Arms Fair Activism: Arts Not Arms

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Arms Fair Activism

Arts Not Arms

By Jay Sutherland

As Britain’s Armed Forces Day approaches Scotland Against Militarism and others are working against the upcoming UDT Arms Fair due to be held at the SEC events centre in Glasgow on June 28th and 29th.

When we tell most people, even those who claim to be fully switched on and up to date about politics they are shocked to hear that an Arms Fair is coming to Glasgow, and sometimes even deny that it could be sponsored and supported by the Glasgow SNP-led council.  This has been one of the biggest challenges for us to overcome, the fact that the council and the SNP group of councillors have done their best to hide the fact that they silently support this.

But as always, money talks.  The SEC, which is 90% owned by the council, will be hosting the event.  It’s important to name and shame who we are dealing with, the key people who are involved in this through the council are David McDonald the deputy leader of the council and public defender of the Arms Fair within the city chambers. He claims that it is simply a technological conference and that Trident is not involved, despite having speakers, displays and information relating to Trident at the conference, as well as a student recruitment drive led by Trident experts taking place at the event.  The logo for the entire event involves trident – you would think they would do their research.

More hypocritical is Susan Aiken’s approach who claimed she only found out about the Arms Fair a few months ago despite being head of the Council and Glasgow Life.  She has defended the Palestinian cause in the past but sees no issue with Israeli Defence Force technology being promoted at the conference and companies which are linked to the IDF being there.  Some of the technology present at the conference will be the same tech which continues to oppress the people of Palestine but also keep them within from the land as well as the sea with underwater detection.

S.A.M (Scotland Against Militarism) and activists from CAAT Scotland (Campaign Against The Arms Trade) have been doing most of the ground work in Glasgow and beyond to try to get the event cancelled or at the very least remove council support.  Recently we have held demonstrations outside the city chambers and outside Susan Aiken’s surgery where we confronted her about her support for the Arms Fair.  She claims that cancelling the Arms Fair would damage the city’s reputation.  The opposite is true, it will show Glasgow doesn’t deal with warmongering/human rights abusers such as Israel.  Also the fact that the SNP-led council will only speak to us when we turn up at their surgery’s unannounced shows a real democratic deficit, despite David McDonald saying he would always be happy to meet with us, he also gave no reason for cancelling his surgery when Scotland Against Militarism announced our day of action.

Before that we met with Green MSP’s who gave their backing to the protest on the 26th of June at SEC.

We have a lot of actions lined up in the days and weeks ahead, we want to make it clear to the council that we won’t stop the disruption until they remove their support for this trident showcase. With the council blatantly lying about the links to trident we have no choice but to step up our campaign.

We urge everyone to get involved by contacting their elected representatives, taking part in actions and attending the protest weekend we have planned. 26th June: Mass protest 8am/10am, 27th: #ArtsNotArms a festival of music and Arts Against the Arms Fair, 28th: TBC

Scotland Against Militarism welcomed the news of the removal of the People Make Glasgow logo, but we won’t be backing down until full support is removed.

Scotland Against Militarism and the Sink UDT Campaign first pushed for them to remove the branding with our meeting with Susan Aitken, this was not a decision that the council came to themselves.

Most of all it shows that people power works and that the council realise they have got it completely wrong, but they are still refusing to remove full support. They recognise that people have claimed the brand but what they don’t realise is that people own the city too and we are not putting up with this.

We won’t be backing down until they remove their full support for the event, nothing less. Otherwise they are simply hiding their interests.


Reading Time: 1 minute
Ungagged receive a response to our letter, from Brian Quail.
It’s only now that I’m a free man and have time to sort out the pile of mail sent to me in Low Moss, that I can write to you and thank you most warmly for the letter signed by yourself and so many other good people.
I don’t think you or they can truly appreciate the uplifting impact this letter had which was as unexpected as it was undeserved.
The text you sent was powerful and eloquent. It is unanswerable. It articulates the reason why the people of Scotland must reject the world’s most powerful  machine for the mass extermination of human beings, Britain’s submarine superbelsen, Trident.
So I have a trial in Dumbarton on 12th October, and the work goes on.
But not before I thank you and the good souls of ungagged who signed the letter.
Yours in gratitude and solidarity,
Brian Quail

Pardon the Peaceful Protestors

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Scottish pensioner, 79 year old Brian Quail has been jailed for protesting Scotland’s illegal nuclear weapons.


Retired Latin teacher and grandfather, Brian was arrested outside the UK Trident nuclear weapon storage facility at Coulport, along with 66 year old Angela Zelter, founding member of Trident Ploughshares. Sam Donaldson,29, a community worker from Hull, Almudena Izquierdo Olmo from Madrid and Juan Carlos Navarro Diaz 46, a librarian from the Canary Islands were also arrested, but accepted bail conditions that prevented them from returning to the camp, and were released.

Brian Quail is being held at HMP Moss and Angie Zelter is being held at HMP & YOI Corton Vale. Please write letters of support for the peaceful protestors, who we believe are being held contrary to sections 10 and 11 of the ECHR which guarantees the right to peaceful protest. Mr Quail has serious health issues and imprisoning him is, in our opinion, disproportionate to his offence and may damage his health.

You can send cards or letters of support to:

Brian Quail 

HMP Prison Low Moss

Crosshill Road


Glasgow G64 2BQ


Angela Zelter 

21/1 Peebles House

HMP & YOI Corton Vale 

Corton Vale

Stirling FK9 5NU


The protesters were rightfully exercising their freedom of expression in opposing, as described by a Trident Ploughshares spokesperson; “the active deployment of a hideous weapons system that clearly breaches the Geneva Convention, which no less than 122 countries worldwide want to prohibit and eliminate, and which is rejected by the overwhelmingly majority of Scottish parliamentarians both at Holyrood and Westminster.”

Our legal entitlement as citizens to object actions of this government is fundamental to our democracy. Peacefully protesting is a traditional way of exercising those rights. Imprisoning pensioners for doing so infringes on your rights.

Ungagged urge politicians to get involved. Peaceful protest of internationally recognised illegal weapons should not mean a custodial sentence. We also urge Amnesty International to intervene, and the United Nations, who recently declared nuclear weapons illegal, to object to the jailing of these protestors.



Contact your elected representative to let ask them to lend their support here, sign the petition, and leave us a comment below to show your support.




Reading Time: 2 minutes


As virulent capitalism charges around the world, claiming righteously that their crushing and obliterating lives is just the unfortunate collateral of the “other side,” organisations across the Globe campaign against the murderous arms trade.

We have witnessed the horrors of what capitalism, in its for-profit, resource grab, has done in the Middle East – and is currently doing in Syria and in Yemen. The British corporations profits, its complicity in the murder, torture and absolute terror the House of Saud is meting out in Yemen amounts to a collective guilt we in the UK must share. Our Government in its selling (and attempts at covering up its sales) to Saudi Arabia make every one of us guilty in the murders of children and their families.

Every sale of one single bullet used to kill a poor person fighting in the wars of the corporations and the rich is a murder we are complicit in. Every child who loses a parent or their own life is a murder we have committed.

We think of the words of Elvis Costello’s anti-war song, “Shipbuilding,” the pay off of the arms trade – jobs. Do we want jobs at any cost? At the cost of children traumatised, maimed and killed?

“Is it worth it?
A new winter coat and shoes for the wife
And a bicycle on the boy’s birthday
It’s just a rumour that was spread around town
By the women and children
Soon we’ll be shipbuilding
Well, I ask you
The boy said “dad, they’re going to take me to task
But I’ll be back by Christmas”
It’s just a rumour that was spread around town
Somebody said that someone got filled in
For saying that people get killed in
The result of this shipbuilding
With all the will in the world
Diving for dear life
When we could be diving for pearls
It’s just a rumour that was spread around town
A telegram or a picture postcard
Within weeks they’ll be re-opening the shipyards
And notifying the next of kin
Once again
It’s all we’re skilled in
We will be shipbuilding
With all the will in the world
Diving for dear life
When we could be diving for pearls”

Here in the UK, non-violent protest group CAAT (Campaign Against the Arms Trade) continues to reveal the murky world of arming those who tear children apart with their missiles and guns.

In seeking to end the arms trade, CAAT’s priorities are:

  • to stop the procurement or export of arms where they might:
    • exacerbate conflict, support aggression, or increase tension
    • support an oppressive regime or undermine democracy
    • threaten social welfare through the level of military spending
  • to end all government political and financial support for arms exports
  • and to promote progressive demilitarisation within arms-producing countries.

We at Ungagged! totally agree with CAAT’s aims and principles and their campaign for a wider security policy which would have the opportunity to reallocate resources according to actual threats and benefits, including addressing major causes of insecurity such as inequality and climate change.

Fight back against these murders happening in your name. Join CAAT or other peace organisation and campaign to stop the rich weapon and war profiteers from using our democracy to kill in our name.

“We should be diving for pearls.”


Image by Debra Torrance 

Written by Neil Scott


Reading Time: 2 minutes


The United States, with the consent of the United Kingdom as laid down in the Quebec Agreement, dropped nuclear weapons on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 9, 1945, respectively, during the final stage of World War II. The two bombings killed at least 129,000 people, and devastated the cities.

Many of the survivors have recorded their memories of those days. Fujie Urata Matsumoto, relates this scene:

“The pumpkin field in front of the house was blown clean. Nothing was left of the whole thick crop, except that in place of the pumpkins there was a woman’s head. I looked at the face to see if I knew her. It was a woman of about forty. She must have been from another part of town – I had never seen her around here. A gold tooth gleamed in the wide-open mouth. A handful of singed hair hung down from the left temple over her cheek, dangling in her mouth. Her eyelids were drawn up, showing black holes where the eyes had been burned out…She had probably looked square into the flash and gotten her eyeballs burned.”

Even decades after the bombings, the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki suffered abnormally high rates of leukemia, birth and tumours. The Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum states,

“The question of how to inform young people about the horror of war, the threat of nuclear weapons and the importance of the peace is therefore a matter of passing concern. The citizens of Nagasaki pray that this miserable experience will never be repeated on Earth. We also consider it our duty to ensure that the experience is not forgotten but passed on intact to future generations. It is imperative that we join hands with all peace-loving people around the world and strive together for the realization of lasting world peace.”

Yet, 72 years later we still have a stockpile of 160 nuclear warheads in the UK. Each of those warheads is eight times more powerful than the one that was dropped on Hiroshima. And they are just 25 miles from Glasgow.

Despite fierce public opposition and prohibitive expense, MPs voted to replace trident this year.  You can arm yourself with facts about trident on the CND briefing page before contacting your representative and letting them know what you think of that. You can find their contact details here.

You can support the CND in a variety of ways,  by becoming a member, getting involved with their campaigns and petitions through their site, or by doing some of your Christmas shopping, including christmas cards, through their shop.


Image by Debra Torrance 

Written by Victoria Pearson