Patrick Harvie calls for Scottish ties to arms trade to be dropped

PA

The co-convener of the Scottish Greens has called for the Scottish Government to end all ties with the arms trade, on the 100th anniversary of the armistice.

In an opinion piece for The Herald newspaper, Patrick Harvie also explained why he chooses to wear a white poppy as a commitment to peace.

The white poppy can be worn to represent a lasting commitment to peace and the belief that war should not be celebrated or glamorised.

The Royal British Legion (RBL) has previously been criticised for accepting sponsorship from companies working in the defence industry, including Lockheed Martin.

The RBL, which sells the red poppy, say it is not a sign of support for war and death, saying the poppy represents a symbol for remembrance and hope and is not to be seen as a symbol of religion or politics.

He wrote: “The involvement of the arms trade with the Royal British Legion’s poppy appeal leaves me feeling uncomfortable.

“Of course, the Scottish Government also has a disturbingly close relationship with arms dealers, funding companies such as Raytheon, who have been implicated in alleged war crimes carried out by the Saudi regime, with significant sums of public money.

“On the 100th anniversary of armistice, it would be fitting for the Scottish Government and the Royal British Legion to distance themselves from the weapons manufacturers whose profits depend on the continuation of war and the creation of ever more victims both here and around the world.”

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A response to a freedom of information request was published in November last year and said Scottish Government agencies gave a total of £518,595 during 2016/17 to companies involved in the arms trade.

The weapons systems manufacturer Raytheon, a recipient of £91,009 over the period, has a plant in Fife.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “We agree on the importance of marking Remembrance Day in an appropriate and respectful way, as a reminder of the appalling human suffering of past conflicts – something that is even more poignant and significant as we mark the centenary of the end of the First World War – and we will be participating in the service to mark the 100th anniversary of the First Armistice at Glasgow Cathedral.

“As we have made consistently clear, the Scottish Government does not provide funding for the manufacture of munitions, and any suggestion to the contrary is mistaken.”

A spokesman from the Royal British Legion said: “The Legion accepts donations from companies which operate legally in the UK, and this includes those working in the defence sector.

“It is the Legion’s policy to make robust checks on potential partners and, before any support is accepted, we ensure they observe all Conventions to which the UK is a signatory. If this cannot be evidenced, offers of support are declined.”