I’ve just returned from the annual general meeting of BAE Systems, one of the world’s largest arms companies. I was forcibly carried out of the building after challenging the board on BAE’s arms sales to the brutal regimes of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.
At a camp for Syrian refugees in Jordan yesterday (13 March), a visitor expressed his shock at what he saw. It was, he said, an “unbelievable and heartbreaking situation”. The visitor was Charles Windsor, commonly called the Prince of Wales. His wife, Camilla Parker-Bowles, praised the “strength of spirit” of the women refugees at the camp.
Every time that I think I can no longer be surprised by the behaviour of church institutions, I am proved wrong. Like many others, I was shocked to learn that a conference for arms dealers will take place in Church House. Thankfully, many Christians are still campaigning against the arms trade, militarism and cuts.
Welcome to the weird and wonderful world of the BAE Systems Annual General Meeting. Shareholders were today (2 May) welcomed into the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, to be greeted by plush carpets, free coffee and glamorous posters featuring BAE staff saying how great it is to work for one of the world’s largest arms dealers (they don’t quite put it quite like that).
It’s happened at last. Liam Fox, one of the most gung-ho militarists ever to occupy the post of Defence Secretary, has returned to the backbenches. All the excuses and half-truths his supporters could come up with have not saved him. But his departure will be largely pointless if we don’t learn a great deal from the Werrity scandal.