Campaigners stand firm against Glasgow arms fair

By agency reporter
June 22, 2018

Sustained pressure from campaigners has led Glasgow City Council to drop the logo ‘People Make Glasgow’ from an upcoming arms fair in Glasgow. People Make Glasgow had been listed as a supporter of the event until this week.

The council has dropped all mentions of the Underwater Defence Technology (UDT) exhibition being supported by ‘People Make Glasgow’ on the official UDT website and event programme.

The UDT arms fair will take place from June 26-28 2018 at the Scottish Exhibition Centre (SEC) venue which is 90 per cent owned by the city council.

However, the council has said it will continue to support the event in all other areas, telling CommonSpace that there had been “confusion” around what the brand was representing.

Campaigners have condemned the decision to continue supporting the UDT exhibition, claiming that the council is simply “hiding its interests and involvement”.

Revelations that Israeli military equipment used to blockade Gaza will be showcased drew criticism from Palestine solidarity groups across Scotland. Similarly, the discovery of talks relating to Trident renewal and a student recruitment session run by officials leading the renewal programme drew further opposition, but the council continued to insist that Trident renewal would not be featured.

Activists have picketed the council chambers and contacted MSPs and councillors to appeal directly. A small group visited Council Leader Susan Aitken’s surgery on 11 June 2018, to question her support for it.

Jay Sutherland of Scotland Against Militarism said: "The decision to use the logo was completely hypocritical to begin with, when most people in Glasgow who are aware of this arms fair oppose it.

"This shows that people power works and that the council realise they have got it completely wrong. They recognise that people have claimed the brand, but what they don’t realise is that people own the city too and we are not putting up with this.

"We won’t back down until they remove their full support for the event, nothing less. Otherwise they are simply hiding their interests and involvement."

Kate Nevens of Edinburgh Campaign Against the Arms Trade said: "Hosting a major arms fair is completely incompatible with a city like Glasgow, which is anti-nuclear and famous for its opposition to war.

"It is vital that the council put in place a policy and framework to ensure events like this never happen in Glasgow again. The council must instigate a public discussion on how this policy can work, and how best to end all council support for arms companies.

A spokesperson for Sink the Arms Fair said: "We are delighted that the logo 'People Make Glasgow' will not be plastered over this arms fair, but we are incredibly disappointed with the council's response.

"The only 'confusion' here is about where Glasgow City Council's loyalties lie. It is shocking that they refuse to even acknowledge the outrage felt by many across the city who would expect an anti-nuclear council to have no part in this event.

"The council has let itself and the people of Glasgow down massively here simply in order to stay in arms dealers' good books."

Campaigners are planning a series of protests against the arms fair. The main rally at the SEC will be held on the opening day of UDT at 10am on Tuesday 26 June, after a rally at the Buchanan Street steps the previous Saturday. Activists are planning to protest on all three days with a second day of action focusing on the arts on Wednesday 27 June.

The Sink the Arms Fair coalition includes Scottish CND, Campaign Against the Arms Trade Scotland, Scotland Against Militarism, Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Dovetales, Food Not Bombs, Catholic Worker and the Scottish Peace Network.

* CommonSpace https://commonspace.scot/

* Campaign Against Arms Trade https://www.caat.org.uk/

[Ekk/6]

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