Comment

1 June 2022 David Polden

Life-long socialist and campaigner

I got to know Bunny during Kick Nuclear’s ‘Remember Fukushima: No to Nuclear Power in the UK’ weekly Friday vigils outside the Japanese embassy which began in August 2012. (They are now twice-monthly.)

Bunny was a regular participant in this vigil from 2013 to 2021. He sat on a chair by the embassy entrance in all weathers giving leaflets to embassy visitors and passers-by. Towards the end of 2021, he decided the winter weather was getting too much for him, but said he would return in…

1 April 2022 Milan Rai

It's past time to ban the use of nuclear threats, argues Milan Rai

29 March: Over the last month, the brutal Russian invasion of Ukraine has cost tens of thousands of lives, forced millions of Ukrainians to become refugees – and created a world crisis. As we go to press, there are reports that there may be a ceasefire soon.

That seems unlikely until after Russia has captured Mariupol. The besieged and much-battered coastal city is the key to the land corridor linking Crimea, annexed by Russia in 2014, and parts of eastern Ukraine held by pro-Russian…

1 April 2022 Andrea Needham

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 2022 Penny Stone

'It is banned in Russia, and you can be fined for singing it. Such is the danger of song.'

I have a postcard above my desk of a photo Lee Miller captured of the opera singer Irmgard Seefried. She is singing an aria from Puccini’s Madame Butterfly in the bombed-out remains of the Vienna opera house in 1945. The image embodies the words of the cellist of Sarajevo, Vedran Smailović, when asked how he could continue to play music when bombs are being dropped all around: ‘No, the question is how can people drop bombs when there is such beautiful music?’

In 1899, the…

1 April 2022 Ambrose Musiyiwa

Ambrose Musiyiwa exposes the racism directed at Africans and other people of colour trying to flee Ukraine

‘There’s a segregation that’s happening at the borders,’ Tokunbo Koiki* told ITV News on 27 February. The Nigerian Londoner added: ‘White Ukrainians have been allowed in[to neighbouring countries] with open arms, and blankets. This is the anti-blackness that is global. So even within a war, even within being under siege, we still have racism.’

Among the millions who have been fleeing Ukraine since the Russian invasion began on 24 February have been international students from Africa,…

1 April 2022 Cath

Our Leeds cooperator puts her trust in the joyful anti-authoritarians!

I seem to have fallen into a never-ending recruitment drive – not satisfied with the ongoing search for commune members, or the renewed need to fill vacancies in my housing co-op, nor even the unusual situation of shortlisting and interviewing for a Radical Routes contract, I’ve found myself accepting a job recruiting people into a new housing co-op. For many hours a week.

Just in case the craziness of that sentence didn’t sink in – I am being paid (paid!) to help set up a housing co-…

1 April 2022 Rebecca Elson-Watkins

Rebecca Elson-Watkins celebrates the London LGBTQ+ Community Centre

I am a sixth-generation Londoner, on my father’s side. It is home, in every sense of the word. Yet London can be a lonely place; try and strike up a conversation on the bus or in most cafes and chances are, you’ll be rewarded with a funny look or a raised eyebrow 

(I personally favour the latter, for the record).

There are few places where this rule doesn’t hold true, and they are beyond precious.

Since last December, London has had another one of these welcoming, strike…

1 April 2022 Claire Poyner

Our columnist takes aim at 'whataboutery'

Yeah, so: ‘whataboutery’; where people argue that we shouldn’t campaign on a certain issue by asking ‘What about the men?’ or ‘What about poor white people?’ and so on.

‘When’s it International Men’s Day?’ used to be a common complaint on 8 March. I hope by now most people know that’s on 19 November. And every other day of the year, of course.

It’s only certain issues of course. Nobody whines ‘What about those with heart disease?’ when people are fundraising for charities…

1 February 2022 Marc Morgan

Writer and thinker on nonviolence who influenced Solidarity

It is not an exaggeration to say that there is a ‘before Jean-Marie Muller’ and an ‘after Jean-Marie Muller’ in the study and practice of nonviolence in France. Jean-Marie was also a committed internationalist who worked with thinkers on and practitioners of nonviolence in a wide range of countries, from Lebanon to the United States.

Jean-Marie Muller was working as a philosophy teacher when he staged his first major (and much-publicised) protest in 1967. Defying the authorities, he…

1 February 2022 Milan Rai

Why abolishing the monarchy matters for the peace movement

On 6 February, Elizabeth Windsor marks 70 years of ruling the UK as queen. The major celebrations of her ‘platinum jubilee’ will come in June, as will the peak of the ‘Not Another 70 Years’ campaign by the British anti-monarchy group, Republic.

The abolition of the monarchy is important for the peace movement. It’s important at a fundamental level – to do with what militarism is.

At a more surface level, the queen is officially the head of the armed forces and the royals are…

1 February 2022 Milan Rai

International sanctions are starving ordinary Afghans

Some 23 million people in extreme hunger. A million children under five in immediate danger of starvation.

This is not a natural disaster. It is a horrifying case of the United States taking an entire nation hostage and torturing an entire people.

Dominik Stillhart, director of operations for the International Committee of the Red Cross, told Agence France-Presse last November that the economic sanctions ‘meant to punish those in power in Kabul are instead freezing millions of…

1 February 2022 Andrea Needham

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 February 2022 Penny Stone

What point is there in the struggle if not to experience joy together?

Desmond Tutu planned his own funeral, including the music.

It was a simple affair, with a choir singing some of his favourite hymns, some in his home tongue, Setswana.

One of his favourite hymns, ‘Thato ya hao’ includes the line: ‘Give us the joy of all the things you love’.

Joy in the struggle, and the struggle to truly live freely, whoever we are, is a big part of the legacy he leaves us.

What point is there in the struggle if not to experience joy…

1 February 2022 Ambrose Musiyiwa

Ambrose Musiyiwa takes a look at a recent compilation from Jesuit Refugee Services

To give a flavour of some of the work in Home is a feeling not a place, Laila Sumpton reads me ‘What is peace?’ by Enirayetan, one of the workshop participants who is also featured in the book. Sumpton says: ‘I can’t ever do this justice, because the lady who wrote it sings halfway through. She bursts into song. It was just fantastic to see someone performing and really, like, almost preaching it with a lot of power.’

Enirayetan’s bursting-into-song happened during one of…

1 February 2022 Claire Poyner

Our columnist says: stop blaming the victims of male violence

Ashling Murphy. Say her name. Don’t forget it. When it’s confirmed that her killer has been caught, remember her name and not his.

A 23-year-old teacher went out for a jog and never came home. Another young woman murdered while going about her business in public.

She will likely (‘likely’ because we don’t know the full details yet) join the list of young women killed because some men cannot control their impulses. Because they believe they are owed women’s attention, a date,…

1 February 2022 Joy Lawson

Christian and socialist whose passion was nuclear disarmament

Joy Mitchell, veteran peace activist, was a Christian and a socialist, a teacher and the wife of a Presbyterian/United Reform Church (URC) minister. In retirement, she moved with her husband, George, to Berwick-upon-Tweed. Sadly, he died soon after, but Joy continued to set up St Aidan’s Peace Church in Berwick, providing a venue for discussion and social action.

Joy was active in Trident Ploughshares and other campaigns for many years and was arrested several times at Faslane nuclear…

1 February 2022 Cath

 Our Leeds-based co-operator takes her first step to becoming a communard

Today I moved a small load of my belongings to a former shed (now ‘therapy room’) at a community garden in South Yorkshire.

This is the first physical step to becoming a communard – to creating a large, egalitarian commune, fully income-sharing, collectively generating income and producing our own food, with a shared political agenda and commitment.

Am I happy? Excited? Actually... more scared, unsure, frankly a bit blank emotionally.

It must be said, that leaving a…

1 February 2022 Rebecca Elson-Watkins

Rebecca Elson-Watkins puts her rage into words

I’m getting to the point where my thoughts on Boris Johnson’s government are usually expressed in a series of unintelligible, exasperated groans. But for you, PN readers, I will attempt to put my rage, my contempt and my disgust into words.

On 20 May 2020, as the country was in the depths of the first kockdown, Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson and his cohort, including his wife and his newborn son, were ‘making the most of the lovely weather’ with cheese and wine in the…

1 December 2021 Penny Stone

Penny Stone meets the Minga Indigena delegation to COP26

We’ve been privileged in Glasgow during COP26 to have the Minga Indígena delegation of Indigenous leaders from across the American continent.

They have eloquently shared their experiences, fears and hopes alongside a clarion call for global unity and action. And woven through their sharing, like writing through seaside rock, has been song and dance as well as the holding of reflective and connective spaces.

They have called on us in the Western world to recognise that we are…

1 December 2021 Ambrose Musiyiwa

Ambrose Musiyiwa interviews the author of a ground-breaking oral history

'I Was Content and Not Content': The Story of Linda Lord and the Closing of Penobscot Poultry (Southern Illinois University Press, 2000) explores the impact of industrial decline in the US through oral history.

Central to the story is Linda Lord, a veteran of Penobscot Poultry, a factory in Belfast, Maine, who was one of the 400 people who lost their jobs when the plant closed in 1998. Lord worked at the plant for more than 20 years and lost the sight of one eye on the job.…