What to do? The 2024 general election

Responses from different parts of the activist movements


Someone pointed out that the last British general election held in July was in 1945, which sent us scrambling for the archives. On 15 June 1945, the PN editorial responded to the calling of the election by noticing that there were two strands within British pacifism: those ‘who seek to work in the political sphere’ of party politics and those who ‘believe that their proper activity as pacifists lies outside the political sphere altogether’. (PN 470)

You can either work within the system, trying to persuade a party to have the right policy, and then vote it into power, or you can work outside the system, to change the political climate that all parties have to work in – and to raise the political costs f

or all of them of having the wrong policy.

As we wrote a couple of issues ago, for a very long time Peace News has stood for the second approach, in line with its anarchist influences.

Back in 1945, PN was the publication of the Peace Pledge Union (the PPU actually came into being after us, but we merged for 20 years or so).

In the 15 June 1945 issue, the PPU released a statement on the election, saying: ‘There is obviously no party which, if elected, will introduce policies all of which pacifists will entirely approve. But there are policies being put before the electors which, without being pacifist policies, are very much more likely to lead to peace than the alternatives proposed…. What are the main essential steps to be taken now if peace is to be promoted?’

Here are some thoughts on what to do now, from different parts of the activist movements.

Freedom News

The anarchist website is going to hold an online ‘update’ event half-way through the campaign on 13 June (on YouTube and Facebook). On the day of the election itself, 4 July, Freedom ‘will broadcast a reaction show to the results from an anarchist perspective with some very special guests’. More info: www.freedomnews.org.uk

The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND)

CND has set up an online lobbying system for individuals to use: www.tinyurl.com/peacenews4242

For groups, CND suggests pressing candidates on the following questions:

  • If elected, will you pledge to prioritise funding for essential services like the NHS, education and housing over investing billions in nuclear weapons?
  • Will you urge the UK government to fulfil its obligations on nuclear disarmament under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty?
  • Additionally, would you promote UK support for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons?
  • Diplomacy and dialogue are key in bringing about peaceful resolutions to war. Will you support the call for a ceasefire in Ukraine and Gaza?
  • Will you back the ending of nuclear energy production, considering its environmental impact, high costs, and safety concerns?
  • Will you oppose the return of US nuclear weapons to the UK, expected to be sited at RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk?

CND says: ‘If they share our views, thank them and keep in touch with them. If they support nuclear weapons, engage in a lobbying process to shift their opinions. Even if they aren’t elected to parliament, they may well be active local politicians.’

Here’s a tip from CND: you can share any answers you get in your local media to help other voters decide who to vote for.

CND asks for any answers you receive to be emailed to them also, so they can post the info online during the campaign: [email protected]

More info: www.tinyurl.com/peacenews4243

The Quakers

The Society of Friends has chosen four priorities for this election:

  • Democracy, truth and integrity, including improving the processes and culture in Westminster and protecting human rights at home and abroad.
  • Climate justice, including diverting government money away from fossil fuels and towards fair and sustainable solutions to the climate and cost-of-living crises.
  • Peace and peace education, including working towards a just peace in Israel and Gaza.
  • Migration, emphasising the need for a humane, fair and efficient immigration and asylum system.

Under the heading of ‘peace’, the Quakers’ election guide makes these calls:

  • The UK government must use diplomacy to seek an end to the devastating conflict in Ukraine, and to demand a ceasefire in Gaza. In the longer term, the government should work to bring about a just and sustainable peace….
  • Taxpayers’ money that is currently spent on weapons and the military must be redirected to fund the foundations of a safer world. Climate breakdown is the biggest threat to our safety and must be tackled by funding a just transition to a zero-carbon economy in the UK, but in 2023 UK military spending was nine times that allocated to climate action. The UK must increase funding to enable people in the poorest parts of the world to rebuild after climate-related loss and damage…
  • The government must help create a culture of peace and nonviolence through the education system…. The UK government must explicitly recognise a duty to educate for peace, and provide funding for peace education, training and research.

More info: www.quaker.org.uk/vote


The climate group (previously known as ‘10:10’) aims to ‘increase meaningful public participation in climate action, at home, in our communities and workplaces, and in political engagement.’

The day the election was called, 22 May, Possible put out an email: ‘We need your help to ensure that climate isn’t turned into a culture war in this campaign….

‘We’re ready to play our part in ensuring that public opinion holds firm, that politicians from all parties know that their voters demand strong climate policies, and that an incoming government is ready to deliver what the country wants….

‘In short, we need this election to lead the way to a climate Parliament, and with your help – we can make it happen.’

More info: www.wearepossible.org

Peace News

If you like quizzing candidates, here are some more possible questions!

  • Do you agree with the chief prosecutor of the international criminal court that, in Gaza, Israeli leaders have committed the crime of using starvation of civilians as a method of warfare?
  • Will you call for an immediate permanent ceasefire in Gaza?
  • Will you call for arms sales to Israel to be suspended for as long as the war in Gaza continues?
  • In relation to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, do you agree with general David Richards, the former chief of the defence staff, that ‘we’ve got to get back to diplomacy’ and that there is ‘a growing case for saying we need to negotiate with Russia’? [He was interviewed for BBC Radio’s PM programme on 20 February, see PN 2671]
  • Will you call for the government of Ukraine to repeal its law banning negotiations with Russia as long as Vladimir Putin remains president?
  • Will you condemn the idea of major powers such as Russia threatening to use their nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon states?
  • Will you condemn the idea of the UK government threatening to use its nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon states? [Current UK policy has lots of loopholes.]

Please do send us any answers you get: PN, 5 Caledonian Road, London N1 9DY; [email protected]


by Peace News staff


(Reproduced from Peace News)

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