MOST of us were probably blissfully unaware, but a swanky annual dinner was held on Wednesday night at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel in Park Lane.

For members it was £225 a pop and non-members £450 to attend. If past events were anything to go by, the menu would not have been too shabby.

Perhaps, as previously, those attending might again have opted for the Beef Fillet, Mushroom Truffle Crust, Foie Gras Sauce, followed by the Chocolate and Praline Sphere and Raspberry Coulis.

There would, of course, be lots and lots of champagne and wine too.

And as for the after-dinner entertainment, well in 2015 the post-dinner banter was given by a certain journalist and broadcaster called Jeremy Vine, while on Wednesday night it was Former Home Secretary Alan Johnson, who picked up what I’m sure was a not inconsiderable speaker’s fee.

If you’re wondering what all this was for, let me delay no further in telling you that it was the annual soiree of the Aerospace, Defence and Security Group, or ADS.

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For those of you wondering who this illustrious band are, suffice to say that the ADS is an arms industry body that represents most of the world’s biggest arms firms.

Now far be it for me to be a party pooper, but I think it would stick in the craw of most reasonable folk to learn that many of those filling their faces and quaffing champagne on Wednesday night are precisely those people who profit massively from the arms currently being used to bombard Yemen into starvation.

Over a glass or two on Wednesday, those representatives of arms firms would have spent a good part of the evening cosying up to the many politicians who attend with the aim of trying to sell even more weapons.

That some of these companies have paid for MPs to attend previous ADS dinners and MPs have willingly let that happen, also to me leaves a sour taste in the mouth.

There is BAE Systems for example, Europe biggest arms company, which produces the Typhoon warplanes being used for the aerial bombardment that has led to the desperate situation where more than 20 million Yemenis, roughly two thirds of the population, don’t have enough to eat.

Evidence from the ground shows that Yemeni parents are often now faced with the heart-wrenching choice between saving their sick children and feeding their healthy ones.

I wonder how many of the guests at Wednesday night’s dinner paused to consider that little fact between courses and another round of champagne?

But if BAE Systems provides some of the warplanes, then the company Raytheon makes the Paveway IV bombs that are being dropped and have been linked to attacks on civilian targets.

It was back in 2014 that the Raytheon deal for the Paveway IV missile was announced and estimated to be worth around £150 million. Right from the start the buyer was believed to be Saudi Arabia. By 2015, of course, Raytheon announced that all its UK manufacturing would be moving to Scotland at Glenrothes in Fife.

The National:

The following year, in a detailed report entitled Bombing Businesses, which looked at the effect of airstrikes on Yemen’s civilian economic structure, the US-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) was able to link the use of Paveway IV missiles to attacks on civilian infrastructure.

At six of the sites visited as part of its field research, HRW identified four munitions that the US produced or supplied and two the UK produced or supplied, including a Paveway IV guided bomb produced in May 2015, after the start of the coalition’s aerial campaign.

But so much for companies like BAE System and Raytheon who would naturally attend the ADS annul dinner. What then of those MPs happy to take the arms firms’ shilling by allowing them to pay for their attendance?

While this year’s seating plan and list of attendees has yet to be revealed – security was very tight – those MPs who have sat down at the banquet in the past have been of many – though not all – political stripes. Yes, and that has included some Scottish MPs, including SNP ones.

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Now let me be clear in saying that I fully get the need for those MPs to prioritise the needs of their constituents. Where plants like that of Raytheon in Fife or elsewhere in Scotland provide jobs, it’s only natural that parliamentary representatives would want to do all they can to keep those jobs secure and indeed create new employment.

But doing that is one thing, giving legitimacy to an organisation that lobbies for even more arms exports and greater military spending is something else again.

Yes, realpolitik often dictates that politicians will sometimes have to shake hands with the devil. But by enthusiastically accepting the hospitality of those who represent values far removed from those a politician espouses, surely has to be seen for the crass hypocrisy that it is.

Perhaps it’s just me, but the idea of discussing deals for bombs over beef fillet and a few bottles of red is not what I expect or desire of those I vote for.

It’s all too easy, also, for such politicians to palm off such criticism with a patronising “welcome to the real world” dismissal as many do. If you want to talk jobs and contracts for your constituency with arms firms, do so with a much less public display of cosiness than taking arms firms’ largesse and supping with them. At the very least it would show a degree of respect and understanding of how the world really works and its impact on our fellow human beings.

Back in 2015, the Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CATT) was able to obtain a copy of the final guest list and seating plan for the ADS dinner of that year at which more than 40 MPs were in attendance. Some of course were Scottish. So far the list of those who attended on Wednesday night is not yet available, but doubtless it too will eventually appear.

It will be curious to see which Scottish MPs, if any, it includes. Curiouser still to hear how they can still justify their attendance at the ADS jamboree while Yemen starves.