Today is the 20th Anniversary of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. I offer in a companion piece my recorded views about the connection between her death and the then growing influence of arms corruption within British society and its body politic.
(SPOILER ALERT: If you want to miss out my analysis of why arms corruption in Great Britain is so important, and you just want to skip to the part where you sign a petition objecting to the London Arms Fair, um, go straight to the web-site for the (British) Campaign Against the Arms Trade. Spoilsports ... )
Where was I? Oh yes. Make no mistake. This is not just about one or two seedy politicians in the UK Parliament taking a couple of backhanders in exchange for turning a blind eye to the British government supplying some tanks to a dictator in southern Africa.
We're talking the wholesale and systemic corruption of Westminster, Whitehall. the British Civl and Foreign Services, the City of London and British Intelligence.
In the Eighties, forgetting the politics for a moment, Margaret Thatcher presided over the collapse of British manufacturing industry. It had to be replaced. Fast. So, she set in motion a deliberate policy of turning ploughshares into swords. Massively expanding the British arms industry. Today, Great Britain is one of the largest exporters of arms in the world.
The problem is, at that level, you can’t choose whom to supply, and then with whom to maintain supply. You may contract with a democracy. Which then becomes a dictatorship. And think about it. Dictators are more likely to need weapons than democracies.
Countries aren't going to buy your weapons in the first place, if they can't depend on you to service and maintain with spare parts. If they can't depend on you, whatever the changes in their system of government. Whatever their fluctuating record on human rights. Whether or not they are rendered subject to UN sanctions, for whatever reason.
You can’t guarantee arms jobs at home if you can’t guarantee regular exports of weaponry. Wherever the end destination may be. And today, one in five jobs in the UK is directly or indirectly associated with the British arms trade (which is why even the unions support it). So, you deal with whoever you have to.
If the client is ‘legitimate,' they get to use the ‘front-door,’ and have tea and crumpets with a nice government Minister, in a cozy, oak-paneled room in Whitehall. If the client is less than salubrious, banned by the UN, whatever, then they have to use the ‘back-door,’ and they likely meet with an 'unofficial' tailored suit, in an equally oak-paneled but decidedly deniable office in a City of London investment bank.
In my book, Maggie’s Hammer, I detail the trail that led me to conclude that the death of my mate, Hugh Simmonds CBE, in 1988, was due to his having been one of the team hand-picked by Margaret Thatcher (consequent upon his interesting skill set), and tasked with setting up the original ‘back-door’ arms operation in the Eighties.
One further unavoidable feature of the arms trade is that you can’t get business without grease. Bribes. For everyone. One of Hugh’s primary jobs was the creation of the money-laundering pipelines for the flow of bribes back to senior politicians within the UK.
Why has none of this British political corruption come to light more substantially? Well. Except for my book, that is. Answer: everyone is in on it. Either receiving the grease. Or turning a blind eye to it. Conservative. Labour. Lib-Con. And now back to the Conservatives.
Really, Geoff? British political arms corruption has been going on this long, totally uninterrupted, gathering steam? Everywhere? Without any serious success in exposure by anyone else? Not even a hint? The massed ranks of the media, law enforcement, well-funded investigative non-profits notwithstanding? Nada? C’mon, Geoff.
Hmm. Ok. Here’s a teaser from my book. By way of illustration of the ubiquity of the arms corruption in Great Britain.
Pick a guy. Any guy. I know. Try Sir Alan Duncan, MP, KCMG. Back in the Nineties, when he was a lowly British Conservative MP, not yet a Tory government Minister, he was the hand-picked successor to Jonathan Aitken.
Who was Jonathan Aitken? Well, read my other post. But, the short story is that Aitken was, until he went to prison for perjury, he was, in the Eighties and early Nineties, the guy who negotiated the arms bribes for Tory politicians, arising from arms deals with Saudi Arabia. Duncan was chosen by Aitken to take over this role when Aitken went to prison for perjury in the late Nineties.
Then, in 2010, the new British Conservative Prime Minister, David Cameron, made Duncan his Minister for International Development. One step below full Cabinet rank. Which was interesting. Seeing as Duncan had always been tipped for Cabinet.
But, here’s the thing. Cameron had more important work for Duncan. Arising out of his continuing, extracurricular arms activities. And Cameron needed Duncan to be doing that work, um, ‘out of sight.’
Britain has what many Tories (certainly) regard as a rather over-sized International Aid budget. Why? Because it ain’t about building dams. It’s about sweeteners to get arms deals. Buy our missiles and warships. Then you get a school and a dam.
In this regard, the Tories streamlined the vetting process. So that the program for clearing dams and schools was handled by the same person who signed off on the Export Licenses and Credit Guarantees for the associated arms purchases.
And that person, from 2010 to 2014, was Duncan. Tucked away, in the No. 2 position, in the seemingly warm-and-fuzzy International Aid Department.
Why so hidden? Because, from 2010 to 2014, the Tories were in coalition government with the sandal-wearing Liberal Democrat mob. Who might have been offended by the tie-in between International Aid and weapons. Not to mention blood-money bribes.
However. Not to worry. In 2015, after that year's UK General Election, David Cameron's Conservatives assumed sole control of the government. Duncan was moved sideways. Out of government. Cameron had him lined up instead to take over the Chairmanship of the joint Parliamentary committee overseeing Intelligence. Until those pesky Parliamentarians interfered.
Why was this committee important? Well. Seeing as Britain had by then become (and remains) one vast arms-dealing enterprise (which has included transforming the City of London into the world’s capital for dirty money), its Embassies have been morphed essentially into arms showrooms. And the primary function of British Intelligence is not to combat terrorism, but rather is to scout out new arms deals, and do opposition research on the competition.
Why do you think the guy who produced the notorious opposition research Buzzfeed Dossier on Trump, collated as it was from considerable knowledge of dirty money dealings with the Russians, why do you think that guy was a former British Intelligence operative with MI6? Because that’s their specialty now.
So, Cameron wanted a 'friend' in charge of Intelligence oversight who could spike any uncomfortable investigations. And, by the way, do not be thinking all this corruption was just the Tories. Labour kept the whole pot boiling while they were in power from 1997 to 2010. It's all in my book.
Still not convinced? Well. Read the book. And remember. I was shot at. Two senior British journalists told me they were warned off the moment they began investigating Hugh. Oh. And Hugh ended up dead in a woodland glade in 1988.
And so. Welcome to today. As we remember Diana. Whose death I say was intimately linked to nascent arms corruption within British society and its body politic. A body politic now thoroughly corrupted with arms bribes.
Approaching the 2017 London Arms Fair. Which is held every two years in September. And is one of the largest arms fairs in the world.
Of course it is. This is where we are now. And it is the primary reason for my writing this companion post to the one about Diana’s death. The arms corruption killed her. And it continues. It’s time to take a stand.
Why does any of this matter? Beyond the immorality. Gosh. Two examples:
1) Refugees. When jobs are dependent on arms. When your lifestyle as a politician is dependent on bribes. It is in everyone’s interests to keep on selling arms to whomsoever. Especially if you are able to do it to both sides.
The biggest market remains the Middle East. And its hot spots. Some of the hottest spots for a while have been Syria, Iraq and Libya. Where there are all manner of opposing parties to whom one can be selling military technology.
If you sell arms. Folks use them. Those arms have become devastating. And so, they devastate. Do you think all of those millions of refugees left their homes to go on holiday? They left because their homes had been devastated. With weaponry their own countries did not manufacture.
2) Britain sold the component parts for Sarin to both sides in the Syrian conflict. Not the USA. Not Russia. Great Britain.
This is why arms corruption in Great Britain is so important. It affects folks in Great Britain. It devastates people around the world. And this is why we should be so appalled by the London Arms Fair. Ok?
Now. Why not expand your knowledge about the devastation British arms sales cause to Great Britain and to peoples’ around the world by buying my book? And then, do something about it by signing the petition on the CAAT web-site.
Too many of us settle for shrugging and saying, well gee, I just didn’t know about this. Well. You do now. And you can find out more. So do it. And then, start making a fuss. As Britons, we are better than this. As human beings we are better than this. It deserves more than our switching on the latest episode of Game of Thrones.