Tag Archives: BAe systems

Once we were a ‘nation of shopkeepers’ – now Michael Fallon is adding ‘warmongering’ to the accusation

Laughing at the Tory: Former shadow defence secretary Emily Thornberry once made a fool of current defence secretary Michael Fallon on Andrew Marr’s TV show.

This is Conservative policy on the international stage: Never mind human lives, never mind international law – we’ll sell anything, to anyone, and damn the consequences.

That’s the reason Michael Fallon doesn’t want any inconvenient facts raised in Parliament (or, one is to suppose, the media) about the uses to which UK-built weapons are being put by Saudi Arabia.

He doesn’t want you to know that British jet fighters are being used to kill innocent citizens of Yemen because the bad publicity it would create for the customer – Saudi Arabia – would create what This Writer believes is termed “consumer resistance”, and they’ll cancel any deal.

Good.

I know there would be an immediate effect on the UK’s balance of trade deficit, and on the future of contractor BAe Systems, if this multi-billion-pound trade deal were to be cancelled but the effect on our international reputation is even more chilling.

BAe is already in trouble and it would be better if the company re-tooled itself to pursue peaceful commercial enterprises instead of weapon-building, as This Site has already reported.

And the UK would be in a better position to market such products across the world if ministers like Mr Fallon weren’t intent on staining our reputation with concerns that we are breaking international law to make a fast buck.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has told MPs to stop criticising Saudi Arabia so we can sell them more weapons.

He told MPs criticism of the regime’s brutal bombardment of Yemen is “unhelpful” while Britain is trying to finalise a deal with BAE Systems to sell the Kingdom a further batch of Eurofighter jets.

Both the UN and Human Rights Watch have said the intervention is in breach of international law.

[Mr Fallon] told the Defence Select Committee: “We’ve been working extremely hard on the batch two deal. I’ve travelled to Saudi Arabia back in September and discussed progress on the deal with my opposite number, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia – and we continued to press for a signature or at least a statement of intent as we’ve done with Qatar.

“I have to repeat sadly, to this committee, that obviously other criticism of Saudi Arabia, in this Parliament, is not helpful and …I’ll leave it there, but we need to do everything possible to encourage Saudi Arabia towards batch two. I believe they will commit to batch two and we need to work away on the timing.”

Labour’s Emily Thornberry has voiced the concerns we should all feel:

“These comments are extremely concerning. The sale of arms should never be prioritised over human rights, the Rule of Law and the lives of innocent children in Yemen.”

All quotes from: Michael Fallon tells MPs to stop criticising Saudi Arabia so we can sell them more weapons

But these are falling on deaf ears. Warmonger Fallon once tried to claim that the UK had a moral responsibility to bomb people in the Middle East and wants the UK to become the world’s biggest armaments marketplace after Brexit.

Not only are the Conservatives determined to destroy the UK’s economy – they are ruining our good name abroad so that it will be even harder to claw our way out of their mess after they are removed from office.


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There is a better way for BAe Systems – but will the Tory warmongers understand?

A member of staff works in the cockpit of an aircraft on the Eurofighter Typhoon production line at the BAE Warton plant near Preston [Image: Phil Noble/Reuters].

https://twitter.com/AaronBastani/status/917694135041216513

The article, to which Aaron Bastani links in his tweet (above), makes interesting reading – although it is a bit long-winded.

It proposes a future for the company in which it won’t have to cut jobs, but may devote them away from building weapons and into peacetime technological pursuits. For the UK’s biggest exporter, it seems this is far preferable than the collapse and ruin presaged by the announcement of 2,000 job losses today (October 10).

The Tory government will do nothing, of course. Tories no longer understand industry, if they ever did. Their industrial strategy, from the mid-1970s onwards, has been to destroy industry in order to impoverish working people and undermine the trade unions.

Here’s the relevant part of the Open Democracy article:

BAE Systems should be taken into public ownership, with tens of thousands of engineers and fixed capital re-directed towards renewable energy industries, automated civilian avionics and vehicles, space transport and climate change solutions – specifically around flooding and desertification.

Right now BAE has 33,000 employees across the UK, 70% of which are engineers or work in engineering-related areas. That is an immense amount of talent that is currently deployed to, among other things, build weapon systems to be used against civilian targets in one of the poorest countries in the world. As well as Saudi Arabia, other BAE clients include the UAE, where the company sells surveillance systems and, potentially Qatar, which is still looking to buy Typhoons despite recently purchasing a large number of French Rafales.

Rather than create weapons for some of the most authoritarian regimes in the world, while also depending on British defence budgets only set to shrink and the renewal of a nuclear deterrent ill-suited to the modern world, the resources and skills of BAE Systems, especially given its comparative edge in avionics, vehicles and energy architecture, would be instead be deployed in fields of importance to Britain and the wider world. New flooding solutions, crucial as Britain adapts to climate change, would not just be for the domestic market but for export too. The same is true for dealing with desertification, a major issue not only for North America, the Middle East and Africa, but Europe and Australia.

Then there are the fields of renewable energy, automated transport, AI and robotics.

Contrast this with the bleak news of the company’s announcement today:

Britain’s biggest defence contractor, BAE Systems, is to cut nearly 2,000 jobs in a significant blow to the UK’s manufacturing sector and the government’s industrial strategy.

The company, which makes the Eurofighter Typhoon jet and Britain’s nuclear submarines, said on Tuesday that up to 1,400 jobs would go at its military aerospace business over the next three years, along with a further 375 in maritime services and 150 at its cyber-intelligence business.

BAE aims to achieve the cuts, which are due to be implemented by 1 January, through voluntary redundancies where possible. It employs 83,100 people worldwide, including 34,600 in the UK.

There is a way forward.

If these job cuts go ahead, then you will know that they are happening because BAe – and the Conservative government – have ignored the opportunity to open the company up to new markets. For the Tories, that would be an unforgivable crime.


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