News

1 December 2021 David Polden

Increased penalties, new powers and new offences announced 

The UK government is planning to bring in several new laws against nonviolent protest, including a new offence of ‘going equipped’ to lock-on.

Priti Patel, the home secretary, announced in her speech to the Tory party conference on 5 October that she would:

increase the maximum penalty for disrupting a motorway make a new crime of interfering with key infrastructure ‘such as roads, railways and our free press’ and give the police and courts ‘new powers to deal with the small…

1 December 2021 David Polden

Eastern leg of high-speed rail project (mostly) cancelled

Along with some fine acquittals, the campaign to stop the carbon-intensive HS2 high-speed railway line chalked up a major victory on 18 November.

The government announced that most of the eastern section of the project would now not go ahead after all. Instead of running from Birmingham all the way up to Leeds, the eastern arm will only stretch 40 miles to East Midlands Parkway station, south of Nottingham.

A spokesperson for Stop HS2, Joe Rukin, said: ‘The cancellation of the…

1 December 2021 David Polden

800 arrests and counting in insulation campaign

124 climate activists were arrested for blockading bridges in Central London on 20 November. They were acting in solidarity with nine members of ‘Insulate Britain’, who had been imprisoned by the high court in London on 17 November for contempt of court.

The ‘Highway 9’ had all continued to blockade the M25 after injunctions were issued banning obstruction of that motorway or any other major road in England.

It is believed the authorities had delayed the hearing in order to…

1 December 2021 David Polden

Police have spied on over 1,000 British political groups since 1968

After 11 years of struggle, Kate Wilson won another victory on 30 September. Kate is an activist who was deceived into a relationship with the undercover police officer Mark Kennedy (who was posing as an environmental direct actionist called ‘Mark Stone’).

Further ‘unreserved’ apologies, from London’s Metropolitan police and from the national police chiefs’ council, came after a damning ruling by the official Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) on 30 September.

The IPT found…

1 December 2021 Bethan Sian

Report from Youth & Student CND rep

This October, I went to Catalonia with three other representatives from Youth and Student CND (YSCND) to the International Peace Bureau (IPB) World Peace Congress in Barcelona. We were there to run a workshop, ‘“Protest and Survive”: Youth, Peace and Enduring Time’. It was an intergenerational workshop, designed to provide a space for different generations of the peace movement to learn from each other through the medium of games, discussions and pre-recorded videos.

As well as…

1 December 2021 Symon Hill

Wreaths of white poppies laid across UK

Wreaths of white poppies were laid in more than 20 towns and cities around the UK to remember all victims of war on 14 November, Remembrance Sunday.

The white poppy represents: remembrance for _all_ victims of war, a commitment to peace, and a challenge to attempts to glamorise or celebrate war. They were founded in 1933 by the Co-operative Women’s Guild.

The Peace Pledge Union (PPU) organised the National Alternative Remembrance Ceremony in London’s Tavistock Square, with…

1 October 2021 PN staff

XR Scotland issues guidelines for Glasgow climate protests

XR Scotland is asking all XR rebels coming to COP26 from outside Scotland to live by a ‘Rebel Agreement’. Here are three of the five points:

1) ‘We will be led by, listen to, learn from, and consult with communities at the front lines of the climate and ecological crisis: those who bear the least responsibility and suffer the greatest consequences, including Indigenous peoples, vulnerable nations of the Global South, and young people everywhere.
  4) ‘We will consider the impact…

1 October 2021 Rebecca Elson-Watkins

London demo calls for Johnson to 'stop stalling on LGBT+ rights'

On 24 July, 2,500 members of the LGBT+ community gathered in Parliament Square in Central London for a #ReclaimPride march.

Organised by legendary gay rights activist Peter Tatchell, the demonstration had five key demands: ban LGBT+ conversion therapy; reform the Gender Recognition Act; ensure a safe haven for LGBT+ refugees fleeing persecution; decriminalise LGBT+ people worldwide; and, finally, solidarity with Black Lives Matter.

Before a march to Hyde Park, Peter Tatchell…

1 October 2021 David Polden

Palestine Action campaigner freed as campaign continues

A Palestine Action (PA) activist was released from Foston Hall prison after a 37-day hunger strike soon after our last issue went to the printers, on 23 July.

Yogi Bear had been remanded to prison on 17 June after refusing to accept extremely restrictive bail conditions following a PA occupation of the Arconic Factory in Birmingham. (See PN 2655.) They were released after the conditions were reduced to simply remaining in one fixed abode, which they were willing to accept.…

1 October 2021 David Polden

Fortnight of protest against UK arms fair

Before the start of the DSEI arms fair in East London on 14 September, there were several arrests as many protesters attempted to blockade the two service roads used by vehicles carrying military hardware into the ExCeL Centre.

A great variety of groups organised a great variety of actions against DSEI this year, though numbers overall were smaller than in recent times.

This year, the mostly autonomous protests were co-ordinated by a coalition called ‘Stop the Arms Fair’ (STAF…

1 October 2021 David Polden

Case dismissed as 'no case to answer'

On 16 September, two Faslane Peace Campers had the case against them thrown out of Dunbarton justice of the peace court. One of them had spent nearly six weeks in prison on remand, waiting for the trial.

Willemien Hoogendoorn and Jon had been arrested for ‘breach of the peace’ on Hiroshima Day, 6 August, after blockading the North Gate of Faslane nuclear submarine base from 6.30am till around 12 noon.

According to the Helensburgh Advertiser, ‘tailbacks were reported in…

1 October 2021 PN staff

Paralympian jailed for airport action

On 24 September, Paralympic gold medallist James Brown, 56, was sentenced to 12 months in prison for an Extinction Rebellion (XR) action at London City Airport during XR’s October 2019 ‘Rebellion’.

This first custodial sentence for an XR action was imposed for the offence of causing ‘a public nuisance’.

Alanna Byrne, of Extinction Rebellion UK, said: ‘We are shocked and devastated by this news.’

Human rights activist Peter Tatchell tweeted: ‘It’s an excessively harsh…

1 October 2021 David Polden

US whistleblower gets 45 month sentence

On 27 July, former US air force intelligence analyst Daniel Hale was sentenced to 45 months in prison by a court in Virginia, USA.

Hale, 33, had plead guilty to violating the Espionage Act by sharing government documents relating to targeted drone killings and other abuses in the ‘war on terror’.

Hale spoke in court before sentencing, saying: ‘I believe that it is wrong to kill, but it is especially wrong to kill the defenceless.’ He said he shared what ‘was necessary to dispel…

1 October 2021 PN staff

What you need to know if you're heading to COP26

Most of us aren’t going to COP26, but for those who are thinking about it, here’s some information that may be useful.

Walking to Glasgow

A+E (an eco-art group based at St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral, Edinburgh) are organising a Pilgrimage for COP26, ‘a walk and a learning journey’, from Dunbar to Glasgow from 17 – 31 October. Participating organisations include: Deep Time Walk Project; Interfaith Edinburgh, Glasgow and Scotland; John Muir’s Birthplace; North Light Arts and…

1 October 2021 PN staff

PN surveys a variety of ways that you can take action in the run up to this November's Climate Summit

Whether or not you’re going to Glasgow, here are some actions you can take for climate justice this year.

You can join or set up a COP26 Coalition local hub (see p1) and take action on 6 November: cop26coalition.org There are #DefundClimateChaos protests on 29 October, mostly in London at the time of going to press: defundclimatechaos.uk You – and your group – can sign this petition asking COP26 to…

1 October 2021 PN staff

Fortnight of protests against fossil fuel investments

At the end of August, the climate action group Extinction Rebellion (XR) struck a new note, politically, when it began its latest two-week ‘rebellion’ in London. It put a much more achievable demand at the centre of its protests: the UK government must stop all new fossil fuel investment immediately.

The actions mostly focused on disrupting the heart of finance in the UK, the City of London, though there were also occupations of the Science Museum, Oxford Circus, and (in Woking) the…

1 October 2021 Rebecca Elson-Watkins

Rebecca Elson-Watkins is a Londoner, an activist and a writer. She's probably on some sort of watchlist as a rabble-rousing peacenik.

As part of the two weeks of protest against the Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) arms fair held in London’s ExCeL Centre, Stop the Arms Fair organised a Festival of Resistance on 11 September. They were joined by activists from Extinction Rebellion (XR), Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT), Trident Ploughshares and others – there were even jointly-produced flyers available in the information tent (along with copies of PN). The XR activists I talked to all spoke…

1 October 2021 David Polden

Police spies targeted anti-nuclear group

The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) revealed in mid-September that it had been a target of the Metropolitan police’s undercover Special Demonstration Squad during the 1980s.

Two undercover police officers were involved, according to the long-running Undercover Police Inquiry (UCPI).

‘John Kerry’ worked in the CND office in London between 1981 and 1984.

‘Timothy Spence’ inserted himself into a CND group in East London (as well as defence campaigns against the…

1 October 2021 PN staff

Britain's coastal military nuclear infrastructure 'profoundly vulnerable to flooding'

Climate change could flood Faslane naval base, home to Britain’s Trident nuclear missile submarine force. That’s one conclusion of Climate Impact – UK Nuclear Military, a report released in September by the independent research institute, the Nuclear Consulting Group (NCG).

Climate Impact says that; ‘Present UK coastal military nuclear infrastructure is profoundly vulnerable to flooding from sea-level rise, storm intensity and storm surge – with inland nuclear…

1 August 2021 Lotte Reimer

Coastal communities send climate message to G7

‘People shout “have a wash”, “get a job” but I have a full-time job’. Curly, one of the Cardiff Red Rebel Brigade who performed in Porthcawl on 5 June, explains that the Rebels are ‘everyday, regular people’, taking action for change.

‘We’re urging world leaders to act now. Out politicians and our governments are failing us all at the minute and we need them to act now on the real causes of the crisis. We need them to act on global inequality, unchecked corporate profiteering and…