Glasgow City Council has come under fire from disarmament campaigners after removing its logo from a major arms fair – but continuing to back the controversial event.
The pink ‘People Make Glasgow’ banner has been dropped from the list of sponsors and partners for the Undersea Defence Technology exhibition and conference to be staged in the city’s Scottish Exhibition Centre from 26-28 June.
But the council said that it had made “no other change to the practical support provided” for the event. There had been “confusion” about what the logo represented, it claimed.
Now you see it
Now you don’t
The Ferret reported on 6 May that the city council had been condemned for being involved with an event designed to “promote nuclear weapons and war”. More than a thousand people from 50 companies are expected to attend one of the underwater arms industry’s biggest gatherings.
The event is backed by construction firm Babcock, which runs the Trident nuclear submarine base at Faslane for the Ministry of Defence, and BAE Systems, which makes nuclear-power submarines.
Other backers include the Italian multinational Leonardo MW, which has a factory in Edinburgh. The firm was recently revealed to have links to the bombing of Kurds in Syria, an assault described by critics as “ethnic cleansing”.
The council’s support has been via Glasgow Life, a charity that organises cultural events on behalf of the council.
Campaign Against Arms Trade called on Glasgow Life to come clean. “It is either supporting the arms fair or it isn’t,” said the campaign’s Andrew Smith.
“Simply removing its logo from the website but offering the same logistical support isn’t good enough. The council needs to listen to the anger this arms fair has caused, end its involvement in the event and make sure that this isn’t allowed to happen again.”
Jay Sutherland of Scotland Against Militarism said: “The decision to use the logo was completely hypocritical to begin with, when most people in Glasgow who are aware of this arms fair oppose it.”
He added: “The council realise they have got it completely wrong. They recognise that people have claimed the brand, but what they don’t realise is that people own the city too and we are not putting up with this.”
A coalition of campaign groups called Sink the Arms Fair has promised a series of protests in the run-up to and during the event. “We are delighted that the logo “People Make Glasgow” will not be plastered over this arms fair, but we are incredibly disappointed with the council’s statement,” said a coalition spokesperson.
“The only confusion here is about where Glasgow City Council’s loyalties lie. It is shocking that they refuse to even acknowledge the outrage felt by many across the city who would expect an anti-nuclear council to have no part in this event.”
Glasgow City Council confirmed that its logo had been dropped from the Undersea Defence Technology website. “Our conventions team uses the brand – and, in this case, that reflected the practical support they offer to event organisers and venues in the city,” a council spokesperson told Commonspace.
“At the same time, the brand is hugely popular and we appreciate that people in the city feel some sense of ownership of it – which is a really positive thing. There was clearly some confusion about what it represented on this occasion, so we agreed with the organiser that it was better to remove it.”
The organisers of the Undersea Defence Technology conference have not responded to a request to comment.