Corporations

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 February 2022News

100,000 block major Belgrade road 

After weeks of nonviolent protest, the world’s second-largest mining company has been shut out of a major project in Serbia.

The prime minister, Ana Brnabić, said on 20 January: ‘All permits were annulled.... we put an end to Rio Tinto in Serbia.’

A coalition of Serbian eco-activist groups had mobilised thousands of people for weeks of road blockades to halt plans by Rio Tinto Group (RTG) to dig a lithium mine in western Serbia.

The protests, in dozens of cities and…

1 February 2022Comment

Starting a new series: how a brilliant activist has held a secretive quango to account.  

Nine years ago, I was part of a big campaign to stop the Bexhill-Hastings Link Road, a monstrosity of a road that threatened fragile habitats in the service of ‘opening up’ land for development. We were also promised, of course, that it would reduce congestion on the coast road between the two towns – a promise that would be greeted with a hollow laugh by anyone with the slightest knowledge of road-building and ‘induced demand’ (more roads create more traffic).

It was a hard-fought…

1 June 2015Review

Pluto Press, 2015; 192pp; £12.99

It’s easy to forget, but art galleries are ‘our’ galleries: they are supposed to belong to us. You might even like to think of them as having taken the place of (now defunct) churches. So how did oil money seep through their walls?

Mel Evans begins by charting the journey of arts funding in the UK. The Arts Council of Attlee’s postwar Britain was deliberately at arm’s length from the state. Thatcher and Tebbit increased government involvement, which enabled New Labour to follow…

28 September 2014Review

Pluto Press, 2012; 280pp; £16

In the mid-18th century, the East India Company (EIC) accounted for half of the world’s trade, had its own army and enjoyed tax-raising powers over 10 million Indians. Yet, strangely, not a single London memorial exists to remember it.

The Battle of Plassey (1757) kicked off the EIC's takeover of a large swathe of Bengal. Company execs bought up and hoarded rice, contributing to huge famines throughout the 18th century. Robins cites an 1878 article from the Journal of the…

1 October 2013Review

OR Books, 2012; 118pp; £7

Since creating the post-religious Church of Stop Shopping in 1999, the Reverend Billy has held services in churches, community centres, forests, fields, parking lots, shopping malls and – above all – inside brand-name stores across the US and Europe, preaching against consumerism, and for economic and ecological justice.

The creation of actor Bill Talen, the Reverend Billy is…

9 March 2013News in Brief

A third of people in Britain are currently boycotting the products or sevices of a company because it does not pay its fair share of tax in the UK, according to a new Christian Aid survey.

Two out of three Britons believe tax avoidance is morally wrong, and 80% say that multinationals’ tax avoidance makes them feel angry.

A massive 89% of those questioned said it is unfair that they have to pay their…

9 March 2013News in Brief

Britain’s banks are avoiding billions in tax, using an accounting loophole, The Times reported on 1 March.

Banks borrow money by issuing IOUs called ‘bonds’. If confidence in a bank grows, the value of its bonds increases, and it could in theory cost more to buy back the bond than to pay off the money owed.

Using the ‘fair value on own credit’ rule, a bank could then enter a loss in its accounts. The…

8 March 2013News

There has been a furious response to the news that transnational power company EDF is suing 21 anti-climate change activists for £5m for shutting down an EDF power station in Nottinghamshire for a week.

A petition by the parents of one of the activists gained 50,000 signatures online in its first week, and a call has gone out to shut down the annual EDF Talk Power Conference on 1 May.

Two chimneys at the West Burton gas-fired power station were occupied last October by 16 ‘No Dash for Gas’ campaigners to protest at the government’s plan to build up to 40 new gas-fired power stations (see PN 2552-2553).

On 20 February, 21 ‘No Dash for Gas’ activists…

1 December 2012Review

Verso, 2012; 344pp; £16.99

Platform is a unique organisation combining art, activism, research, and education. Based in London, for over a decade it has been exploring the multi-dimensional reach of the oil industry into society, a ‘Carbon Web’ that encompasses governments, giant oil companies, banks, and a myriad other organisations, from law firms to universities, NGOs to cultural institutions. Written by two members of Platform, The Oil Road is an important component of this project, focussing on the story of how…

17 October 2012Feature

This article is only available in the paper version of Peace News.

17 October 2012News in Brief

Back in the UK, a group called 'The Intruders' managed to gatecrash two high society events, first giving the former head of the government tax body HMRC a 'lifetime achievement award for services to corporate tax avoidance' on 27 September. Dave Hartnett was accused of being…

17 October 2012News

The Campaign Against Arms Trade celebrates a double victory

On 10 October, the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) celebrated a victory in helping to break sponsorship links between arms manufacturer Finmeccanica and London's National Gallery. The news came just days after CAAT heard that it had won a Right Livelihood Award, known as the 'alternative Nobel Prize', given by a Stockholm-based foundation.

The National Gallery ended its long-standing…

16 October 2012News

Conscientious objectors to the 2011 Census in the UK continue their courtroom struggles.

Two census resisters had their trials continued in early October, with Andy Manifold due to return to court on 19 October and Sarah Ledsom hoping to finish her trial on 23 November. Both are at Dale St magistrates' court in Liverpool.

400 people in Britain have been or are being prosecuted for failing to fill out the 2011 census. 

Among them are a number of peace activists who objected to the involvement in the census of military firms Lockheed Martin (processing the data for…

25 September 2012News

Mining company's operations spark protests.

On 28 August, protests marked the AGM of mining corporation Vedanta Resources, including in central London, where the AGM was held. Thousands took part in a parallel demonstration in Goa, India, (pictured) demanding an end to operations at Sesa Goa’s Amona pig iron plant. Dongria Kond tribals whose sacred mountain is threatened by Vedanta’s mining ambitions (see PN 2520, 2528) joined protests in Odisha, India. In Zambia, activists marked the AGM by publishing a report on the contamination of…