Sangster, Emma

Sangster, Emma

Emma Sangster

1 August 2022Comment

Hard-line communist who vigiled against apartheid and travelled to Iraq as a 'human shield'

Eric was a passionate campaigner for peace, justice and human rights who was active until the last weeks of his life.

Born in Syria and partly educated in Canada, Eric was a teacher by profession. He often got into trouble for his encouragement of political thinking in the classroom and was fired on more than one occasion.

PN news editor David Polden first met Eric in the 1970s when they were both supply teachers in a primary school in Hackney. Eric was always a hard-…

1 June 2022Review

Windmill Books, 2022; 1,120pp; £14.99  

How do ordinary people – seemingly decent and peaceful at the individual level – become key parts of a system that perpetrates violence and destruction?

This is a question that our society is perhaps only beginning to widely acknowledge. For example, details have only recently surfaced of the thousands of ordinary people from the British Isles who invested in slave ownership in the British Caribbean.

I You We Them operates in the same territory, exploring the role and…

1 December 2021Review

Transnational Institute, 2021; 37pp; free, available at

The vast carbon emissions produced by the military are coming under increasing scrutiny. The UK ministry of defence (MoD) published a strategy on climate change earlier this year, outlining how it will reduce the carbon impact of 'defence' up to 2050.

However, there will still be no external or independent scrutiny of greenhouse gases produced by the military, as COP26 failed to ensure that they will be included in emissions targets.

Emissions are only one issue in terms of the…

1 October 2017Comment

How the armed forces and arms companies influence our schools and colleges

While arms companies have been at the top of the peace agenda recently with the DSEI arms fair, their involvement in education in the UK is less well known. Many of the top names have a presence – BAE Systems, Rolls Royce, Babcock, QinetiQ, Chemring. Some are big players, forging the way ahead, others have a smaller role.

A ForcesWatch report on military interests in education (out soon) will detail the extent to which this has developed and why. It looks at how the armed forces,…

2 July 2012Review

Pluto Press, 2012; 320pp; £19.99  

I’ve never been that drawn to reading histories of the peace movement but this book, with its particular perspective, has been an exception. I do like a bit of theory and this book has just enough of it, accessibly written, to provide a framework for analysing and understanding the diverse cross-national case studies offered.

The framework is a feminist one which, as Cynthia Cockburn argues, ‘has opened up a pathway for the left’, and is a necessary rather than optional tool for…

30 May 2012Feature

Exploring some of the concerns around the London Olympics.

With the Olympics almost upon us, a small but increasing number of individuals and groups are openly dissenting from the official line despite the mighty power of the games and the interests around it.

With numerous concerns around corporate ethics, repression, environmental degradation, social justice, militarisation, local democracy, and elitism, there is something for everyone to be active on.

Many of the big corporate sponsors come with a package of controversy attached.…

31 March 2012Feature

As the ban on unauthorised protest around Parliament under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 (SOCPA) is finally repealed, the new restrictions that replace it are being tested in the High Court.

Since restrictions on ‘demonstrations in the vicinity of Parliament’ were first mooted in response to Brian Haw’s anti-war protest in Parliament Square, individuals have been standing up and creating a collective challenge in defence of the freedom to protest.

The restrictions received wider public attention when PN’s own Milan Rai and Maya Evans were convicted for reading out the names of Iraqi and British dead opposite Downing Street. Mark Thomas’s lone mass demos made fun of…

1 November 2011Feature

Poppies, poppies, poppies – we are entering the season of remembrance and of the ubiquitous red on the lapel of every public figure and increasingly on the front of buses, on products, in schools and just about everywhere.

Every year poppy fever rages higher as councils launch their local appeals with increasingly diverse events; schools and communities are urged to do their fundraising bit and the national appeal is launched with hit singles and celebrities. And you can of course follow trendy young “Poppy” on Facebook and Twitter.

This year three young Welsh boys are “the faces of this year’s Poppy Appeal”, chosen because their dad “died a hero in the war in Afghanistan” when his vehicle was…

1 September 2011Feature

The ministry of defence is rolling out propaganda to slow the decline in recruitment ForcesWatch challenges with a new “Military Out of Schools” campaign.

In July ForcesWatch launched the Military Out of Schools campaign. Speakers Oskar Castro, a US activist in countering military recruitment, and Ben Griffin, ex-forces and the founder of fledgling Veterans for Peace UK, discussed how young people are militarised and what can be done about it.

US counter-recruitment has developed over the last 10 years to many thousands of individuals and hundreds of organisations. The terms “truth and recruitment” or “alternatives to the military” are…

1 May 2010Feature

It’s difficult to avoid the feeling that the military are becoming increasingly embedded into civil society. With high-profile initiatives such as “Armed Forces Day”, lengthy media coverage of soldiers in Afghanistan and targeted recruitment campaigns online, on TV, on billboards and in our schools and communities, there is a growing urgency to resist the militarisation of our everyday lives.

A new campaigning network has been created to resource and empower groups and…

1 June 2009Feature

A civil liberties activist pores over a parliamentary report

Ten days before the G20 events blew up a storm of public interest around the rights of protestors, the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) published its report on “Policing and Protest” – to little media interest.

Whilst perhaps stating the expected (there are no “systematic human rights abuses”, but “the presumption should be in favour of protests taking place without state interference”), the report acknowledges that policing of protests has become “heavy-handed”…

1 February 2009Review

Free exhibition at the British Library, Euston Rd, London, NW1, runs until 1 March 2009. Mike Ashley, Taking Liberties: The Struggle for Britain's Freedoms and Rights, British Library Publishing Division, 2008; ISBN 978 0 7123 5029 7; 144pp; £15.95

This timely British Library exhibition and accompanying book reflect the civil liberties debate moving into the mainstream and allow an important opportunity to reflect on the history of the struggle and to value what has been achieved so far.

On the one hand it emphasises the importance of codifying rights on paper (laws, manifestos etc…) and the power of this in sustaining ideas over time. It starts with the Magna Carta, the most significant provision of which was brought into…

1 May 2008News

Campaigners challenging restrictions on protest around Parliament, who deluged the Home Office with responses to its consultation on the issue, have been rewarded by a government announcement that the most controversial sections of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act (SOCPA) will be scrapped. However, while the draft Constitutional Renewal Bill fully repeals sections 132-138 of SOCPA, justice secretary Jack Straw left the way open for restrictions to creep back in.


3 December 2007Comment

The tireless campaigner for peace and justice, Peggie Preston, died suddenly just after her 84th birthday. Peggie will be fondly remembered across the many campaigns and communities of which she was a part; she committed her life to finding political and personal solutions to poverty and oppression.

Born in India, Peggie grew up in Scotland, and travelled south to work in the Women's Auxiliary Air Force, but, horrified by the merciless bombing, she later joined the Quakers. By the…

1 December 2007News

The Chagos Islanders

The right of Chagos islanders to return to their homeland has been once again thwarted by the British government. On November 6th the government declared that it was going ahead with its decision to appeal to the House of Lords to seek clarification about the status of its overseas territories. The appeal will be heard in 2008.


The conflict in Darfur has escalated in recent months with civilians bearing the brunt of the violence.