Bruce Kent

1 June 2019Comment

Direct action comes in different shapes and sizes

What a pleasure it was to read about what one bold cardinal has been up to in Rome.

Apparently, in May, the electricity was cut off for a building occupied by 450 squatters – about 100 of them children. Many were refugees.

Cardinal Krajewski (Polish – you guessed) decided on a bit of very direct action. He lifted a lid set in the ground, climbed down to remove a seal, and switched on the electricity.

Light and hot water restored. If there’s a fine, the…

1 April 2019Comment

'Weapons are supposed to bring security”

I still have a scar on my left hand. It is a reminder of a school fight that took place many long years ago. The street knife violence of today comes out of the same stable.

In my area of north London, criminal violence is far from unknown.

There was a row on a bus some years ago between older boys from two different schools. One boy got off the bus not far from his home. But another boy followed him up the street and stabbed him to death. His companion escaped…

1 December 2018Comment

'We've got to have the bloody Union Jack on top of it!'

We all have to thank, if that is the right word, the late Ernest Bevin for getting us into our nuclear weapons mess. He was late for a meeting called by the then British prime minister, Labour’s Clement Attlee, in October 1946. Attlee wanted to discuss whether to plan for a British nuclear weapon or not.

Bevin, the foreign secretary, went to Downing Street to discover that Attlee’s meeting had started and the general consensus was not to go for a British atomic bomb. Too expensive…

1 October 2018Comment

Nationalism's days are numbered, says Bruce Kent

It is now well over a hundred years since czar Nicholas II of Russia invited other states to come to The Hague, in the Netherlands, in 1899, to discuss possibilities for world peace. It is almost 20 years since thousands of individuals and peace groups came also to The Hague, in 1999, for an event to plan progress in the direction that the first Hague pointed to. I still have the booklet with ideas that came from that centenary meeting.

In 1999, we believed that we could challenge…

1 August 2018Comment

Bruce Kent draws the dots between NHS funding and Trident replacement

What I was doing on 5 July 1948 I can’t remember. Marching up and down on parade in Aldershot I imagine, as a national service conscript.

I certainly did not notice that on 5 July 1948 something remarkable happened. Health minister Aneurin Bevan, in a Manchester hospital, launched the National Health Service. A very progressive step forward for the country. Bevan’s announcement came only a few months before the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, agreed in December 1948 by the…

1 June 2018Comment

UN reform should be a priority for radicals, argues Bruce Kent

Something odd happened a few weeks ago. Britain, France and the United States sent their planes off to bomb targets in Syria. None of those countries had been directly attacked. It was a punishment raid for the use of chemical weapons, allegedly by Syria.

About 100 missiles were launched and at first the claim was that no one was killed. Then a single casualty was mentioned. No one else. I’ll believe that when I see pigs flying.

Where did these three get the authority…

1 April 2018Comment

Blowing up the world in 'a graduated controlled way'

A few nights ago, I watched on TV the house of commons discussing the attempted murder of the ex-Russian spy and his daughter. I am not naïve and have no illusions about what states will get up to. We British helped to kill over 200,000 civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki because we insisted on Japan’s unconditional surrender. Even now we supply Saudi Arabia with the bombs which have enabled them to kill tens of thousands of people in Yemen.

But as I watched the debate I wondered…

1 February 2018Comment

Bruce Kent celebrates three inspiring 'peace and justice women'

Since I am writing this piece in early February, between the hundredth anniversary of the granting of the first and partial voting rights for women in the UK (6 February 1918) and International Women’s Day (8 March), there is only one obvious subject. So here come a few words about three great and strong peace and justice women among so many who have inspired me.

The first is Olive Gibbs, commemorated in Oxford Town Hall on 6 February itself – which would have been her 100th…

1 December 2017Feature

Bruce Kent extols the virtues of the Housmans Peace Diary

At this end of the year, the conflicts of the world can be seen in our small north London back garden.

The birds are hungry and our swinging seed feeder is getting a lot of attention. But then comes the arrival of the large and powerful – the green parakeets from Hampstead. Colourful they may be, but greedy they certainly are. The small ones – robins, wrens, finches, and the like – get driven off. Or they would get so driven if I did…

1 October 2017Comment

We owe the 'refuseniks' more than we know, says Bruce Kent

It is nearly 70 years since I began my two years of conscripted military service.

Having been to a boarding school, it was not much of a shock. Despite some class differences we were all in the same boat and got shouted at in the same way by various corporals and sergeants.

In 1947, the cold war was just starting, and it was to faraway places like Malaysia and Korea that some of my contemporaries were sent. At least one, my friend ‘Tubby’ Maycock, a year below me at…

1 August 2017Comment

We need to get our priorities right, argues Bruce Kent

What an odd world of priorities we live in. Any more about Brexit – important though it is in so many ways – tends now to produce a yawn.

Yet the recent Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons has not even started to be a priority. We must all make it one.

It was passed with the support of 122 countries at a UN conference a couple of weeks ago. Only the Netherlands voted ‘No’.

The nuclear weapon countries, including our own, took no part. In fact Michael…

1 April 2017Comment

The point of peacemaking is to change minds, argues Bruce Kent

I’ve never before heard of a paper called The Weekly Dispatch but it was clearly doing well in 1917. In September that year it published a furious piece headed ‘Traitors in the Parks’.

It was all about the anti-war rallies being held in Finsbury Park and Hyde Park – ‘long haired strapping youths... using language about Cabinet ministers which horrified all decent people’.

It got much stronger in the next edition. ‘Sedition mongers and their dupes – insidious…

1 February 2017Comment

An unlikely opponent of war provides a lesson for the peace movement

Robert Hinde would be surprised to find his obituary in Peace News. But he more than deserves a mention though I very much doubt if he, academic and ex-RAF coastal command wartime pilot, was a regular Peace News reader.

He died just before Christmas at the age of 93. Many of us have lost a very good friend, a wise advisor and one of the most modest men I have ever met. Professionally, Robert Hinde was a distinguished zoologist, a former master of St John’s…

1 December 2016Comment

If ever there was a time for action, this it it, says Bruce Kent

Well it couldn’t happen could it? So said 90 percent of the commentators – but it did.

Donald Trump, once only known here because of some row about a golf course in Scotland, is going to be president of the United States. He will soon be the key world figure with his finger on the nuclear button which, if pressed, could be the end of us and most of our lovely world.

We have been here before. Read Daniel Ellsberg’s Secrets: a Memoir of Vietnam.

How…

1 October 2016Comment

Welcome to our new columnist!

When my brother, sister and I were young, many eons ago, Aunt Edith was a regular visitor. She always brought sweets which were most welcome. But she also had wise words not equally appreciated. ‘If I were you dear….’ was the start to many a long talk about what we should be and ought to be doing. The editor of Peace News has asked me to contribute a column a few times a year and this is the first. I will do my best to avoid Aunt Edith’s ‘If I were you dear...‘ old age syndrome.…