01/12/2020 |

#UKDefundWar ‘Twitterstorm’ by GCOMS-UK Coalition

On November 30, the GCOMS UK Coalition launched a ‘TwitterStorm’ in which many UK peace organizations took part, such as Peace & Justice, Peace & Disarment, Global Justice Now or Scientists for Global Responsibility. They all used the hashtag #UKDefundWar to bring attention to the £24 billion increase in military budget recently announced by the British government. The online action emphasized that raising military spending does not mean more security, and that in the context of economic and social crisis caused by Covid-19 pandemic and amidst the environmental crisis, it is necessary to invest this budget in strengthening the health system and increasing social spending to fight poverty.

The hashtag, message and images created for the occasion were shared on Twitter and other social media by a considerable number of social and environmental organizations such as Stop the War or Extinction Rebellion, and by important public officials such as Jeremy Corbyn, who highlighted the error of this increase and demanded a rectification from Boris Johnson:
“Increasing military spending by £24 billion in the midst of climate, economic and public health crises shows the Tories have the wrong priorities.”

The twitterstorm turned out to be an excellent demonstration of the potential of unified action. Besides problematising military spending on social media, the online action managed to rally a very large part of the UK-based peace movement behind the call for the demilitarisation of our society and investment in things that make for peace.

To find out more about the planned increase on UK’s military spending, you can read this November 30 piece by the GCOMS-UK Coalition, compiling some of the reactions to Johnson’s announcement.

In a statement to the house on Thursday 19th November Boris Johnson committed to significant new spending on the UK’s armed forces: an additional £16.5bn – amounting to a real terms increase of £24bn when combined with the already declared increase of over £7bn by 2024-25. This is a staggering sum to spend on weaponry at a time when the health, care and social systems of the UK are in crisis after ten years of government imposed austerity.
There has been some worthwhile media analysis, particularly the Guardian on how the money will be spent and it’s implications and the Independent on Keir Starmer’s apparent support for the announcement. For the best overview of how this will impact British foreign policy going forward we recommend these articles by Prof. Paul Rogers and Prof. Mary Kaldor.
The move has been roundly criticised by campaigners with Kate Hudson of CND stating:
“Boris Johnson’s decision to approve the biggest increase in defence spending in decades shows that the Government is completely out of touch with the real threats to Britain’s security.
n the face of the climate emergency, the coronavirus pandemic, and a major economic downturn, the Government is spending billions on weapons systems and extending sabre-rattling to outer space. Instead of properly funding the NHS and fixing the test and trace disaster, Boris Johnson seems to have opted for a cold war tribute act.”
The move has been roundly criticised by campaigners with Kate Hudson of CND stating,