1 June 2024 PN staff

Order your copies now!

We are now taking orders for a new four-page A5 PN briefing setting out the facts about Churchill’s belief in 1944 and early 1945 that a Japanese surrender could be gained without an atomic bomb being dropped and without the Allies having to invade Japan (PN 2667).

Churchill believed by July 1945 that there were two diplomatic tools which could end the Pacific War, especially if combined.

In September 1944, Churchill pleaded with Soviet leader Joseph Stalin to…

1 June 2024 Cath

'We're becoming a social hub'

Gardening brings out the aggressor in me – I root out bindweed and thistles with a focus and single-minded determination lacking in all other parts of my life.

The simple judgement call of getting rid of things we don’t want (in that place) is easy to repeat.

I rest my decision-making brain and follow the roots beyond the vegetable beds, gaining more pleasure the more root I get out, shouting out to other humans when I pull out particularly deep or long roots.

I find it…

1 June 2024 Rebecca Elson-Watkins

General election? I'll see you on the doorsteps ...

Well, it wasn’t a May election. Given that I’m writing this on 20 May, I can say this with some certainty!

Another six weeks of this end-stage-capitalism, this dystopian nightmare that Britain has become under the Tories.

We have patients in hospital corridors. We have people drowning in the Channel. We have profoundly disabled people being told they are ‘fit for work’. We have little kids, barely more than babies, dying in mould-infested flats that are not fit to house sewer…

1 June 2024 Claire Poyner

Reduce, reuse, recycle?

Look, I realise that recycling won’t save the world and all.

Personally, I usually (nearly always) put stuff that can be recycled in the recycling bins even though we have to go to the effort of taking them 100 metres or so to the communal bins on our estate (rather than the doorstep collection enjoyed by people not living on a social housing estate).

I add random plastic bags to the supermarket bags to be collected by the grocery delivery people.

I take dead batteries…

1 June 2024 Mo Moseley

Long-time peace campaigner who helped George Blake escape from Wormwood Scrubs

Anne Randle was one of the four people who, in 1966, helped Soviet spy George Blake escape from Wormwood Scrubs prison and flee to Russia.

As a young woman, Anne Parr was active in the Committee of 100 which organised mass civil disobedience against nuclear weapons, starting in February 1961. This is where she met Michael Randle, the man who became her partner and husband for 61 years and the father of her two children, Sean and Gavin.

Michael also helped Blake to escape, along…

1 June 2024 Joanna Guthrie

Cartoonist and peace campaigner with a keen sense of the absurd

My mum Sarah Guthrie was born in Lancashire to Neville Evans, an oil broker, and his wife, Barbara (née Bruce). At 17, she dropped out of school in South West London and went to study at the Alliance Française in Paris. She returned to London to work at Harper’s Bazaar magazine and then at an early listings magazine.

In 1966, with two colleagues at the magazine, she set up London’s first lunchtime theatre – ‘Theatrescope Original Lunch Hour Plays’ – which is where…

1 June 2024 Milan Rai

The best laid plans ...

I know that thousands of PN readers are eagerly waiting for my long review-essay about nonviolent revolution and the new-ish book Revolutionary Nonviolence. It’s like the starter pistol for the uprising that is going to change everything. But then... urgent repression news... Rishi Sunak announces the 4 July election... as we’re putting this issue together... mice, (wo)men.... The essay is just getting longer and better. I promise. Again.

1 June 2024 Milan Rai

When it comes to not increasing military spending, a large section of the public is open to persuasion

This is the most militaristic election in a while. It’s started with a bang, with prime minister Rishi Sunak’s ‘national service’ proposal (see here) and it comes against the backdrop of eye-watering promises on military spending by both the main parties.

Labour leader Keir Starmer said on 11 April that a Labour government would increase military spending to 2.5 percent of national income ‘as soon…

1 June 2024 Milan Rai

Corporate and financial capture of the state, not peaceful protest, is the real threat to democracy argues Milan Rai  

In this issue, we look at some proposals for cracking down on protest, from lord Walney, the government’s advisor on political violence and disruption, in his report Protecting our Democracy from Coercion (see here).

Walney doesn’t actually deal with the major forms of arm-twisting that interfere with democracy in Britain.

Walney doesn’t, for example, make any proposals for how to stop…

1 June 2024 Devere Allen

Looking back at the 15 June 1945 issue of PN, we discovered this little gem on p3

In May 1944, the little Central American country of El Salvador electrified all students of Latin American affairs when it staged a revolutionary strike by nonviolent means and won a great popular victory.

For five months, the press and people enjoyed freedom and were apparently on the road to democratic politics. But, as observers (myself included) pointed out at the time, nonviolent methods require deep understanding and firm experience for consistent victories and cannot be…

1 June 2024 Penny Stone

'There are songs that beat the drums of war'

There are songs that beat the drums of war and songs that wave the flag of peace, and in different ways these are all love songs, songs of grief and songs of hope. It’s all a propaganda of sorts, even songs written from the deepest place in our hearts.

Yemeni singer Bilal al-Aghbari became well-known in his home country in 2007 when he came third in Sharjah Star, an international talent competition hosted in the UAE. When the Arab Spring reached Yemen, he says: ‘I participated in the…

1 June 2024 Virginia Moffatt

The many worlds of Ursula le Guin

Thanks to the wonders of the internet, I can pinpoint pretty precisely the moment I fell in love with Ursula Le Guin’s writing.

It was 29 November 1974, between 4.30 – 4.45pm, when the final instalment of her A Wizard of Earthsea aired on Jackanory.*

The book had seized hold of me all week, but the denouement, in which Ged, the wizard of the title, confronts and becomes one with the dark shadow he has unleashed on the world, was totally mesmerising.

I’ve been a…

1 April 2024 Milan Rai

Anarchism is not just 'spontaneity and structurelessness', argues Milan Rai

Back in the 1970s, Peace News used to advertise itself in the pages of Freedom, the anarchist paper with these words: ‘“Peace News” – the other anarchist weekly.... “Peace News” for the theory and practice of nonviolent anarchism.’

Freedom no longer exists as a printed paper, sadly – that disappeared 10 years ago – but its online version continues to carry reports of anarchist action around the world.

Peace News has long been committed to…

1 April 2024 Daniel Hunter

Seven behaviours to help us stay active and effective

To be in shape for the long haul, we have to get our minds and spirits ready, as well as jump into action.

When we’re in bad shape, our power is diminished – we’re less creative, more reactive, and less able to plan strategically. If we intend to stay active and effective in the world, we have a responsibility to tend to our spirits.

Here are seven behaviours we can use right away to strengthen ourselves, so we can keep taking more and more powerful and strategic actions.

1 April 2024 Cath

'It's guilt-inducing to say no'

Since communicating with each other and ourselves honestly seems pretty critical in a fully income-sharing, revolutionary community, our commune has decided to undertake co-counselling training. 

Co-counselling is sometimes described as egalitarian counselling, where both parties get to talk for an equal length of time. But it’s not really counselling at all – the witness shouldn’t ask leading questions or delve into what’s being said/not said. Instead, their role is largely to say…

1 April 2024 Penny Stone

'A call for one group's liberation does not imply another's destruction'

I remember Charlotte Church’s rise to fame as a very young classical singer, and I was vaguely aware of the diversity of musical voyages she embarked upon as she grew into an adult. 

Years later, I re-encountered her in a new light when Welsh friends began talking about her as a grounded and committed activist voice. I heard about her support for local community, wellbeing and environmental campaigns, and for the Palestinian people.

Côr Cochion Caerdydd (Cardiff Reds)…

1 April 2024 Virginia Moffatt

Which TV show regularly reminds us that people are 'for the most part ... kind, caring and empathetic'?

When Gogglebox first started back in 2013, I was not immediately wowed by the concept – a TV show about people watching TV sounded like television was finally eating itself. To my surprise, the programme took off and after a while I thought I’d take a look and see what the fuss was about. 

10 years later, it’s become a regular fixture in our house, because the seeming banality of folk in front of the telly has proved to be anything but. In fact, much like the fictional show…

1 April 2024 Rebecca Elson-Watkins

We all need to get a little rest sometimes, says Rebecca Elson-Watkins

For the very first time since I began this column in January 2019, this month I have struggled to write. There are of course easily 100 issues I could champion, each as worthwhile as the others. 

But I am tired, PN readers. So tired. 

When our leaders are not the personification of political stagnation (I’m looking at you, Keir Starmer), they are Tories veering dangerously close to the right-wing in the hopes of capturing The Gammon Vote. The fact that already…

1 April 2024 Claire Poyner

Do mobs rule?

There are a few popular phrases which really set my teeth on edge. I covered ‘the nanny state’ last time. And ‘hard-working families’ results in my doing a Marge Simpson growl. 

Here’s another: ‘mob rule’. Ah yes, mob rule. Let’s unpack that a bit. Let’s start with ‘rule’. 

Who rules? The king? The prime minister? The government? A school headteacher or the boss? You could argue all of these rule to some extent in some circumstances. But they all have some authority, wouldn’t…

1 February 2024 Milan Rai

In the run-up to this year's general election, the UK peace movement must challenge the deep-seated militarism of the entire British political class

Noam Chomsky once wrote that activists had two options in relation to changing government policies (in the US): ‘One way is to try to influence the choice that will be offered by the two major political parties and to exercise this choice on Election Day. Another, very different approach is to try to modify the objective conditions that any elected official must consider when he [or she] selects a course of action.’

You can either work within the system, trying to persuade a party to…