Tis the season to be merry …… or maybe not. An incompetent and corrupt government in London is leading us towards the likely disaster that is Brexit. A paranoid narcissist in Washington has control of the nuclear trigger. Climate change and environmental destruction are looming ever larger. But at least here in Scotland we have an ethical and responsible government, don’t we? Not a government that would give £518,595 of public funds to companies involved in the arms trade, surely? That would support the manufacturers of the missiles used by Saudi Arabia in Yemen, or the radio equipment used by the Assad regime in Syria, or the CS gas used against civilians in Egypt and in Hong Kong? Well unfortunately this is exactly what a Freedom of Infomation request from the Scottish Greens has revealed. Ross Greer, Scottish Green MSP, said “Innocent people are being killed around the world by an arms industry that we should have no part of. Most Scots will be sickened to hear that their government and its agencies are supporting this vile trade with public money.”
When we contacted Kenneth Gibson SNP MSP about this, he said “No public money is used to support the manufacture or export of munitions from Scotland. Our enterprise agencies support businesses across Scotland, including those operating in the aerospace and defence industries, in areas such as innovation, workplace efficiencies and training, involving projects which show significant economic return, particularly in the safeguarding and creation of new jobs. Scottish Enterprise has been clear that their support is focused on non-military developments and ranges from innovation and efficiency improvements to internationalisation and identification of new markets. The SNP Government has made clear their expectation that the UK Government properly police the export of arms and investigate where concerns are raised. Both Patricia Gibson MP and I have raised the Saudi attacks on Yemen in our respective parliaments. We believe that military force should only be sanctioned where it is lawful to do so and in accordance with the principles of the UN Charter and that any such action must always seek to avoid civilian casualties.”
Now that is fine as far as it goes – but it does not go far enough. How can it be thought ethical to support with public money one part of a company knowing full well that another part of the same organisation manufactures and sells arms to regimes that have no truck with human rights?
So have another mince pie and another glass of sherry, but let’s not pretend all is well. Ethical governance is not to be taken for granted. It is something we need to continually demand of our representatives.