Stevenson, Jonathan

Stevenson, Jonathan

Jonathan Stevenson

1 July 2011Review

Whoops! (Penguin, 2010, 2nd edition; 256pp; £9.99); Meltdown (Verso, 2010, 2nd edition; 288pp; £8.99)

“It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning.” It’s more than two years since the “great crash” of 2008. Henry Ford’s famous words are as pertinent as ever.

Apart from flashes of anger about bankers’ bonuses there has been no great social movement rising from the ashes of the financial system. Instead, the most articulate voices in response to the banking…

1 February 2011News

Two victories and a defeat

Two separate trials of 26 activists arrested for trying to shut down Ratcliffe on Sour, one of Britain’s most polluting power stations for a week have energised the climate justice movement. The activists were among 114 people arrested in a dawn raid on Easter Monday 2009 in a widely-criticised policing operation that saw officers smashing their way into a school in Nottingham.

In the first trial, at Nottingham Crown Court in late November, 20 people were tried for conspiracy to…

1 December 2010News

A round-up of recent climate news

As PN goes to press, 20 climate activists are beginning the most significant trial for climate activism in the UK since the acquittal of the Kingsnorth Six in 2008. Their crime? Planning to shut down the UK’s third-largest source of emissions – E.ON’s Ratcliffe-on-Soar coal-fired station near Nottingham.

They were among 114 activists arrested in a night-time police raid on the eve of the action in April last year. (Another six, who hadn’t decided to participate at the time of arrest,…

1 May 2010News

On 8 April, Britain became the first country in the world to ban profiteering in “third world debt”, in the final hours of the last parliament. The Debt Relief (Developing Countries) Bill restricts the activities of so-called “vulture funds”. These funds are (generally secretive) investment companies that buy up the bad debts of some of the world’s poorest countries at a discount, and then use the courts to demand full repayment plus costs.

Last November, the British high court…

3 December 2009Comment

Rich countries and corporations have grown wealthy through a model of development that has pushed the planet to the brink of climate catastrophe. They have over-used the planet’s ability to absorb carbon dioxide.

Drastic measures now have to be taken to prevent runaway climate change, making it impossible for poor countries to grow their economies in the same way. Put another way, the rich world has “colonised” the earth’s atmosphere. This process has mirrored and perpetuated…

1 September 2009Feature

This is an edited version of the closing speech given on 2 July at Leeds Crown Court on behalf of the 22 people who pleaded not guilty to obstruction of the railway after stopping and partially unloading a coal train heading to the Drax coal-fired power station in Yorkshire last year. See PN 2499-500.

Members of the jury.
I’m going to try to summarise why we feel that we are not guilty, why we feel that what we did was right, despite the very proper laws against obstructing trains.

From what evidence we have been able to get across to you, with his honour’s indulgence, we hope that you can see that these facts [about coal and climate change] speak for themselves, and our actions, though harmful, were indeed necessary to try to stop a greater harm. And if you agree with that…

1 July 2009Feature

Ed Miliband’s announcement that new coal power stations will only be permitted if 25% of their emissions are carbon-captured and stored hasn’t put a stop to the blossoming UK anti-coal movement – and rightly so, given the massive loopholes in the announcement.

Following the success of the Coal Caravan, which toured the north of England in April and May, five climate activists blockaded a coal conference at Chatham House on 1 June; the Surrey office of construction firm BAM Nuttall…

1 December 2008News

On 10 November, a noise demo was held outside a ceremonial dinner in the City of London being addressed by prime minister Gordon Brown.
War on Want, World Development Movement, Trade Justice Movement, Stamp Out Poverty, New Economics Foundation, CAFOD, Action Aid and Jubilee Debt Campaign came together to draw attention to global poverty and the role of the City.
The Jubilee Debt Campaign is calling for “a radically different economic system which reduces inequality, creates…

1 October 2008Feature

On 10 September, six Greenpeace activists won a historic legal victory after they were found “not guilty” of criminal damage by a jury at Maidstone crown court – after admitting causing £30,000 worth of damage to a smokestack at Kings-north coal-fired power station.

The legal defence was mounted by Michael Wolkind QC, barrister Quincy Whitaker, and Mike Schwarz and Catherine Jackson of Bindmans Solicitors, and supported by testimony from, among others, the world’s most eminent…

1 May 2008Feature

Can wearing a T-shirt be a crime? This was the question we set out to answer on the opening day of Heathrow’s Terminal 5 on 27 March.
I was one of hundreds of people dressed in bright red “Stop Airport Expansion” T-shirts in the International Arrivals Hall that morning.
BAA, which runs Heathrow, was unveiling its grand new terminal before the global media, as a stepping stone to a third runway and a sixth terminal.
We wanted to create a visible sign of public opposition…

1 November 2007Review

Serpent's Tail, 2007; ISBN 978 1 84668 630 6; £12.99, 452pp

The privatisation of so much of the US military machine has been more than just a subplot of the Iraq war, and Jeremy Scahill's comprehensive study of the rise of mercenary company Blackwater is a useful guide to the reconfigured military-industrial complex the anti-war movement now faces.

Blackwater was founded by Christian conservative Erik Prince in 1997 to meet the “anticipated demand for outsourcing” in the US military.

From a relatively low-key initial training role, it…

1 December 2006News

One of the outcomes from last month's anti-occupation strategy gathering in London, hosted by Iraq Occupation Focus, was the need for an Early Day Motion to enable MPs to demonstrate their support for withdrawal. Since then, Labour MPs John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn have tabled EDM 335, calling for the immediate withdrawal of UK troops.

Given the reluctance of all the major parties to come out unequivocally against the occupation, however, it is unlikely that the majority of even…