Questioning candidates on the arms trade

Questioning candidates on the arms trade

I'm currently waiting to hear from all six candidates in my constituency about a topic that much of the media have ignored during the election campaign - the government's subservience to the arms industry.

Since Blair's government cancelled a criminal investigation into multinational arms firm BAE Systems, many more people have become aware of the undemocratic influence wielded by arms companies in the corridors of power. Former Foreign Secretary Robin Cook wrote that BAE's boss has “the keys to the garden door at Number Ten”.

The Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) is encouraging us to question our candidates about the arms industry's relationship with goverment. They have provided a facility on their website to make it easy: http://www.caat.org.uk/issues/ukti/election/index.php.

In particular, this is a great opportunity to question candidates about UK Trade and Investment (UKTI), the government unit that promotes British exports. It has more staff working on arms exports than on all civil sectors combined – even though arms make up less than 2% of UK exports.

I encourage you to take a moment to challenge your candidates, and then let CAAT know what they said. In a couple of weeks, the candidates you've questioned may be sitting in Parliament, with the power to change Britain's relationship with the arms trade. That will be the time to hold them to the commitments they've made to us.

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