Comment

1 August 2019 Cath

Two recent deaths spur our Leeds-based cooperator to reflect on the importance of weaving the memories of lost friends and comrades into our movements

In the last three months, I have been to two funerals for Radical Routes activists, both in their early 50s.

Radical Routes (RR) is a network of co-operatives and for the last few years, Sean was a big presence at almost every quarterly gathering and a driving force in Catfish housing co-op, who just bought their first house in Huddersfield a few months ago.

Dave, on the other hand, a founding member of Zion Housing Co-op (aka Nutclough HC) in Hebden Bridge in 2001, hadn’t been…

1 August 2019 Penny Stone

Using song to resist the dehumanisation of marginalised communities

This year has seen some of the most widespread actions against the demonisation and mistreatment of migrants in the USA. As institutional treatment of human beings gets worse, more and more people are singing out their opposition.

At the end of June, 36 people were arrested in New Jersey for blocking the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention centre, crying out at the unacceptable conditions children are being held in.

The beginning of July saw another mass…

1 August 2019 Milan Rai

How the US anti-war movement has helped to restrain Donald Trump

It was the strength of the US anti-war movement that helped us to avoid US military action against Iran on 20 June.

A lot has happened since Iran shot down a US surveillance drone that day (including the seizure of an Iranian tanker by British warships), but it's worth remembering that US president Donald Trump called off a retaliatory air strike that he had approved hours earlier.

Various reasons have been given for Trump's U-turn.

Journalist Alex Ward reported on Vox…

1 August 2019 Claire Poyner

Our columnist vents on air pollution, 'migrants' & vaccines

I have a friend who used to write a column for an activist-led journal. If he didn’t have much in the way of ideas for the forthcoming column, he said he’d walk around his neighbourhood until something pissed him off enough to become the basis of the column. And that the tactic worked 100 percent of the time, as there was always something going on locally worth commenting on (and he’s the sort of person who does get pissed off easily, sorry if you’re reading this, mate, you know it’s true…

1 August 2019 Milan Rai

Preventing a hard border between Northern Ireland the Republic should be the peace movement's priority, argues Milan Rai

On 13 July, the new police chief in Northern Ireland, Simon Byrne, warned that a hard Brexit could 'create a vacuum which becomes a rally call and recruiting ground for dissident [Irish] republicans and clearly any rise in their popularity or their capability would be very serious'.

PN has been arguing for some time that the overriding priority for the peace movement in the Brexit debate is Ireland.

Preserving the rather shaky peace process in Ireland means preventing a hard…

1 August 2019 Rebecca Elson-Watkins

Rebecca Elson-Watkins takes at look at Mic Dixon's new film War School

 

Militarism. The word means nothing to much of the population, but it's everywhere; almost every place in the UK has a war memorial,

During Remembrance, you can't avoid it: red poppies, cenotaphs, the 'Last Post', and cadets everywhere. These scenes open War School, a film by Mic Dixon about the battle for the hearts and minds of Britain's children, a battle that is fought with militarism.

'There is no remembrance. Opposite of remembrance. Concealment.…

1 June 2019 Milan Rai

Recent elections in Australia and Spain hold lessons for UK campaigners, argues Milan Rai

Climate strikers in Melbourne in March 2019. Takver from Australia [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)]

Why should campaigners of any kind in Britain care about the May elections in Australia? Well, because there’s an important lesson for all activists in the defeat of the Labour party there, which had an ambitious climate agenda, and which everyone expected to win. These results showed again the…

1 June 2019 Claire Poyner

How feminist is Star Trek?

I started re-watching (for the fourth? fifth? time – it’s certainly been three times since watching as a child) Star Trek: The Original Series (‘TOS’ to Trekkies) when I was recovering from a knee operation.

I knew that TOS broke new ground in the 1960s. There you have, on the bridge (the starship’s command centre): an alien (well, a half-alien anyway); a Russian (in the middle of the Cold War!); a Japanese man, barely 10 years after the Second World War; a regular hunk who…

1 June 2019 Bruce Kent

Direct action comes in different shapes and sizes

What a pleasure it was to read about what one bold cardinal has been up to in Rome.

Apparently, in May, the electricity was cut off for a building occupied by 450 squatters – about 100 of them children. Many were refugees.

Cardinal Krajewski (Polish – you guessed) decided on a bit of very direct action. He lifted a lid set in the ground, climbed down to remove a seal, and switched on the electricity.

Light and hot water restored. If there’s a fine, the cardinal said he’d…

1 June 2019 Penny Stone

Penny Stone celebrates the music of Pete Seeger

Over the May Day weekend in Edinburgh, I sang 200 Pete Seeger songs with friends old and new. I hosted a singathon to celebrate what would have been Pete’s 100th birthday. It was brilliant.

People came and went, sang along, played along, laughed and listened. We sang songs sharing over 100 years’ worth of stories of people’s everyday lives and political engagement in the United States and around the world.

In many ways, the most enjoyable element of the weekend was the sense of…

1 June 2019 Ameen Nemer

Ameen Nemer reports from this year's BAE Systems AGM

I attended the BAE Systems AGM because I wanted to provide a voice for Arabian people. The absolute monarch does not represent the people in Arabia. The house of Saud tries to kidnap our voices. BAE has fallen for the propaganda and presents the regime as a liberating force. I attended so that I could tell the board and shareholders about what is really happening to my people and land.

I am sure the BAE AGM will be happy not to have that voice which reminds them of the dirty job they…

1 June 2019 Hanna King

LGBT direct action wins access to drugs

GOALS: (from Wall Street leaflet, 1987):
1) Immediate release by the Federal Food & Drug Administration of drugs that might help save our lives.
2) Immediate abolishment of cruel double-blind studies wherein some get the new drugs and some don’t.
3) Immediate release of these drugs to everyone with AIDS or ARC [‘AIDS-related complex’ – ed].
4) Immediate availability of these drugs at affordable prices. Curb your greed!
5) Immediate massive public education…

1 June 2019 Julia Mercer

Pre-dawn blockades and missing barristers

23 April. Trial day dawns in Reading. I’m hoping I’ll be convincing and not go blank. I’m nervous, wishing it was over and suddenly doubting the usefulness of the whole project.

In times of doubt like this, the solidarity of friends and fellow-activists is so necessary.

In court, we wait. Nothing happens.

When I think back to the morning of the action, what I remember most vividly is panic and a huge desire to get it right, to be part of an effective shutdown of that…

1 April 2019 Claire Poyner

Our columnist takes on the lack of abortion rights in Northern Ireland

Years ago, I would on occasion have this conversation with my mother. ‘I think British troops should not be in Northern Ireland, clearly the north of Ireland is part of the island of Ireland and it should be one country’.

She would answer: ‘Ah, but you see the UK are in Northern Ireland to protect the rights of the women there to obtain divorce and contraception.’ She honestly believed that, and I didn’t know enough about it to contradict her.

I remember thinking it wasn’t…

1 April 2019 Milan Rai

Signs of the power of grassroots action is all around us, argues Milan Rai

A lot of encouraging things have happened recently. The vast wave of climate strikes by young people all around the world, the militancy shown by women in so many countries on International Women’s Day, the mass of voices of ordinary Indians and Pakistanis on social media that helped those two countries to avoid war at the end of February, the amazing power of the youth-led Sunrise movement pushing for a Green New Deal in the US, the Stansted 15 anti-deportation activists managing to avoid…

1 April 2019 Lekey Leidecker

Workers’ general strike wins eight-hour day

Photo: Auckland Museum [CC BY 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)]

GOAL: To have a legally enforced eight-hour workday for all workers, and, in the case of the textile workers, a 30–50 percent wage increase.
SUCCESS IN ACHIEVING SPECIFIC DEMANDS: 2 out of 6 points
SURVIVAL: 1 / 1
GROWTH: 3 / 3

Male textile factory workers at El Inca factory in Lima, Peru, walked off the job in December…

1 April 2019 Bruce Kent

'Weapons are supposed to bring security”

I still have a scar on my left hand. It is a reminder of a school fight that took place many long years ago. The street knife violence of today comes out of the same stable.

In my area of north London, criminal violence is far from unknown.

There was a row on a bus some years ago between older boys from two different schools. One boy got off the bus not far from his home. But another boy followed him up the street and stabbed him to death. His companion escaped…

1 April 2019 Andrew Papworth

Jane Buxton, a founder member of the Committee of 100, was deeply affected by the decision to manufacture atomic and nuclear weapons in the 1950s and 1960s. She shared the alarm of many at the race between the United States, the Soviet Union and Britain to acquire the most threatening weapons. At that time, all three countries were testing their weapons in the atmosphere and the level of strontium-90 in the air caused much concern. She joined the growing body of people determined to stop…

1 April 2019 Nuclear Free Local Authorities

'Thinking man's Dennis Skinner' was indefatigable peace campaigner

Campaigning Labour MP Paul Flynn died in February after a long illness. A sufferer from rheumatoid arthritis, Flynn campaigned for the medical use of cannabis. In July 2017, he called on users to come to London and ‘break the law’ by using cannabis at the houses of parliament.

The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) paid this tribute:

The MP for Newport West since 1987, after 15 years as a councillor, Paul Flynn was a strong advocate and supporter of the NFLA…

1 April 2019 Penny Stone

'So comrades come rally, for this is the time and place'

If I asked you to think of a radical European song, there are any number of songs that might spring to mind. One of the top three would almost certainly be ‘The Internationale’. It is perhaps the most obvious place to start – translated into most European languages (with varying degrees of poetic success!) the song is an anthem for change and socialist possibility.

‘Arise ye workers from your slumbers, Arise ye prisoners of want… So comrades, come rally, And the last fight let us…