Merseyside Socialist Alternative took part in a demonstration against the AOC arms fair on Saturday. The fair is happening at the Liverpool ACC in October. Weapons manufacturers will be using the space to hold a celebration of the arms industry that profits from warfare, death, and destruction.
The demonstration was a successful and inspiring event, with thousands of people marching from Princes Park to St George’s Hall where they listened to speeches from speakers including Jeremy Corbyn and Ken Loach. Our members have been involved in organising and building this event for some time.
Liverpool City Council has stated that they have no authority to prevent the event from going ahead, although there are reports that councillors who voted against condemning the arms fair attended the demo for the sake of photo ops. The council is also continuing to uphold the dispersal zone along the waterfront introduced during the summer, most likely to ward off attempts at holding protests outside the venue.
But there is popular opposition to the arms fair that can be mobilised to put a stop to it. Socialist Alternative is campaigning against the event and those facilitating it – including supporting calls for a boycott of the venue hosting it. This has already seen the band Massive Attack cancel a gig that was due to be held there. We will be joining a boycott of the venue being used at the university freshers fair later this month. Along with other student societies, we will be setting up our stalls outside the venue rather than using the facilities and taking the opportunity to build opposition to the arms fair.
Many are also critical of Unite the Union using the ACC as a venue for their upcoming national conference for as long as the arms fair is scheduled to go ahead there.
Not jobs vs peace
Right-wingers in the trade union leadership may defend the arms industry on the grounds that it creates jobs, but we should not be fooled by this false choice between jobs and peace. For real, socially useful job creation, these industries, along with the banks, should be nationalised under democratic control. This way their factories could be re-tooled and workers’ skills developed so that they could produce technologies to help avert the climate disaster, for example – not make instruments of destruction and death.
If this momentum is maintained and built on in order to mobilise further protests that disrupt the event, even if it means defying the dispersal zone around the venue, this celebration of war profiteering can be stopped.