Comment

1 October 2022 Andrea Needham

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 2022 Penny Stone

'Sometimes, making radical music is about using our creativity to help to bring people together in community to support each other to feel'

In 1923, my granny went to study at the Royal College of Music to be a piano teacher. She loved to play the piano more than almost anything, and when she married my grandfather she had to give up working. She carried on playing, but there was always a thread of sadness that she wasn’t allowed to teach. My mum was also a beautiful pianist, though for pleasure rather than profession, and she trained first as a librarian and later as a person-centred counsellor.

Before she died, I…

1 October 2022 Ambrose Musiyiwa

It's time to legalise cannabis argues Ambrose Musiyiwa

‘We should have really serious discussions about how we legalise drugs in a way that is safer and more consumer-friendly, on the one hand, but also provide safeguards for people that want to use drugs and to minimize the harm,’ says Dr Jamie Banks, a Wellcome Trust early career fellow at the University of Leicester.

Such a move would be in line with the trend currently taking place around the world that is seeing a growing number of countries move towards the legalisation, regulation…

1 October 2022 Milan Rai

A failing Prime Minister may be tempted to rally support around a military crusade

‘I did not come into politics to be a member of the Kamikaze Pilots’ Association.’

Yes, that is a Tory MP responding to the disastrous political impact of an unpopular and destabilising budget announcement from a Conservative government.

No, it’s not from September 2022.

It’s from March 1981.

Those are the words of liberal Conservative MP Cyril Townsend, making clear his opposition to chancellor Geoffrey Howe’s economy-shrinking, austerity budget. Inflation was…

1 October 2022 Milan Rai

The war in Ukraine is deepening the grave threat to future generations, argues Milan Rai

Every time the US has increased its military support for Ukraine, Russia has responded by escalating in some way.

We’re approaching a very dangerous point now, where a Russian nuclear attack starts to become a real possibility (see p7), with catastrophic consequences not just for Ukraine, but almost certainly for the world.

However, as Noam Chomsky recently pointed out to Truthout: ‘The impact of the war goes far beyond: to the millions facing starvation with the…

1 October 2022 Cath

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 October 2022 Rebecca Elson-Watkins

It’s time to have a real conversation about abolishing the monarchy, says Rebecca Elson-Watkins

As I write this column, I am watching the state funeral of queen Elizabeth II, and my mind is boggling. The first thought is: ‘Well, this is the one thing we are “world-leading” at these days – pomp and circumstance and pageantry – at the expense of the taxpayer.’ I mean, yikes.

We are in the middle of a cost of living crisis. Thousands, if not millions, of people are genuinely afraid of either starving or freezing this winter, or both. Electricity, food, fuel – the price of…

1 October 2022 Claire Poyner

Our columnist takes aim at the monarchy

I am not and never have been, a supporter of the monarchy. I don’t come from a republican-inclined family – my mother, a firm socialist, nevertheless believed the queen to be a stabilising force, and a figurehead that the military are loyal to, making a military coup much less likely.

Oh, she would have preferred a Scandinavian or Dutch model of monarchy, with far less pomp and ceremony. She also would say two words against having a president: ‘President Thatcher’.

This is more…

2 August 2022 Milan Rai

Johnson was an international criminal, not just a liar, argues Milan Rai

All year, it has been infuriating to watch the debate about Boris Johnson as pressure built up against the British prime minister until he was finally forced from office on 7 July by his own party – which believed he would damage its chances of winning the next election.

Johnson was sacked by the Conservatives for his personal weaknesses, such as dishonesty and irresponsibility. This was what the media also focused on. Near the liberal extreme, the Guardian editorial on his…

2 August 2022 Milan Rai

Milan Rai remembers a campaigner who was 'human decency turned into a human being'

There are activists who are respected or admired, and there are activists who are loved. Bruce was loved, he was beloved.

Bruce Kent was human decency turned into a human being.

For people of my generation, who came of age in the 1980s, Bruce was a beacon of sanity in a terrifying world. He was the voice of the peace movement: direct, honest and completely fearless.

He has continued to be that beacon of sanity and common sense.

Pat Gaffney, one of Bruce’s close…

1 August 2022 Andrea Needham

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 2022 Penny Stone

'The clocks are turning back now, and everyone must add their voice to the chorus'

Just as the election of Trump caused ripples of increased racism and misogyny the whole world over, so the overturning of Roe v Wade by the US supreme court on 24 June has empowered those who seek to restrict women’s access to reproductive healthcare far beyond the borders of the USA.

In Scotland, there has been a sharp and necessary increase in campaigning to introduce buffer zones around reproductive health centres so that women do not have to face harassment when accessing…

1 August 2022 Ambrose Musiyiwa

Ambrose Musiyiwa speaks to Korrine Sky about the plight of African students who were studying in Ukraine

‘There was a hierarchy of “Ukrainians first, Indians next and Africans last” in who was allowed to leave the war zone’, says Korrine Sky, a Zimbabwean British citizen who was a second-year medical student in Dnipro, in eastern Ukraine, when the war broke out.

Getting out of Ukraine was extremely difficult for African students, but, according to Sky, it was the easy part compared to the challenge that followed: ensuring they can continue with and finish their studies.

Sky, who…

1 August 2022 Mines and Communities

Researcher and activist who spent 40 years holding international mining companies accountable

Vegan before it became fashionable, Roger Moody was a Peace News co-editor in the late 1960s and early 1970s. He went on to become a mining researcher and activist. For over 40 years, he was crucial to the process of building global alliances in the struggle to hold multinational mining companies accountable for the social and ecological consequences of their activities.

One of Roger’s endearing, if frustrating, characteristics, was his unwillingness to reveal his age: he was…

1 August 2022 Claire Poyner

Greenham veteran who became the first out trans man to stand for Parliament

My friend Charlie died aged 56 of an incurable hereditary lung condition, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Charlie was kind, thoughtful, loved a laugh and could always be relied upon to go out for a curry and a beer or two, health permitting.

Charlie was born in London in 1965 to a Colombian mother and a father with Hungarian heritage. He later embraced the Colombian heritage of his mother, Marta Lombard, an artist. He visited relatives in Bogotá, learned Spanish and became the proud…

1 August 2022 Cath

Our Leeds co-operator senses a window of opportunity closing

So I tried to leave my co-op bubble.

I’ve been living and working in my lovely co-op community for nearly 30 years – a very comfy setup where my cost of living is super-low, so I don’t have to worry about working very much for money, I’ve never had a credit card and never taken out a loan, I’ve never been personally liable for utility bills or worried about whether there’s enough money for food or whether we can afford to heat or fix the house.

For over 20 years I’ve been my…

1 August 2022 Rebecca Elson-Watkins

We need to listen to autistic people, says Rebecca Elson-Watkins

In mid-May, after a three-year wait (made a year longer by COVID-19) I was diagnosed with autism.

What a relief! After 36 years of feeling like ‘an odd duck’, answers!

A friend of mine once wrote in his blog: ‘self-reflection doesn’t have to be the bastard child of tragedy’. It’s a good way to explain why I started the journey of an ‘official’ autism diagnosis; it is part of my own self-reflection. It is for me.

Medical diagnosis is a privilege only afforded to me…

1 August 2022 Claire Poyner

Our columnist reflects on US gun culture

‘Guns don’t kill people – people do.’ ‘The only thing that will stop a Bad Guy with a gun is a Good Guy with a gun.’ ‘If only all those teachers had been armed, no children would have died.’

No doubt you’ve recently heard these and similar statements. Oh, and not forgetting ‘Thoughts and Prayers’.

I think some people, well, let’s be honest, we’re talking about Americans here, have unrealistic expectations of what their guns can do.

I do wonder if some people believe that…

1 August 2022 Emma Sangster

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 2022 Milan Rai

Recent events confirm that peace activism is the real counter-terrorism, argues Milan Rai

This may be a little difficult to believe. In the latest terror trial in the UK, the defendant put forward the kind of legal argument that we often see in peace movement nonviolent direct action cases: he was trying to prevent a greater crime... with his crime.

Since the 7/7 atrocities in London on 7 July 2005, there has been a string of terror attacks in the UK inspired by al-Qa’eda and/or Islamic State.

These attacks tend to have three features in common that aren’t often…