11/11/2018 – end of

In 2012 to 2013 I developed the idea of preventing wars by forming a one policy campaign organisation whose membership would commit themselves to the idea that if the government started a war, every member would be pledged to turn up and vote for any other party at the next local, national and European election.  That is, if they start a war (as opposed to a defensive action), they lose their jobs.

The goal was to have this in place within five years, by the hundredth anniversary of the Great War on 11th November 2018.

I set up a web site and started recording ideas and statistics.  In my haste and keenness, I did not set up a backup regime for the site.  So when a Drupal exploitation occurred, some stupid child hacker trashed the site and replaced it with some pro-Islamist pro-war bollocks.  I lost all the content – all the thinking and planning I had done.

The 11112018.org.uk domain has finally expired and the web site disappeared.

It takes a lot of time, energy and planning to set up a campaign.  I could not find sufficient to make mine happen.  Life gets in the way.  Meanwhile aid is being cut and military spending significantly increased.  It all feels so futile.

Hit them where it hurts – in the wallet

The climate change movement has been saying for a few years that a very effective way to achieve their aims is to get people to move their bank accounts and pensions away from mainstream providers to ethical ones instead.  This is now paying dividends – literally! – and is also resulting in the ethical investment funds having enough clout to change the behaviour of carbon-producing industry.  For example:

18 May 2021 “Shell faces shareholder rebellion over fossil fuel productionThe GuardianLink.

Shell has faced a significant shareholder rebellion on a vote calling for the oil company to set firm targets to wind down fossil fuel production.  A shareholder resolution calling for the Anglo-Dutch company to set binding carbon emissions reduction targets received 30% of votes at the oil company’s annual meeting on Tuesday.

The result represents an escalation of the pressure on Shell to commit to meaningful decarbonisation, after a similar resolution last year received 14% of votes.

The Shell rebellion sailed past the 20% threshold that means the oil company will be forced to consult shareholders and report on their views within six months, under the UK corporate governance code.

The resolution was put forward by Follow This, a campaign group that uses activist investment to put pressure on oil companies into decarbonising in line with the limits set by the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

26 May 2021 “ExxonMobil and Chevron suffer shareholder rebellions over climateThe Guardian.

Exxon loses two board seats to activist hedge fund.

Exxon failed to defend its board against a coup launched by dissident hedge fund activists at Engine No. 1 which successfully replaced two Exxon board members with its own candidates to help drive the oil company towards a greener strategy.

Meanwhile, a majority of Chevron shareholders rebelled against the company’s board by voting 61% in favour of an activist proposal from – Dutch campaign group Follow This – to force the group to cut its carbon emissions.

Mark van Baal, who founded Follow This, said Wednesday’s shareholder revolts mark an investor “paradigm shift” and a “victory in the fight against climate change”.

3 Jun 2021 “Activist fund expected to win third seat on ExxonMobil boardThe Guardian.

ExxonMobil expects to lose a third board seat to an activist hedge fund, Engine No 1, adding to the pressure on one of the world’s largest oil companies to introduce a more effective climate transition plan.

CarbonDirect, LowCarbon and Morgan Stanley are examples of companies who have decided that actively investing in carbon reduction industries is more profitable than in the oil and gas extraction industries.

Green shareholders change the world!  Follow This is a campaigning organisation set up “to change oil companies from within – as shareholders. Follow This unites responsible shareholders to push Big Oil to go green.”  Also:

The Follow This Online Symposium 2021, which took place on April 21, brought together investors, the oil and gas industry, academics, and media to discuss how investors can support oil and gas companies to take a leading role in tackling climate change.

This may be relevant for the peace movement worldwide.  By adopting the same approach, it may be possible to move funds away from the arms industry.  More likely is that the arms industry will start to develop conflict transformation programmes so as to claim they are ethical too.

Perhaps this is something the peace sector should mobilise toward: all advising their members and supporters to move their current accounts, savings, investments and pensions to ethical providers.  It is something we can all unite behind: a common message with a common purpose.  One which we can see can work to save the planet – perhaps it can save humanity from war too.

 

A few words on governance and mission statements

This needs expanding, and could be expanded into a number of degree level courses.

There are a number of legal structure options. The most popular are:

  • unincorporated organisation – a bunch of people doing stuff. How most campaigning groups start out. Members are totally liable for debts and for the crimes of each other. Campaign Against the Arms Trade is one of these. So is War Resisters International (although it comprises not people but organisations).
  • company limited by guarantee. Like Conscience. Protects the founders to a large extent should someone do a Bad Thing. Means you can’t break the law.
  • Community Interest Company. Created for the good of a community and not suitable for campaigning. Meant for allotment associations or a village school run by the residents.
  • Charity. Very heavily regulated and controlled. Cannot get involved in political campaigning (in theory – the rich ones do it all the time).

The above are listed on gov.uk which has really good information on the options.

Regarding the purpose, vision and mission statement, you need to look inside your heart for those. They must be expressed in a way that is understandable by others and are goals that could be achieved. It might be one thing, such as COMT (like Conscience) or wider ranging such as campaigning for people being harmed by their government (similar to Amnesty International). It can be hugely wide, like the World Wildlife Fund, or as narrow as the Faslane Peace Camp.

When someone says “Who are you?”, “What are you campaigning for?”, “Why does it matter?”, “Why should I care?”, “What do you expect me to do about it?” those answers should be there already. (We ought to have a page of those on the Conscience web site.) It is worth coming up with a list of those questions and keeping them somewhere to hand and as answers occur to you, write them down. If you can’t answer them, you can’t get others to follow. It might mean changing the purpose, narrowing it down, until you can come up with questions and answers that work.

The technical and other technicalities of a new organisation

What have I learned from my volunteering?

A friend expressed a desire to create a peace organisation and the first things that sprang to mind were:

  • the need for a name. It must be meaningful, appropriate, memorable, decent, SEO-friendly.
  • the means to raise funds
  • sufficient independence to get on with what the founders want to achieve
  • it needs publicity
  • it could do with high profile supporters
  • a blog can be helpful for giving less formal, more human, messages
  • a web site is essential
  • a web site requires people to keep writing content
  • a web site requires maintenance, applying updates, security controls, interfaces with social media, checking backups are working, detecting having been hacked
  • at least one domain name (needed for the web site and, ideally, email addresses)
  • something controversial to gain media coverage and attention
  • an understanding of its target audiences and how to communicate with them
  • knowledge of similar organisations with which to collaborate
  • the means, time and knowledge to create and drive collaboration with other organisations
  • a purpose
  • a plan
  • an idea of what “finished” or “success” will look like
  • specific responsibilities and authorities for individuals involved so they know what they should, can and cannot do
  • email addresses for the organisation and its individuals
  • a governance model with a committee or leadership and defined rules for managing it to prevent infighting
  • a legal structure (unincorporated, ltd co by guarantee, community interest company, charity, etc.)
  • a social media policy: which web sites and internet facilities to use, when, how with defined messages with defined purposes
  • a mailing list and the means to manage it
  • an online discussion forum with the supporting active moderation
  • an online shop with the necessary legal processes to protect people’s payment details and the staff and processes to deliver what is sold
  • equipment such as computers, mobile phones with cameras, franking machine, printer(s)
  • staff with the necessary recruitment, supervision, retention, development and appraisal processes
  • volunteers with the necessary recruitment, supervision, retention, development and appraisal processes
  • financial management, ideally with open reporting
  • an ethical policy regarding the law, environment, procurement, staff and anything else appropriate, with the supporting monitoring and reporting processes
  • the means of sharing information between staff and volunteers with appropriate backup, recovery, anti-virus and security controls
  • accounts with suppliers (e.g. stationery), technical services (e.g. Zoom) and so on, with the means of securely keeping passwords

Don’t send boilerplate letters to politicians

Don’t ask supporters to send standardised letters to politicians, but to write in their own words.Sometimes organisations ask you to click on a link to send a pre-written email to politicians supporting some campaign or other.  Alternatively, they provide the words for a letter asking one to send it.  I have been told a couple of times that politicians ignore these standardised letters.  I’ve just seen the following text from the debate in the Commons about air strikes on Syria in 2013:

Mrs Cheryl Gillan (Chesham and Amersham) (Con)

 

My constituents’ instinct is also against any direct UK military action. Like, I am sure, all my colleagues throughout the House, I have received not just form e-mails sent by some lobbying organisation but individually composed e-mails showing the strength of feeling and fear that lie in the British population. Having said that, and despite feeling strongly that my constituents’ instincts and my own should be followed, what I have seen on the television and experienced through reports of what has gone on in Syria has struck at the very fabric of my being. However, I am unclear about our response and our objectives. What are punitive strikes? Will they send a message to Assad to use it or lose it when it comes to chemical weapons? What will be the reactions of other countries? What are the capabilities of the people who may be deployed in support of Syria? There are still many questions that need to be answered.

https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2013-08-29/debates/1308298000001/SyriaAndTheUseOfChemicalWeapons#contribution-13082928000036

Empowering nonviolence – so much to learn

I need to read more information from War Resisters’ International.  They have so much useful information on nonviolent campaigns in opposition of war, that it is overwhelming, so I have not looked at it at all.  It is hard to know where to start.

Web sites:

Books:

Loads of articles:

Potential employers for me: