The Return of Thomas the Stank Engine

The next DRS [ Direct Rail Services ] open day will be on Saturday July 16th at Crewe.

DRS is the rail company which transports used Nukiller fuel rods and other highly radioactive matter to Windscale /Sellafield.

Many of those trains travel through our inner cities.

As in previous years the Close Capenhurst Campaign will be outside the DRS depot to leaflet the event from 10.30. onwards.

Being Vegan – The wider Issues

Veganism and politics – a conversation

People become vegetarian or vegan for a number of reasons, but usually it is due to ethical reasons (e.g. treatment of animals), environmental reasons (e.g. burping cows) or health reasons – in many countries, dietary recommendations nowadays often include reducing meat consumption.

But sometimes there are other reasons. Below is a conversation between two vegans that highlights some of these. Read on.

The conversation is between Martyn [ML] and Lowana [LV].

LV:

I’m not sure when I became a pacifist, probably when I turned up at Greenpeace London meetings in 1977. I think I was more involved in environmental stuff before that. I became completely vegetarian in 1983 but I had only been eating meat and similar stuff very occasionally for a few months before that.

ML:

My involvement in politics and the first demonstration I was on was in November 1968. That was about the Vietnam war. Via that, I became involved in the Peace Pledge Union. That was the first time I ever met any vegetarians; the only vegan I knew at that stage seemed very strange to me. Then in 1973/74 I got to know Ronnie Lee who went on to start the Animal Liberation Front.

I became vegetarian on 26th January 1970.

I celebrated 50 years of pacifist activities in November 2018 and then the next year, on 26th January 2019, I turned vegan, so I’m now been vegan for almost three and a half years.

I became a vegetarian for a number of reasons, which include that you can produce more food with a vegetarian diet than a carnivore one. While from an anarchist perspective I’m not prepared to let somebody else kill animals for me if I’m not prepared to do it myself. But I’d actually read a book by Roger Moody on factory farming and that influenced my decision too.

LV:

I think I probably became vegetarian because I became involved with environmental groups and peace groups where it seemed most people were vegetarian (note that that isn’t the case in Iceland, where I live now) and I also had a boyfriend who was vegetarian. But my main reason for turning vegetarian was that I didn’t like the idea of killing animals so I could eat them and I didn’t want others to do that for me either.

Once I was at a meeting in Reykjavik and the others were saying that veganism is a lifestyle. I said “No it’s not, it’s political” (thinking of how all the vegetarians and vegans I knew in the UK were political) to which the others chorused “No, it’s a lifestyle”. Which points out the difference between here and the UK.

I think it was basically when I was in Cambridge that I turned vegetarian but in reality I was always more vegan than vegetarian because I didn’t drink milk and never ate yoghurt. I just didn’t really have the typical vegetarian diet compared to other people. I’m not sure when I became completely vegan as I was 95% vegan for so long.

ML:

My political friends were mostly vegetarian. Vegans just didn’t exist. In pacifist circles, being vegetarian was the norm.

When I became a vegetarian I got one piece of advice, which was from my friend Neil Collins, and that was instead of eating meat and two veg, I should think of meals as being three veg.

Unlike the present era, there was not much said about the health benefits of becoming vegetarian.

Yes, there were some health stores, but they were few and far between. And a lot of people thought they were just used by cranks. It was only in such stores that one could find foods such as dried bananas. They were also one of the few places where one could buy naturist periodicals [in the 1950s/1960s], which coloured the way some people regarded them.

Once, during a holiday in Chester during 1970, I went into a cafe and asked for a cheese roll which they didn’t have, and that is how I landed up explaining it was like a cheese burger but without the corpse.

But we did have the Diwana Bhel Poori Indian restaurant in Drummond Street which had recently opened and is still going. It is in the same street as a vegetarian restaurant that Gandhi used while he lived in the city, but that restaurant is long gone.

I read many years ago the autobiography of Gandhi: The Story of My Experiments with Truth. In it he writes about the different diets he had had at various times. He eventually became a fruitarian. Gandhi actually became interested in vegetarian issues while living in London.

At the time I became Vegie there was the Vegetarian Society and the Vegan society, which had been started in mid 1944 by Eva Batt.

Though I had no direct contact with either of them until the mid 1970s.

ML:

What were your experiences at the time?

LV:

I didn’t find it difficult. I met some people and I got given a vegetarian cookbook by a flatmate in Richmond. I also borrowed vegetarian cookery books at the library.

ML:

One of the most well-known cookbooks while I was young was produced by Cranks.

Cranks vegetarian restaurant used to be in Leicester Square, but I never visited it.

There were a couple of vegetarian cookbooks which I purchased at the time, but there were very few which one could buy during that period.

There is also a fascinating book called The Vegetable Passion which gives a history of vegetarianism, including Adolf Hitler, and is quite interesting to read as well.

LV:

I bought the Food for Thought Cookbook that came out in 1987 – Food for Thought was a vegetarian restaurant in Covent Garden which I went to sometimes – and have since veganized one of the recipes I used to use when I was vegetarian. It is often easy to veganize recipes. There’s also Healthy Eating for the New Age by Joyce D’Silva; published in 1980, it was one of the first vegan cookbooks and has a number of recipes that I still use.

ML:

I think also I became vegetarian as I was reading a wide variety of periodicals which I haven’t seen in years, such as the magazine Commune which I last saw in the early seventies.

There was also WIN magazine which was produced by the War Resisters League in New York.

Thus I read a lot about resistance to the Vietnam war, and many other ideas which were what we would now refer to as alternative.

When I became Vegetarian my mother just didn’t know how to cope with it. Ronnie Lee had something of the same experience with his mother when he became Vegan.

LV:

In Iceland there has been an upsurge in veganism, especially the vegan cafes and restaurants that have opened within the last 3-4 years. Reykjavik also boasts the largest vegan shop in the world, though the population of the whole of Iceland is a mere 376,000.

And I gather that in Sweden – which has a lot of vegans – more and more dairy farmers are now growing oats and selling them for human consumption (to the Swedish company Oatly, for example) rather them feeding the oats to the livestock they were raising.

ML:

For me, becoming vegetarian and then Vegan is an aspect of my nonviolent philosophy, and that is very much to the fore.

While for many people it is to do with animal rights, health issues, and taking very practical action to deal with climate change.

One singular advantage of a vegan diet is that it means that more food can be grown, which means less pressure upon the land and thus far less deforestation, thus preventing the factors which are major causes of war.

This goes hand in hand with cutting food aid and should help with creating more food self-sufficiency, while the development of urban orchards, city centre greenhouses and more allotments will negate the need for food banks.

I remember the Freedom from Hunger campaign which existed during the 1960s, and the impact that seeing photographs of pot-bellied starving children in the middle of the Biafra war had on people. Thus it was totally logical for me to become vegetarian as a way to counter global starvation.

End of conversation …

Martyn and Lowana are both long-term activists. Martyn is principally anarcho-pacifist and an anti-nuclear power campaigner while Lowana is mainly an environmentalist and pacifist who is also concerned about feminist issues.

Recent Observation, Notes, Stats, & Observations

Numbers

Many of my political and social observations come from a lot of background reading, and looking at statistics.

Farming

There are a couple of things which farmers have been complaining a lot about of late. They are the rising prices of fuel and nitrates.

While a lot of them are also moaning about the prices they are getting for what they are selling to the supermarkets.

All of which leaves me thinking that we might soon be finding organic crops becoming much cheaper to grow than that which is produced by intensive chemical spraying.

Statistical Pointers To Better Understanding.

Of course some problems which prevent our better understanding of the world come from other factors.

Take for example the main form of colour blindness which is Red / Green.

While 1 in 12 men suffer from colour blindness, only 1 in 200 women do so.

Then there are the 1 in 7 of the adult population which are to a greater of lesser extent functionally illiterate.

So a lot more thought needs to be given as to how to improve public signs and how they are written.

Not understanding the numbers

It is also no use complaining about falling standards of scientific understanding, while the lever of adult numeracy is so very high.

Just take a look at the following reports-

Almost half of the UK lacks basic financial literacy

and

One-in-three adults in England and Northern Ireland cannot work out the correct change from a shopping trip, according to new research from UCL Institute of Education (IOE) and University of Cambridge.

No Receipt – No Record – No Ability to keep an eye on financial issues

Of course it does not help individuals to budget their spending, if they throw away or never pick up their receipts for their purchases, ( a trend which seems to be increasing ). This means they can not see their pattern of spending over the year.

Then comes the question of inflation, low wages, low salary increases, and pensions which are so low that many older individuals are living in dire poverty.

Thus aside from the number of food banks increasing, we also have a situation in which many individuals are asking whether they should turn on their heating during winter, or eat that day.

The same can be said of politicians and planners who are incapable of looking at any long term effects of current public spending or the effects it will have.

Eat or Freeze

While the Rabid Right Wing Tory Government of Brexitland has just no idea of what this means, as many of them are millionaires.

Is it any wonder that many of us think that living in Brexitland equates to living within a shambolic and dystopian version of a Neo-fascist Kafkaland.

More Notes From Dystopian Brexitland.

The longer we live with the shambolic dystopian reality of Brexitland, the more the reality of ruined lives feels like normal.Not that it is normal in any way, as the rabid right wing Tory government stumbles from crisis to crisis, as they dream of making a misplaced view of the past the new reality.

While the scandal of partygate continues, with members of parliament now worried about one of the government party MPs watching porno in the legislature.

While the minster for the Nineteenth Century remains unable to understand any form of contemporary realty.

While none of the multimillionaire government ministers are able to comprehend the effects of any financial cuts upon the most vunerable members of society.

While we still have many people campaigning for better university education, but blind to the reality of 1 in 7 of the adult population who are to a greater or lesser extent functionly illiterate.

But here is the best part of the situation…All those bright ideas which are being put forward as solutions to the current economic crisis, are the very ones which will cause much more pollution, result in a greater health crisis, and mean a lot more money being spent in order to clean it all up.

But let’s not worry about that they say.

Let’s just agonize about what is on television, and the activities of that most dysfunctional of families – The Royals.

Could it be that breathing in the highly polluted air has effected so many people that they are too ill to worry about it all?

Cynical and sarcastic I might be about the current and ongoing crisis, but that just hides the underlying worry which I have about it all.

Something has got to change very soon.

Future Finance For Future [Radioactive] Waste

The issue of Nukiller Waste is one which the industry does not want to face up to, or finance.

As it stands the tax payer will be for paying for dealing with this waste many many years in to the future. That is before any more is added to it.

Aside from the need to sort out the mess at Drigg and Sellafield / Windscale, we have an issue of rising tides which will affect all the coastal plants.

Thus we do need to focus out campaigning attention upon these issues.

While showing just how much CO2 the nukiller industry produces.

Thus this is what we urgently need: –

Immediate Campaigning Finance For To Stop All Future Radioactive Waste.

Recent Thinking

Recent Observations

Much of my time is spent reading various reports, news items, and analytical pieces, which in turn I may share or comment upon with others.

In between all of that I will produce various short analytical observations which are just too short to turn in to articles, but which you might find of interest.

Here are a few of the most recent ones.

The St Francis Cafe

Now how is this for a fine example of why many religionists just don’t think logically.

There is a Christian bookshop just around the corner from where I live. Outside of it is a oversized A board, which in passing I should mention is both an obstruction and unlicensed. Upon it there is a list of what a cafe in the shop sells. This includes dead pig corpses, which are otherwise known as bacon.

What I don’t understand is how they can do such a thing if they have read or heard about St Francis.

If they had done so then it would be known as the St Francis cafe, and only have vegan food for sale.

Then this on Budget Day

Today’s budget has cut taxes on climate damaging petrol and diesel which fuel extreme energy personal vehicles.

What should of been done is make boots and shoes VAT ( sale tax ) zero rated. That would of encouraged more people to walk more and thus save our environment. has cut taxes on climate damaging petrol and diesel which fuel extreme energy personal vehicles.

The Current and Future wars

Over the last couple of weeks I have been doing a lot is reading about the weapon systems now being used in the Ukraine, and which in turn will have a major effect upon the arms trade.

The main points being that there will be a lot more small drone weapons in use, with more missile launchers used, while tanks have become much more vulnerable to attacks.

Some NATO countries such as the Netherlands have already started to move away from the use of tanks.

Longer term I think there will be a lot more 3D printers in use nearer to the fighting.

All of which we do need to keep in mind for future arms trade campaigning.

Think Now In Order To Act Now

No Matter What Your Main Concerns Might Be

No campaigning can be effective in isolation.

That is why we need to think in terms of Joined-up-campaigning.

Joined-up-campaigning requires doing a lot of joined-up-thinking,

It requires having lots of imagination.

It means being able to be very pragmatic, yet very consistent in terms of Ends and Means.

Then applying all of this in the way we act and live our lives.

Never has it been more important to act and think this way.

Land Use & A Vegan World In The Making

On January 26th I Reached 48Plus3.

That is 51 years since turning Vegetarian, and three since becoming Vegan.

Over the last decade I have penned a number of pieces which are on my blog about aspects being vegan, land use, and related issues.

At some stage I should write about all the related issues which I keep banging on about.

They are: –

Using more of the countryside to create forests.

Creating Urban orchards.

Using more urban space of the creation of allotments and for greenhouses.

Producing food at the point of use which can be done by putting up greenhouses on the land at the side of supermarkets which are currently wasted as parking lots.

All of which will link in to a sustainable urban transport system.

Then create vegan food production projects which will negate the need for so many food banks.

But most of all: –

Shrink The Suburbs !

Over The Last Few Months

I’ve been meaning to do an update about just what I have been doing of late, but not been able to do so until now.

So here goes ….

During the year I was interviewed for the 5CaleRoad project.

A part of the interview is now to be found here

The full interview will be archived at the Bishopsgate Institute.

I did spent some time working upon the Liverpool anti arms fare campaign,

as well as the more long term Anti nukiller power campaigning work, even though it is still very difficult to get any protest events organised.

I’ve also been dealing with some of the ongoing spycop issues.

Talking of which it looks like I will be an octogenarian by the time the spycops public inquiry is completed.

Aside from that I have managed some day trips of late to such exciting places at Wigan, Chester, Preston, and Wrexham.

I also got to the Manchester Anarchist Book fare, and the protest march about the Tory Party conference which took place in the town during September.

Just like a lot of other people I do hope it will be possible to do much more over the coming months.

Here’s Hoping.

Liverpool Arms Fair Protests

An Arms Fair on Liverpool City Council Premises.

In June 2014 Clarion Events hosted the annual UDT [Underwater Defence Technology] exhibition at the Liverpool City Council owned Arena and Convention Centre.

There was a small protest outside the event which I was involved in organising.

Here it might be noted that the UDT events take place at different venues each year.

After protests about the UDT event in Glasgow during 2018, the Glasgow City Council decreed that it would no longer support arms fairs in any of the premises it owns.

The Arms Fair Postponed

During 2020 it become known that another arms fair would be taking place at the Arena in Liverpool.

This was the Clarion Events organised AOC Europe 2021 (previously Electronic Warfare Europe) arms fair.

AOC [The Association of Old Crows] is ‘an organisation for individuals who have common interests in Electronic Warfare ‘.

Due to Lockdown this event was postponed.

Following on from an outcry about this event, Mayor Joe Anderson stated that he and the Council would develop a policy to prevent such events taking place in Liverpool in the future. Unfortunately he was unable to pursue this policy, as shortly afterwards a scandal about the way the City Council operated resulted in him resigning his post, while a police investigation in to this matter continues.

Then with the ending of lockdown it was announced that the Electronic Arms Fair would go ahead in October 2021.

Protests during 2021

What happened next was that the Merseyside Pensioners Association

organised a series of lobbying pickets and demonstrations both outside various Council meetings and at the Town Hall.

That culminated with a national Protest March which attracted several thousand people, and finally a rally in the city centre.

Here it might also be noted that a large number of the City Councillors signed a statement calling for the arms fair to be cancelled.

With the announcement that the arms fair would go ahead, the musical group Massive Attack cancelled a concert at the venue in protest.

Yet despite all of these protests the Liverpool City Mayor Joanne Anderson said there was nothing she could or would do to have the arms fair cancelled.

On the day that the Arms Fair started there was a large demonstration outside the Arena.

Campaigning for an ethical policy

There is now a campaign calling for the City Council to instigate an ethical policy, and to change the articles of association of the Arena company in order to prevent any further arms fairs happening in the future.

The next AOC Europe is scheduled to take place in Montpellier, France during May 10th to 12th 2022