“People who decry the defence industry should hang their heads in shame because it is a noble industry” new minister Gerald Howath MP once said. But then someone with such a close and long term association with the arms industry would say that, wouldn’t they?
Whilst a frontbench spokesman for defence under Michael Howard, Howarth was slammed in 2004 for providing a weapons lobbyist with a one of his allocated parliamentary staff passes. Michael Wood of lobbyists Whitehall Advisers (whose clients included BAE Systems and Airbus) who are the backbone of the UK’s billion pound arms industry. Like Caroline Spelman and her farming interests, David Cameron seemingly does not consider Howarth’s past connections to be an issue. Howarth has been made the parliamentary Under Secretary for Defence. He now has a direct role in arms procurement.
It’s not as if Howarth hasn’t used his position before to help the arms trade. Take his constant parliamentary questions about contract renewal, or just a cursory glance over the parliamentary room bookings for the last few years, time and time again he allowed his name to be used to rent out rooms in parliament to his mates in the arms industry. Bookings a plenty for Rolls Royce, air industry groups and defence procurement experts. Howarth has openly admited his close relationship with the industry and never really sought to have anything but a close relationship with arms manufacturers, but serious questions should be posed. At a time of war, how do the public know that they are getting the best deal in this controversial but necessary trade rather than what is best for his friends?
Guido has more to come on this one…