Peace News

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Peace News
Peace News Cover July 1980.jpg
front cover, July 1980
Editor Humphrey Moore (1936 - 1940), John Middleton Murry (1940-1946), Frank Lea (1946 - 1949), Bernard Boothroyd (1949 - 1951), J Allen Skinner (1951 - 1955), Hugh Brock (1955 - 1964), Theodore Roszak (1964 - 1965), Rod Prince (1965 - 1967), Ken Simons (1990 - 1995), Tim Wallis (1995 - 1997), Chris Booth and Stephen Hancock (1997 - 2000), Ippy Dee (2000 - 2007), Milan Rai and Emily Johns (2007 - present).
Categories Pacifist Magazine
First issue 1936
Country United Kingdom
Language English

Peace News is a pacifist magazine first published on 6 June 1936 to serve the peace movement in the United Kingdom. From later in 1936 to April 1961 it was the official paper of the Peace Pledge Union (PPU), and from 1990 to 2004 was co-published with War Resisters' International. (It is unaffiliated with, a daily peace news update published by Promoting Enduring Peace.)


Peace News was begun by Humphrey Moore who was a Quaker and in 1933 had become editor of the National Peace Council's publications. Working with a peace group in Wood Green, London, Moore and his wife, Kathleen (playing the role of business manager), launched Peace News with a free trial issue in June 1936. With distribution through Moore’s contacts with the National Peace Council, the new magazine rapidly attracted attention. Within six weeks, Dick Sheppard, founder of the Peace Pledge Union, proposed to Moore that Peace News should become the PPU’s paper.[1][2] Early contributors to this new organ of the PPU included Gandhi, George Lansbury, and illustrator Arthur Wragg.[2] Peace News also had a large number of women contributors, including Vera Brittain, Storm Jameson, Rose Macaulay, Ethel Mannin, Ruth Fry, Kathleen Lonsdale and Sybil Morrison.[3]

Some contributors were so sympathetic to the grievances of Nazi Germany that one sceptical member found it difficult to distinguish between letters to Peace News and those in the newspaper of the British Union of Fascists.[4] The historian Mark Gilbert has argued that "With the exception of Action, the journal of the British Union of Fascists, it is hard to think of another British newspaper which was so consistent an apologist for Nazi Germany as Peace News."[5] However, Juliet Gardiner has noted that Peace News also urged the British government to give sanctuary to Jewish refugees from Nazism.[6] The fact that some PN contributors were supporting appeasement and excusing Nazi actions caused PN contributor David Spreckley to express fears that "in their scramble for peace", they were gaining "some questionable allies".[7]

Sales of Peace News peaked at around 40,000 during the so-called Phoney War between September 1939 and May 1940. In that month in the face of demands in parliament for the banning of the paper, the printer and distributors stopped working with Peace News. However, with help from the typographer Eric Gill, Hugh Brock and many others, Moore continued to publish Peace News and arrange for distribution around the UK.[1]

Humphrey Moore’s emphasis on Peace News having a single-minded anti-war policy was increasingly being challenged. Others wanted greater emphasis on building a peaceful society once hostilities ended. In 1940 the PPU asked Moore to step aside in the post of assistant editor (which post he held until 1944), and appointed John Middleton Murry as editor.[8] By 1946 Murry had abandoned pacifism and resigned.

Hugh Brock took on the role of assistant editor of Peace News in 1946 and became editor in 1955, lasting until 1964. During his period of tenure the magazine separated from the PPU as it had widened its focus into areas not directly related to absolute pacifism.[8] Peace News in the 1940s published material from American journalist Dwight Macdonald[9] and Maurice Cranston (later to become a noted philosopher).[10]

From the 1940s on, Peace News began to take a strongly critical line towards British rule in Kenya.[11] The magazine also established links with African anti-colonial activists Kwame Nkrumah and Kenneth Kaunda, and "Peace News′ close involvement with the anti-apartheid struggle...led to the banning of the paper in South Africa in 1959".[12] During the 1950s, Peace News contributors included such noted activists as André Trocmé, Martin Niemöller, Fenner Brockway, A. J. Muste, Richard B. Gregg, Alex Comfort, Donald Soper, Michael Scott, Leslie Hall, M.P., Muriel Lester, Emrys Hughes, M.P., Wilfred Wellock,[13] and Esmé Wynne-Tyson[14]

In 1959 a gift of £5,700 from Tom Willis enabled Peace News to buy 5 Caledonian Road, London, N1. This became its office and printing press and was also shared with Housmans Bookshop.[15] It was at the Peace News office that the Nuclear Disarmament/Peace symbol was adopted.[16] Describing the British pacifist tradition in the 1950s, David Widgery wrote "at its most likeable it was the sombre decency of Peace News, then a vegetarian tabloid with a Quaker emphasis on active witness".[17]

The magazine campaigned against nuclear weapons, often working with the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.[18] During this period Brock brought to Peace News "a staff of writer-activists committed to developing Gandhian nonviolent action in the anti-militarist cause", including Pat Arrowsmith, Richard Boston, April Carter, Alan Lovell, Michael Randle, Adam Roberts and the American Gene Sharp.[19] Brock's successor in 1964 was Theodore Roszak.[20] In the same year, a Caribbean Quaker and PN writer, Marion Glean, "contributed to a series of statements by post-colonial activists on race in the run-up to the 1964 election, published by Theodore Roszak, editor of Peace News".[21][22] After the election, Glean helped bring together several activists, including Dr. David Pitt, C. L. R. James and Ranjana Ash to form the Campaign Against Racial Discrimination.[21] Throughout the 1960s, Peace News covered issues such as opposition to the Vietnam War and the Biafran issue in the Nigerian Civil War. The magazine's coverage of the Vietnam War was notable for its support for the protests of the Vietnamese Buddhists, who it argued could become a nonviolent "Third Force" independent of both the Saigon and Hanoi governments.[23] Peace News also ran lengthy analysis of left-wing thinkers, including E.P. Thompson's two-part study of C. Wright Mills[24] and Theodore Roszak's assessment of Lewis Mumford.[25]

In 1971 it added to its masthead the words "for nonviolent revolution".[citation needed]

In 1974, the paper moved its main office to Nottingham, where it remained until 1990.[citation needed]

In 1978, one worker at Housmans was injured after a bomb was sent to the Peace News offices, (allegedly by the neo-Nazi organisation Column 88) as part of a series of attacks on left-wing organisations (similar attacks were made on the Socialist Workers Party and Anti-Nazi League offices before this occurred).[26]

Peace News suspended publication at the end of 1987, intending to relaunch after a period of rethinking and planning. In May 1989 the paper resumed publication, but quickly ran into financial difficulties. In 1990 it became linked to War Resisters' International and was co-published as a monthly until 1999, then as a quarterly with a British-oriented Nonviolent Action published in the intervening months. Peace News came out strongly against the Iraq War while at the same time condemning Saddam Hussein.[27] In 2005, Peace News resumed monthly publication, as an independent British publication and in a tabloid format.[citation needed]

On June 2014, Peace News ran an article calling for a "Yes" vote in the Scottish Independence Referendum.[28]

Peace News today[edit]

Peace News continues to be published in tabloid size print media and as a website by Peace News Ltd. It describes its editorial objectives as: to support and connect nonviolent and anti-militarist movements; provide a forum for such movements to develop common perspectives; take up issues suitable for campaigning; promote nonviolent, antimilitarist and pacifist analyses and strategies; stimulate thinking about the revolutionary implications of nonviolence.[29] It is currently edited by Milan Rai and Emily Johns.[30]

The Peace News archives are held at the Commonweal Collection in the J.B. Priestley Library, University of Bradford[31]

Tony Benn has described Peace News as " a paper that gives us hope...(it) should be widely read".[32]

Peace News campaigns and trials[edit]

Peace News has been associated with initiating numerous campaigns, and a number of its staffmembers have been arrested for taking part in peace actions. In November 1957 Hugh Brock was one of three founders of the Direct Action Committee Against Nuclear War, which was run from the Peace News office and involved many Peace News staff. The DAC produced the first badges with the Nuclear Disarmament/Peace symbol,[33] and organised various actions of civil disobedience against nuclear weapons and also the first of the Aldermaston Marches in Easter 1958.

In 1971 Peace News, together with War Resisters' International, initiated a nonviolent direct action project, Operation Omega to Bangladesh, to challenge the Pakistani military blockade of then East Pakistan.[citation needed]

In the same year Peace News criticised the attempt to ban the sex education book The Little Red Schoolbook, and reprinted extensive extracts from the publication in the magazine.[34]

In 1972 Peace News co-editor Howard Clark, after meeting activists from the Canadian Greenpeace boats, initiated the group that became London Greenpeace, at first campaigning against French nuclear tests.

In 1973 Peace News played a central role in launching the British Withdrawal from Northern Ireland Campaign (BWNIC) and in supporting the "BWNIC 14", fourteen activists, including a member of the Peace News collective, charged with "conspiracy to incite disaffection" via a leaflet "Some Information for Discontented Soldiers". After an 11-week trial, a jury acquitted the BWNIC 14 in 1975, although two members of Peace News collective were fined for helping two AWOL soldiers go to Sweden.[35]

In 1974, together with Nicholas Albery of BIT Information Service, Peace News began publishing the Community Levy for Alternative Projects, an invitation to supply funds for, generally, fledgling alternative projects, partly targeting shops and businesses that identified with counter-cultural ideas and aspirations.[36]

In August 1974, Peace News published a special edition revealing and printing in full Colonel David Stirling's plans to establish a strike-breaking "private army", "Great Britain 1975". By arrangement The Guardian led with this story on the day of publication, Peace News won the 1974 "Scoop of the Year" award from Granada Television.[37][38]

In 1978, Peace News, together with The Leveller magazine revealed the identity of Colonel B, a witness in the ABC Trial. Peace News fought its conviction for "contempt of court" right up to appeal in the House of Lords, where the Lord Chief Justice's "guilty" verdict was finally overturned.[39]

In 1995, Peace News, together with Campaign Against Arms Trade, was sued for libel by the Covert & Operational Procurement Exhibition (COPEX) for repeating allegations that the exhibition was serving as a meeting place for buyers and sellers of torture implements. The High Court struck out the case when COPEX failed to show in court and the peace groups were awarded costs. [40]

Peace News Publications (partial list)[edit]

  • Muslims of India and the Muslim League. Howard Whitten, c. 1942.
  • The Economics of Peace by John Middleton Murry, 1943.
  • Victory for Humanity. An American proposal for constructive peace by

Albert Wentworth Palmer, 1943.

  • Youth Registration and Education. A comment on first reports of the 1941 registration.

Donald Tait and Marjorie Tait, 1943.

  • Liberty in the War by Denis Hayes, 1943.
  • Pacifists over the World by Harold F. Bing, 1943.
  • Food Relief in the Second World War by Roy Walker, 1943.
  • Citizens in Jail by Roger Page, 1943.
  • Negotiation in Practice. Some facts about international communications in time of war by Humphrey S. Moore, 1943.
  • Gandhi and the Viceroy. Extracts from the letters which led up to Gandhi's twenty-one day's fast in February, by

Mohandas Gandhi (reprint) 1943.

  • Non-Violence now by Roy Walker, 1944.
  • Pacifism on the doorstep by Michael Lee, 1944.
  • Versailles to Munich by John Scanlon, 1944.
  • Science, wisdom and war by Alexander Wood, 1944.
  • A Problem for the Gentiles: On Anti-Semitism by James Parkes, 1944.
  • Laugh it off!: war-time buns from the gutter by "Owlglass" 1944.
  • Military Conscription After the War?
  • Humbug for Hodge by John Middleton Murry, 1946.
  • Pacifism and the free society : a reply to John Middleton Murry by Edgar Leonard Allen, 1948.
  • The Right Thing to Do: Together with The Wrong Thing to Do by Alex Comfort, 1949.
  • Power or Peace : Western industrialism and World leadership, by Wilfred Wellock, 1950.
  • Pacifism and the political struggle by Donald Port, 1950.
  • The challenge of our times :annihilation or creative revolution? by Wilfred Wellock, 1951.
  • Guns for the Germans? The arguments for and against German rearmament by Basil Davidson, 1951.
  • Japan for Peace or War?:The Case Against Remilitarising Japan by Basil Davidson, 1951.
  • Social responsibility in science and art by Alex Comfort, 1952.

(published with War Resisters Internation).

  • Defence without arms : a psychologist examines non-violent resistance by Dorothy Glaiste, 1952.
  • Far Eastern time fuse : the Japanese Peace Treaty : what it says and what it really means

by the Union of Democratic Control and Peace Pledge Union; distributed by Peace News. 1952.

  • Empire in crisis : a survey of conditions in the British colonies today by

Fenner Brockway, 1953.

  • Iron hand and wooden head: British Guiana; an indictment of Mr. Oliver Lyttelton by

Emrys Hughes, 1953.

  • Neutrality: Germany's way to peace by Canon Stuart Morris, 1953.
  • Waging peace: The need for a change in British policy by Richard Acland, 1954.
  • Security through disarmament by Sybil Morrison (1954)
  • The "Peace News" story: Pioneering in pacifist journalism, with a practical guide for propagandists by

Harry Mister (1954)

  • Nato : a critical examination of the North Atlantic treaty organisation by Roy Sherwood
  • Bechuanaland. What Seretse's exile means Edited by G. Sharp. Published

with the Movement for Colonial Freedom, 1956.

  • It Isn't True : some popular fallacies about pacifism and war by Stuart Morris and Sybil Morrison. Foreword by

Vera Brittain, c. 1956.

  • The Arm of the Law : the United Nations and the use of force by Canon Stuart Morris, 1957.
  • Hazards of nuclear tests by Dr. Lionel Sharples Penrose, ( with the Medical Association for the Prevention of War) 1957.
  • Unarmed. Some consequences of total disarmament. by Standing Joint Pacifist Committee, 1957.
  • Tyranny could not quell them : how Norway's teachers defeated Quisling during the Nazi occupation and what it means for unarmed defence today by Gene Sharp, 1958.
  • Towards a non-violent society : a study of some social implications of pacifism by J. Allen Skinner, 1959.
  • The Truth about Polaris by Adam Robers, c. 1961.
  • Direct action by April Carter, 1962.
  • Political prisoners in Greece by Christopher Lake, 1962.
  • Nuclear testing and the arms race by Adam Roberts, 1962.
  • The Common Market : a challenge to unilateralists by April Carter, 1962.
  • The Century of Total War by Hugh Brock, 1962.

(Reprint: Introduced by Gene Sharp) 1963.

  • Vietnam, the political case for military withdrawal by Russell Johnson, 1967.
  • A Message to the Military Industrial Complex by Paul Goodman, 1969.
  • On War,National Liberation, and the State by Nigel Young, 1971.
  • The Buddhists in Vietnam: Reality and Response by Laura Hassler, 1972.
  • Making Nonviolent Revolution by Howard Clark, 1977 (1st edition) 1981 (2nd edition) 2012 (3rd edition).
  • Taking Racism Personally: white anti-racism at the crossroads, by Keith Motherson et al., 1978
  • From Protest to Resistance: the direct action movement against nuclear weapons edited by Ross Bradshaw, Dennis Gould and Chris Jones, 1981
  • The Anti-Nuclear Songbook by Anonymous, illustrated by Pat Gregory, 1982.
  • It'll Make a Man of You: A feminist view of the arms race, Penny Strange, 1983, co-published with Mushroom Bookshop.
  • Preparing for Nonviolent Action by Howard Clark, Sheryl Crown, Angela McKee, and Hugh MacPherson (This was a joint publication of Peace News and CND), 1984.
  • Too Much Pressure : Cartoons by "Brick", edited and designed by Kathy Challis, 1986.
  • Against All War : Fifty Years of Peace News, 1936-1986 by Albert Beale, 1986.
  • Toward a Living Revolution: A five-stage framework for creating radical social change by George Lakey, 2012.
  • The March that Shook Blair: An Oral History of 15 February 2003

by Ian Sinclair, 2013.


  1. ^ a b Harry Mister, "Humphrey Moore 1909-1995", Peace News No. 2395.
  2. ^ a b Harry Mister and Stephen Moore, "Brave Fighter for Peace" (Obituary of Humphrey Moore). The Guardian, September 1995, p. 16.
  3. ^ Gail Chester and Andrew Rigby, Articles of Peace: Celebrating Fifty Years of Peace News. Prism, 1986, pp. 131-33.
  4. ^ Frank McDonough, Neville Chamberlain, Appeasement, and the British Road to War, Manchester University Press, 1998
  5. ^ Mark Gilbert, "Pacifist attitudes to Nazi Germany, 1936-45", Journal of Contemporary History, January 1992, Vol. 27, pp. 493-511.
  6. ^ Juilet Gardiner The Thirties: An Intimate History. HarperPress, 2010, p. 501.
  7. ^ Peace News, 10 November 1939 (p. 9), quoted in Martin Ceadel, Semi-Detached Idealists:the British Peace Movement and International Relations, 1854-1945 Oxford University Press, 2000 (p. 398).
  8. ^ a b "Peace News" in Peter Barberis, John McHugh, & Mike Tyldesley (eds), Encyclopedia of British and Irish Political Organizations. Continuum, 2005, ISBN 0-8264-5814-9 (p. 344).
  9. ^ Michael Doyle, Radical Chapters: Pacifist Bookseller Roy Kepler and the Paperback Revolution.Syracuse University Press, 2012. ISBN 0815610068 (p. 84).
  10. ^ Obituary:Professor Maurice Cranston Alan Eden-Green, The Independent, 10 November 1993. Retrieved 21 April 2011.
  11. ^ Stephen Howe, Anticolonialism in British politics: The Left and the End of Empire, 1918-1964Clarendon Press, 1993, pp. 206, 239.
  12. ^ Chester and Rigby, p. 15.
  13. ^ "Peace News-the World Pacifist Weekly" (Advertisement on back cover of pamphlet NATO: A Critical Examination of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, by Roy Sherwood, 1956).
  14. ^ Chester and Rigby, p. 138.
  15. ^ Tom Willis and Emily Johns, "The man who made it all possible", Peace News, No. 2516
  16. ^ CND-The disarmament symbol
  17. ^ David Widgery, "Don't You Hear The H-Bomb's Thunder?" in The Left in Britain, Penguin, 1976, (p. 100).
  18. ^ Chester and Rigby, p. 69.
  19. ^ Chester and Rigby, p. 31.
  20. ^ Richard K. S. Taylor, Against the Bomb: the British Peace Movement, 1958-1965. Oxford University Press, 1988, pp. 118, 271.
  21. ^ a b Kalbir Shukra, The Changing Pattern of Black Politics in Britain. Pluto Press, 1998, p. 20.
  22. ^ Ron Ramdin, The Making of the Black Working Class, Gower, 1987, p. 418.
  23. ^ Chester and Rigby, p. 19.
  24. ^ “C. Wright Mills: The Responsible Craftsman”, Peace News 22 November 1963 and 29 November 1963. Reprinted in slightly different form in Thompsons' The Heavy Dancers (1995)
  25. ^ Theodore Roszak, "Mumford and the Megamachine", Peace News, 29 December 1967.
  26. ^ "Bomb Explodes At Peace News".Irish Times, 5 July 1978, pg.7
  27. ^ " it becomes important to make the distinction between one man and his military cronies and a population of 22.5 million people. Unless proven otherwise, all people are our allies. And just because you don't want to see 22.5 million people have their basic infrastructure bombed, or see the poor conscripts being massacred, doesn't mean you support Saddam." "No Note of Apology" Editorial. Peace News 2450, March - May 2003. Retrieved 17 November 2011.
  28. ^ "Yes To Independence", Pete Ramand and James Foley. Peace News, June 2014. Retrieved 8th September 2014.
  29. ^ peace News Editorial policy Peace News website . Accessed February 2010.
  30. ^ Our current staff, Peace news website. Accessed April 2010.
  31. ^
  32. ^ Benn quoted in Housmans Peace Diary 2012, Housmans Bookshop, 2012, ISBN 9780852832714 .
  33. ^ "The CND symbol". Hugh Brock Papers. 
  34. ^ D. Limond, The UK Edition of The Little Red Schoolbook: A paper tiger reflects, Sex Education 14 December 2011.
  35. ^ "British Withdrawal from Northern Ireland Campaign" in Encyclopedia of British and Irish Political Organizations by Peter Barberis, John McHugh and Mike Tyldesley. London : Continuum, 2005,ISBN 0-8264-5814-9 (p.330).
  36. ^ Peter Shipley,Revolutionaries in Modern Britain, Bodley Head, 1976, (p. 203)
  37. ^ Chester and Rigby, p.23
  38. ^ Stephen Dorrill and Robin Ramsey, Smear! Wilson and the Secret State, Fourth Estate, 1991, p.267.
  39. ^
  40. ^ "In 1995/96, PN successfully fought off a libel case brought by COPEX, a British high tech and arms exhibition organiser." "10.3. Peace News" in War Resisters' International Office Report 1994-1998, 1998. [1]

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