Nov 142014

“They didn’t value my mum’s life and they certainly didn’t value my sister’s life. Ultimately, they’re dead. I will never, ever heal. Ever.”
– Stacey Banner to the BBC, on murders committed by John Lowe. Police returned guns to him despite his threat to ‘blow off’ Stacey Banner’s head.

The police certainly have problems. Previous articles in this series have looked at the issues of institutionalised racism, guns and how our rights are being chipped away, little by little. With all the powers of surveillance at their disposal, police surely are able to determine when people are in potential danger. How are the 21st century UK police treating women? Suzanne Kelly reports.

Police line pic2Christine Lee and her daughter Lucy are dead. Like so many murdered women, they knew their killer. It was 82-year-old puppy farmer John Lowe, who was husband and stepfather to them.

Surrey Police had confiscated guns from 82-year-old John Lowe when he threatened to kill his stepdaughter and his wife.

The guns were returned some eight weeks later. The women are dead. The police are sorry.

There will be the usual inquiry; the usual wrists have been slapped. The women could still be alive, like so many other women who turn to the police, only to be let down again and again.

Domestic Violence:

Women who come forward to report abuse, or the threat of violence, are still being dismissed by the police. The old, outdated notion of dismissing marital violence as ‘just a domestic’ seems to be alive and well, as the murders committed by John Lowe attest.

The police launched a visible offensive against domestic abusers in February this year. One has to hope that the partners were warned in advance; but if so, surely that would have caused anxiety. If the victims of abuse were not warned in advance of their partner’s arrests, the consequences could be very serious: in domestic abuse the pattern is to blame the wife/partner for everything that goes wrong.

One can only hope the women were and are being given all the help and support they need. Otherwise, this particular exercise seems like a headline grabber with potentially lethal consequences.

Sexual Assault and Rape:

One in five women aged 16-59 has experienced some form of sexual violence since the age of 16 according to Rape Crisis.

This is a statistic which should shock the government and police into action. Victims of rape and other violence are often afraid to come forward, and the way they are sometimes treated when they do leaves much to be desired.

In a famous interview Ken Clark in 2011 spoke with an extremely brave woman who reported an attempted rape, endured examinations, court battles, hours spent with police and legal teams. Her attacker, a repeat offender, spent about a year and a half in custody.

More recently, UKIP member and donor Demetri Marchessini said women cannot be raped by their husbands.

It’s sometimes hard to believe that it’s 2014 when we look at how rape victims are treated. The news last week carried the story of Eleanor de Frietas. This vulnerable woman went to the police with a tale of being drug raped. What happened subsequently led to her suicide.

The police had no grounds for thinking she was lying, but when the alleged rapist took her to court in a private action for £200,000, the Crown Prosecution Service decided to go after her as well. Unable to stand the ordeal, she took her own life.

When the Police are the Perpetrators:

Women are being abused by serving officers. An online resource lists various police officers in the UK and the vast array of charges levelled against them, which include rape, sex with a vulnerable woman, and child abuse.

Then there is the case of Ryan Reid, 27, a special constable who used his position to illegally search police files for information about women he was veritably stalking; he sent naked photos and sexual messages to half a dozen women. According to the Daily Mail:

“Reid, of Lesmahagow, Lanarkshire, who was stationed at Carluke Police Office, pleaded guilty to seven charges involving five women … one of his victims was just 15 when he began contacting her…. He admitted two charges of stalking women, three under the Communications Act and one under the Sexual Offenses Act…he also pleaded guilty to an offence under the Data Protection Act that he did ‘knowingly or recklessly and without the consent of the Chief Constable of the Police Service of Scotland obtain and disclose personal data by repeatedly accessing various police systems with no operational reason for doing so.’”

Reid apparently made a social media comment that when men in the forces drop their trousers they are in trouble, when women do so, it is promotion. Is sexism as rife as racism is within the forces? Is this case the tip of the iceberg, indicating institutionalised misogyny? You could be forgiven for thinking so.

This may well explain the number of women who, despite making numerous pleas to the police, are attacked, sometimes fatally, by persistent stalkers. Three years ago a Guardian article pointed out the dismal failure of the police and courts to protect vulnerable women:

“Two-thirds of victims said the police and Crown Prosecution Service did not take their complaints seriously enough, with offenders not being charged in nearly nine out of ten alleged cases.

“The survey of 140 victims was conducted by the charity Protection Against Stalking (PAS), which found “low level” stalking offences were dealt with too leniently and could escalate into more serious offences, including murder.

“The majority of victims are women. One told how the criminal justice system had failed her:

“The police told me to switch my phone off and ignore him. They said nothing could be done. I showed them dozens of texts and they were not really interested. They said nothing could be done unless he actually tried to hurt me.”

“Another victim said:

“Being abandoned by the police while being stalked only adds to the fear and distress of what is already a terrifying situation.””

Ryan Reid may have been found guilty of data access and sexual crimes. But what can a Police Scotland officer expect if accused of illegally accessing data on an ex-partner? As reported in the Evening Express, Police Scotland’s DC Duthie has astonishingly been cleared of any wrong doing when his ex’s personal data was accessed by someone within the police.

“DC Duthie, whose address was given in court papers as care of Police Scotland [note – I doubt a member of the public would be allowed to give their work address to the court – SK], had denied accessing the secure information himself.

“He accepted that the files were viewed on February 27 and April 2, 2012 using his unique username and password but said someone else must have used a computer he was logged on to. But today he was found not guilty of the charges.”

Who else would have wanted to look at the data in question? If someone other than Duthie had an interest in this matter, how did they manage to get Duthie’s personal login information? Why hasn’t the person who accessed this information come forward? Have the police identified who it was, and if so, why is no prosecution forthcoming?

This may seem like a case of one man snooping into his ex-partner’s affairs without due cause. What the court decision has done however has set an extremely dangerous precedent: police officers can now access any data they want, and claim that the unique password and login must have been used by an unknown police operative, who will not be sought.

This tiny decision gives the police legal sanction to do whatever they want with our data. It may have passed unnoticed by the mainstream news, but this is a potentially dangerous legal precedent.


It should be noted that women don’t always fare well inside the police forces, either. Unequal pay, discrimination and sexual harassment are all realities. The Scotsman reported in April this year that women in the force are not getting equal promotion opportunities.

Being a domestic abuser is not a barrier to re-joining the force, either.

However, there are a growing number of women in the force. Perhaps positive, real change is within reach.

But as a Guardian investigation found, there is sexism and bias against women making claims of sexual assault against police officers.

Summing up:

Women are being ignored at best, and attacked at worst, by the people paid to protect them. Rape victims are victimised, domestic violence is often downplayed, and stalking victims are routinely brushed off. The recent cases mentioned are only the tip of the iceberg, and the kinds of problems women face also include trafficking and forced marriage, among other issues.

No doubt there will be some kind of investigations into the senseless deaths of Christine and Lucy Lee, and the farcical CPS attack on Eleanor de Frietas which led to her suicide, as her note indicated.

But the system has gone down these routes before without reforming, and reform is possibly farther away than ever before. Change is long overdue, but with comments like those coming from UKIP donor Marchessini, that a husband can’t be guilty of raping his wife, coupled with the scale of abuse either ignored by or perpetrated by the UK’s police forces, it’s hard to see things improving any time soon.

If the situation for grown women is brutal, then it is a far worse reality for children dependent on the state for protection. The next piece in this series will look at issues such as Rotherham, child abuse and how the state and in particular the police, are involved in the neglect and sometimes abuse of children.

Support Services:

Samaritans Aberdeen

60 Dee Street Aberdeen AB11 6DS
Tel: 01224 574488
Usual hours open to receive callers at the door: 9am – 10pm

Rape and Abuse Support

88 John Street Aberdeen, AB25 1LE
Office Tel: 01224 639 347
Helpline: 01224 620 772

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.

[Aberdeen Voice accepts and welcomes contributions from all sides/angles pertaining to any issue. Views and opinions expressed in any article are entirely those of the writer/contributor, and inclusion in our publication does not constitute support or endorsement of these by Aberdeen Voice as an organisation or any of its team members.]

Nov 072014

Jonathan Russell will be giving a talk on the arms trade this Monday 10th November at 7.30pm at UNITE the Union, 42-44 King Street, Aberdeen

arms sales graph“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.

“The world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children… This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.”

— Former U.S. President, Dwight D. Eisenhower, in a speech on April 16, 1953

We live in a world that faces huge challenges due to climate change, natural disasters and with the majority of the world’s population struggling to get enough resources to survive. Yet a much bigger priority for many governments is promoting their arms sales or buying arms. In times of recession selling arms becomes a greater priority and it can be argued that acquiring resources, in particular oil, has been a major reason for starting conflicts.

The arms trade is the main beneficiary of this. At a time when the world economy is stagnating, arms shares are rising rapidly with shares of the top 12 publicly listed firms – based on a list by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute – rising by almost 30 per cent on average in the last year.

Stock price data on the 12 companies reveal most have benefitted in a year in which the number of conflict zones in Europe, the Middle East and Africa has risen. 2011 saw a massive rise in sales by the US and the UK to Saudi Arabia who in turn where arming ISIS.

Through our investments and pension funds we can unwittingly also be beneficiaries. For instance, our very own North East Pension fund for Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire invests in the Arms trade. The end of the cold war led to a decline in arms sales but new enemies were soon found to allow business to continue as usual. New arms technologies such as drones and security technology open up new markets

The 5 UN Security Council permanent members are generally the largest arms dealers (though others such as Germany and Italy often feature quite high and Israel is rapidly expanding its exports with its expertise in drone warfare and surveillance

World’s largest arms exporters

The units in this table are so-called trend indicator values expressed in millions of U.S. dollars at 1990s prices. These values do not represent real financial flows but are a crude instrument to estimate volumes of arms transfers, regardless of the contracted prices, which can be as low as zero in the case of military aid. Ordered by descending 2013 values. The information is from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

2013 rank Supplier Arms exports
1  Russia 8283
2  United States 6153
3  China 1837
4  France 1489
5  United Kingdom 1394
6  Germany 972
7  Italy 807
8  Israel 773
9  Spain 605
10  Ukraine 589
11  Sweden 505
12  Belarus 338
13  South Korea 307
14  Netherlands 302
15   Switzerland 205


Global Spending on Arms

List by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (2013)[1]
Rank Country Spending ($ bn.) % of GDP World share (%)
World total 1747.0 2.4 100
1 United States 640.0 3.8 36.6
2 People’s Republic of China[a] 188.0 2.0 10.8
3 Russia[a] 87.8 4.1 5.0
4 Saudi Arabia[b] 67.0 9.3 3.8
5 France 61.2 2.2 3.5
6 United Kingdom 57.9 2.3 3.3
7 Germany[a] 48.8 1.4 2.8
8 Japan 48.6 1.0 2.8
9 India 47.4 2.5 2.7
10 South Korea 33.9 2.8 1.9
11 Italy[a] 32.7 1.6 1.9
12 Brazil 31.5 1.4 1.8
13 Australia 24.0 1.6 1.4
14 Turkey 19.1 2.3 1.1
15 United Arab Emirates 19.0 4.7 1.1

China has increased its spending on arms by 12.2% this year. A major reason for this is Obamas strategic decision to move the majority of the US military complex to Asia Pacific. This was done to try and contain China’s rising power and has inevitably led to the beginnings of an arms race similar to the one that took place in the cold war between the Soviet Union and the US and its allies.

India and Japan are also rapidly increasing arms spending which in turn ratchets up the amount of arms spending by China. Who benefits most from this is the arms trade.

The arms industry is not an industry like any other its products aim to maim or kill human beings or destroy infrastructure. A buy product of the later is also killing and maiming human beings. War has changed dramatically since the beginning of the 20th Century when only 5% of casualties were civilians now 90% of people killed are civilians.

The aim increasingly with the use of drones etc is to limit to a minimum casualties from the country which is firing the weapon. War is a major contributor to instability and poverty. Of the 30 least developed countries in the world half have been involved in conflicts. The Lancet estimated from household data that 654,965 Iraqis died as a direct effect of the conflict from 2003-2006 and of course there have been daily killings since then.

The UN has estimated that 93,000 people have been killed in the Syrian conflict. Trade and food production are badly effected and countries are left with lack of power supplies. Shortages always lead to corruption and joining militias can become a way of surviving.

On top of this many people are displaced from their own countries living at best in refugee camps. This puts huge burdens on surrounding countries and money that could be spent on helping refugees is rather spent on more weapons.

Vietnam, where over two million deaths took place, is still recovering from the use of ancient orange and napalm. Mines laid and left behind in conflicts have been another source of human tragedy. In more recent conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya depleted uranium has been used in bombs and this has led to horrific birth defects.

 Every year, the US Congressional Research service releases an  report looking at arms sales transfers to the developing word.

The report released on August 24th 2012 entitled ‘Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations 2004-2011′ known as the Grimmett report after its author Richard F Grimmett.

The Grimmett Report also notes that,

  • Developing nations continue to be the primary focus of foreign arms sales activity by weapons suppliers though most arms are supplied by just 2 or 3 major suppliers.
  • Despite the global economic climate, major purchases continue to be made by a select few developing nations in these regions, principally India in Asia and Saudi Arabia in the Middle East.
  • For arms suppliers, despite the impact the global economic situation has had on sales, a number of weapon-exporting nations have increased competition for sales going into areas and regions where they have may not have previously been prominent competition for sales will only intensify due to limits for growth.
  • Although recent years have shown a decline in sales, 2011 saw a massive jump, almost solely by an extraordinary increase in massive sales by the US, whose massive sales to Saudi Arabia distorted an otherwise downward trend in arms sales.
  • In 2011, the United States ranked first in arms transfer agreements with developing nations with over $56.3 billion or 78.7% of these agreements, an extraordinary increase in market share from 2010, when the United States held a 43.6% market share. In second place was Russia with $4.1 billion or 5.7% of such agreements.
  • Saudi Arabian imports are even set to increase with additional deliveries of the Typhoon, and deliveries of 154 American F-15 jets, scheduled for 2015.
  • In 2013, according to SIPRI, Saudi Arabia also bought armoured vehicles from Canada worth $10 billion. Further orders may soon be placed for armoured personal carriers from Serbia and tanks from Germany
  • Between 2009 and 2013, Saudi Arabia and the UAE each received thousands of guided bombs from the USA. Saudi Arabia also received hundreds of air-launched Storm Shadow cruise missiles (with a range of approximately 300 kilometres) from the UK. Mounted on combat aircraft, and combined with refuelling airplanes acquired from Spain, the range of these cruise missiles could cover most of Iran.
  • In 2013 the USA was, for the first time, willing to negotiate the sale of hundreds of AGM-84H missiles to Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Bahrain and the UAE also received surface-to-surface missiles from the US.

Arms sales also increased during this period from the UK from Mid 2008 until End-2010 arms sales to Saudi Arabia were 2,096m, Oman 377m and UAE 42m. From start of 2011 – mid 2013 they had increased dramatically sales to Saudi Arabia £3,436m, Oman £377m and UAE £139m- source Campaign Against Arms Trade – export liscences.

Largest arms industry companies.

This is a list of the world’s top 10 arms manufacturers and other military service companies. The information is based on a list published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute for 2012.[14] The list provided by the SIPRI excludes companies based in China.

Rank Company Country Arms sales (US$ m.) Total company employment
1 Lockheed Martin  United States 36,000 120,000
2 Boeing  United States 27,610 174,400
3 BAE Systems  United Kingdom 26,850 88,200
4 Raytheon  United States 22,500 67,800
5 General Dynamics  United States 20,940 92,200
6 Northrop Grumman  United States 19,400 68,100
7 Airbus Group  European Union 15,400 140,000
8 United Technologies Corporation  United States 13,460 218,300
9 Finmeccanica  Italy 12,530 67,408
10 L-3 Communications  United States 10,840 51,000

Corruption and the arms trade

For a really good read on the arms trade I would suggest you read ‘The Shadow World Inside the Global arms trade’ by Andrew Feinstein (available in Aberdeen Central Library) where he reveals the corruption and cover-ups between the British and Saudi Governments to BAE’S controversial transactions in South Africa, Tanzania and Eastern Europe and the revolving door relationships that characterizes the Congressional-Military Industrial Complex.

He exposes in forensic detail both the formal government to Government trade in arms and the shadow world of illicit weapons and the links between the two. What I will concentrate on however will be the largest corruption scandal of them all between BAE systems and Saudi Arabia where Tony Blair blocked the enquiry in his final days of office.

The suspicion of bribery began even before the details of the deal were negotiated. Concerns were reported in the Arabic newsletter ‘Gourakia’ in October 21 1985 and picked up by the Guardian newspaper which had headlined on its front page:

“Bribes of £600 million in jets deal”

Denzil Davies then Labour’s Defense Spokesman raised concerns in parliament. The accusations were denied by Conservative Ministers.

Later the Conservative Defense Minister, Jonathan Aitken was charged with perjury. The Al Yamah deal worth 43bn to BAE was clinched by a meeting between Prince Banda bin Sultan and Margaret Thatcher. Much of the payment came in the form of oil and was as such of balance sheet transactions and as such particularly susceptible to corruption.

Richard Evans, later to become CEO and then Chair of BAE was later involved. Mark Thatcher who was also involved in dodgy deals in Africa was also claimed to be involved. An enquiry into the whole deal was quashed on grounds of higher British interests as one of his last acts as Prime Minister.

Prince Banda bin Sultan was head of Saudi Intelligence from 2012 until February 2014 and was responsible for funding and arming ISIS.

There is so much more to say since the second world war millions have died in Korea. Vietnam., numerous African States, Indonesia , South America and now the Middle East and Ukraine and many more conflicts.

The Merchants of Death and Corruption need to be stopped.

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.

[Aberdeen Voice accepts and welcomes contributions from all sides/angles pertaining to any issue. Views and opinions expressed in any article are entirely those of the writer/contributor, and inclusion in our publication does not constitute support or endorsement of these by Aberdeen Voice as an organisation or any of its team members.]

Oct 172014

In Part 4 of the series on issues with UK policing, Suzanne Kelly looks at the recent decision taken by Police Scotland to award itself the power to have armed personnel on duty as a matter of routine. The use of stun guns / tasers is said to be an effective, safe alternative – but is it? Do we really need to start arming police in Scotland routinely? We and our elected officials should have been asked, not told.

PoliceLinePicfeatUnder The Gun

Perhaps the most controversial issue in Scottish policing today was the unilateral, non-legislative supported police decisions to award themselves the power to routinely carry firearms on routine patrols.

Local councillors and other elected representatives were dismayed throughout Scotland; Kenny MacAskill is being asked to resign (over several issues including this

Highlands Police were showing up to incidents in low crime areas equipped to maim or to kill. A suggestion was made that the guns should be made ‘less visible’ – hardly a suggestion that respects the rights (or intelligence) of the electorate which is demonstrably against routine armed patrols.

The police had implemented this escalation instead of asking for permission to do so. They were instead attempting to reassure officials, judges, experts and Holyrood that all was well.

This unilateral action is on a par with the clearly illegal activities of those men deep undercover who slept with and impregnated women they were spying on as per the previous article in this series. This disregard for law, procedure and basic human rights shows us how badly skewed the system is. Thankfully, the gun policy has been changed. There are calls for MacAskill to stand down.

In August, Lord McCluskey, one of Scotland’s most senior former judges, called for the resignation of Mr MacAskill over a range of issues including the routine arming of officers.

He described the policy change by Sir Stephen as an example of “secretive decision-making”, and said Mr MacAskill knew about the move but did not share the information or hold a public consultation.

“In the US, we have seen the dangers of police with guns: put simply, if police have guns, there is a greater risk of someone being shot, unintentionally or otherwise.”

We do know from recent polls that the public did not want regular armed police on the beat. A recent Scotsman article reports:-

“The nature of policing in this country is very important, and there is a danger that would change if we routinely equipped officers with firearms. We showed during the G8 (summit) how important it is that we don’t come out heavily armed taking a heavily defensive position” – Peter Wilson, president of the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland”

Police are still carrying handguns to serious crimes; many are carrying ‘taser’ type weapons as well. A taser surely must offer safety to the suspect and the police; it can be fired from a distance, and causes no lasting effects – or so we are told.

What is a taser?

A taser is a machine that delivers in the area of 5000 volts into a human body, causing temporary neurological incapacity. Tasers are for sale in the United States, where they come in a range of colours (yes really). One manufacturer/seller offers a video showing the superiority of the taser over other weapons or gas. In the video, a man is meant to be being shot by a taser.

Barbs shoot from the hand-held device into the man’s body, and he falls backwards, caught by colleagues. And all for upward of about $900. Surely this is a safe alternative to guns?

Taser dangers

We have been told that tasers are harmless, won’t cause cardiac problems, and are just temporarily debilitating. We are still being told this is the case, despite mounting evidence to the contrary.

A Guardian article warns that tasers fired at the chest can cause injury – and death. The article quotes the manufacturer’s guidance which says shooting into the chest can cause serious problems, and that a huge proportion of police taser shots are to the chest. This article followed the death in Manchester of Jordan Begley who was said to be carrying a knife. Apparently the cause of death of this young man could not be established. What is established is that he was tasered.

Tasers simply are not safe. They are not being used as the manufacturer recommends; and if any deaths are related to their use at all, a re-think is needed. They are also not being used lawfully in some instances.


Here is a West Midlands Police video showing ‘how tasers keep our communities safe’. It explains how the police and public are safer with taser deployment. In a simulation, a (badly acted) drunk is tasered, and seconds later says he will do whatever the police say.

Supposedly this acquiescence is reassuring; it is also very frightening.  If the police can inflict a brief torture – and this is an extremely painful weapon even if briefly so – and it makes people compliant, then what safeguard of rights will we have left? The video explains that a taser is used ‘only in situations of violence or threats of violence.’ A taser will not damage a pacemaker or the heart. We are also reassured that officers are intensively and rigorously trained.

They say that everything that happens in the US comes to the UK ten years later. Here is a video of a man being tasered – for a disputed driving offence – and ‘not obeying the traffic policeman’s instructions’. It is believed the man was later awarded a settlement. It is harrowing. The man asks for his rights and is threatened with another taser shot.

As well as demonstrating that tasering is painful and being used as a means for social control, it demonstrates the mental state of the people we are handing dangerous weapons – tasers and uniforms – to.

Perhaps not all UK police forces are as responsible and rigorous as the West Midlands Police claim to be. Here is a video clearly showing Nottingham police repeatedly tasering a man on the ground, and beating him.

Parting Shots

Peelian Principles (named after Sir Robert Peel, the originator of the UK’s police forces) have been virtually overlooked when it came to this recent arms escalation. Theoretically, the police cannot work without the mandate of the citizenry. But they are doing just that, as well as breaking laws, subverting human rights, and discriminating, as previous articles in this series have demonstrated.

Thankfully there was a climb down with regard to regular arming of routine police, and those responsible are being called to account (although whether any sanctions will be issued is another matter).

Perhaps rather than creating an arms race and/or using the threat of painful tasering torture to subjugate, the police might instead want to listen to experts who admit there are dangers, and take tasering-related deaths as a reason to treat tasering more seriously, and to halt repeated tasering as happened in Nottingham.

Increased gun crime is evident in England and Wales, where gang warfare is implicated in this increase. The culture in Scotland is different, and if the police used their investigative powers not to spy on and sleep with women environmentalist protestors but to try and counter gun proliferation, perhaps that might be a more constructive use of undercover operatives.

Among the many problems with weapons are lethal results, weapons being taken from civilians or officers and used against them, attempts at the use of weapons enraging suspects, and the fact that there will always be those who panic and pull the trigger first, and ask questions later. Or rather than asking questions, seek to cover up information about force incorrectly used.

Sadly, the family of Charles de Menezes, shot on a London tube train for no legal reason, can attest to the truth of this.

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.

[Aberdeen Voice accepts and welcomes contributions from all sides/angles pertaining to any issue. Views and opinions expressed in any article are entirely those of the writer/contributor, and inclusion in our publication does not constitute support or endorsement of these by Aberdeen Voice as an organisation or any of its team members.]

Apr 182013

News from the frontline – with thanks to Jonathan Russell, Chair Aberdeen and District Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.

Both the Scrap Trident Demonstration and the Blockade were a great success. The atmosphere at both events was terrific.
The courage shown by the 47 people mostly women some in their 70’s who decided to be arrested by sitting in front of the entrances of the Faslane Nuclear base was an example to us all.

One of the people arrested was a man from the North-East who has been charged with breach of the peace and resisting arrest. It is hoped that the charges will be dropped.

The actions and in particular the blockade received considerable positive press coverage however there was for whatever reason a noticeable gap in TV  coverage.

There was a large contingent of people from Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire involved in both events with representation at both the South and North Gates of Faslane as part of the blockade.

The Demonstration

The Rally

Apr 092013

With thanks to Jonathan Russell.

A coalition of groups opposed to Trident known as Scrap Trident has been formed both at Scottish level and in Aberdeen/Aberdeenshire – see:
A weekend of Action will be taking place this coming weekend 13th/15th April as part of the Scrap Trident Campaign.

This will include:

  • A National demonstration against Trident in Glasgow this Saturday 13th of April
  • Mass workshops on non violent direct action training in Glasgow on Sunday 14th April
  • Finally next Monday 15th there will be a mass blockade of Faslane and supporting demonstration

Jonathan Russell Chair of Aberdeen and District Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament stated:

“There are many reasons to get involved in particular abhorrence of Nuclear weapons and their potential for mass slaughter and ultimately their ability destroy our planet. At a time of massive cuts in public spending the one obvious cut is that of the replacement for Trident, estimated by Greenpeace at £97 billion

“Whether you are for, against or undecided on the question of independence, the actions will foreground the question on whether we should have nuclear weapons in Scotland, the UK or, indeed, anywhere in the world. These actions will be the largest anti-nuclear demonstration in Scotland and blockade of Faslane since the 1980’s”

Coaches will be going to the demonstration in Glasgow from Aberdeen on Saturday 13th April.

For further information please contact Jonathan Russell tel 01224 586435 mobile 07582456233 or via email:

Mar 272013

With thanks to Jonathan Russell.

A special event will take place on Saturday 30th March at 2 p.m. in St Nicholas Square, to raise awareness of the ‘Scrap Trident’ Weekend of Action coming up on the 13th to the 15th of April.
A coalition of groups opposed to Trident, known as Scrap Trident, has been formed, both at Scottish level and in Aberdeen and shire. Find out more at

The Weekend of Action will be taking place as part of this campaign. It will include:

  • A national demonstration against Trident in Glasgow on the 13th  of April; and
  • workshops on non-violent direct action training in Glasgow, on Sunday 14th of April.
  • Finally on Monday the 15th, there will be a mass blockade of Faslane and a supporting demonstration.

To raise awareness of these actions, there will be a gathering in St Nicholas Square Aberdeen, outside Marks and Spencer on Saturday 30th March at 2 p.m. The gathering will include music and speakers from trade unions, student bodies and a variety of political and pressure groups opposed to Trident.

The speakers will include Leonna O’Neill from Scrap Trident, who will also be running a workshop on non-violent direct action on Sunday 31st March, from 2 to 6 p.m. at the Belmont Cinema. Jonathan Russell, Chair of Aberdeen and District Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament says

“There are many reasons to get involved in the particular abhorrence of nuclear weapons, and their potential for mass slaughter and ultimately the destruction of our planet. At a time of massive cuts in public spending, the one obvious cut is that of the replacement for Trident, at a cost estimated by Greenpeace at £97 billion.

“Whether you are for, against or undecided on the question of independence, the debate will foreground the question of whether we should have nuclear weapons in Scotland, the UK or, indeed, anywhere in the world.”

Coaches will be going to the demonstration in Glasgow from Aberdeen on Saturday 13th April.

Further information:
A coach will leave for Glasgow from behind His Majesty’s Theatre at 7.30 a.m. on the 13th April and leave for Aberdeen on the return journey at 4 p.m. It will cost £12 for waged and £8 for unwaged people. If you want to book a place on the coach, or need further information, please contact Jonathan Russell on 01224-586435, mobile 0758-245-6233 or via email: .

Mar 212013

Aberdeen and District Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament invite you to a weekend of action from 13th to 15th April to scrap the Trident nuclear missile system.  With thanks to Jonathan Russell.

There are many reasons to get involved:

  • The abhorrence of Nuclear weapons and their potential for mass slaughter and ultimately to destroy our planet.
  • At a time of massive cuts in public spending the one obvious cut is that of the replacement for Trident, estimated by Greenpeace at £97 billion

Whether you are for, against or undecided on the question of independence, the debate will foreground the question on whether we should have nuclear weapons in Scotland, the UK or, indeed, anywhere in the world.

A coalition of groups opposed to Trident has been formed both at Scottish level and locally – see:  – as a result of which there will be joint action by a number of local groups over the coming weeks which will include:

  •  Weekly stalls/leafleting outside Marks and Spencer’s on every Saturday:  23rd, 30th March and 6thApril from 2-4pm
  • On March 30th at 2pm there will be a gathering outside Marks and Spencer with speakers opposed to Trident
  • On Sunday 31st March there will be non-violent direct action training from 2-6pm at the Belmont Cinema
  • On Saturday 13th April there will be a coach going to the demonstration in Glasgow leaving from Spa Street (at the back of His Majesty’s Theatre) at 7.30am. The coach will leave from Glasgow at 4pm and return to Aberdeen for around 7.30pm. Cost of tickets will be £12 waged / £8 unwaged.

If you wish to travel on the coach please let Jonathan know either by phone leaving a message at 01224 586435 or via email:

Sep 172012

With thanks to Jonathan Russell. 

Aberdeen Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament will be running a Song and Poetry Night on Friday 21st September at 7.30 at the Quaker Meeting House to mark the International Day of Peace.

Special activities will be taking place across the world. To inaugurate the day the Peace Bell is rung at the United Nations. The 21st September is the opening day of regular sessions of the United Nations.

The idea of an International Day of Peace came from one man James Gilley who hounded world leaders to make it happen.

It was put forward at the United Nations in 1981 by the United Kingdom and Costa Rica (the only country in the world not to have a standing army)

The day is dedicated to Peace and the Absence of War.

Jeremy Gilley along with the film star Jude Law have organised a concert this year at the Wembley Arena to be headlined by Elton John.

If you want to be part of the celebration in Aberdeen please come along to the Quaker Meeting House at 7.30pm on 21st September. Those performing include Kirsty Potts, Dave Davies and Hilda Meers- you can bring along your own peace related songs/music or poetry if you so wish.

For further information contact Sally e-mail Sally




Apr 062012

At the next meeting of Aberdeen CND on Monday 10th April, Jonathan Russell, Chair of Aberdeen CND and also a member of Campaign Against the Arms Trade, will be leading a discussion on the Arms Trade. The meeting will take place at 7.30pm on the Top Floor of the Belmont Cinema, Belmont Street, Aberdeen.

The arms trade is a deadly, corrupt business. It supports conflicts and human rights abusing regimes while squandering valuable resources which could be used to deal with the many social and environmental challenges we face here on Planet Earth. It does this with the full support of governments around the world, in particular the five permanent members of the United Nations  Security Council: the United States, Russia, France, China and the United Kingdom.

These are the very countries which are meant to be our global custodians, but are in fact the very countries which are feeding global insecurity and conflict.

While very few countries sell large volumes of weaponry, the buyers are spread across the world. Other than to the five permanent UN Security Council members, the largest buyers are in the Middle East and South East Asia. The arms themselves range from fighter aircraft, helicopters and warships with guided missiles, radar and electronic warfare systems, tanks, armoured vehicles, machine guns and rifles.

The common misconception is that it is the illegal trade that is damaging, while the legal trade is tightly controlled and acceptable. However, the vast majority of arms sold around the world including those to human rights abusing governments or into areas of conflict are legal and are supported by governments. In 2007 the value of legal arms around the world amounted to 60 billion dollars. The illegal market is estimated at 5 billion dollars:  many illegal weapons end up as legal weapons.

The arms trade exists to provide weapons to those who can pay for them. What the buyers do with the arms, what political approval the sales signify, and how money could be better spent appears irrelevant to the arms companies and our governments. The UK Government’s 2010 Human Rights Annual Report identified 26 countries of concern. In that year the UK approved arms licences to 16 of these.

There’s a sense that in the past we were embarrassed about supporting defence exports. There’s no such embarrassment in this Government.

David Cameron was in the Middle East on a high-profile mission to sell arms when the democracy movement started in the Middle East. Selling arms to a country in conflict whether internal or external makes the conflict more deadly and longer lasting.
If there is tension between countries or within a country, then arms purchases are likely to increase this tension and make actual conflict more likely.

Even when conflict has ended, arms, particularly small arms, may remain in large numbers (as in Libya at present), fuelling further conflicts and/or criminal activity.

Every year the UK Government authorises the sale of arms to well over 100 countries. This is hardly surprising given that it is Government policy to vigorously support arms exports. Peter Luff, Minister of Defence Exports in the present UK Government, has stated that:

“There’s a sense that in the past we were embarrassed about supporting defence exports. There’s no such embarrassment in this Government.”

Arms companies and Government are inseparable when it comes to selling arms. The Government’s UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) department is a vital element of UK’s arms dealing. In 2008 the Government opened the Defence and Security Organisation which promotes weaponry on behalf of arms companies. There are 158 civil servants in the Defence and Security Organisation while other non-arms sectors have137 staff. This is despite arms accounting for less than 1.5 Percent of UK exports.

• Arms export jobs as a percentage of total employment:  0.2%
• Arms as a percentage of exports:  1.5 %
• UK Government Research Expenditure Spent on Arms:  27%
• UK trade and investment staff committed to selling arms:  54%

Research carried out for Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) by the Stockholm International Peace Institute assesses the level of subsidy by Government to the arms trade in the UK to be around £700 million a year.  In 2010 the UK Government issued 10,850 arms export licences, refused 230, and revoked 14.

Half of the refusals related to proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction, with a maximum of 76 being revoked on the grounds that they contributed to internal repression, internal conflict or regional instability. Foreign office embassies also promote the arms sales, as do the Ministry of Defence armed services. Arms fairs are common in the UK and around the world.  The governments of host countries provides support for their arms firms.

Arms sales from the UK seem to vary from year to year:

• 2007    9651 million   (particularly high because of sales of Typhoon aircraft to Saudi Arabia)
• 2008    4367 million
• 2009    7261 million also high as included Typhoon support services to Saudi Arabia)
• 2010    5819 million

Of the 16 countries identified by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute as locations of major conflict in 2009, the UK sold arms to 12.

Columnist Will Self –  “War, the arms trade and the abuse of language”

BAE arms are the UK’s main arms company and has military customers in over 100 countries. BAE’s focus over the past few years has been on increasing sales to the US, specifically targeting equipment for conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, and supplying Euro fighters and other arms to Saudi Arabia. BAE routinely supplies countries which the UK Foreign Office considers as having ‘the most serious wide-ranging human rights concerns’.

The casualties of conflict are now overwhelmingly civilian, increasing from 50% of war related deaths in the first half of the twentieth century to 90% near the end of the century.

The arms trade affects development both through the money wasted on arms purchased and through the conflicts fuelled by arms.

A study in 2007 by Oxfam of the economic cost of armed conflict to Africa estimated that Africa  loses around 18 billion dollars a year due to wars and that armed conflict shrinks an African nations economy by 15%.

As well as the direct effects of military spending, medical costs and the destruction of infrastructure, there are indirect costs on the  economy and employment suffers ( this does not take into account the countless human misery caused by loss of life and sustained injuries effecting families and friends as well as the individuals concerned).

The study estimated that the cost  of conflicts in Africa since 1990 was equivalent to the aid provided to them by major donors.

Even when conflict is not taking place money diverted to arms is a drain on government resources and takes away from vital spending on health education and infrastructure. The massive 1998 South African arms deals for aircraft, helicopters, warships and submarines cost the country over £8billion. Yet most of the population live in shanty towns and other poor housing and South Africans with HIV/AIDS were told that the country could not afford ant-retroviral medication.

Despite desperate poverty and its recent appalling history of armed struggle, the UK government is actively promoting arms struggle to Angola. The UK government not only approved arms exports to Angola it actively organised an “industry day’’ when HMS Liverpool docked in Angola waters and hosted Angolan political and military officials.

The arms trade causes countless misery in our world; it is a poor use of limited resources which should be used to make this world a better place. We need to question the thinking in the world that believes you only get what you want by force. The five members of the Security Council should start taking on their responsibilities and use conflict resolution rather than warfare to sort the many conflicts that take place both between and within countries.

Mar 082012

The Council has taken a bit of a pasting recently, probably in Voice as much as anywhere. That’s what happens when we invite citizens to pen articles for us. One of Aberdeen Voice’s founders, Ross Cunningham, makes a welcome return by musing on some of the things that councils responsible for the city actually got right over the years.

Let’s face it, our city council is pretty woeful.
Hundreds of millions in debt, essential services cut, hair-brained schemes to revamp the city centre and deafness to those who wish to voice their opinions on the city itself.

But, was it always like this? Surely our great city’s leaders must have been competent once upon a time?

I’m sure there are many more fantastic schemes the council has facilitated over the years that I’ve left out, so please feel free to add to the list. But first try these…..

1. Raising Union Street to street level from Union Terrace to Castlegate

What a superb plan. It almost bankrupted the city when it was built in the 19th century but that was the problem of Aberdonians back then and not ours. Can you imagine having to go downhill and back up again to get from KFC to Poundland? No thank you!

2. Putting the Canal Street signpost on top of a pole instead of at street level

Brilliant! We were all tired of seeing people scoring out the C and S to formulate a crude and badly-spelled statement. To hell with delivery drivers unfamiliar to the area who may not have a TomTom to guide them. Someone needs to treat these things anally!

3. Britain In Bloom champions umpteen times

Being an ex-gardener, the floral displays in the city have always delighted me. Considering we are surrounded by grey, the colour and vibrancy the flowers provided were always a welcome sight. It looks like we may have a new place to show off our horticultural nous very soon. I’d rather we just did up the old one.

4. Revamping Marischal College

It’s amazing what you can do with a pressure washer nowadays. The granite sparkles with a freshness not seen for at least half a century – apart from the old church on the side – and it sits across the road from the recently-evacuated monstrosity. Still, the view from the never-ending queue to wait to discuss inaccuracies on your council tax bill is better than it ever has been.

5. Rebranding the city arms logo

Does anyone remember when the leopards on the city logo looked a bit too fierce and menacing? Surely not the sort of image the city would wish to portray? The answer? Make them look more like a cartoon drawn by an infant, with their tongues sticking out. Sorted.