The world is currently scarred by conflict – Ukraine, Yemen, Sudan, Eritrea, Nagorno Karabakh, to name some examples – and this is undoubtedly set to worsen with wide scale displacement and competition over limited resources caused by the hastening of climate change. The arms trade is both fuelled by and fuels war and is busier than ever. Global military expenditure in 2022 came to £1.8trillion. The UK has the highest military budget in Europe at £68.5billion, and the recent arms fair in London, Europe’s biggest, reports increasing interest in its wares.
In light of this, it is not surprising that a large, post industrial city like Glasgow acts as a hub for arms companies and despite its claims to the contrary, that the Scottish Government provides support to these companies because of the employment opportunities that they create. In addition to the obvious threat to Scotland, UK and the world of the Trident missile base on the Clyde, there is a large number of direct (manufacturing) and indirect (offices) arms related activities in the Glasgow area. There have been a number of investigations and reports about this situation which we draw on here, but we also maintain that awareness of the relationship between the Glasgow area and the military industrial complex is largely unknown by the general public.
A report by the Campaign Against the Arms Trade in 2021 highlighted the relationship between Scotland and the war in Yemen. As well as providing account management services, Scottish Enterprise which has its headquarters in Glasgow had given at least £8,757,353 in public money to multinational companies fuelling the war in Yemen since 2017, with Leonardo receiving £7,051,090, BAE £1,600,000 and Raytheon £106,26322. Of these companies who have operations in Scotland, BAE Systems at least have a compound and yard in Govan.
Other companies connected to Glasgow are as follows:
Thales – a French multinational defence and aerospace company has a compound in Govan working with Leonardo to create the PIRATE infrared target tracking device for the Eurofighters in operation. The radar finds and locks onto both ground and air targets for missiles and bombs to be fired at, making it critical to offensives and airstrikes.
Leidos have an office in Elliot Square. They describe themselves as ‘modernising defense in a complex world’.
Lockheed Martin, the world’s largest arms and defence company, have an office in Glasgow’s Skypark. They describe themselves as ‘a partnership centered on securing UK’s national interests while strengthening the country from within’.
Spire Global are also based in the Skypark. They describe their activities as ‘Reliable and resilient data and space services for enhanced situational awareness and smarter decision-making in a changing world.
Qinetiq have a space within the Ministry of Defence Office in Kentigern House. They describe themselves as having ‘world-class capabilities and facilities across land, sea, air, space and cyber, we collaborate with partners and customers to enable current and next-generation defence assets to perform at their best in a landscape of asymmetric and unforeseen threats.’
Element Material Technology have a base in Hillington Park in the southwest of the city. They describe their operations as being ‘manufacturers from the initial concept of their products and on to the complex testing that is required of modern defense equipment.’
Gama Aviation are based at Glasgow Airport and in Paisley. They “provide mission critical aviation and support services globally in the business aviation, air ambulance, law enforcement, infrastructure monitoring and defence sectors”
Worryingly, there also appears to be a close connection between universities in Glasgow and the arms trade with Strathclyde University being closely linked to the new Boeing – Research and Development Facility in Renfrew and Glasgow University maintaining several millions of pounds of shares in arms companies.
SANE’s primary concern is with the insidiousness of neoliberalism and the way that it distorts every facet of human life. It is no coincidence that Scotland, and Glasgow, with its neoliberal mindset should be a welcoming place for the arms industry because the two are intrinsically linked. We end this month’s short blog, aimed at raising more awareness of what’s going on in and around the city, with this quote from War Resisters International:
‘War profiteering is explained with the military economy cycle which is based – as is most sectors of the economy – on neoliberal logic, the free market, privatization and reduction of regulations. It causes attitudes strictly related to personal enrichment and maximizing the economic benefit in the defense industry, forming the so-called neoliberal militarism. Moreover, war profiteering goes beyond the arms and defense sector. War needs lots of resources, not only weapons and armies, also logistics, transport, food, cleaning, translation services and private security. There are also wars for greed, which is not only power but also resources: oil, coltan, diamonds and whatever can be bought and sold in a market. Economic profits are part of war and wars are also made for profit.’
As usual, we invite your comments about the information contained in this piece but also your thoughts on how the employment challenge of transitioning away from the arms trade should be considered.
Full blog from WRI on the neoliberal military industrial complex
War Resisters International – War profiteering: the neoliberal militarism
Useful article about Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) arms fair 2023 held in London. DSEI occurs every 2 years at London’s ExCel Centre and is typically met with resistance from faith groups, anti-war, anti-racism and climate campaigners.
The Guardian: War is back. People want to stock up: Inside Europe’s biggest arms fair
Briefing on the relationship between Scotland and the war in Yemen from Scottish CAAT.
Campaign Against Arms Trade: Made In Scotland