Integrated underwater warfare system for surface vessels’, ‘Facing the future on submarine combat systems’, ‘Heavyweight torpedo warhead – IM assessment’. Some other sessions will be directly related to to Trident missiles. Campaigners were outraged at the usage of the ‘People Make Glasgow’ logo, describing the fair as a ‘Carnival of Militarism’.
A rally organised by campaigners outside the Council last week and a small deputation met council leader Susan Aitken to press her to stand in opposition to the arms fair. Following intense lobbying,) the Council yesterday (20th of June) announced that they will remove the ‘People Make Glasgow’ logo from the website, although they continue to practically support the event.
Despite previous affirmations by the SNP council deputy leader and chair of Glasgow Life David McDonald that there would be no discussion of Trident on the event, the site’s front page promotes the Trident nuclear submarine.
Arthur West chair of Scottish CND told Bella Caledonia that he was astonished at Councillor David MacDonald’s recent assertion that there will be no discussion of Trident at the forthcoming Glasgow Arms Fair event.
According to Mr. West, recent information indicates that on the second day of the conference will host a recruitment session led by officials who are intensively involved in the trident replacement programme will be taking place. He stated that“this recruitment session and some of the companies who are backing the conference provides compelling evidence that Trident replacement will be discussed and promoted at this unsavory event”.
Following information that Israeli military equipment in the blockade against Gaza will be showcased at the event, SNP council deputy leader and chair of Glasgow Life David McDonald’s description of the arms fair as a ‘technical exhibition and conference for underwater technology, defence and security’ was accused of being an attempt to white-wash the event.
Israeli military has attacked and killed over 100 Palestinians in Gaza injuring thousands more since protests began on the 30 March.
DSIT solutions, which is part owned by the Israeli state-owned weapons manufacturer Rafael and provides the technology to monitor the sea borders surrounding Gaza will be hosted at the UDT event. In addition, some of its lead sponsors, BAE Systems and Babcock International, are responsible for the development of the UK’s Trident nuclear renewal programme.
BAE Systems produces Eurofighter jets that are being used by Saudi forces in Yemen. It is also sponsored by Leonardo, which the Sunday Post has linked to arms being used by Turkish forces in Afrin.
Babcock International was awarded Trident contracts worth of £350m by the MoD to start work on the replacement of the UK’s fleet of four Trident nuclear submarines by 2028.
A member of the campaign Scotland Against Militarism said that “With the recent massacre of innocent civilians in Palestine which are linked to the arms trade it’s time to take a stand and let Glasgow truly flourish without an industry of death at our doorstep.”
A spokesman for Glasgow Life said: “Glasgow hosts more than 500 conferences each year, which contribute more than £130 million to the city’s economy. In recent years the UDT conference has been hosted in major cities including London, Oslo, Liverpool and Hamburg. The conference will bring more than 1,000 delegates to Glasgow with an estimated economic benefit of £1.2 million for the city; money which will be spent in local businesses supporting thousands of local jobs across our hospitality, transport and retail sectors. The organiser of UDT, Clarion Events, has confirmed that neither Trident nor the Trident replacement programme will feature at this year’s conference in Glasgow.”
Campaigners have taken a stand against the SNP-led Council for backing the fair and disputing the legitimacy of these arguments. Opposition politicians have spoken out against the UDT exhibition 2018, including the Green Party and many Labour MPs. McDonald refused to guarantee that the Council will not host arms fairs in the future.
Despite facing various inquiries on the issue and being pressed from many sides due to the controversy this event has created, a Glasgow City Council spokesperson once again told Bella Caledonia that neither Trident nor the Trident replacement programme would feature in the UDT events. He continued by saying that members have asked officers to start work on a formal policy regarding support for conventions.
Mr. West of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament told us that “It is shameful that in a country where there is so much political and public opposition to Trident replacement that a conference like this is going ahead in the first place”.
Anti-militarism campaigners have called on people to gather for an urgent protest against the UDT Arms Fair in Glasgow. Scottish CND, Scotland Against Militarism, CAAT, Scottish PSC, Food Not Bombs along with other campaigning groups have called for a large-scale demonstration on the 23rd of June at the Buchanan Street Steps and on the 26th of June, outside Glasgow’s SEC at the opening day of the conference. The official rally is organised by the Sink the Arms Fair coalition.