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« Q7: Genocide in Darfur | Main | A commercial break »



Mark F, thanks for that. Of course it's all shading - in the excitement we do get very black&white.

Mark Fulford

Andrew, you are using an absurdly warped argument.

Withholding food kills. Selling weapons kills. I'm advocating selling food and withholding weapons.

You argue that, because a bad regime can use food and medicine as tools against its people, it’s OK to sell them bullets. In effect you’re saying we can’t stop them hurting their people, so we might as well sell them bullets to do the job quicker, plus we turn a profit too.


Disappointing answers from both yes.I doubt in reality that either will again make much difference in practice.If Brunei,Oman,Jordan,Saudi Arabia none of them democracies want to buy arms from us we will still sell them to them as other British interests are involved apart from the profits generated to BAE,Vickers etc.
The more idealistic of us might not like it but it's a fact of life.


You argue that, because a bad regime can use food and medicine as tools against its people, it’s OK to sell them bullets.

I said nothing of the sort. I said the Editor was inconsistent for singling out the arms trade for criticism. I have said nothing about my own views on the morality of selling any particular commodity to corrupt regimes.

Mark Fulford

Sorry Andrew, I assumed you were defending arms-sales. You need to clarify your views on that.

As to the difference between arms and food - yes, despots can starve their people, but it's quite difficult to harm other peoples with bags of rice and corn.


You need to clarify your views on that.

I don't. I'm not running for leadership of the party. Yet.

James Hellyer

Andrew won't run for the leadership until he can contract Blinmpish's services!

Mark Fulford

Andrew, it's wishy-washy to snipe without having the courage to express your own views.


Alright, Mark, I'll take the bait. I'm a free-trade fundamentalist. I don't think the government should intervene to put unfair trade barriers in the way of any British company, nor any foreign company wishing to trade in Britain for that matter. I'd end all industrial and agricultural subsidies tomorrow. I'd get rid of import and export duties and tariffs. I certainly wouldn't make policy that sounds good to wishy-washy 60's liberals but is totally pointless in the real world. Unilaterally stopping British arms companies from trading with the rest of the world will have one effect. No more British arms companies, and the consequent loss of jobs. The dictators will still get weapons. Innocent people will still die. And British workers will become unemployed. Tim's religiously inspired cringe is noble of course but ultimately, like much emotionally inspired and half thought through policy, almost totally worthless. He might sleep better when foreign despots are buying weapons from the French and the Russians, but the former employees of BAE certainly won't as they worry how to pay the bills.

How's that for getting off the fence?

James Maskell

They both missed an easy slam dunk. Both answers werent very tough. My opinion, such that it is, is that we should rule out selling arms to any country with poor human rights records or trigger happy tendencies. Example countries that shouldnt be sold arms by the UK include Taiwan, China, India, Pakistan, Indonesia and all Midle Eastern countries (the region is far too unstable).

Mark Fulford

Andrew, I agree with free-trade, but not at the expense of moral standards. It is wrong to supply rogue nations, effectively engaged in illegal activity, with the tools of their trade. Yes, other nations may supply them, but that’s their problem. There is no reason for the British economy to depend upon arms trade.

Food and medicine are different to weapons because they can’t be used to invade other countries.

In the 70’s my family’s business declined a massive contract to make mine-layers for Saudi Arabia. My father was harangued for jeopardising local jobs but, although others were happy to take the contract, he knew that he could not live with the potential consequences to innocent life. That’s not a religious position, it’s a matter of conscience. I suspect that, in the same position, you’d actually come to the same conclusion.


I suspect that, in the same position, you’d actually come to the same conclusion.

And you'd be quite wrong.

Cllr Iain Lindley

What is the situation with regard to Export Credit Guarantees these days? It is absurd that the taxpayer should bear the risk of exporting - whatever the product - to unreliable regimes.


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