The Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) in Berkshire has recently been given £2bn by the UK government to construct new facilities. The AWE has just donated £1,200 to local disability charities in Basingstoke.
Ministers gave the £2bn to AWE in anticipation of the renewal of the Trident nuclear weapons system. But Parliament has not yet made any decision on whether to renew Trident. The decision is not due until 2016.
AWE gave £1,000 to Basingstoke Dial-a-Ride and £200 to Basingstoke Shopmobility.
£1,200 is 0.00006% of £2bn. It is the equivalent of six pence out of £100,000.
The AWE, based at Aldermaston and Burghfield, is run by a consortium of Lockheed Martin, Serco and Jacobs. The warheads for Trident are developed and maintained there (the missiles are loaned from the US). It’s no surprise that the owners of AWE want to whitewash its reputation. There have been growing protests there as the UK gets closer to a general election that could determine the future of Trident. Only this week, members of Action AWE and Trident Ploughshares succeeded in blocking all road entrances to the Burghfield site for nearly five hours.
The charities in Basingstoke are understandably glad to have the money. Disability services across the UK are under pressure as a result of cuts from local authorities, whose own budgets have been cut by central government. The manager of Basingstoke Shopmobility told the Basingstoke Gazette that “our running costs are increasing each year, but our grants are decreasing each year”.
Cuts to the welfare state have snatched away the livelihoods of thousands of disabled people, while the government continues to maintain the sixth highest military budget in the world. Such expenditure includes the billions of pounds pumped into AWE, whose weapons are designed to kill millions of people – and disable millions more.
What sort of society have we become, that we are asking disabled people to rely on the charity of arms dealers?
A civilised society would fund a welfare state from which we all benefit rather than preparations for warfare. Trident is supposed to protect us, although we are never told who it will protect us from. With government cuts driving up poverty to previously unimaginable levels, the British people are under attack not from a foreign power, but from their own government.