Celebrating 50 Years Of Activism.

November 3rd 1968 to November 3rd 2018.

On that day I will be 69 years old.  I have never been good at marking my birthday.

To quote the quote: – It’s just another day.

This year I will make it an exception, as on that day I will be:- 

Celebrating 50 years of activism.

This started with a protest outside of the offices of Elliot Automation.

That was a company which made Head-up Display Equipment which was used in B52 bombers over Vietnam.

The List.

At different periods over the last 50 years I have worked closely with, or actively been involved in the following campaigns, groups, & organisations.

Anti Falklands War Support Network

At Ease

Campaign Against the Arms Trade

Close Capenhurst Campaign

Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament

COPS

Fly on the Wall

Greenpeace [ London ]

Housmans Book Shop

Information For Social Change

Kick Nuclear

Librarians within the Peace Movement

Liverpool Pedestrian Group

LIWO Support Group

Merseyside Peace Network

Nuclear Waste Trains Action Group

Operation Namibia

PARTIZANS

[ People Against Rio Tinto Zink and its Subsidiaries ]

Peace News

Peace Pledge Union

Radiation Free Lakelands

Richmond Pacifist Group

Stop Nuclear Power Network

Stop URENCO

Torness Alliance

Undercover Research Group

War Resisters International

&

Many of the WRI Sections and Associate Organisations

YAPPU

[ Youth Association Peace Pledge Union ]

Plus Many Many More.

Plus Plus Plus Plus Plus

Though it is not just a matter of marking the past which I will be doing on the day, but using it as a marker for future campaing work.

Long Term Rules For Activists – Part Four

Thinking it through.

Huxley

There are a number of books which made an impact upon my thinking while in my early 20s, and which I still come back to in terms of how I view the world. One of them is the Aldous Huxley book Ends and Means.

Thinking it through – In practical terms

There is something which I keep saying we need: –

Real World Solutions For Real World Problems.

That is as long as it is consistent with ends and means, and brings us towards the kind of nonviolent, non exploitative, and environmentally sound world which many of use would like to live in.

That is very much my starting point in any campaigning which I might be involved in doing.

Practical examples.

In terms of how we solve some of our ecological problems many of the following match up not just in terms of a joined up campaigning approach, but also in terms of a joined up set of solutions.

Walking, the use of push bikes, building tram ways, and moving more freight by barge.

A vegetarian/vegan life styles, with more food being grown in urban farms.

The creation of urban forests or woods.

&

Moving towards decentralised energy generation, via solar panels and vertical wind turbines.

All of which will make a big contribution towards solving a global warming.

A Life style look at the labels.

Anyone who has ever gone shopping with me, or watched me go shopping, will notice that I spend a lot of time reading the labels.

This is because I am looking to make such that the food I buy contains no palm oil, is completely vegetarian, is low salt / low sugar, and how recyclable the packaging is.

Thus I aim to buy loose fruit and vegetables if possible, and fruit juice in recyclable glass jars, as opposed to tetra packs which are still not being widely recycled by many local authorities.

This comes down to taking a personal responsibility for the state of our planet, but it should also go hand in hand with campaigning for all packaging to be recyclable.

With a lot of contents labels it is just not obvious what they are composed of, or how they are manufactured.

If for instance clothing stated that the materials used were a plastic derivative, or a recycled / recyclable product, then we might be able to make much more informed choices about what we wear.

Here is where a lot more ‘consumer education’ and the power of the boycott comes in to play.

I could give many more example of just what might be done this way.

As the saying goes:-

You get what you pay for.

So if you pay for all that unneeded packaging, then the real cost will come out in the form of a heavily polluted planet.

It is another aspect of joined up campaigning.

Campaigning by example.

A lot of people mouth the phrase: –

Think global. Act Local.

Yet just how many people who use this phrase think just what this means ?

What I think we need to do is engage more in what might best be described as:-

Campaigning by example.

Long Term Rules For Activists – Part Three

Activists and long terms activists.

One of the continuing practical problems which all campaigning groups face is not enough activists. We all moan about it, or have heard others moan about it, but very few people know how we might encourage any kind of long term activism.

The problem being that a lot of protest activities are reactive to events, while there are only a very small number of individuals who have the time or energy to engage in to long term, day by week by month by year by years by decades activism.

Thus we can land up with: –

A very small number of long term activists within a number of very small groups.

or

A large number of activists who do a lot in a short period of time, but burn themselves out within a period of a year to 18 months.

Neither of which makes for an ideal situation.

Activists, research. and articles.

It should also be kept in mind that building activist knowledge is only possible because of spending a lot of time reading many different reports, books, newspapers, periodicals, newsletters, and by viewing a lot of websites.

That’s something which very few people have the time to do.

Thus the long activists tend only to network with other long term activists, as it can take a while to keep explaining the same background facts time and time again.

Thus any campaigning research tends to continually fall upon a few long term activists.

While all of that research gets used by others.

Here is might be noted that there are a lot of academics who have made a career, or good living, by using the knowledge gained by activists.

Good research work costs money, or at least the time to go visit many libraries on a regular basis. It also involves spending a lot of time chatting with or networking with other long term activists.

Joined Up Protests.

When it comes to some issues we have a lot of local campaigning groups with very few activists in them. Thus they are only able to organise a few events or protests a year, which in turn comes down to the same small organising group.

This might be viewed as a weakness in our campaigning options, but it can be turned around in to something of a major strength.

The first thing is to make sure that the activist within all of these small groups both advertise each others events, and make an effort to attend them.

Thus a small local event can become a much larger regional or national one.

It can be done if each of the local groups has a good travel budget. The same budget can also be used to pay for speakers to come and address local meetings.

The second option is to engage in coordinated protests.

That is lots of small pickets or leafleting sessions at the same time on the same day.

Those kind of activities do not take much time and effort to organise at a local level, but with the same leaflets / same leaflet text it makes for a much bigger event.

It is not so much a question of working towards what is sometimes referred to as being a Day of Action, but showing we are not just a few small isolated groups.

All of which turns what is our weakness in to a strength.

Best of all such events should attract individuals who have neither the time or the money to make it to Yet Another National Demonstration or March.

Long Term Rules For Activists – Part Two.

Long Term Short Term

Over the years I have spent many a happy hour on pickets or leafleting. It is something which needs to be done if one is involved in active campaigning.

Yet no matter what one is campaigning about, there is always a need to see it as a part of an ongoing process, as change can not be achieved in a hurry.

That is why every picket, demonstration, or leafleting session needs to be properly planned.

This is where a little campaign theory comes in to play.

Protest as A Form of Communications.

If we are demonstrating then we need to be clear about just what it is all be about, and we need to carry more than leaflets in case any passer by wishes for more information.

If we are there to make our views and information known, then it is a more of a presentation event.

It is best described as being the difference between a demonstration / picket at which leaflets are handed out as part of a protest, and a leafleting session where the prime object of the exercise is to communicate.

If one wishes to communicate, then the first time we will be there to hand out leaflets, then it might best be billed as a communication session.

It is going to be outside of the offices of an organisation one is campaigning about, then getting the right information on the leaflets is important.

That’s a way of informing those who go in to the building why we are there.

While on the second or further occasions, you can turn up with a lot more poster boards. and make it a much more visual event.

Then if they still don’t do anything about the issue, we can move on to the fun part, which might consists of street theatre, blockades, etc.

In between all of this you can also do a morning or afternoon leafleting session, which is aimed at the staff, decision makers, and advisers who work for the organisation. This is with the aim of making sure that they know just what the issues are all about.

On the other hand you can also do regular leafleting sessions just to show your concerns, and which are very much part of a larger set of campaigning aims.

For example: –  By regular leafleting sessions outside of army recruiting offices as a part of ones long term anti-militarist campaigning.

Last of all there are the support pickets outside of both embassies & consulates. These may be one off events, or ones which are done on a regular basis.

A word with Plod.

One last point to keep in mind.

Even if there seems to be no official response to your protest, then are noted, and are mentioned in the various reports which they make.

That’s why it is always a good idea to make sure to hand over a copy of the leaflet your handing out to their security, and ask that it is passed on to the right person in the building.

A cheery Good Morning as you shake them by the hand will also defuse any potential hostility they might show to you.

Just explaining that you intend to keep off any of their private land, that your purpose is to communicate, and how long you will be around can help too.

Then when plod turns up, you give then a cheery Good Morning, shake them by the hand, and tell them you have already talked with the security about what you are doing.

Now I know a lot of the comrades would never dream of doing so, but I’ve had more conversations about the issues I’ve been protesting about because of this willingness to do so than most activists could ever imagine.

[ Though I still would not advise anyone to give them more than your first name, and certainly not your date of birth. ]

Yes I know that many of these points are all very self apparent, but it is important to be clear about them in our thinking.

Leafleting sessions and pickets might note seem to be the most exciting activities, but they do build up support for any campaign we might be engaged upon.

They also give us the chance to chat with people who might not know much about the issue, and can sometimes encourage individuals to become involved in our campaigns.

Long Term Rules For Activists – Part One.

A Question for activists.

The question which I keep asking, is how do we keep going with little or no support?

There is no easy answer to this, as achieving social change is a long term slog.

Yet there are some ways of thinking, and acting , which do help to sustain ones activism.

1. Keep focussed on those issues which very few people are working on, and which you have some special concerns or knowledge about.

2. Keep remembering that social change will only come by a day by week by month by year by decade, by decades, by century commitment to making it happen.

3. There is no such thing as a protest season, so just think in terms of what needs doing right now.

4. Match up your political actions and life style.

There is a lot of good information to be found about boycotts, and ecological lifestyle issues in the Ethical Consumer magazine.

5. Be willing to work with people who do not share ones political views, but are concerned with some of the same single issues.

It might mean you get your radical views seen in action by people who are never going to come in contact with them any other way.

This is something which I keep doing as a part of my Liverpool Pedestrian campaigning.

6. Don’t fall for the ‘one last push’ / ‘we need more people to make an even larger march / demonstration’ way of thinking.

This only results in burn-out or disillusionment.

And Last of All.

Just go on those small scale pickets or demonstration where a few people will make a big difference.

As to meetings.

My rule of thumb is that they are only worth while going to if they are planning ones, or where you are going to increase your knowledge base.

Though sometimes it is worth while going to them in order to do some networking.

Rough Sleeping Through A Plastic Mess.

A two part problem.

One of the problems with working to change society for the better, is that many of the decision makers only ever read other peoples reports, but never get to see just what goes on at a street level.

Well that’s what happens when you get an elitist educated set of politicians who never walk anywhere on a very regular basis.

One of the rough sleepers I talked with the other day told me that some of the money he begs for has to go towards buying bottled water.

This is a result of no public drinking fountains, which were one of the many public facilities which we used to have in many towns during an earlier era.

Is it any wonder that so many people wonder why they are surrounded by plastic waste, which is in turn compounded by the lack of recycling facilities?

Thus we all spend a lot of public money getting our pavements cleaned, and end up with more plastic waste which gets in to our rivers and so in to the sea.

A two part solution.

It would be better if ALL plastic bottles had a depot it on them.

Then those who are rough sleepers could make a little money by collecting the ones which have been thrown away on the streets.

Done in the right way it could be part of a self organised income scheme which would clean up our environment.

So it would be a win win scheme, especially as it would be self financing.

What we do urgently need are more public drinking fountains,

It all seems so simple.

Access to clean drinking water is a basic Human Right.

It is not just another commodity to be bought or sold.

NHS Failure – Shingles Vaccinations

Like many of my generation I had Chickenpox as a child, but am being forced to wait until 70 before the NHS will help protect me against Shingles.

Shingles is a very painful medical condition which effects individuals who have previously had chickenpox.

It is recommended that anyone over 60 receives the Shingles Vaccination

Yet the NHS will only give it to anyone who is over 70.

It is not an academic question for me, because my father had Shingles, as have a number of my friends and comrades. A number of them being under 70 years old.

At the same time the NHS is restricting the Chickenpox vaccine.

This is the excuse they use.

It’s time that the NHS should automatically give a Shingles vaccination to any adult who has ever had chickenpox.

A list of Campaigns For A Better World – All Of Which Were Targeted by Spycops

 

This is a list which illustrates just what kind of campaigns and publications were targeted by spycops.

Many of them are campaigns which I have worked with or within over the years, while others have been ones which various of my friends have been involved in.

What should always be kept in mind is that all of these campaigns have either been working to stop social injustices, clean up the environment, promote peace, stop cruelty to animals, or work towards making this a better world.

LIST OF PROGRESSIVE GROUPS AND CAMPAIGNS KNOWN TO HAVE BEEN TARGETED BY SPYCOPS 1968-2018

[Updated by the Undercover Research Group, 23.4.2018]

121 Bookshop/Centre Brixton
Action to Abolish the Grand National
Activist Tat Collective
Aldermaston Women’s Peace Camp
All London March Against Racist Police Frame-up and Murder
Anarchist Communist Federation
anarchist groups
Animal Aid

Animal Liberation Front
Animal Liberation Front Supporters Group

Animal Liberation Investigation Unit
Animal Rights Coalition
Animal Rights Gatherings
Anti Apartheid Movement
Anti Nazi League
Anti-Fascist Action
Anti-G20 protests
Anti-GM campaigns
Anti-Metrix / RAF St Athan Defence Academy
Arkangel
Active Resistance to the Roots of War
Badgers Animal Rights
Banner Books
Bedford Animal Action
Big Flame
Big Green Gathering
Black Power movement
Blair Peach Campaign
Block the Base / Menwith Hill
Brian Douglas campaign
Brian Higgins Defence Commitee
British Communist Party
Brixton Hunt Sabs
Broadwater Farm Defence Campaign
Building Workers Group
Camp Bling
Camp for Climate Action
Campaign Against Climate Change
Campaign Against Fur Trade
Campaign Against Police Repression
Campaign Against the Arms Trade
Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
Cardiff Anarchist Network
Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army
Class War
Colin Roach Centre
Communist Party of England (Marxist-Leninist)
Consort Beagles campaign
Cowley Club
Dambusters Mobilising Committee
Delroy Lindo justice Campaign / Police Crimes Against Civilians
Direct Action Against War Now
Direct Action Movement
Disarm DSEi Arms Fair
Disobedience Against War
Dissent!
Earth First!
Earth First! Summer Gatherings
Eat Out Vegan Wales
Essex Hunt Sabs
European Social Forum
Fairford Anti-War Campaign and Coaches
Federation of Local Animal Rights Groups
Free Steve Lewis Campaign
Freedom
Freedom Press
Globalise Resistance
Greenham Common Women’s Camp
Gwent Anarchists
Hackney Community Defence Association
Hackney Hunt Saboteurs
Hackney Solidarity Group
Harry Stanley family campaign
Housmans Bookshop
Hunt Saboteurs
Independent Labour Party
Independent Working Class Association
International Marxists Group
International Socialists
Irish National Liberation Solidarity Front
Islington Animal Rights
JJ Fast Foods Strike
KTS Autonomous Centre
Lee House squat
Leeds anti-fascist group
Leeds Action for Radical Change
Legal Defence and Monitoring Group
Leyden Street Chicken Slaughter House campaign
Live animal exports at Shoreham, Brightlingsea & Coventry
London Animal Action
London Animal Rights Coalition
london anti fur groups
London Anti-Fur Campaign
London Boots Action Group
London Greenpeace
London Pacifist Action
McLibel Support Campaign
Milford Haven anti-LNG pipeline
Molesworth Peace Camp
Movement Against A Monarchy
Movement for Justice
No Borders / No Borders South Wales
No Platform / Antifa
No To NATO
No to NIRAH
Northampton Hunt Sabs
Norwich activists networks
Nottingham Anti-Fascist Alliance
Nottingham Group against Refugee Detention
Nottingham Hunt Saboteurs
NukeWatch
Operation Omega
Oscar Okoye justice campaign
Oxford Animal Protection
Oxford Animal Protection
Palestinian Solidarity Campaign
Partizans
Peace News
Peace Pledge Union
Peat Alert!
Pembrokeshire Anarchists
Poll Tax demonstrations
Radical Dairy Squat
Radical Routes network
Ratcliffe-on-Soar action
RATS
Reclaim the Streets
Red Action
Reinstate Steve Hedley Campaign
Republican Forum
Revolutionary Internationalist League
Revolutionary Socialist Students Federation
Rising Tide
Save Gorse Wood campaign / tendon protest camp
Save Newchurch GuineaPigs
Save the Hillgrove Cats
Save Titnore Woods / Protect Our Woodland
Saving Iceland (UK)
Sea Shepherd
Sengul Family Must Stay Campaign
Shark Protection League
Shoreham Live Export protests
Smash EDO campaign
Socialist Party
Socialist Workers Party
South London Animal Action / Aid
South London Animal Movement
South Wales Anarchists
SPEAK Campaigns / Stop Primate Experiments At Cambridge
Stephen Lawrence Justice campaign
Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty
Stop the ’70s Tour
Stop the War
Student fees campaigns
Sumac Centre Nottingham
Swansea Animal Rights
The Common Place social centre / Leeds Social Centre Ltd
Trapese
Trevor Monerville justice campaign / Family and Friends of Trevor Monerville Committee
Tri-Continental
Trident Ploughshares
Troops Out Movement
Uist Hedgehog Rescue
UK Action Medics
Climate Justice Action / Never Trust a Cop
Veggies Catering Nottingham
Vietnam Solidarity Campaign
War Resisters International
Wayne Douglas justice campaign
West London hunt sabs
WOMBLES
Women’s Liberation Front
Workers Revolutionary Party
Yorkshire CND
Young Haganah
Young Liberals
Youth Against Racism in Europe
Zapatista coffee distribution

Good Health, A Healthy Brain, and Good Connections.

They say that the only way to keep a healthy brain as one gets older is by lots of exercise. Well I do that by walking between 4 and 7 Kms each day.

They say one should also keep a healthy brain by constantly challenging it with new tasks & learning lots of new things. Well I’ve got that well and truly sorted.

They also say that one should get out and have a good social life. That gets much more tricky if a lot of ones closest or oldest friends are scattered around the world. That’s why I like trying to chat on line or by phone. It’s also because a lot of the campaigning work I do is via email, and that’s just not the same.

Plus a few good chats help to counter what might otherwise be a complete feeling of isolation.

[ This is also important in terms of supporting friends who live many miles away & who find it difficult to get out because of their medical condition. ]

These are all aspects of life which I’ve discovered work well for me since my retirement. They also counter the fact that one does not see or communicate with the same people each day at work.

All of which means that I always make such to visit the library & do my shopping on a daily basis. That also means that I’m always able to eat very fresh food.

There is also that aspect of ones life which people forget while young, and that is just how many of the friends one knew may be dead. While other people one may of lost contact with many years ago.

The other aspect of keeping ones brain active is my visiting new places, or revisiting places one has not been to in a long time. That’s known as learning or relearning how to get around various locations, especially as places one once known well do tend to change over the years.

I offer these thoughts as a way of showing just how my mind works.

Bagging Up The Plastic Rubbish.

The plastic problem – Up and until now.

There has been a lot of very worrying news stories of late about plastics in the oceans,

and the problems caused by plastic particulates.

Yet the only solutions to this which ever seem to be mentioned are recycling plastic bottles,

phasing out the use of plastic cups or cutlery, or getting groups of volunteers to go clean up their local beaches.

There has also been a lot of protests about the use of plastic packaging.

This goes hand in glove with trying to persuade the supermarkets to stop selling fruit and vegetables in plastic bags, netting, or containers, by selling them as loose items.

That matches in with the campaign to stop a lot of food waste from occurring.

On the plus side I have noted that some cafes and bars have switched from plastic to biodegradable straws.

The plastic problem – What else we can do.

If we are going to solve problem of all the plastic in the sea, then we need to do much more about this as a society.

One solution will be to switch from plastic to biodegradable rubbish bags. That will mean pushing for them to be made available in all the supermarkets at an affordable price. It would also help if these were to become available via each of the rubbish collecting local authorities.

Cleaning up the plastic pollution is going to take a while to do, but we can do something by trying to cut down the amount of plastics which currently land up inside of plastic rubbish sacks.