A HISTORY OF PEACE, PROTEST AND CAMPAIGNING
"THE LONDON GREENPEACE GROUP has existed for many years as an independent group of activists with no involvement in any particular political party. The people - not "members" - who come to the weekly open meetings share a concern for the oppression in our lives and the destruction of our environment. Many opposition movements are growing in strength - ecological, anti-war, animal liberation, and anarchist-libertarian movements - and continually learning from each other. We encourage people to think and act independently, without leaders, to try to understand the causes of oppression and to aim for its abolition through social revolution. This begins in our own lives now."
The complete London Greenpeace history up to the McLibel Trial
Selected campaigns from the past:
A BRIEF HISTORY OF GREENPEACE (LONDON)
The name Greenpeace was used in Britain at least as early as 1971. It appeared in print as the title of a broadsheet published as a supplement in Peace News in 1971. The broadsheet was a compilation of ideas about how individuals could take action in their own lives to preserve the ecosystem.
In 1972 "Greenpeace" was used as the name for a coalition of individuals and groups in Britain campaigning against French nuclear weapons tests in the Pacific. At the same time there were other Greenpeace groups both in Britain and in some other countries: the different groups were in touch with one another as an informal network of autonomous groups, in particular around the issue of nuclear testing. The London group, usually known as Greenpeace (London), continued to be in touch with other such groups around the world.
In 1977, the biggest of the Greenpeace organisations outside Britain - the Vancouver Greenpeace Foundation in Canada - formalised its links with some of the other Greenpeace organisations around the world, seeing itself as the "lead" group. Shortly before this, in late 1976, members of that organisation came to London and met people from Greenpeace (London).
The Vancouver people wanted the London group to "take its orders from" the Board of Directors in Vancouver, but were told that the London group had never had that kind of relationship with other Greenpeace Groups. (The relationship with groups like the Vancouver one had often been close, but never based on any sort of hierarchy.) Subsequently, a letter from Vancouver explicitly recognised the autonomy of the existing London group.
Activists in London - including the people who had come from Canada - who DID want to be under the control of the Vancouver Foundation, formed a London Branch of the Vancouver Foundation, which then formed a limited company and became known as Greenpeace Ltd or Greenpeace UK. Since 1977, Greenpeace (London) and Greenpeace Ltd have been quite separate organisations, working on different campaigns - though of course their separate campaigns have had some issues in common, such as anti-nuclear work.
The original London Greenpeace Group has deliberately stayed as a small group of activists, without leaders, with decisions taken by consensus of all those involved, and has always encouraged people in other areas to set up their own active groups rather than "joining" London Greenpeace.
(Also archived at : http://spunk.etext.org/texts/food/mcdonlds/sp000474.txt)
We want to respond to those who say that fishing does not hurt the fish. Experiments show that fish do feel pain - they are vertebrates and have a complex nervous system. We have no right to proclaim ourselves as their superiors and therefore torture them and take their lives.
Some anglers may condemn violence to cats and dogs and criticise hunters, and yet they see their actions in an entirely different way.
Our leaflet suggests alternative ways of spending a peaceful afternoon - and our address is on our leaflet to encourage people to send us their views and reactions.
We hope you will read this letter with an open mind. It is always difficult to change the way we have grown accustomed to thinking; to realise that something we have been doing all our lives may be wrong.
3 DECEMBER 1986
As part of our campaign to reveal the practices of this murdering multinational, we have produced a leaflet, 'Unilever profits from misery'.
William Lever founded the Lever Brothers empire on 'Sunlight' soap in the 1880s. The search for raw materials took him to Africa where he found the indigenous system of production "miserably inefficient". He felt that "natives should be treated as willing children, housed, schooled, doctored and moved from place to place as might be required. Above all, they should be taught the value of regular habits and of working to time."
The Empire of Evil - Unilever is the world's largest food company. It dominates the market world-wide in consumer goods and has organised the world into a global supermarket for it's products. It ruthlessly exploits animals and people in it's unceasing search for profits, which means turning natural resources as cheaply as possible into expensive, packaged commodites. There is no compassion in Unilever's world: everyting is a means to one end - an increase in turnover, the accumulation of capital, profit. The economic system created by Unilever and the other murdering multinationals is insane because it exists only to serve only their greed and power, not the needs of our planet or it's inhabitants.
Everywhere Yet Unseen - Unilever is the oldest yet the least well known of all the multinational companies (MNCs). Each working day, two-thirds of the world's population are confronted by it's products, yet few know who really produces them. The combine manufactures more than 1000 goods, but the name 'Unilever' appears on none of them. It operates through hundreds of companies, many of which are household names, but the diversity is an illusion. This factsheet aims to penetrate the veil of anonymity that surrounds Unilever. Secretly it has invaded the lives of all of us wherever we may live. It exerts un unfelt influence over us because the world it has created is assumed to be 'natural'.
Food: The Ultimate Commodity - In it's position as the largest food and soap company, Uunilever has a decisive influence on the distribution and control of the world's food resources. It is the largest consumer of vegetable oils and fats in Western Europe. Palm oil, ground nuts, copra and soya beans grown throughout the world are consumed at an ever-increasing rate by Unilever's factories in all corners of the globe. The raw materials are fed into oil-mills that produce vegetable oils and the valuable by-product, animal feed cake. Once processed, the oil is the main ingredient for margarine and various edible oils and foods.
Underdeveloping the South - In order to feed it's insatiable appetite for natiral resources, especially vegetable oil, Unilever has exploited the supplying countries of Africa, Asia and South America. It was one of the first coutries to develop plantation economies, beginning with 1.5 million acres in the Belgian Congo in 1910 for palm oil production. Loss of their land forced millions of natives to depend on the company for their survival and led directly to the absurd situation that exists today in the 'Third World', where land that could grow food for local use is instead used to produce cash crops (sometimes even grain) for export to industrialised nations. Societies that were once independent, self-sufficient and flourishing have been 'under-developed' into malnourished, disease-ridden, poverty-stricken sources of raw materials for the factories of Unilever and other multinationals.
Feed the Rich Starve the World - This year over 40 million people will die of hunger or hunger-related diseases, equivalent to 300 jumbo jet crashes every day with no survivors. More than 900 million people, or 20% of the world's population, suffer from malnutrition. Many of the natural resources used by Unilever, such as groundnut and soya, are rich in protein that could feed the starving. So do Unilever and other agribusiness MNCs try to feed those people who are literally dying for food? No. To do so would reduce profits - the poor cannot afford to pay for their survival. When food is a commodity to be bought and sold it will go the where there is 'demand': a small group in the underdeveloped world's urban centres such as Mexico City, Nairobi and Delhi, and a much larger group in New York, Tokyo and London. There it is sold as processed convenience foods or as meat and other animal products, a very unnatural and wasteful way to feed people.
Unilever's Third World - Though it no longer directly controls the plantations, Unilever perpetuates the dependeny of the producing countries through it's subsdidiary UAC International (formerly the United Africa Co.) which operates in forty African, Middle Eastern and Asian countries. It's activities range from the direct buying of raw materials needed by Unilever's factories to the distribution and sale of European merchandise. Unilever now controls 80% of the international seed market. When the price of palm oil drops, the native producers suffer, not the company, which slows down it's activities and appeals to the state for multiple tax and other exemptions. Thus Unilever buffers itself from the uncertainties of the palm oil market by passing the effects onto those who can least withstand them - the poor, who can barely feed themselves.
Unilever's 'Aid' - Unilever is trying to spread it's markets throughout underdeveloped countries (UDCs) by vigorous advertising which stresses the glamorous Western image of it's products and thereby devalues traditional diets. The Financial Times enthusiastically describes how the marketing operation works: "New markets for British-made ice-cream, sausages, and frozen foods are being promoted by Unilever in up-country regions of Sierra Leone and Liberia...it is possible to establish conservator deep freezes at retail outlets in villages, replenished by van from refrigerated supplies shipped in from Liverpool or London. Arrangements have been made for Birds Eye and Walls products to be sent in containers to Antwerp...shipped to Matadi and then railed 400 km up-country to Kinshasa. Some of the goods are then distributed to other regions in aircraft."
Food For Profit - Agribusiness is busy developing the same industrialised food system in UDCs as it has established in affluent societies like Britain. The formula for large profit margins is maximum processing of food, couple with heavy advertising. Food needs to be 'processed' because people can only consume only a finite amount and a static market is the manufacturers' biggest worry. So the name of the game is 'added value': if we can't eat more, then lets change the nature of what we do eat, promote it widely in it's new 'improved' guise, and charge more for it. A good example is the common potato: a low-cost, highly nutritious staple which cost 8-10p per pound in the UK in 1979. Dehydrated at Cadbury's 'Smash' the price was equivalent to 24p per pound. As Birds Eye crinkle cut chips they worked out at 53p per pound; and ordinary potato crisps worked out at 130p per pound. The winner at over 200p per pound were new-fangled snacks such as 'Frazzles' (Smiths). Each processing step offers a new opportunity for profits.
The British Food Industry - In every major food product, one, two, or sometimes three products dominate the market. Two - Walls (Unilever) and Lyons - almost monopolise ice-cream. Likewise Findus (Nestle) and Birds Eye (Unilever) control frozen foods. However, the large combines like Unilever never retail under their own names, preferring brand names to create the illusion of diversity. Consumers in the UK might think they have seven different brand names of margarine to choose from: 'Blue Band', 'Stork', 'Summer County', 'Flora', 'Krona', 'Echo' and 'Tomor'. How many know that they are all made by Unilever, whose sales account for 70% of the retail market? Uniliver also monopolises the raw materials market in Britain through contract farming. For instance: it has almost complete control of the pea market in East Anglia without owning a single acre of farmland itself.
PROMOTING THE MILITARY AND THE NUCLEAR INDUSTRY
The end product of the work of advertising agencies has borne the brunt of adverse public reaction, ever more so since the coming of the felt tip pen and sticky label. Likewise, the anti-militarist campaigner has tended to approach the recruiters at the public end, with leaflets and pickets at recruitment offices, tatoos and the like. Again, the public lures of the military might take some defacing, but the back-room-scene-setters get by each time. So, in the belief that as much of the military machine's activity as possible should enjoy the light of public scrutiny, a search through the literature has revealed those agencies that are working for/with the Ministry of Death (MoD).
1908: National Peace Council (NPC) founded.
1921: War Resisters International (WRI) founded.
1936: Peace News (PN) founded.
1968: Committee of 100 folds.
1970: The group is founded by individual involved in WRI & PN.
1971: The famous Greenpeace broadsheet 'you and your environment' is published in Peace News.
1970-74: The main work of the group is in trying to stop French Atmoshere (Nukiller) bomb tests at Mururoa Atoll (in the Pacific). The group also campaigns to stop British, Ameriacn, Russian, Chinese and also Indian bomb tests.
1972: Friends of the Earth Ltd (FOE) founded.
1973: In protest at the contiued Fench atmospheric bomb tests the group holds a London to Paris march, which is stopped at the French border by an attack of the CRS (French Riot police). Some individuals cross the border elsewhere and hold a demonstration at Notre Dame cathedral in Paris.
1974: The group co founds the Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT). The group holds a number of marches in Lodon against French bomb tests, then holds a rally at Trafalgar Square against them.
Ronnie Lee, who was both involved in the group and the Hunt Saboteurs Association, is arrested for causing some £52,000 worth of damage to vivisection laboratories and for immobilising boats that were about to be used to murder seals. Ronnie recived 15 months in jail for these activities. On his 2nd imprisonment he was found in possession of 100 white mice that had been released from vivisection laboratories. Ronnie later founded the Animal Liberation Front (ALF).
1974 onwards: The group starts its anti Nukiller work.
1975: The trial of the British Withdrawal from Northern Ireland campaign 14 makes legal history at the Central Criminal Court - The Old Bailey. 14 of the campaign (including activists in the Greenpeace group) are put on trial for "Conspiracy to break the incitement to dissefection Act, 1934. ie for handing out copies of the leaflet "Some Information for discontented British Soldiers". At the end of the two and a half month trial, they are found Not Guilty.
1976: The group highlights the link between Nukiller power and nukiller weapons in a series of factsheets.
The group co founds the Nuclear Information Network.
1977: At the start of the Windscale (public) enquiry, the group holds a 'Mutants March' to celebrate the outcome of the enquiry. The group first highlights the activities of James Fisher & Sons, whose boats carry Nukiller waste around the world, with details published in the groups May newsletter.
The Vancouver Greenpeace Foundation establishes its branch in Britain - Greenpeace Ltd.
The group affiliates to the National Peace Council.
As Australia starts to export Uranium Yellowcake, the group alerts other groups in Europe and anti-nukiller activists in Liverpool where the boat carrying this yellowcake will be going into the port. The group holds pickets about the shipments at Australia house and at Tilbury Docks, while trying to persuade dockers to black boats carrying these loads.
1978: The group becomes an asociate of the War Resisters International.
The group co-founds the Stop Urenco Alliance. Urenco is the joint British/ Dutch/ German/ Uranium enrichment company whose enrichment plant is at Capenhurst in Cheshire. In June the Alliance holds its first demonstration at Capenhurst - A number of demonstrations and blockades were also to take place during 1978 & 1979.
The group co founds the Torness Alliance London region which later becomes the London Region Anti Nuclear Alliance.
The group is very active in the Torness Alliance. Torness was the only "Green-field (nukiller) site" in Britain at the time. The site , 30 miles to the East of Edinburgh was earmarked for the building of an AGR (nukiller reactor) by the South of Scotland Electricity Board (SSEB), Activists from the group (and others) occupied the site for six months, rebuilding "Half Moon Cottage" on the site.
In October these activists were thrown off the area by the SSEB and local police, but within 48 hours some 400 people arrived to take direct action on the site, obstructing, sitting in front of and within both JCB's and bulldozers.
1979: The group takes part in the Torness festival in May, which some 10,000 attend, while 3,000 people make their way over the perimeter fence and occupy the site...The largest anti nukiller power direct action to date.
In June the group takes part in the first dock side direct action to stop Nukiller waste being loaded up to be dumped at sea. The action at Sharpness Docks (some miles away from Stroud and the River aven) involves occupying four cranes and hols up the loading of the 'Gem' for some hours.
The group establishes SAINT, which is one of the first attempts to monitor Nukiller waste transport moving through London...This was later developed into a major campaign to stop this transport through London, including a march along the route these waste trains use in North London. Today this work is being done by ALARM and has helped in persuading the Greater London Council (GLC) to take a stand against this transportion.
1980: As part of the campaign to stop Torness being built, the group demonstrates against & occupies the McAlpine Company Headquarters, who are responsible for the construction work.
1982: Campaigns against both sides in the Falklands War.
1983-4: Initiates 'Stop "The City" - Carnival Against War, Oppression and Destruction'...4 separate day-long street blockades of the financial district ('The City') of London - a major centre for profiteering, the root cause of the world's problems. One blockade involved 3000 people which succeeded in causing a #100m pound shortfall on the day according to the London Times. 1000 arrests over 18 mths.
1984-5: Actively supports the historic year-long miners' strike, (and later in 1986 the Wapping printworkers lock-out).
1985: Launches highly popular campaign against McDonald's, with annual Fayres, starting in 1988, and Days Of Action. Unilever also becomes a focus for action.
About 20 regular activists in the group around this time. Oct 16th, 'United Nations World Food Day' selected as first annual world-wide day of action against McDonald's.
1986: 'What's Wrong With McDonald's?' Factsheet produced.
Late 1980s: A regular programme of public meetings is organised around highly diverse issues (indigenous peoples, the police, industrial disputes, agriculture, sexuality, anarchism, religion, multinationals, Ireland...).
1987-8: Actions in solidarity with aboriginal people's struggles for land rights. Launches campaign against all State Borders in collaboration with Polish anarchists.
Supports a wide range of animal liberation campaigning. About 30 activists in the group about this time.
1989-91: Participates in campaign against the IMF/World Bank. McDonald's secret agents begin 18 month infiltration of the group.
1990: The successful Annual Fayre is transformed into a yearly general 'London Greenpeace Fayre'. McDonald's starts legal action (for 'libel') against activists involved with the group.
1991: McLibel Support Campaign takes off. As the huge scale of the battle (or war) with the McDonald's Corporation becomes apparent the group gradually concentrates more and more on McLibel.
1992: The group help initiate the London-wide 'Reclaim The Streets' Network.
1994: McLibel Trial starts - the campaign grows from strength to strength. The London Greenpeace 'What's Wrong With McDonald's?' flyers become (by the end of the trial) possibly the most widely distributed and famous protest leaflets in history.
1996: Huge and comprehensive 'McSpotlight' website (independent from the group) launched on the Internet from four different locations around the globe - it soon becomes a legendary global resource for researchers and campaigners etc.
McLibel Trial becomes the longest trial in English legal history, ending in December 1996.
1997: 'McLibel' book published. A 3 hr TV 'reconstruction' of the trial is broadcast. McLibel verdict given - over 450,000 London Greenpeace flyers are given out in the following week (outside over 500 of McDonald's 750 UK stores, and around the world) to celebrate the campaign's 'McVictory'. Within a month McDonald's abandons all legal efforts to halt the leaflets' distribution.
A Global Week Of Action against McDonald's is held in October (launched by the 2 McLibel defendants at the Corporation's HQ in Chicago as part of a publicity tour of the US). 'McLibel' exclusive documentary completed.
CD-Rom of 'McSpotlight' produced as website nears 20 million 'hits'.
By November London Greenpeace moves 'beyond McLibel' and is again looking for fresh energy and initiatives. Already earlier in the year a group leaflet 'What's Wrong With Shell?' began to be widely circulated ...
It's worth noting the chain of command: the MoD lets it's requirements be known to the Central Office of Information (COI) - a few people there worth contacting - who then contract the work out to the agencies. It's usual for the agencies to hold a fairly broad portfolio of accounts, and it was difficult not to notice those who aided and abetted the police, the nukiller establishment, etc. While London is the venue for most head offices, there are a few addresses worth noting by those not ensnared by the capital. An obvious example for London activists, given it's proximity to some peace movement offices, is Collett, Dickenson, Pearce and Partners Ltd, of Euston Road, NW1. Their after-tax profit for 1977 was close on half a million pounds, which in part derived from accounts with the COI for army officers, along with the Metropolitan Police recruitment campaign, Barclays Bank, Gallaher fags (there's more than one way to kill 'em), and Whitbread fizz.
Not so far away, in Hampstead Road, NW1, is the local branch of the American group Young and Rubican Ltd. Their Royal Navy account (awarded in 1977) is worth three-quarters of a million pounds, which goes nicely with accounts for the marines, the WRENS, the Mint, Gulf Oil, Courage fizz, and the COI's Energy Conservation account. Also in central London is Medcalf Wrightson with the army (soldiers rather than officers), the WRAC, the Territorials and Trumans fizz. (The fixation with brewers perhaps has more to do with an interest in regular contributors to Tory party coffers than with CAMRA-like zeal.) The class bias of the military brass shows itself here, with the officers' recruitment account separate from the soldiers' one. Of course, they're aiming at two different "markets".
These are the tips of the icebergs, gleaned from the Advertising Annual 1980, and other works. What is required now is both action and further research. (And the action should be soon: this sort of information is generally months old when it becomes easily available, so it should be acted on now lest some of the accounts are changing hands this year.) We are sure readers can devise suitable actions; and if you're interested in developing the research, let us know and we'll be happy to pass on our source material.
Summary: London Greenpeace produced this factsheet showing how many household goods including childrens toys contain the toxic metal Cadmium. It was found that 'Lego' toys contain worrying levels.
The factsheet shows how many household plastic articles such as writing utensils, toothbrushes and toys, contain Cadmium; this is particularly true of red and yellow coloured items. The article also revealed that, amongst those products tested and found to contain Cadmium, was Lego. This is interesting, as Lego UK claim that the use of Cadmium in the manufaturing of their products was elimninated five years ago! Even if no more Cadmium is found in recently produced Lego, these toys manufactured six or more years ago are more likely to be still in use: Lego, like many other plastic items, remains functional for a long time.
Regardless of when they are produced, the existence of
toys and other household articles with cadmium in them is a matter of grave concern, and any item which is known, or strongly suspected, to contain the substance should be withdrawn immediately. Furthermore, detailed investigative research obviously needs to be done in order to ascertain the full extent of the problem.
Exactly 6 years ago, a general strike there successfully broke the authorities control over the society. For over a year, the 10 million Solidarnosc union members and other opposition groups tried to establish a fairer and freer society, until December '81 when the Government imposed Martial Law (interning 30,000 activists in prison). Since then, despite all opposition being illegal, organisation and resistance has continued, with difficulty, in every town and workplace. This summer, there've been 2 waves of strikes in Poland, the first ending after many workers accepted pay rises. This time, the tens of thousands of strikers demanded recognition of their Union, Solidarnosc - as this is being written, a few mines and shipyards are still holding out, despite imposed curfews and police action.
ALL OVER THE WORLD
Not only in Poland, but in EVERY country in the world, people are questioning and confronting those who control society. The ruling classes of the world, whatever they call themselves (capitalist, communist, religious, nationalistic, democratic etc.) are all only concerned with their own power and profits. Yet we, the ordinary people, the vast majority of the population, need not be obedient slaves. In every home, street, workplace, and in the countryside, we can educate each other, organise ourselves, sense our strength and fight to get control of our lives and all the decisions affecting us. Also this month, a 26 year long dictatorship in Burma has been overthrown as millions of people have seized control of the streets of all the major towns.
If we are to change things for the better, we need to learn from the movements in all parts of the world, and to support and link up all these struggles. Then we will have the possibility of dismantling the international institutions (banks, multi-nationals, military organisations and Governments...) which are oppressing us all, and also destroying our beautiful planet. Whether in Poland, Burma, Armenia, El Salvador, Palestine, Chile, Belfast, South Africa or Notting Hill, the streets and workplaces and the land belong to the people who live and work in them...to us. Let's go for it.
In Bermondsey there's a large area of open land known as the Bricklayers site (former railway), used by local people and populated by unusual wild plants and animals. Now it has been taken over by a company ('Ideal Homes') who're trying to prevent local residents using the land, and planning to destroy the wildlife habitats. They aim to make a quick ú30m profit out of building luxury flats for yuppies. People are livid but unsure of how to stop it. A small local campaign has started, with a 40-strong demonstration on April 10th...
Leaflet: We All Live in Bhopal, an analysis of the Union Carbide massacre