TRAKNAT is a network of local groups in the Twickenham, Richmond and Kingston area campaigning against UK arms exports. There is more explanation below and on the About Us page, where you will also find a list of the member groups.
We are continuing to protest at Vince Cable’s position as a friend of arms dealers, how he facilitates weapons deals to some of the most repressive regimes in the world, and the way he has reneged on his commitment to increase transparency in the arms trade. We held a demonstration outside the The Turk’s Head in St Margarets on 24 April 2014, where Vince Cable was holding a dinner with other Liberal Democrats.
A group of Zac Goldsmith’s constituents met with him on 9 April 2014. The aim was to seek his help in a number of ways.
- Firstly to ask him to put pressure on Dr Cable to reverse his u-turn on transparency and make public arms export licences called Open Individual Trade Control licences (OITCLs), those used by arms brokers to broker unlimited quantities of weapons to human rights repressors. Dr Cable issued 17 OITCLs to British arms brokers between May 2010 and March 2013 to trade an unlimited quantity of weapons from another country to Egypt, which has just sentenced over 500 democracy protestors to death. These licences were for a full range of military goods including assault rifles, sniper rifles, combat shotguns and small arms ammunition.
- Secondly to explain Cable’s failure to restrict exports to poor countries, see below, and to ask him to facilitate a meeting with the Overseas Development Minister Alan Duncan who is responsible for the review of these licences (see below).
- Also to ask him to setup a meeting with Sir John Stanley, the Chair of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Arms Export Controls so we can urge him to try to put more pressure on Cable on these issues.
Some of us have met with the Department for International Development (DFID) officials responsible for reviewing export licences to countries in receipt of development assistance. These include India, Pakistan, many African counties etc. Under the terms of the UK arms export licensing criteria weapons should not be sold if they divert resources from development. We learned that they allocate less than one person day at the London office to this task and that in actual fact they have not refused ANY licences in the recent past. DFID are undertaking a review of the process of licence assessment and will be making recommendations to their Minister, Alan Duncan, based on 2 options: Improvements but only using existing resources; wholesale changes, contingent on increased resources. Please contact us (email@example.com) for a detailed report on the meeting and a paper calling for changes to their process.
And Jim McCluskey had a letter published in the Richmond and Twickenham Times on 28 March 2014.
Keeping in Touch
We now have a mailing list for occasional news items, like public meetings. Mail firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to the list. Also get in touch if you would like to be more involved and come to planning meetings, or to see the letters and documents that we have exchanged so far with Dr Cable.
TRAKNAT was formed in March 2012, with the initial aim of inviting people to sign a petition to be presented to Vince Cable MP at a public meeting at which the other local MPs would also speak. We collected about 1000 signatures, and presented them to Dr Cable at a public meeting on 29 November 2012. Unfortunately Dr Cable was the only MP able to attend.
We held a separate meeting with Zac Goldsmith at the Houses of Parliament on 13th May 2013.
Aims and Objectives
Our Voices are Important
As Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, Vince Cable runs a department which continues to promote and approve weapons sales to regimes which are using force to suppress democracy protesters.
TRAKNAT campaigns for Vince Cable to shut his arms promotion unit, the UK Trade & Industry – Defence & Security Organisation (UKTI-DSO), and stop underwriting loans through UK Export Finance which enable the sales to take place. Until the government stops promoting arms sales, it will continue to ignore its own rules which prohibit arms sales where they may be used for internal repression, or external aggression.
Some countries are still paying Vince Cable’s department for debts that were run up by the UK selling weapons to their former dictators. We call for these, and other unjust debts, to be cancelled. We also call for the withdrawal of export support for climate-wrecking fossil fuel projects and other projects which fuel climate change, result in human right abuses and third world debt.
UK exports overseas can have a massive impact either positive or negative, and the exports our government chooses to promote and support speak volumes about its commitment to human rights, environmental sustainability and social justice worldwide. TRAKNAT is campaigning for the UK government to support responsible, sustainable exports which demonstrate a respect for peace, human rights, and a safe environment and create positive, sustainable jobs in the UK.
We are calling on Vince Cable to:
- Stop arming repressive regimes. It’s time to end government support for the arms trade and close the DSEi arms fair.
- Substantially restrict arms sales to countries where this will divert resources from development and exacerbate poverty.