Activism

1 February 2023News in Brief

Over 100 people attended US peace activist Medea Benjamin’s 9 January online talk for Peace News, ‘War in Ukraine: making sense of a senseless war’. The event was ably chaired by Tom Unterrainer, chair of CND (who will also be chairing our 31 January talk).

A review of Medea’s book, War in Ukraine, can be found on p22.

The video of Medea’s opening remarks is now on YouTube: www.tinyurl.com/peacenews3982

1 February 2023News

Celebration of campaigns and community initiatives 'influenced by anarchist principles' to take place on 15 February

On 15 February, British anarchists will mark their first ‘Aggravated Activist Day’, after the event was called by participants in a workshop at the Anarchist Bookfair in London last September.

The workshop was run by Netpol, the Network for Police Monitoring, which pointed out in March 2021 that the police had stopped using the label ‘domestic extremist’, and replaced it with ‘aggravated activist’.

Anarchists are classified by the police as taking part in ‘high-level aggravated…

1 December 2022Feature

Head-on confrontation is not always the way to win

‘The trouble with you people is that you target ordinary people’s lives!’

The man with the white beard was angry. It was 3.50pm and he’d just showed up to his local branch of Barclays bank, only find it closed ‘due to unforeseen circumstances’.

‘Unforeseen circumstances! That’s you, isn’t it?’ he raged.

Barclays is Europe’s largest financier of fossil fuels, having provided over $166bn to the oil, coal and gas industries since the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. So, as…

1 October 2022Comment

The final instalment in our series about tackling a destructive quango in East Sussex

SeaChange Sussex is a private not-for-profit company which has received tens of millions of pounds of public money to ‘regenerate’ Hastings in East Sussex. Andrea Needham has been monitoring it through Seachangewatch.

I’ve been plugging away trying to expose SeaChange for many years now. And, finally, it feels as if I’m not on my own.

For years, I read minutes of meetings, put in Freedom of Information requests, wrote blogposts, and posted them on my website. I sent out press…

1 October 2022Comment

Our Leeds-based cooperator has an inspiring six months

As the hecticness of summer recedes, the autumnal ‘new projects’ feeling has taken a real hold, despite the monarchical brake being applied. Festival stalls and workshops have generated relationships and ideas to follow up and enquiries to answer, while projects that were on a summer go-slow have risen to the top of the urgent list.

The world seems to be speeding up, and society finding it a little harder each day to hold the panic at bay. Or maybe it’s just adjusting back to life…

1 August 2022Comment

No 4 in our series about tackling SeaChange, a destructive quango in East Sussex  

Despite the huge sums of money that had been thrown at SeaChange Sussex, most people in Hastings were unaware of its existence.

SeaChange, the private company which had received millions of pounds of public money to ‘regenerate’ Hastings in East Sussex, including building the much-hated Bexhill-Hastings Link Road (see PN 2658), preferred to keep it that way.

I once went to a ‘consultation’ about yet another new road that SeaChange was building across yet another piece…

1 August 2022Feature

Campaigning wisdom from the heyday of CND, one of Bruce Kent's first pieces in PN

1982: Since I have been asked to do so, and not because I have any exclusive wisdom, experience or success in this field, I would like to share a few thoughts on the work of trying to mobilise public opinion for disarmament.

In recent years, public opinion for disarmament has been mobilised on a massive scale. That process has now to continue to the point when public opinion actually forces changes in national policies. To gather in a park is a most impressive act of witness. To…

24 June 2022Resource

A celebration of the ground-breaking right-to-protest decision

On 25 June 2021, the supreme court of the United Kingdom delivered a landmark judgement on the right to protest, ruling that deliberately obstructive protest can be legal.

Dozens of direct action cases have already benefited from the Ziegler judgement, including that of the Colston Four.

The supreme court reached their historic decision when considering the case of four Christian peace activists who had…

15 June 2022Blog

The Faslane Action for Bomb Ban Camp has led to at least four arrests outside RNAD Coulport, the nuclear warhead storage facility in west Scotland

At least four people have been arrested among the many actions this week at the FABB (Faslane Action for Bomb Ban) Camp in Peaton Wood, in western Scotland.

According to the FABB organisers, one of the arrestees was deprived of her heart medication for nine hours by police and threatened with being held overnight without access to her medication.

The FABB Camp is very close to RNAD Coulport in western Scotland, which holds the…

1 June 2022Feature

We hear from the activists behind the landmark legal ruling that deliberately obstructive protest can be legal

Two slogan-covered boxes are bundled out of a van. People lie down on the road next to the boxes. Within seconds, the police are there. So are other campaigners protesting against the DSEI arms fair, which is being set up in the nearby ExCeL Centre. Within minutes, the four people lying in the road – Chris Cole, Henrietta Cullinan, Jo Frew and Nora Ziegler – have been arrested.

This small action, which took place on 5 September 2017, led directly to a ground-breaking legal judgement…

1 June 2022Comment

No 3 in our series about tackling SeaChange, a destructive quango in East Sussex

‘You idiot. You naive, foolish, irresponsible nincompoop. There is really no description of stupidity, no matter how vivid, that is adequate. I quake at the imbecility of it.’

These are the words Tony Blair – not known for self-flagellation – uses in his memoir, A Journey, to describe his decision in 2005 to finally allow the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act to come into force.

When Blair was leader of the opposition, he pledged that if Labour came to power, he would…

1 June 2022Review

PM Press, 2021; 208pp; £16.99 (less for the e-book)  

Rebecca Subar has written a great book. It is not complicated, has lots of stories, and is easy to read. It got better and better as I read through it. I remain inspired. But who is Rebecca?

Rebecca is ‘a transmasculine anti-Zionist able bodied white American Ashkenazi secular Jewish mom.’ She understands both privilege and vulnerability, she knows both being ‘up rank’ and ‘down rank’. This gives her insight and empathy with other vulnerable groups.

Professionally, Rebecca…

1 April 2022Comment

How to hold a destructive quango to account – part two in a series

In 2015, I went with Peace News’ Emily Johns to the Hastings home of John Shaw, director of SeaChange, the ‘not for profit economic development company’ for East Sussex.

SeaChange – a private company – has been given millions of pounds of public money to ‘regenerate’ Hastings.

This ‘regeneration’ has included building the Bexhill-Hastings Link Road in the teeth of fierce local opposition (see PN 2658).

Emily and I had come from the site of SeaChange’s latest…

1 April 2022Review

Goldsmith Press, 2020; 432pp; £32

Having volunteered with a small religious group supporting homeless refugees in Calais and London, I resonated strongly with this book. In particular, it helped me to see, in hindsight, our contribution as part of an extraordinary international mobilisation of volunteers endeavouring to provide refugees and migrants with on-the-ground help.

The book is divided geographically into ‘flashpoints’; places where refugees and migrants gathered to cross borders or found their journey across…

1 February 2022Feature

Some other acquitted activists respond to the historic Colston Four verdict

To mark the Colston Four acquittal, we asked some other campaigners who’d been found ‘not guilty’ in protest cases for their reactions. We’ve put them in chronological order of their earliest not-on-technical-grounds acquittal (some of them have multiple court victories).

Chris Cole:

I was delighted to see the acquittal of the Colston Four for a number of reasons.

Firstly, it kept an evidently lovely bunch of people out of jail.

Secondly, it led to a whole raft of MPs…