Features

11 December 2020 Brandalism

Subvertising exposes HSBC’s climate colonialism and other crimes

In November, activists in 15 cities across the UK covered billboards and bus stops with spoof HSBC adverts which accused HSBC of ‘climate colonialism’ and demanded that the bank end its financing of fossil fuels, detention centres and climate destruction.

Over 250 billboards, bus stops and Tube posters featuring HSBC advertisements were hijacked in a national grassroots campaign by Brandalism activists. Locations included Birmingham, Bristol, Carmarthen, Glasgow, Leeds, London, Oxford…

11 December 2020 Ian Sinclair

The government’s shameful response to the second COVID surge

The UK government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic has been a ‘national scandal’, as I wrote in PN six months ago. (See PN 2642 – 2643) Reaching its peak in terms of infections and deaths in March and April, the virus killed an estimated 65,400 people in the UK by mid-June, according to the Financial Times. At the time, this huge death toll was the highest in Europe, and the second-highest in the world after the United States.

Following the…

11 December 2020 David Rosenberg and Jewish Voice for Labour and Truth Defence

Some responses to the recent EHRC report and the suspension of Jeremy Corbyn

On 29 October, just six months after he stepped down as leader of the party, Jeremy Corbyn was suspended from the Labour party for his reaction to a report on antisemitism in the Labour party issued earlier in the day.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) claimed that Labour was responsible for ‘unlawful acts of harassment and discrimination’ and three breaches of the Equality Act (2010) including ‘political interference in antisemitism complaints’.

11 December 2020 Setsuko Thurlow

Setsuko Thurlow at the 2020 ICAN Paris Forum. PHOTO: OREL KICHIGAI/ICAN

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons has entered into force! This truly marks the beginning of the end of nuclear weapons!

When I learned that we reached our 50th ratification, I was not able to stand. I remained in my chair and put my head in my hands and I cried tears of joy.

I have committed my life to the abolition of nuclear weapons. I have nothing but gratitude for all who have worked for the success of our treaty. I have a powerful feeling of solidarity with…

11 December 2020 Gabriel Carlyle

A climate action group experiments with Zoom campaigning

On 9 March, with some regret, Divest East Sussex postponed the sex strike.

Three days later, in a blog post entitled ‘#flattenthecurve’, we noted that cancelling the sex strike appeared to be the right decision ‘from a public health perspective’. (It was still 11 days before the UK went into lockdown.)

However, we also said that our campaign to divest East Sussex county council’s pension fund from fossil fuels would not be silent.
Five months later, we had a good go at…

11 December 2020 Jeanne Rewa and Daniel Hunter

A brilliant new resource for the world we’re moving into

Here are some nuggets from an excellent, very practical 48-page guide to running online events. Leading Groups Online has just been written (for activists and others) by two people with deep experience and a lot of wisdom.

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, teachers, educators, trainers, organisers, consultants, and event planners are being asked to do the same things but online. You may find this a delightful challenge or entirely overwhelming. Maybe you have been in online…

10 December 2020 Dave Cullen

Dave Cullen talks to about the Nuclear Information Service's recent report on the UK's nuclear weapons upgrades

Our report, Trouble Ahead: Risks and Rising Costs in the UK Nuclear Weapons Programme (2019), grew out of the day-to-day work we’ve done.

It was an attempt to give an overview of where the UK is at with its nuclear weapons upgrades.

It’s not regularly admitted but in the early 2000s the UK took a decision to upgrade every single element of its nuclear weapons capability.

The new Dreadnought submarines are the part people know most intimately.

The Trident…

10 December 2020 PN staff

We celebrate the 20th birthday of a little-known but vital part of the peace movement

Shouldn’t there be someone keeping a close eye on the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) which designs, manufactures and maintains Britain’s nuclear warheads?

Especially now the British government is building ‘Dreadnought’ nuclear missile submarines to replace the Trident submarines which carry Britain’s only nuclear weapons?

Well there is someone keeping a very close eye on AWE and on Britain’s military nuclear programme as a whole.

It’s a…

10 December 2020 Poppy Hosford and Devika Shenoy

Poppy Hosford and Devika Shenoy report from a campaign fighting for affordable access to the COVID vaccine for everyone across the globe

Imagine this.

Giant neon pink COVID-shaped heads parading themselves through the streets of London. A huge globe. A giant syringe.

On 27 July, activists in giant COVID-19 costumes as well as students wielding giant inflatable syringes joined neon pink dancing protesters to persuade target universities to sign the Open COVID Pledge.

This is a commitment to making COVID-19 research and development available free of charge for use in ending the pandemic and minimising the…

10 December 2020 Mahoney Goodman

Mahoney Goodman tells the story (so far) of XR Cambridge's direct action campaign for divestment

Autonomy and decentralisation are baked into Extinction Rebellion’s organisational structure. In Cambridge we’ve taken initiative to target our city’s centres of power, independently of any directives from XR UK. It probably isn’t hard to guess our first priority.

The university of Cambridge and its colleges are many things, but high on that list are wealthy and prestigious.

In other words, they’re in a perfect position to deal a significant blow to the fossil fuel industry’s…

10 December 2020 Gabriel Carlyle

Gabriel Carlyle summarises the new Climate & Ecological Emergency Bill

One of the main aims of XR’s September ‘Rebellion’ was ‘to create the political appetite for the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill’ which has, so far, received the support of over 50 MPs, including DUP, Green, Labour, Lib Dem, Plaid Cymru and SNP representatives.

Introduced into the house of commons by Green MP Caroline Lucas on 2 September, this landmark legislation has been drafted by an alliance of scientists, academics, lawyers and environmentalists.

The aim is to…

10 December 2020 Marnie Johnson

One part of the mass of XR actions

There were protests all over the UK marking Extinction Rebellion’s fortnight of climate action in the first half of September. This included blockades of News Corps printworks that produce Rupert Murdoch’s Sun, Times and other newspapers. Kevin Blowe, co-ordinator of Netpol (the Network for Police Monitoring), commented on the heavy-handed policing of XR in London: ‘The suspicion remains that the Metropolitan police see all XR supporters as “criminals” and are judging them not on their…

10 December 2020 David Edwards and David Cromwell

The Media Lens team survey recent reporting on claims that UK special forces executed unarmed Afghan civilians

On 1 August, a rare in-depth investigative piece appeared on the BBC News website based on credible and serious allegations that UK special forces had executed unarmed civilians in Afghanistan.

The BBC article was produced in tandem with a report, ‘“Rogue SAS Afghanistan execution squad” exposed by email trail’,…

10 December 2020 Milan Rai

PN surveyed over 100 peace activists on the impact of Black Lives Matter

Since George Floyd, an unarmed African-American man, was killed by a white police officer in Minnesota in the US on 25 May, there has been a vast, intense wave of anti-racist protests that has shaken the world.

In the first half of September, we held an anonymous online survey to see what impact, if any, the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement has had on the British peace movement. 117 people completed it in the fortnight it was open. We were surprised and grateful for how honest people…

9 December 2020 George Lakey

The power of activist training in times of rapid change

One of the gifts of the Black Lives Matter movement is that it doesn’t pretend that a quick fix will solve the problem. The many signs of change – from NASCAR [the US car racing organisation] giving up the Confederate flag to the majority of Minneapolis city council members resolving to dismantle their police department – are welcome, but not nearly enough.

Decades of failed reforms plus research into racism have come to the same conclusion: only radical change will deliver what we…

9 December 2020 Milan Rai

The Bomb was not ‘a last resort’ argues Milan Rai

Right-wing historian Max Hastings justified the atomic bombing of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 2005, writing: ‘Truman’s Hiroshima judgment may seem wrong in the eyes of posterity, but it is easy to understand why it seemed right to most of his contemporaries.’

That’s a lie.

In the eyes of Truman’s best-informed contemporaries, there were at least two options that could and should have been tried before the Bomb – and they each had a good chance of ending the…

9 December 2020 Chris Savory

A 1980s direct actionist gives us a blast from the past

In the summer of 1981, the young Chris Savory left his place studying economics at Oxford University to join the peace movement and the UK’s counterculture. His recently-published memoir of this time, Confessions of a Non-Violent Revolutionary, is by turns moving and humorous. This extract takes up the story in 1982:

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, most disarmament-related civil disobedience was in the form of sit-down protests in central London.

The focus had now…

9 December 2020 Indra Donfrancesco

Four months of anti-HS2 eco-activism during the pandemic

High Speed 2 (HS2) is a carbon-intensive, environmentally-destructive high-speed rail line planned to run from London to Birmingham (then, eventually, to Manchester and Leeds in ‘Phase 2’). Communities all along the Phase 1 line have been protesting against HS2, and environmental campaigners have set up ‘protection camps’ with local support. Emily Johns of PN caught up with experienced activist Indra Donfrancesco in mid-July:

HS2 is very simple, because it’s all wrong. It’s a…

9 December 2020 PN and Noam Chomsky

A powerful Democracy Now! interview on the risk of a coup in the US, the climate crisis and the nuclear arms race

We’re glad to be able to present the transcript of an interview of respected US social critic Noam Chomsky on the radical US TV/radio programme, Democracy Now! The interview was carried out on 23 July by hosts Amy Goodman and Nermeen Shaikh.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! democracynow.org The Quarantine Report. I’m Amy Goodman.

Barely 100 days before the presidential election in November, this week president Trump announced he is sending a surge…

9 December 2020

An extract from the new edition of George Lakey's book Facilitating Group Learning

The United Mine Workers called all their field staff east of the Mississippi to West Virginia to help lead the part of the Pittston Coal Company campaign that took place in the coalfields in 1989–90. Although this was one battlefront among several, West Virginia would be the site of the mass participation by workers, their families and their communities.

I was learning their history as rapidly as I could and discovered that just after the First World War there had been an open war…