Scottish Peace Network Counter-Centenary Calendar

This calendar highlights some of the key battles of the First World War and some of the crucial moments marking the growing resistance to the war.

August 4, 1914– start of war

December 24, 1914– Christmas Truce; to be commemorated every year

April 25, 1915– start of the disastrous battle of Gallipoli

May 21, 1915– start of rent strikes in Glasgow area. Women’s Housing Association holds public meeting to protest rent increases and a rent strike is called.

June 27, 1915– Armed Forces Day; to be commemorated every year

November 17, 1915 – mass march of rent strikers to protest evictions. Ten days later, parliament passes bill freezing rents for duration of war and six months after

January 9, 1916– end of Gallipoli; British troops withdraw

March 2, 1916– conscription comes into effect for single men; extended to married men that May

July 1, 1916–battle of Somme begins; bloodiest battle of war with casualties exceeding 1,000,000

November 18, 1916– battle of Somme ends in stalemate

May 27, 1917– units of the French army mutiny with many refusing to go to the Front

July 31, 1917– battle of Passchendaele begins

November 10, 1917– battle of Passchendaele ends

May 1, 1918– tens of thousands march to Glasgow green for May Day and to demand rapid end to war. Wildcat strikes shut down several munitions factories.

May 9, 1918– John Maclean receives five year sentence for opposing the war. Released from jail after mass protests on November 3, 1918, his health seriously damaged.

November 11, 1918– war ends as Germany collapses

Posted in Uncategorized

Remembering the Glasgow Rent Strike and Mass March of 1915: A Victory for Class Unity

100 years ago, 17th of November 1915, thousands of women along with thousands of shipyard and engineering workers marched through the streets of Glasgow to the Sheriff’s Court and City Chambers. A victory celebration lay ahead.

In the Spring of that second year of the First World War, landlords of Clydeside had decided to milk more profit by increasing rents in their ill-maintained tenements. They figured that the women would helplessly comply while the men were taken up risking their lives at the front, or their health in the munitions factories. But the women were not having any of that!

Women didn’t have the vote yet, but they had courage and each other’s backs when they said – We are not removing! Word and deed united: sheriff officers got chucked into the midden, and the tenement back courts echoed with radical ideas and opposition to the war.

For the months to come, Govan women showed how powerful the working class can be when united against the capitalist system.

Soon Glasgow and Clydeside districts were propelled by a massive grass roots movement against those large rent increases imposed by the landlords. Over 25,000 tenants refused to pay the rent increase. The struggle spread to the Clydeside engineering workshops and shipyards, and to other cities in Scotland and Northern England.

The defiant mass march of 17 November sent shock waves all the way to Westminster. The state, fearful of the spread of strikes and radical protests, immediately passed the Rent Restriction Act of 1915 stopping rent rises for the duration of the war, plus 6 months after.

This was truly a victory of the working class over the ruling class– one that reverberated throughout the country, igniting hope for the future. It is a moment in our radical history we should not forget.

100 years on, the state continues to stir up war fever and flag-waving extravaganzas to distract us from major budget cuts to education and NHS while the nuclear weapons system, Trident, gets fully funded.

Like the rent strikers, we need to organise and fight back: to speak truth to power.

The rent strikers took inspiration from all those who resist capitalism, imperialism, and militarism. They exchanged news, gave speeches, wrote pamphlets, and took to the streets believing in the power of international working class solidarity and women’s liberation.

Their courage back then means something for each of us today. Their example is ours to follow.

On 17 November, 2015, at 12pm, there will be a Walk of Pride from the Dewar’s statue in Buchanan Street to the City Chambers, George Square. This action is a tribute to the 1915 mass march, and to rent strikes as a tool of struggle throughout the world. It is being held in conjunction with Spirit of Revolt’s November archival exhibition at the Mitchell Library, The Glasgow Rent Strike:100 Years On; the Scottish Peace Network’s Counter-Centenary Project; and the ongoing work of the Clydeside Branch of the Industrial Workers of the World.

Posted in First World War, Rent Strikes

November 8 Rememberance Day Vigil

The Scottish Peace Network is organising a vigil to protest the glorification of war inherent in the official Remembrance Day ceremonies. We will  be gathering at 10:30 on Sunday, November 8, at parliament square along the royal mile in Edinburgh. Shortly afterward, a march organised by British Legion will pass by on the way to a wreath laying ceremony attended by various dignitaries.

Everyone welcome to our peaceful protest. We will have a banner and placards but you are welcome to bring your own. We will be distributing the following flyer:

Remembering . .


A century ago we were in the throes of a world war that still had another three years to run – three years in which millions more would die. The population was fooled or forced into backing a senseless and brutal conflict by powerful states competing for markets and influence.


In our own day the same pattern is being repeated. NATO, to which the UK belongs, to has invaded Afghanistan and Iraq as well as using military violence in many other places. As before, the real motivations for warfare are hidden by spin and falsehoods.


Depressing? It is certainly sobering but there is another thread connecting the two eras which offers hope –a thread that only appears rarely in mainstream accounts. In both centuries there has been resistance to warmongering, for example in Scotland through worker strikes, mass public protests and conscientious objection to fighting.

And there is a new hunger among ordinary people here for a different way of being in the world – a way that responds to human need across the globe, that puts co-operation above competition, that actually cares about the planet and its future, that wants investment in the paths to peace instead of the machinery of murder. That road demands that we leave NATO and form peaceful connections across the world and, by scrapping Trident, share in the global move to ban nuclear weapons.


So let’s make sense of the anniversary with a respectful nod to the past and a new determination to build a saner world.

Posted in Remembrance Day

White Light / Black Rain: Film & Discussion

This event is on 9 August 2015 6:00pm

To mark the 70th Anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki we are showing this HBO documentary film, directed and produced by Steven Okazaki. The film features interviews with fourteen Japanese survivors and four Americans involved in the 1945 atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.In preparation for the film, Okazaki met with more than 500 Japanese survivors of the bombings and collected over 100 interviews before settling on the fourteen subjects featured in the film.

Free. Donations welcome at door.

Jointly organised by Edinburgh Peace and Justice Centre and Edinburgh CND with assistance from WMD Awareness.

Guests arriving early can view the interactive Stop Worrying and Learn to Love the Bomb exhibition organised by WMD Awareness.

Posted in Nuclear Weapons

X Years Later: Japanese Film (English subtitles) & Discussion

This event is on 8 August 2015 6:00pm

Japanese with English Subtitles
Directed by Hideaki Ito
Award winning Film screening and discussion.
Free Event by donation.

In 1954, the Japanese fishing boat Daigo Fukuryu Maru, with a crew of 23 along with many other boats were exposed to nuclear fallout by the detonation of a hydrogen bomb.

58 Years later a documentary crew revisited the incident and interviewed surviving fishermen, including some from other Japanese boats in the area, to bring to light an ordeal whose full impact has been kept in the dark.

Watch the Japanese trailer here. 

Guests arriving early can view the Stop Worrying and Learn to Love the Bomb exhibition organised by WMD Awareness.

Posted in Nuclear Weapons

Peace Presence at Armed Forces Day Edinburgh

On Saturday 27 August the Grassmarket in Edinburgh took on a different aspect than the usual Saturday market. Instead of stalls offering bread, cakes and jams there were armoured vehicles to play on and army recruiters offering children opportunities to play with deadly weapons and clamber up a pop up climbing wall. It was seemingly all good fun, an opportunity, as the MOD puts it, for people to show their support for the troops. The day kicked off with a parade down the Royal Mile. The pipes were skirling as old soldiers and regiments in their finest kilts and bear skin caps boomed as people lined the pavements to gawk at the spectacle. But we were there too with the Scottish Peace Network and Quakers holding banners that read “No More Wars” and “Let Our Love for humanity speak louder than the drums of war”.

boy plays with gun croppedBoys as young as six took aim with automatic weapons that can fire multiple rounds of deadly ammunition. They clambered over tanks and had a go at the camouflaged quad bike. These “entertainments” were offered by army recruiters, all part of what the MOD called the “steady drip drip drip” of positive images of the military that it aims to expose young people to before actually recruiting them at age 16.

Boys play with guns croppedThe UK is one of only nineteen countries that still recruit under 18’s. But they don’t tell them the reality of war. The truth is that under 18 recruits were twice as likely to be killed in Afghanistan. That’s because 16 & 17 year old recruits are mostly funnelled into the artillery where they are more likely to see combat and be wounded or killed. They don’t tell them that they will be locked into contracts for up to 6 years with no way out. And they don’t tell them they are more likely to come out with PTSD, to have problems with binge drinking, violence and relationships and to go to prison than those recruited at 18.

boy climbs rock wall

boy on quad bikeBBC’s Reporting Scotland evening news also mentioned our presence along the parade route and included a short clip Brian Larkin, Coordinator of SPN member group Edinburgh Peace and Justice Centre saying “War is not family entertainment. At the stalls here there are 8 year old boys playing with automatic weapons. We think that’s inappropriate. What message does that send?” The reporter concludes saying “Demonstrators argue Armed Forces Days mask the reality of serving in the military.”

Events like this were held all across the UK for the seventh year running in a concerted effort by the MOD to drum up support for the military. It’s part of a PR offensive designed to burnish the military’s image at a time when the public is tired of senseless wars in foreign lands. But in several cities around the UK peace activists were there too saying “War is not family entertainment” for that is what the recruiters, in a cynical effort to groom young people with stories of adventure are offering.

war is not family entertainmentAnyone in Edinburgh on 30 August can find out more about this topic by coming along to the Peace and Justice Centre’s Just Festival Conversation on “Militarization of Children and Young People” with David Gee, co-founder of Forces Watch, Mairi Campbell-Jack, Quaker Scottish Parlimentary Liaison and Second Leiutenant Ryan Mounsey a fomer Cadet. They”ll be asking  “Does the military have a place in schools?” and “Is there ever a justification for recruiting children into the armed services?”. This is a ticketed event. Book your tickets here.

Posted in Armed Forces Day

Conscience & Conscientious Objection

conscientious-objectors dyce camp

Conscience & Conscientious Objection: Talk & Discussion.

Wed 3 June. 7 – 9pm. St John’s Church Hall. Edinburgh, EH2 4BJ

Prof Toby Kelly (Head of Anthropology Edinburgh University).

Dr Lesley Orr (New College, Edinburgh University).

Toby Kelly is currently investigating the role of conscience in modern liberal politics and the spaces that are available for non-violence in the midst of war. Lesley Orr, a member of the Iona Community, has recently joined the faculty of the School of Divinity at New College, University of Edinburgh.

This discussion will move from consideration of the history of conscientious objection in the First World War to examine broader issues surrounding the refusal to participate in wars up to the present day.

The talk will follows the Edinburgh Peace and Justice Centre’s short AGM.

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Posted in Conscientious Objection, First World War

Two films and a blether for the centenary of the 1915 Rent Strikes

rent strike crowd

Two films and a blether for the centenary of the 1915 Rent Strikes

Pearce Institute, 840-860 Govan Rd, Glasgow, G51 3UU.

 4 June 2015, 7pm.

Red Skirts on Clydeside (1984, 40min)

Introduced by filmmaker Jenny Woodley

You Play Your Part (2011, 24min)

Introduced by filmmaker Kirsten MacLeod and some of the participants

Free/ donations welcome.  Refreshments provided. 

Read more ›

Posted in First World War, Rent Strikes

Celebrating the Christmas Truce in Glasgow

On the afternoon of Christmas Eve, a dozen members of the Scottish Peace Network assembled in Glasgow city centre at Dewar’s statue, in the midst of the last minute shoppers, to remember and celebrate the Christmas truce of 1914 and the spirit of resistance from below that the truce demonstrated.

xmas truceWe held banners and placards and distributed a flyer. The response was good, with many people taking the flyer and a few stopping to talk with us. As we ended, most of us felt the gathering had been a productive one and that we should try to build this event so that it is even larger next year. It seems that the wars never end and that the sums of money wasted on armaments constantly increases. The Christmas truce reminds us that there is an alternative.

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Posted in First World War

White Poppy Wreath to be Laid at Glasgow Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday

On Sunday 9th November,  the Scottish Peace Network  will lay a white poppy wreath in Glasgow, at the Cenotaph in George Square.

This will be laid after all the other wreaths.
This will be a silent witness, and we invite people to dress in black and wear white poppies.
According to the Lord Provost’s Secretariat the protocol is that it is open to the public, and anyone can lay a wreath or flowers, after the official ones have gone down.  It must be respectful. The same applies to Armistice Day.
Both occasions would start around 10:30am with two minutes silence at 11:00.
The wreath laying happens after that.
On Armistice Day, Tuesday 11 November,
UNA Glasgow members intend to lay a small wreath of white poppies to remember all victims of war 1914-2014 and all peacemakers.
If anyone would like to join us on either of these dates that would be great.


Posted in Remembrance Day