Posted: 28th March 2020
Peace Pledge Union
These are challenging days and we offer our solidarity to you all. At the PPU we are continuing our work from home. You can still contact us in the usual ways, by writing to [email protected] or by calling us on 020 7424 9444. We are also still receiving our post, although if you are able to email or call instead, that will prevent delays in us receiving your message. Thank you for your understanding.
With the world focused on tackling the coronavirus crisis, the Peace Pledge Union has called on the government to reallocate “defence” budgets towards the NHS, social care and community support for people affected by coronavirus and isolation.
The pandemic is a deadly reminder that guns and bombs cannot protect us from the real threats to our safety.
The UK government maintains the seventh highest military spending in the world. This is despite the government’s own researchers identifying a major outbreak of disease as a likely threat, in the National Security Capability Review less than two years ago. Pandemics were also identified as a security threat in the Strategic Defence and Security Reviews in 2010 and 2015.
While some UK troops are helpfully delivering medical supplies, others are taking part in NATO training exercises that have only been scaled back, and not cancelled, despite the pandemic. Nuclear submarines continue to patrol, useless and powerless to make us any safer in the face of coronavirus.
Ceri Dare, a Public Health Researcher and a member of the PPU, said, “We could be facing this crisis, which the government’s own assessments told us was coming, with the weapons we truly needed to win: a resilient NHS, local councils funded to fulfil their responsibilities in Public Health, Social Care for disabled and older people. We could have had a society where the people who make our lives possible, the cleaners, the shelf-stackers, the waste collectors, the social care workers, the delivery drivers, were paid and respected for the vital work they do. Instead of this, we are armed only with the useless weapons of war.”
At the PPU, we have said that money diverted from military budgets could contribute towards NHS and social care costs as well as initiatives to assist people who are losing their jobs owing to the coronavirus outbreak, or to support people whose mental health is affected by isolation. This should mark the beginning of a permanent shift of funding away from armed force and towards measures that really make people safe.
Several PPU members and supporters are writing to their MPs on this issue. If you receive a response from your MP, please let us know by emailing [email protected] or calling 020 7424 9444.
You can read more details at https://www.ppu.org.uk/news/coronavirus-ministers-urged-divert-military-spending-tackle-pandemic
You can read about the PPU’s view on the use of troops during the coronavirus crisis at https://www.ppu.org.uk/news/ppu-view-use-troops-during-coronavirus-outbreak
Our pacifist determination to resist war was clear as PPU members from around Britain joined our annual general meeting on Saturday 29th February.
New members sat alongside old hands as they made plans for resisting militarism and promoting nonviolence, whether locally, nationally or internationally.
Members heard summaries of the PPU’s work over the last year, discussing successes and challenges. Topics ranged from work in education to the growth of the No Pride in War campaign to opinion polling showing widespread public support for the messages behind white poppies. There was news of the PPU’s work as British Section of War Resisters’ International and discussion of more internally focused matters, such as finances, membership growth and the successful use of non-hierarchical management among the PPU’s staff team.
“There was definitely an openness, an intention and a commitment to engagement,” said Sarri Bater from East Sussex, attending her first PPU event after becoming a member in the autumn. “It wasn’t tick-box. There was a real feeling of moving forward. But there is so much already being done.“
The AGM was an event for PPU members. We were planning to hold a conference later in 2020 that would be open to all, but unfortunately due to the coronavirus we have had to put these plans on hold for now. However, read on for details of training events in York and Cardiff that we hope will take place in the autumn.
Thank you for the enthusiastic responses to news of our new initiative to support individuals and groups in challenging everyday militarism in their own communities.
Many of you got in touch to say that you would like to make use of our planned training events and online resources. Some were keen to be put in touch with other campaigners locally to share ideas and learn from each other.
The coronavirus situation obviously means that training events cannot take place when they had been planned. But this is a postponement, not a cancellation: we hope to run the first training events in September, probably in York and Cardiff. Training resources will be published online and in print as the year progresses.
All these resources are aimed at equipping you to share ideas, learn from each other’s experiences and gain skills for effective campaigns against militarism in your own community. Please get in touch if you would like to know more, including if you are interested in hosting a training event. You can reach us at [email protected] or 020 7424 9444.
Many thanks to the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust for funding this project.
Our educational work, extensive library and archive are funded by the Peace Research and Education Trust (PRET): https://pret.org.uk/
PRET supports peace research, believing that to build peace without the use of violence, all need to understand the conditions for its growth and to develop the skills to overcome obstacles to peace.
The 2019 PRET annual report is available on their website https://pret.org.uk/pdfs/PRET%20-ANNUAL-REPORT-2020-w.pdf and PRET is also currently looking for Trustees. If you are interested in finding out more about becoming a Trustee, you can get in touch with the Chair, John Morris, by emailing [email protected]
Friday 15th May – International Conscientious Objectors’ Day - Keep a look out for news, social media posts and online actions to mark this important event. Even if ceremonies are cancelled, we will still be exploring the legacies and ongoing experience of conscientious objection today.
Visit our website for PPU events, as well as other events that PPU members and supporters are involved in: https://ppu.org.uk/events
Peace Pledge Union
020 7424 9444
1 Peace Passage
London, N7 0BT