AS UK taxpayers we subsidise many things, some we will likely be blissfully unaware of. One of these is a certain jamboree with the long- winded title, Defence & Security Equipment International (DSEI).

This event likes to bill itself as a “trade show,” but is in fact a shop window for the global arms industry. For those of you who might want a peep at the hardware on show at the DSEI when it opens on Monday for four days at the ExCeL centre in London Docklands, forget it. Minion public taxpayers like ourselves whose cash is used to subsidise this big-bucks, bang-bang gathering are not permitted entry. That privilege is reserved for the shadowy coterie of arms dealers and brokers, military, mercenaries, warlords and “advisers” who wheel and deal at the DSEI. Oh, and before I forget, various assorted MPs and senior members of the UK Government.

In fact, five different ministers are scheduled to speak at the event, including the Defence Secretary, Sir Michael Fallon, and the Secretary of State for International Trade, Liam Fox.

While there is little or no information available on the 34,000 or so arms traders and others attending DSEI, top billing will go again to those overseas visitors whose delegations represent some of the nastiest governments in the world. A cursory look at those countries invited by the UK Government to the last DSEI in 2015 provides a sense of those expected this time around.

In all 61 countries were invited previously, 14 of which had authoritarian regimes, six which were at war and four identified by the UK Government itself as having wide-ranging human rights concerns.

Then there is Israel, which though not on the official 2015 invitation list had it own pavilion and provided what the Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) described as a “high-powered delegation”.

Many of these invited delegations represent governments that have been identified as being among the worst abusers of human rights in the world. Every few years their delegates come to DSEI with bulging bank accounts, keen to shop for the most potent weapons with which to threaten their neighbours or indeed their own citizens. Since this noxious marketplace first opened its doors for business on – I kid you not – September 11, 2001, it has been variously accused of hosting the sale of, among other thing, banned cluster bomb munitions and electro-shock torture equipment.

Though the Twin Towers might have been falling around America’s ears on the very first day the DSEI opened back in 2001, it didn’t stop business as usual for those in attendance in London.

And what a business it is. While DSEI’s organisers say it complies with all laws and export controls imposed by the UK Government, the event remains a study in ruthless profiteering and political hypocrisy.

Take, for example, some of those companies in attendance such as BAE systems and Raytheon, which make the fighter jets and bombs that are currently being used by Saudi forces in Yemen.

Raytheon, the US arms multinational based in Glenrothes, manufactures the guidance systems for the Paveway IV missiles helping to cause terrible civilian suffering.

As Yemen’s infrastructure collapses, some 600,000 people have been diagnosed with cholera and countless children are at risk of dying from hunger in great part a result of this Saudi-led bombardment. For its own part the UK meanwhile now makes 10 times more in arms sales to the Saudis than we give to Yemen in aid.

While most of us are already familiar too with the Saudis’ appalling domestic human rights record, it has consistently found a place for itself at the top table at the DSEI, along with other such human rights luminaries as Bahrain, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Colombia, Nigeria and Peru among others.

For many of the dealers at the DSEI, human suffering represents only one thing, the opportunity to make profit. Take, for example, those private companies producing the technology increasingly used at border control points and “guarding” us from the “plague” of refugees coming our way.

Many of the world’s biggest arms companies represented at the DSEI not only profit from the wars and state oppression that cause refugees to flee their homes in the first place, but are precisely the same companies which make even more profit further down the lines. It’s these same companies’ high-tech surveillance gear that tracks refugees and migrants, whose batons and Tasers often greet those seeking sanctuary and whose biometric systems register refugees on arrival.

In all of this the UK Government is complicit, in that politically, financially and logistically it supports the DSEI. In fact it is the UK Trade and Investment Defence & Security Organisation, (UKTI DSO) which doles out the invitations for the military delegations and others coming to the London event.

There are those of course that will say this is all about jobs, and make the now-familiar argument that the arms trade is vital to the economy, and if the UK didn’t sell arms or organise events like the DSEI others would.

What they might not realise though is that while arms exports may be booming, the Department of International Trade’s own statistics show industry jobs remain in a long-term decline and are often kept going only by substantial government subsidy and support.

Right now there is no shortage of industries that would be grateful recipients of the government investment presently offered to arms companies, the renewable s sector being one.

Having over the years as a correspondent seen the impact of the world’s arms trade up close, I’m in no doubt about its capacity to cause universal pain and suffering. Equally, though, I’m not naive enough to imagine that we will be turning bombs into ploughshares anytime soon.

But the fact remains that right now the UK is selling weapons and other pernicious military hardware to 22 of the 30 countries on its own human rights watch list. Some of those nations will be invited guests at DSEI in part at the UK’s expense.

Next time you check your tax bill, it might be worth keeping that thought in mind. It’s our own hard-earned cash that helps fund this hypocritical political positioning and the grotesque London arms bazaar that goes with it.