What is this blog?

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The purpose of this blog is to allow me to record my journey, the formation of the No New Wars organisation (whatever form that may take), the Eleven Eleven Twenty-Eighteen campaign and the supporting resources and networks of people and organisations.

This idea crystallised for me in 2012 when I decided it was not enough to be angry about wars being started in my name (that is, by my government) that I could not prevent.  Instead I would do something.  Not march with a banner, or send a letter to my MP, or write to the embassy of the enemy state, but instead stop the war in the first place.

I realised that I could not stop foreign countries starting wars.  But I can do something to influence my own government.  I could start a movement that makes it clear to our politicians that we do not want war, and that we will make them pay if they start one.

In a democracy we have only one tool available: our vote.  If enough of us pledge to remove our vote from any politician promoting an unjust, illegal or unnecessary war and to instead give that vote to an opponent, then we can make the politicians and major political parties too frightened to want to start a war.

It does not even need many of us to sign up to this.  In many constituencies it would only take about half of the MP’s majority to take the pledge to make the MP realise their next election might be their last.  And if people who do not vote – which is most of us – sign this pledge saying we will turn up and make a protest vote, it will make the political parties sit up and think about the consequences of the actions of a few war mongers.

I haven’t done the sums in detail, but if this campaign had been in place by 2003 when the 2nd Gulf War started, and if just 1% of the electorate had signed this pledge, then 170,00 non-voters voting against Labour plus 1% of Labour voters voting for either of the other major parties, would have resulted in Labour losing the 2005 General Election.

Between 750,000 (Police figures) and 2,000,000 (organisers’ figures) people marched in London alone to protest against the 2nd Gulf War.  Just 400,000 registered voters making a pledge would have more effect.

We actually can stop wars from starting by targeting the real cause: politicians who want to start a war.  By telling them we as voters will end their political career and wreck their party’s future prospects of power at the same time.

Would you consider war prevention a big enough cause to change your vote, or to make you go out and vote?

Talk by a diplomat to North Korea

Yesterday evening I attended a presentation organised by the Lancaster University Politics Society.  It was a talk by James Hoare – a retired diplomat who has worked as chargé d’affaires in North Korea – about his experience of working in diplomacy and foreign affairs.

While doing a PhDin Japnese studies he was recruited by the FCO and was duly sent off to cover for someone in North Korea, and that was that.

We learned about the history of Korea, especially since 1910 and what it was like living there.  He confirmed what we were told about the theoretical practice: that there is a pre-diplomacy stage before formal international relations are acknowledged.  During these occasional and factious meetings, there was one he said that went very well when the British representatives talked about bent coppers, thug-like prison officers and corruption in the UK.  The honesty thawed the previously difficult communication.

He said we should go as tourists; communication is always good.

Johnny Mercer MP approves of and promotes killing over values

Johnny Mercer MP has posted on his Tweet feed:

The application of violence to defeat the enemies of the nation has become worryingly unpopular.  Nothing wrong with fighting (yes killing) for values/what you believe in.

I was under the impression the current War on Terror was specifically trying to stop people doing just that.

And he is concerned that violence is becoming less popular.

To the point where he publicly writes there is nothing wrong with killing people.

What hope is there when people vote for people like him?

I’ve been quiet lately

I was expecting to be posting on my blog every day since September with updates and excitement about finally doing the course of study I have been planning and preparing for since 2012.

I registered to do my Master’s Degree in Peace Studies.  Things did not go well.  I have been misled and let down.  This has been a huge distraction for me.  I could not even write about it.

I’ve put a complaint in to the university, which has been accepted.  I am awaiting their response.

Morecambe Poppy Scatter

Every street light in Morecambe has a red plastic poppy attached to it.  No explanation provided, none needed.  There are hundreds of them and I had assumed it was done by the council or the Royal British Legion.  I have had mixed feelings about it: partly unhappy about the glorification of war, partly supporting the ‘never again’ concept, partly interested there are no words required.

Now it turns out it has all been done by one individual to “to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War 1“, rather than as an act of remembering “Never again”.  It all came out because he is refusing to pay the owner of the copyright to the image he used.  He said he wanted to use it for one limited purpose last year and has instead used it for this two-year long street display.  It has turned into a public row in the local media.  The council won’t get involved: they said no permission was sought but they won’t be asking for them to be taken down.

Having seen the Facebook page of the person responsible and their web site, I have emailed them some questions:

I am confused about what you are doing here. Why are you celebrating the start of the Great War? I don’t understand why anyone would celebrate the start of such carnage.

 

Your Facebook page says you intend to send money to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, but they are already fully funded by commonwealth countries.

 

You are collecting money, but are you a registered charity? Do you publish accounts? How much of the money raised is spent on administration, etc.?

They claim to be a charity, but do not give any details of the organisation address, let alone a registered charity number.  They say proceeds from sales and donations will go to the Royal British Legion and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission but give no details of how much has been raised or donated.

I have three times come across fake ‘charities’ raising money for our troops, once in a shopping centre, once outside a supermarket and once in a train station.  They claimed to be charities, but were not registered, and I could find no details of them online.  In one instance, in a shopping centre, one of the two chaps working the stall physically challenged me when I was trying to work out who they were and suggested it was in m health interest to move along.

The one in the train station was staffed by two people in incomplete British Army uniforms (as in, bought in an army surplus store or online) who, when I challenged them, eventually admitted one of them was ex-services and the money raised was for his upkeep.  They claimed to be a charity but were not, they just kept what they raised.

The one outside a supermarket was using a mixture of Help for Heroes and Royal British British Legion logos, images and material, which is very odd.  I asked who they were raising money for and the old boy with the collecting tin said he wasn’t sure, he was volunteering to collect money because he was asked to.

The more I read about Morecambe Poppy Scatter, the less I like what I read.  I’d like to be wrong, but they appear to be celebrating the Great War, gathering money, using other people’s copyright and there’s no record of who they are, what has been gathered or what has been given out or to whom.

But it does show just how easy it is to raise money to celebrate killing people, with no questions asked.

Global spending on…

Annual global cost of removing all extreme poverty in the world (link): US$ 243 billion.

Annual global spending on ice cream in 2017 (link) US$ 54 billion.

Annual global cost of oceanic marine parks (link): US$ 12-14 billion.

Annual global military spending (link): US$ 1,700 billion.

 

Master’s Degree Registration

I have received a “Preparing for Lancaster: Begin registration” email saying it is time to register as a student for my Master’s Degree.  So begins the next stage of my study so I can be eligible to work in the peace sector.

For the previous stage, Open University study to get an undergraduate degree, I blogged my progress on my OU blog site.  302 posts, 1,971 comments Although that will continue to exist for another 3 years or so, it will disappear.  So I think it is time to return here to record my progress and my reflections on learning.

Part-time job applied for

I’ve applied for a part-time role in the university where I want to study, working in the college where I will be a student.  It is the same role as I did in my last job, I have all the ‘essentials’ and the only desirable I don’t have is ‘worked in Higher Eduction before’.

I hope to get short-listed for interview.  If I do, it will be a novelty.  Once upon a time if I submitted an application for a role, I got an interview.  Now I submit dozens and hear nothing.  This is particularly worrying when one has all the essentials, desirables and relevant experience.  I must be doing something wrong.

When I was doing recruitment I had the chance to see the current trends in applications, the current jargon to use and the fashion for answers.  I see none of that now.

Blog every day

Years ago I saw and heard the message that one should blog every day.  That applies to people who want to learn a subject, who want to learn how to write better, people who want to understand a subject, people who want to create a presence in social media, people who want to create a personal presence online, people who are job-hunting and want to demonstrate online evidence, people trying to raise their profile who want an online identity,people who want to support a job application, people wanting to back up their work or social or recreational profile, people wanting to manage their SEO profile…

That’ll be everyone, then.

Every day I have at least one thing pops into my head where I think “I need to blog about that” but by the time I am in a position to do so, some other life priority has kicked in and it does not happen.  Sometimes that happens may times a day.

<sigh>

And this crap Glutenburg editor does not help.

Four combined pressures for militarisation

Within our society there are four powerful bodies with an interest in increased militarisation:

  • the bureaucracy always seeks greater power for itself, as any bureaucracy always does;
  • the military seeks new tactical weapons and greater destructive power from those it has;
  • academia wants sources of funding and bids for money from government and the arms industry in exchange for more developing more powerful and new types of weaponry;
  • arms industry corporations want to increase profits and look for more powerful and novel destructive weapons to sell and new markets to sell them to.

The bureaucracy supports the military’s expansion, funds academic military research and provides trade to the arms industry.

The military funds academic military research and encourages the arms industry to develop more powerful weapons and new types of weapon and pressures the bureaucracy to allow greater novelty in weaponry.  It campaigns for greater acceptance of militarisation within society, especially children.

Academia develops more destructive weapons, greater killing efficiency from weapons and devises new ways to be destructive benefiting the military’s aims for faster and greater destruction and opportunities for the arms industry to make profits.

The arms industry campaigns for less controls on weapon use, funds research into novel types of weaponry, promotes the threat and use of violent conflict as a diplomatic approach by the bureaucracy.

Between them they have the power, desire, intellect and money to promote war-making.

It’s amazing the peace sector makes any progress against them at all.

 

Celebrating weapons of war … in a cathedral

As part of their celebration of the RAF’s 100 birthday, Lincoln Cathedral staff decided to exhibit a Spitfire fighter aircraft within the cathedral itself.  As a cathedral with a long-established link to the RAF I can understand why they fancied doing this: the Spitfire is am emblem associated with the Battle of Britain.  It is significant in being associated with the RAF’s role in ensuring the Luftwaffe did not get control of the airspace above the UK, meaning a German invasion of the UK could not go ahead.

But is it appropriate in a church?  It is a killing machine, after all.

Spitfire in Lincoln Cathedral

It was flagged up in the Facebook group A social audit of #EverydayMilitarism and from their shared to the Conscience: Taxes for Peace not War group which is where I saw it.

Some (edited) comments made:

A weapon of war in Lincoln Cathedral…RAF100 Dinner being set up.  Is it here to be symbolically disassembled by the church? To sit as a reminder of war as one of our “foolish ways” to be turned aside from? To sit alongside a display of the horrors of destruction and death which all such things are designed to bring? To be bathed in tears?  I hope so. I really hope so. I don’t believe any weapon of death should be allowed in to church – save the cross: the site of our evil, our wrongdoing, our sin, and the triumph of Jesus Christ who says: “forgive them father for they know not what they do” and extends his hands in love.

and

Glorification of war. Perhaps they’ll put on a nice display of barbed wire and machine guns for Remembrance Sunday.  I should have thought a bomber would have been more suitable: Bomber Command were vital to the destruction of Germany’s production.  I wonder if it will it still be there when the German Neustadt Liedertafel choir come for the War Requiem later this year?

and

Yes, it is commemorating the 100th anniversary of the formation of the RAF, and the Battle of Britain was their finest hour.  But celebrating it in a religious building by showing off a finely crafted, excellently designed, utterly superb killing machine is a strange way of going about it. The Supermarine Spitfire was a highly manoeuvrable, high-speed platform for delivering 2,800 machine gun bullets into an aircraft and its crew in 18 seconds.

In the USA they have churches who celebrate automatic rifles and take them to church: https://www.cbsnews.com/…/hundreds-of-worshipers…/ They are barking mad – what is the difference?

Remembering the sacrifices of the crews of fighter command and bomber command is one thing. Celebrating the killing machines – in a church – is quite another.

and

It would be better to celebrate in terms of the international strengthening of human rights and outlawing of fascism, the non-violent resolution of conflict and ( if one is religious) the understanding of difference and ( in my view) the dispelling of the class system.  I suspect Christ might have preferred that.

I sent a message to the Lincoln Cathedral events staff (17/08/2018 11:57):

If Lincoln Cathedral can celebrate the glorification of war machines (the Spitfire), it is equally acceptable for mosques to celebrate the mujahideen participating in military Jihad. It is the same thing.

You need to stop teaching people – especially children – that religion approves of violence and that killing people is the way to solve problems.

That wasn’t the message of Jesus as I was taught it.

I look forward to their response.