Sunday, June 10, 2007

BAE and a Sick Trade

BAE and bribery – two linked words that seem to currently echo through the media. On google news its says there are 473 related articles to the story that will not die. Part based in Filton, north Bristol, BAE are accused of having run a slush fund that paid Saudi prince Bandar a staggering £1 to 2 billion in payments to secure a £43 billion arms deal. The serious fraud office was investigating this accusation until Bliar ordered it to stop after the Saudi's threatened to withdraw support in the 'war of terror' if the UK carried on it's investigation. At the time there was outcry as Britain had been hammering African leader sover corruption only be be caught in its own corruption scandal.

Then the Guardian uncovered evidence that suggested the attorney-general ordered evidence of bribery and the slush fund to be hidden from an non-UK investigation into BAE's conduct. The attorney-general says he did nothing wrong, BAE say they did northing wrong (other than being an arms dealer!!) but because the investigation had not run its course and Bliar and the attorney-general may well have obfuscated on the issue – how do we know that?

Something here stinks and the brave Bristolains who occupied BAE's offices in April this year are to congratulated with keeping the story alive and taking a stand that says not all of us in this city are happy about being dragged into the world's limelight for dodgy arms deals without a fight.

But the story is not over – Neo-Labour, who have now taken over the local council from the Lib Dems, have been been the friend of arms dealers and dodgy regimes for the last ten years – over £45 billion in sales including £110 million to the pariah state of Israel, half-a billion worth to that bastion of freedom China, Colombia -a country run by a man linked to right-wing terrorist organizations and the list goes on. They have also granted almost 200 export licenses to countries that don't have any soldiers? Yes the Channel Islands have has CS gas and submachine guns exported to them. Why? From there they can be 'laundered' to the highest bidder with no questions asked.

Not only that, but the arms trade gets around £900 million in subsidies from the government per year. That might build a hospital or two?

A sick trade presided over by a sick political party mired in a sick political system.

So while this global scandal plays out, what does our crusading local paper, the Evening Post, have as a headline? A big brother story. I went to the website to check out their coverage of the story – I could not seem much about the scandal, but the first story that appeared on the search was 'Profits at BAE soar to £1bn' – which says it all really.

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