11 April 2011
On Tuesday morning, 12 April, anti-arms trade activists will demonstrate outside the Treasury Building to protest against high military spending, including support for arms exports. The demonstration is organised by Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) to highlight the first Global Day of Action on Military Spending (GDAMS) which will see events around the globe.
The London protest will contrast the relatively light curbs on military spending (some of which are likely to be reversed) to the much heavier cuts in other areas, including health, education, welfare and housing. While Ministry of Defence budgets were cut by only 8 per cent over four years, other departmental cutbacks averaged 18 per cent. Protesters will compare the costs of arms and the military to the amounts spent on nurses and teachers - some of whom are threatened with redundancy in the financial cutbacks.
The protest will also highlight the largely hidden subsidies that the government passes on to the arms industry, including taxpayer-funded research and development (R&D), government sponsored insurance, and trade promotion through UK Trade & Investment Defence & Security Organisation (UKTI DSO). Total subsidies are estimated to be in the vicinity of £500 million a year. All this for an industry which employs just 0.2 per cent of the UK workforce and is responsible for less than 1.5 per cent of UK exports.
GDAMS sees the release of world military expenditure by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). It estimates that in 2010 military expenditure reached 1,630 billion US dollars, an increase of 1.3 per cent in real terms. As previously, the US continues to be the largest military spender with 43 per cent of the global total (4.3% of the US Gross National Product) . Although recession and financial cutbacks had lowered military spending in many countries, it increased in many countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East.
Ian Pocock from London CAAT says:
It is shocking that the government continues spend big on arms and the military even as it cuts back on social welfare. This is not OK. We want to see a fundamental shift in the UK government's spending priorities, away from arms spending towards more ethical and beneficial areas, and an end to government promotion of arms exports.
The demonstration will take place outside the Treasury main entrance at 1 Horse Guards Road, London SW1, on Tuesday 12 April, from 8.30am-9.30am.
For further information please contact CAAT's Media Coordinator, Kaye Stearman on 020 7281 0297 or mobile 07990 673 232 or email press(at)caat·org·uk. Photos will be available from CAAT.