Even we in the Socialist Party can admire Nicola Sturgeon’s spirited condemnation of the Trident Missile Programme and agree with her that it should be scrapped. However, in her emotional speech for the bairns and not the bombs she failed to chastise the rest of the arms trade that her government actually fosters and nurtures as the profitable part of the Scottish economy. This blog has already reported on the Glasgow Council pension scheme investing tens of millions in the weapons industry. What's the link between Edinburgh and drones, or Ayrshire and the teargas turned on democracy protesters in the Middle East? What does Dundee have to do with the repression in Bahrain? You guessed. Scottish companies are making cash from supplying weapons. The arms trade is a deadly, corrupt business. It is responsible for supporting, and profiting from conflict. Its customer base largely consists of human rights abusing regimes all over the globe.
In 2013 weapon manufacturers worth £1.8billion and employs almost 13,000 people and 30 Scottish arms trading companies attended that year’s showpiece arms fair the Defence & Security Equipment International (DSEI), which is heavily subsidized by the UK government.
Many of the biggest firms are marine companies which are involved primarily in naval defence. BAE Systems in Glasgow builds warships including the Type 45 destroyers. Rosyth-based Babcock Marine is helping to build the UK’s new Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers. Some of the companies in Scotland are domestic while others are outposts of international firms such as QinetiQ, Raytheon, Thales and Finmeccanica.
Finmeccanica is the world’s eighth largest defence contractor and is part-owned by the Italian government. Its subsidiary, Selex Galileo in Edinburgh, is heavily involved in high-tech aviation research for the Eurofighter, SAAB Vixen and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The Campaign Against Arms Trade (Scotland) say that Finmeccanica has supplied drones to Pakistan, howitzers to Nigeria and helicopters to Algeria, Libya and Turkey.