1970s

pic7101. Protest against arms sales to South Africa

The 1970–74 Conservative government lifted Labour’s ban on British arms sales to South Africa. In March 1971 it announced the sale of seven Westland Wasp helicopters to the South African Defence Force. The photograph shows anti-apartheid supporters protesting in Downing Street. Although the Wasps were supplied, opposition from British public opinion and from the Commonwealth was so strong that that no other arms deals were agreed.

pic7102. ‘No Arms to South Africa’

Slogan painted on the wall of Westland Helicopters factory at Hayes, near London, the night before an AAM demonstration there on 20 March 1971.

arm12. ‘Stop the Wasp’

In 1971 the Conservative government agreed to sell seven Westland Wasp helicopters to South Africa. This leaflet publicised a march to the Westland factory in Hayes, near London. Trade unionists from DATA (Draughtsmen’s and Allied Technicians’ Association) refused to work on the contract. The helicopters were supplied, but because of widespread opposition these were the only weapons exported to South Africa under the 1970–74 Conservative government.

pic7103. Demonstration at Westland Helicopters, 1971

Demonstrators outside the Westland Helicopters factory after a march through Hayes, Middlesex. In March 1971 the Conservative government announced a contract to sell seven Wasp helicopters to the South African Defence Force. Trade unionists at Westland’s Yeovil plant refused to work on the helicopters. Although the Wasps were supplied, opposition from British public opinion and from the Commonwealth was so strong that that no other arms deals were agreed.

arm13. Hyde Park rally against arms sales to South Africa

The AAM marked the eleventh anniversary of the Sharpeville massacre in 1971 with a rally in Hyde Park against arms sales to South Africa. A dramatised expose of Labour and Conservative governments record on arms sales was presented by artists including Monty Python star Graham Chapman. Because of widespread opposition from the British public the only weapons sold to South Africa by  the 1970–74 Conservative government were seven Wasp helicopters.

pic7104. Demonstration against P W Botha, 1971

Demonstrators waiting for the arrival of South African Defence Minister P W Botha at the Ministry of Defence in Whitehall, 10 June 1971. Botha was seeking assurances from his British counterpart Lord Carrington that Britain would supply warships to South Africa. He was accompanied by SADF Commander in Chief General Hiemstra, a former Nazi sympathiser.

pic7105. Demonstration against PW Botha, 1971

Demonstrators waiting for the arrival of South African Defence Minister P W Botha at the Ministry of Defence in Whitehall, 10 June 1971. Tomatoes and smoke flares were thrown at him as he entered the Ministry. Botha was seeking assurances that Britain would supply warships to South Africa. The 1970–74 Conservative government announced that it would lift the arms embargo against South Africa, but because of public opposition the only weapons it supplied were seven Wasp helicopters.

pic7106. PW Botha at the Ministry of Defence, Whitehall

South African Defence Minister P W Botha visited the Ministry of Defence on 10 June 1971 for talks with his British counterpart Lord Carrington. Protesters threw tomatoes and smoke flares as he entered the Ministry. Botha was seeking assurances that Britain would supply warships to South Africa. The 1970–74 Conservative government announced that it would lift the arms embargo against South Africa, but because of public opposition the only weapons it supplied were seven Wasp helicopters.