2007 - 2021

Glasgow Up in Arms

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.

Comments (9)

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  1. SleepingDog says:

    One man’s “harshest environment” is 99% of the Earth’s living space and home to over half of its life.

    Do we have much research into what happens when ecosystems are turned into battlefields? Perhaps Glasgow City Council could support a conference enquiring into such questions.

    1. peter mcdade says:

      Your idea may bring a better understanding of our actions and may begin to go some way to creating a securer future for us all ?

      This ‘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.’ — ((Face-palm))

      1. John O'Dowd says:

        Dear Oh Dear! Money Trumps ethics!

  2. Iain McIntosh says:

    I am against selling arms to Israel and any other country that uses them and abuses their populations. I’d go further and halt production of offensive weapons and focus exclusively on defence and diplomacy.

    I have always opposed trident, always will, it has no place in Scotland!

    To provide balance to this story, it would be good to see a quote from the council on exactly what they believe this event to be and their stance on trident. Otherwise this story looks like mud slinging.

    I take the greens at face value on arms sales and trident, they are consistent and principled.

    But labour!?

    labour in Glasgow, we are talking about group that fought the rights on women’s equal pay through every court and dirty trick in the land for decades. After 60 years in power, the moment they were thrown out of power, they were screaming at the SNP on women’s equal pay. That sums labour up!

    I introduce this as it places the dishonest and shameless context in which labour operate. They offer the same level of inconsistency on arms and trident.

    We all know the multiple stances labour have on trident and the contempt London has for their north british branch. Whilst part of the uk, as supported by labour, we all know Scotland has no voice on trident. The only way to get rid of trident is to leave the uk and hand it back to them!

    Let’s not forget Iraq, labour have short memories on Iraq, the people do not. A sorry to the Iraqi people from labour would be nice, but I’ll not hold my breath! We have labour politician’s criticising others for permitting hosting of a conference related to arms. We must not forget that labour lied about another nation, launched an illegal war against that nation resulting in a million plus casualties and used weapons of mass destruction. The result we have had two decades of violence and instability across the middle east, including Palestine. Some of this violence created by labour has visited itself on England.

    To recap, I’d like to see what those in positions of power in the council say on this, I will not listen to those being used as tools by a bunch of hypocrites and liars, AKA labour in Scotland!

    1. Stewart Campbell says:

      All too true, labour are shambolic liars when it comes to, well anything really!

      Labour have still not accepted their guilt over Iraq.

  3. Graham Campbell says:

    I am one of a number of SNP Councillors in Glasgow who supports both demos on Tuesday June 26th against the arms fair. I thought Bella was meant to be pro-Independence and consistently fact-checked what it publishes but I am sad to say this story is laced with inaccuracies.

    Firstly, it fails to mention the obvious point that this arms fair was booked in March 2017 by the previous Labour administration – not by the current SNP minority City Government. The article strongly implies it was SNP Depute Leader Cllr McDonald’s decision to support the arms fair coming to Glasgow. This is clearly wrong since he only became Chair of GL in June 2017.

    Secondly the ALEO responsible for booking this event was the Glasgow Convention Bureau not Glasgow Life (GL) while Glasgow City Marketing Bureau is responsible for the People Make Glasgow logo and brand identity.

    Thirdly the premise that the SNP Deputy Leader ‘refuses to rule out future arms fairs’ is again completely misleading (and probably intended to be) by implying the event is organised and supported by the Council – when it is not. There is to be no council or GL staff support practically or symbolically since such support means coming in with marketing, booking accommodation and some exhibitors logistics – none of which will be used because People Make Glasgow support has been withdrawn.

    Fourthly, the decision to remove the People Make Glasgow logo was taken before meeting any lobbyists or campaigners – it was not as a result of any meeting with Council Leader Susan Aitken – who was in fact rather unfairly targeted by protesters at her council surgery ! I wonder why didn’t the people who did that turn up at Labour group Leader Frank McAveety’s surgery since he was leader when this decision was made.

    Fifthly, it mentions ‘opposition parties’ are against the arms fair but the article doesn’t mention that it is strongly opposed by SNP members, branches and Councillors and that this is in the public domain.

    Finally, for the future – While the Council probably cannot cancel this particular event at such short notice – not without incurring significant cancellation penalty fees and costs to council-tax payers – the reality is that ethical and human rights criteria are to be added to the Convention Bureau criteria for winning future convention business.

    Precisely as a result of the SNP implementing its own manifesto commitments on tourism and economic development these changes will ensure that we do not take convention business that compromises Glasgow. Whilst we cannot guarantee no such events will ever be booked in the city – we have little control over private venues booking such events other than through licensing – with these new criteria in place, any future arms fair is unlikely to be acceptable in Council family owned venues.

    While we cannot cancel the current arms fair, I think it is best to protest against it in numbers and thus make the arms export trade fully aware that their business is not welcome in Glasgow. If we do that – they are unlikely to return.

    1. Hi Graham – thanks for your comment and very happy to check any facts. I’m a bit confused about why opposing ban arms fair makes us less ‘pro independence’? Presumably the peace activists that have been a feature of the Yes movement for decades are less pro-independence for opposing it too?

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