A government minister goes on a bizarre rant after an arms company pulls out of ‘England’s biggest event’

Berry and Tornado fighter jet
Emily Apple

Jake Berry, minister for the Northern Powerhouse, took to Twitter for a bizarre rant against artists after BAE Systems pulled out of sponsoring “the biggest event in England this year”.

As The Canary previously reported, The Great Exhibition of the North was facing pressure after a number of artists pulled out or threatened to pull out over its sponsorship with the arms dealer. But campaigners celebrated when the company announced it was withdrawing its sponsorship.

Berry, however, wasn’t happy about this. He tweeted:

“Subsidy addicted”

But it soon became clear that no one had a clue what he meant about “subsidy addicted artists”. As many pointed out, artists do pay tax:

Because as people pointed out, artists actually receive very few subsidies:

War in Yemen

BAE Systems has been widely criticised for selling weapons to Saudi Arabia for use in their war against Yemen. Typhoon and Tornado aircraft sold by BAE Systems to Saudi Arabia have been deployed on combat missions in the war on Yemen.

UNICEF reported in December 2017 that more than 5,000 children have been killed or injured in Yemen since the conflict began in March 2015. Cholera and acute diarrhoea have affected over a million people and over seven million people are at risk of famine.

And this was a point that Twitter users pointed out to the minister:

Northern taxpayers also pointed out that BAE Systems wasn’t welcome:

“Shut up”

But one Twitter user perfectly captured the mood:

BAE Systems’ withdrawal is a massive victory for the artists who spoke out and all those who campaigned against the sponsorship. The culture of dodgy companies gaining legitimacy through sponsoring cultural events needs to stop. This case shows what can be achieved when people apply pressure and refuse to be co-opted to their agenda.

The tide is turning. The people are speaking. BAE Systems is not arming people in our names.

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Feature image via Flickr and Wikimedia

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