Arms Embargo

arm09. ‘Stop the Wasps’

One of the first decisions of the Conservative government elected in June 1970 was to resume arms sales to South Africa. Wasp helicopters, manufactured by Westland Helicopters in Hayes, near London, were on the South African shopping list. This leaflet asked all British people who were opposed to apartheid to join the campaign against arms sales. 

arm08. ‘We Say No to Arms to South Africa’

One of the first decisions of the Conservative government elected in June 1970 was to resume arms sales to South Africa. The AAM immediately appealed to people in Britain to oppose the decision. This leaflet publicised a 24-hour protest fast in Downing Street by former South African political prisoners. In 1971 a Gallup poll found that 71 per cent of people surveyed were opposed to arms sales.

pic7011. South African Foreign Minister protest

South African Foreign Minister Hilgard Muller was met by AAM demonstrators when he visited the British Foreign Office on 20 July 1970. The visit took place shortly after the announcement by the newly elected Conservative government that Britain would resume arms sales to South Africa.

arm11. Arms sales postcard

One of the first decisions of the Conservative government elected in June 1970 was to resume arms sales to South Africa. The AAM launched an international campaign in defence of the arms embargo. Thousands of this postcard addressed to Prime Minister Edward Health were distributed to AAM members, and to trade unions and other organisations.

tu05. TUC fringe meeting, 1970

Every year the AAM held a fringe meeting at TUC congress. The 1970 congress took place soon after the newly elected Conservative government announced it would resume arms sales to South Africa. The AAM worked with sympathetic unions to ensure that congress passed a resolution deploring the decision.

tu06. Declaration against arms sales to South Africa

This declaration was circulated at the 1970 TUC congress. It was signed by union leaders and rank and file delegates. Partly as a result of AAM pressure, congress passed a resolution deploring the government’s decision to resume arms sales to South Africa.

arm07. ‘Stop Arms for Apartheid’ rally

One of the first decisions of the Conservative government elected in June 1970 was to resume arms sales to South Africa. Campaigning against arms sales became the AAM’s top priority. This leaflet advertised an AAM demonstration on 25 October. 10,000 people marched up Whitehall to Trafalgar Square, led by a model of a Buccaneer bomber. Demonstrators also protested outside the office of aircraft manufacturer Hawker Siddeley, where several were arrested.

pic7013. ‘Stop Arms for Apartheid’ rally

Around 10,000 people attended a rally in Trafalgar Square on 25 October 1970 to protest against the Conservative government’s plans to sell arms to South Africa. They marched up Whitehall, led by a model of a Buccaneer bomber. Speakers at the rally included journalist Paul Foot, Dick Seabrook, President of the shopworkers union USDAW, Mike Terry, Secretary of the National Union of Students, Labour MP Reg Prentice and the Bishop of Woolwich. Demonstrators also protested outside the office of aircraft manufacturer Hawker Siddeley, where several were arrested.