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arm01. ‘No Arms for Verwoerd’

Leaflet publicising a rally in Trafalgar Square on 3 June 1962.

 
pic6301. ‘No British Arms for South Africa’ march

Thousands of people marched through central London to protest against British arms sales to South Africa on 17 March 1963. The main speaker at a rally in Trafalgar Square was the Labour Party’s new leader Harold Wilson. He told the Conservative government ‘Act now and stop this bloody traffic in the weapons of oppression’. When Labour came to power in October 1964 it announced a limited embargo, but fulfilled a contract for 18 Buccaneer bomber aircraft and continued to sell spare parts to the South African Defence Force.

 
pic6305. ‘No British Arms for South Africa’ rally

Part of the crowd at a rally in Trafalgar Square against British arms sales to South Africa on 17 March 1963. The main speaker was the Labour Party’s new leader Harold Wilson. He told the Conservative government ‘Act now and stop this bloody traffic in the weapons of oppression’. Also on the platform were African National Congress General Secretary Duma Nokwe and Labour MP Barbara Castle, President of the Anti-Apartheid Movement. 

 
arm02. ‘No British Arms for South Africa’

Leaflet publicising a rally against British arms sales to South Africa on 17 March 1963. The main speaker was the Labour Party’s new leader Harold Wilson. He told the Conservative government ‘Act now and stop this bloody traffic in the weapons of oppression’. When Labour came to power in October 1964 it announced a limited embargo, but fulfilled a contract for 18 Buccaneer bomber aircraft and continued to sell spare parts to the South African Defence Force.

 
arm03. No British Arms for South Africa

In the early 1960s Britain was South Africa’s main arms supplier. The call for it to stop supplying arms for apartheid was one of the AAM’s main campaigning issues.

 
pic6304. ‘No British Arms for South Africa’ rally

Labour Party leader Harold Wilson at a rally in Trafalgar Square against British arms sales to South Africa on 17 March 1963. He told the Conservative government ‘Act now and stop this bloody traffic in the weapons of oppression’. When Labour came to power in October 1964 it announced a limited embargo, but fulfilled a contract for 18 Buccaneer bomber aircraft and continued to sell spare parts to the South African Defence Force.

 
pic6302. ‘No British Arms for South Africa’ rally

Part of the crowd at a rally in Trafalgar Square against British arms sales to South Africa on 17 March 1963. The main speaker was the Labour Party’s new leader Harold Wilson. He told the Conservative government ‘Act now and stop this bloody traffic in the weapons of oppression’. Also on the platform were African National Congress General Secretary Duma Nokwe and Labour MP Barbara Castle, President of the Anti-Apartheid Movement.

 
pic6303. ‘No British Arms for South Africa’ rally

Labour MP Barbara Castle at a rally in Trafalgar Square against British arms sales to South Africa on 17 March 1963. The main speaker was the Labour Party’s new leader Harold Wilson. He told the Conservative government ‘Act now and stop this bloody traffic in the weapons of oppression’. When Labour came to power in October 1964 it announced a limited embargo, but fulfilled a contract for 18 Buccaneer bomber aircraft and continued to sell spare parts to the South African Defence Force.

 
po186. ‘No Arms for Apartheid’

The Anti-Apartheid Movement launched an ‘Anti-Apartheid Month’ in November 1963 in response to increasing repression in South Africa and the arrest of Nelson Mandela and his comrades in July. This poster, calling for an end to arms sales to South Africa, was part of the publicity for the month. The AAM was asking for an end to arms sales to South Africa, asylum for political refugees and the release of political prisoners. The campaign was launched with a march through London on 3 November. Meetings were held all over Britain during the month, most of them organised by university anti-racialist societies and addressed by recently arrived South African refugees like Joe Slovo.

 
pic6504. Protest against the South African cricket tour, 1965

This young anti-apartheid supporter was asking cricket fans to support an arms embargo against South Africa outside the St Helen’s cricket ground in Swansea in August 1965. Inside the ground the all-white South African cricket team was playing Glamorgan.

 
arm05. South Africa’s Defence Strategy

This pamphlet detailed South Africa’s arms build-up in the 1960s and argued that Western military support for apartheid could lead to a global racial conflagration. It was widely distributed and ran into several editions.

 
arm04. ‘No British Arms for South Africa’

The Labour government elected in October 1964 continued to supply spare parts for South African military equipment and to train SADF personnel. It also supplied 18 Buccaneer aircraft under a contract signed by the Conservative government. The AAM campaigned against this as a betrayal of Labour Leader Harold Wilson’s pledge to ‘stop this bloody traffic in the weapons of oppression’.

 
gov03. Letter from S Abdul (Abdul Minty) to Harold Wilson

In November 1967 reports in the British press suggested that the Labour government was about to lift its arms embargo against South Africa. The AAM wrote to Foreign Secretary George Brown, who agreed to meet an AAM delegation, but failed to give assurances that the arms ban would be maintained. After protests from Labour MPs and three crisis Cabinet meetings, Prime Minister Harold Wilson announced that the arms embargo would stay. 

 
arm06. Where would Britain’s balance of payments be without them?

This leaflet was issued in the run-up to the 1970 British general election. It accused the Labour government and the Conservative opposition of being equally culpable of giving military support to South Africa.

 
pic6701. MPs protest at naval visit

A delegation of MPs on their way to 10 Downing Street to hand in a letter protesting at a visit by three British warships to Cape Town in June 1967. A motion ‘regretting the visit’ was tabled in the House of Commons and a lobby of Parliament took place on 31 May. Left to right: Liberal MP and President of the AAM David Steel, Liberal MP John Pardoe, Labour MPs Joan Lestor, Joyce Butler and Hugh Jenkins, Lord Brockway, and Labour MPs Frank Judd, Michael Barnes and Andrew Faulds.

 
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 besieged the office of aircraft manufacturer Hawker Siddeley, where several were arrested.

 
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.

 
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.

 
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.

 

 
 
 
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