Tonight (12 November) Prime Minister David Cameron again defended government promotion of arms sales by relying on grossly inflated and out-of-date jobs figures, while ignoring human rights concerns.
Dismissing critics as
squeamish, Cameron justified the exports by again claiming 300,000 jobs depend on the defence industry. But:
- This figure includes jobs dependent on UK military spending as well as exports
- The figure is grossly inflated as it includes jobs dependent on non-equipment expenditure, for instance gas bills and the cost of maintaining Ministry of Defence estates.
- This figure is years out of date. Cameron’s figures are based on 2006/7 data – but jobs in the military sector have been on a steady decline. Even then, just 55,000 were directly or indirectly supported by arms exports.
- UK taxpayers subsidise arms export jobs. Analysis carried out for CAAT by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), assesses the level of subsidy to be around £700 million per year.
Although the arms trade still employs a lot of skilled workers, such as engineers, these skills are needed in other industries. This was confirmed by a representative of the industry’s trade body ADS giving evidence to the Commons’ Defence Committee in September 2010: “… the skills that might be divested of a reducing defence industry do not just sit there waiting to come back. They will be mopped up by other industries that need such skills.”
CAAT spokesperson Sarah Waldron says
David Cameron is using a grossly inflated and out-of date jobs figure to justify arms sales to authoritarian regimes.. These jobs are the only way the government can rally public support for their immoral promotion of the arms trade. Cameron should stop acting as a salesman for the arms companies, and transfer the support currently given to the arms industry to other, growing sectors of the economy such as renewable energy.
- Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) in the UK works to end the international arms trade. The arms business has a devastating impact on human rights and society and damages economic development. Large-scale military procurement and arms exports only reinforce a militaristic approach to international problems. Around 75% of CAAT’s income is raised from individual supporters. In 2012, CAAT was awarded a Right Livelihood Award, the
alternative Nobel Prizefor its “innovative and effective campaigning against the arms trade.
- Read an analysis of Cameron’s jobs figures as a PDF.
- The introductory paragraph for Jane’s Energy, Environment, Defense and Security 2011 conference stated
The defense market worldwide is worth a trillion dollars annually. The energy and environmental market is worth at least eight times this amount. The former is set to contract as governments address the economic realities of the coming decade; the latter is set to expand exponentially, especially in the renewables arena.Read more on the UK’s wasted skills.