Monday, 19 October 2009

Brighton Council should discuss our city's own arms industry

Remember January? It seems a long time ago, doesn't it - maybe a little less so now in the chilly rain - but for those who lost family and friends, or whose homes were flattened, in the bloody Israeli assault on Gaza, time continues to stand a bit stiller.

Stunned at our impotence in the face of daily reports of horrific war crimes taking place on both sides (according to a UN report adopted on Friday), and the news that the a Moulsecoomb factory was manufacturing bomb release mechanisms being used as part of the Israeli bombing campaign, I decided to join forces with my Green colleague Keith Taylor and try and get the issues on the table at Brighton Town Hall.

We drafted a Notice of Motion calling on all councillors to deplore the attacks on Gaza and condemn the role of a Brighton factory in events in the Middle East.

We argued, in plain English, that the EDO/MBM bomb factory should switch production to peaceful components, so all councillors could lay their cards on the table - and make clear where they stood on the EDO's future as a bomb-making factory here in Brighton.

But the motion was never discussed. It was blocked by the then mayor and chief executive Garry Peltzer-Dunn and Alan McCarthy respectively, on the grounds that it was irrelevant to the well-being of Brighton residents.

Well we thought that was ridiculous, as do the several hundred people now who have signed a petition to the council saying so.

I met some (more) of the SmashEDO protestors today, and have agreed that we will present the petition on their behalf at the next full council meeting in December, and that we will work on a new motion condemning the bomb factory in terms the council's lawyers will find it harder to reject.

I don't rate our chances, as I reckon the Tory and Labour groups on the council will do almost anything to avoid having to put their money (or votes) where their mouths are on peace issues, but I'll certainly keep y'all informed...

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