At a ceremony at the BAE Systems site in Samlesbury in Lancashire this afternoon, the North West Regional Development Agency and BAE Systems signed a memorandum of understanding. This document gives the framework for the expansion of BAE of the next 15 years in working towards the ‘common goal’ of making sure the North West is a good and profitable place to make Arms; they’re currently working on the new Joint Strike Fighter. The Foreign Secretary and Blackburn MP Jack Straw was there to add his seal of approval to the seven million handed over up front, with the smiling promises of more ‘investment’ to come as they look to build an Aerospace Business Village as the site expands. Despite allusions to the contrary, no new jobs were remotely guaranteed for the near future.
When asked if the cash could be better spent creating jobs outside of the arms trade, Jack Straw mentioned what a dangerous world we lived in, citing the London bombings on July the 7th and the attacks on New York on September the 11th 2001. He also denied it was wrong for the Government to be so blatant in its support of an industry it should be controlling.
BAE are the big boys in the area. They directly employ over sixteen thousand people, with thousands more in supporting industries. They claim they earn 5.4% of the regions GDP. I don’t doubt that for a minute.
Nigel Whitehead, who’s in charge of the military arm of BAE, was also there. When asked if he thought job security and profits on the North West were worth the death and suffering his machines caused he talked about ‘defending the realm.’ ‘So you wouldn’t sell to the Indonesian Government?’ He then defaulted to the UK Government, saying all sales were approved of by them. The circle is complete.
It seems very hard to ‘expose’ this when it’s all so blatant.