Tuesday, 6 October 2009

The cycle supporting the arms trade must stop


A Message from Hull and East Riding Green Party to BAE Systems
30 SEP 2009
The Greens have always worked for Justice and Fairness and we want to get this message across for the general election - as emphasised at our Conference.
Greens are batting for fairness for people and planet, for the workers, and no other party is doing that. Labour have failed dismally over the last 12 years.
Freedom and justice are worth fighting for. Unfairness in the UK is rife. Take the issue of recent unjust unwinnable wars - totally supported by Labour and Tories. Iraq has already been withdrawn from. Our Afghanistan resolution at Conference says we want an immediate withdrawal of all UK forces, withdrawal of NATO forces from Afghanistan, and a regional agreement with Afghanistan's neighbours (Pakistan, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan), together with Russia and China and the UN, to hold a peace conference with the aim of establishing a new Afghan government which will have the support of the Afghan people.
If the UK wants to deal with problems of refugees and alienation in our society we have to sort out our policies with our allies not only on Afghanistan but also Palestine, Somalia & the Horn of Africa.
In the context of a global reduction of war - which surely we all want - there will be a reduced need for armaments. At the moment there is a vicious cycle of political and economic pressure supporting the arms trade which supports war which supports the arms trade and so on. This cycle must stop.
Our policy is to redirect the valuable skills of the armaments industry towards progressive manufacturing - such as the complex machinery required to extract energy from the tides, the waves and of course wind.
As things stand, the UK has no manufacturing capacity in any of these areas, despite the fact that it’s a certainty that such technology needs to be on stream in a very short time. Despite the fact that the British Isles are very windy and surrounded by sea, there are zero turbines manufactured in Britain now.
The Vestas issue (600 jobs lost) illustrates the confusion successive governments have created. For decades it should have been clear that the UK should be developing and making alternative energy technology, low energy houses, trains, for example - and not buying from abroad. That's more important than an economy which is dependent on arms.
Other EU countries, including Germany, are making large scale joint investment in solar energy designed to harvest the energy in the north African Desert - an essential complement to the intermittent supply which wind energy on its own will provide. The UK is absent from this consortium.

But what does Government do? - In a policy supported by the Tories, it gives a £1 billion subsidy per year to the arms industry.

BAE is the main recipient of this subsidy, and yet BAE has already shed many hundreds of jobs in the region in the last two years. We are told there used to be 8,000 people working at Brough - now it’s 1650. As a single product manufacturer it is just as vulnerable as the car manufacturers at Cowley, Luton and Longbridge. BAE Brough, this key plant, will be the first to suffer if they're making something that no-one wants, and with no plans for retooling.
If there is a lessening of tension in the world - and let’s hope that there will be - are we ready to reap the benefit of any ‘peace dividend’? No. It seems that the old-style politicians in this country (aping the United States) lack imagination. They assume the economy needs continuing war and quest for oil, even though there is a sane, sensible and peaceful alternative.

The Green New Deal promotes green jobs, greening the economy, green energy, modifying existing houses, and public transport development. Greens would address financial injustice: eg. limit bankers’ bonuses and close down offshore tax havens, since tax evasion is, in effect, white-collar crime.
The Greens are clear about supporting ordinary people, workers, whilst challenging big business when it exploits people and planet.

Shan Oakes:
Parliamentary candidate for Haltemprice and Howden
Tel: 07769 607710

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