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Does It Matter The Baby Show Linked To Arms Trade?

Following my blog entry here about The Baby Show organisers Clarion also arranging Weapons Fairs, some mums have asked - what is the issue?  The arms fairs are all legal and above board right?  Nobody is claiming Clarion is doing anything illegal so does it really matter?

Firstly legal is not the same thing as ethical.

If it is indeed acceptable for babies and bullets to mix, why can't we have the information out there in the open?  If there's absolutely no problem, why do The Baby Show delete any questions or comments on this topic as soon as they are posted on their Facebook wall?

Why are they deleting anything that doesn't reflect Baby Show in a glowing light? (including recent comments over chosen "experts").

Censoring questions/feedback from the general public is I think a risky PR technique - sure you might put the flame out, or you might incite people to feel more passionately than they did, because you censored them...

Clarion do however have an official statement:
"Why Clarion Events supports the defence and security industry
Clarion Events is the largest independent events organiser in the UK and a highly successful, award winning company.
In 2008, Clarion Events acquired a presence in the defence and security sector, including the world’s largest defence and security exhibition, Defence Systems and Equipment International (DSEi).
Over the past year, a small minority have tried to convince others that DSEi helps to perpetuate the illegal arms trade. This is not true."
Please let me clarify at this point that I am not commenting here on whether DSEi helps to perpetuate the illegal arms trade, truthfully - I have no clue.

But what I do know is "defence & security sector" might sound like a "safe" title, one that brings to mind some nice men in suits sell appropriate weapons to other nice men in suits to defend and secure their countries.  Yet just a few days ago (8th Feb 2011) a Guardian headline read:
"UK sells arms to repressive regimes- official"
followed by:
"MPs question British arms supplies to Middle East and North Africa
Minister admits trade with undemocratic countries with poor human rights record"
and goes on to say:
"How can Britain, one of the world's leading arms exporters, honour its stated commitment to promote human rights throughout the world?
With difficulty.
Vince Cable, the business secretary, has admitted as much. "We do trade with governments that are not democratic and have bad human rights records", he told a crossparty group of senior MPs. "We do business with repressive governments and there's no denying that".
The MPs were questioning Cable and William Hague, the foreign secretary, about Whitehall's approval of exports, including crowd control ammunition, guns and ammunition to Libya, Bahrain, and Egypt, in the period leading up to the Arab Spring last year"
A few days later on 14th Feb another Guardian headline read:
Bahrain receives military equipment from UK despite violent crackdown
Which continues:
"Britain has continued to sell arms to Bahrain despite continuing political unrest in the Gulf state, new official figures disclose.
According to the figures the government approved the sale of military equipment valued at more than £1m in the months following the violent crackdown on demonstrators a year ago. They included licences for gun silencers, weapons sights, rifles, artillery and components for military training aircraft.
Also cleared for export to Bahrain between July and September last year were naval guns and components for detecting and jamming improvised explosive devices. No export licences were refused. "
Innocent Libyan Casualty
Last April the question was "Who armed Gaddafi" whoops yep the UK were involved with that too.  Although the Daily Mail's headline of The 'dirty secret' of British arms sales to Libya just months before Gaddafi slaughtered pro-democracy protesters was perhaps the catchiest....

Ultimately it is of course the UK Government, not Clarion who issue licenses - however Clarion does provide a key event in the "get your guns" calendar and for some that's simply not OK.  By running the arms fairs, they are involved - they profit from both the sale of baby items and the sale of weapons.  Is it really that crazy to expect parents shouldn't have to wade through politics before attending a baby related event?

Others agree.

Back in 2008 Baby Show faced a backlash against their involvement in the arms trade, and must have pulled some pretty impressive PR out of the bag.  The question is with the current popularity of social media - will they manage to sweep this under the carpet forever?


  1. I noticed one of favourite baby product companies, Funky Giraffe Bibs were at the Show. Have posted on their facebook page to see if they'll be there next year.

    1. I am afraid we already paid for three shows this year and put our name down for a stand at Excel for next year. I had no idea Clarion were doing this and not really happy about this (my mum (ex-Greenham common woman) will be furious when she finds out).

      I am going to email Clarion about this now. It has left me in a quandary as it's a lot of money we have paid and are under contract to pay, but at the same time I am really not happy about this. I do appreciate you drawing this to my attention.

  2. Sorry Sam - I hope you don't lose out!
    If it helps I rave about your bibs to everyone. And have bought extra as they make great gifts for new births. Hope it balances out x

  3. No problem, I am glad you did, we need to know these things.

    We were so happy after the show meeting every one it really buoyed us up, but I am not happy that we sell equipment to the sort of people who will put it to terrible use. I mean look what is happening in Syria, the last report from that Times reporter who was killed, I know that was Russian stuff but the point remains.

  4. In a way your having paid for future shows puts you in a stronger position; a current customer has far more clout by threatening to withdrawing support through concern with ethical matters than potential customers. though I doubt they'll be bothered on a grand scale, if you take others with you, they'll start to get a little concerned. Go for it.

  5. Sam - we (BabyCalm Ltd) are speaking with the director of The Baby Show today to raise our concerns (like you we are already committed to Earl's Court) - I suggest you telephone him today also - at some point he will have to listen. We are also complaining about the information given out by the experts on the stage, perhaps you may want to join us in complaining about that too?

    Anyway - direct contact details for the director are here:

    We'd love to hear how you get on and what decision you come to.

    1. What was the problem with the information from the stage, I missed that?

  6. Oh dear......LOL, unscientific, untrue, dangerous, disempowering detachment parenting advice given by largely unqualified "experts".

  7. Thanks for bringing this information to the people. I was just about to see if I could get a stand at the baby show but have now decided to find another way to promote my new company. It has certainly made me think about who I deal with. I suppose when you think baby show you just think of baby friendly people. Thanks once again from Baby To Bed


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