Who calls the shots?

CAAT report on arms industry influence on government and how this drives UK arms export policy…

How government-corporate collusion drives arms exports

The government continues to offer a programme of political and financial support to UK-based arms exporting companies at levels disproportionate to those received by civil industry. Those questioning this support are directed towards the wider gains that are said to accrue from involvement in the international
arms market, i.e. economic, strategic, and peace and security benefits. Yet these rationales lack credibility to such an extent that other explanations are required.

However, there are a number of alternative explanations for the government’s support of arms exports. These range from the existence of unstated foreign policy goals or the government’s susceptibility to company lobbying on jobs, to the less tangible influence of Tony Blair’s military bent. Many of the explanations are useful and may provide part of the picture, but analysis of a potentially key rationale has so far been lacking: the influence and political power of arms companies within
government. This rationale dovetails with the others indicated above but also provides perhaps the single most significant reason why, against ethical concerns
and economic reason, the government continues to promote UK weaponry around the world. This report considers how military industry has retained and
developed this political influence despite the end of the Cold War and the arrival of a government touting an “ethical” foreign policy.

Related content

More CAAT resources on arms industry influence on government

Street sign in Westminster, NW1 saying 'Whitehall'

Political Influence

How arms companies' influence in Westminster's corridors of power means arms sales are prioritised over arms control, and business interests are prioritised over human rights.

Seven men in suits talking, all with short greying hair

Government support

The UK arms trade would not be possible without the unwavering support of the UK Government. It does not just oversee the arms trade. It is an active participant, working to promote and secure arms deals around the world, with little regard for the impact of these sales.

CAAT would not exist without its supporters. Each new supporter helps us strengthen our call for an end to the international arms trade.

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