Simon Barrow's blog

Arms trade trial raises key issues about the industry, churches and protest

While the trial at Stratford Magistrates' Court in east London of five Christian anti-arms fair protesters is tough on the defendants (including Ekklesia associate Symon Hill), it is already doing a good job of exposing the issues in a number of ways.

The arms trade is guilty, not those who pray for peace

Today (3 February 2014) five Christian peace activists go on trial at Stratford Magistrates’ Court in East London. They are charged with aggravated trespass. One of the five is Symon Hill, a writer, researcher and activist who is also an Ekklesia associate, assisting us with several areas of work. He was formerly a directorial colleague for a period.

Damage limitation and alliance building: gains of campaigning on the Lobbying Bill

While the government has had its way overall, as parliamentary arithmetic finally dictates, the 130 NGOs gathered under the banner of the Commission on Civil Society and Democratic Engagement (CCSDE) won some very significant concessions from government earlier in the process, as a direct result of their campaign.

Promoting a Day of Nonviolence and Peace

In Britain we now have Armed Forces Day, but no specific day to mark or encourage peaceful conflict resolution or transformation.

DWP: public servant or propaganda vehicle?

The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), a government department which appears to be increasingly and inappropriately fashioned by the the ideological welfare-cutting politics of secretary of state Iain Duncan Smith, displays some interesting communications priorities.

MLK and the revolutionary spirit of love

Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on 15 January 1929. The federal holiday in his honour in the United States is the third Monday in January.

Charity exemption is not the way to tackle a dangerous Lobbying Bill

There has been a united, determined campaign against the gagging impact of the Lobbying Bill on the part of voluntary groups and NGOs. Some will therefore think it a shame that a minority of charities, and the Charities Aid Foundation, have at this late stage chosen the path of seeking exemptions for themselves rather than focussing on the wider considerations.

The real lobbying villains are getting away with it

Today (13 January 2014) the House of Lords is discussing Part 1 of the controversial Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill.

Lord Tyler and Baroness Williams attempt to buy off charities on lobbying

Lord Paul Tyler, Liberal Democrat spokesman in the Lords on constitutional reform issues, and Baroness Shirley Williams, former leader of Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords have attacked Caroline Lucas MP as "misguided and wrong" in her concerns about the Lobbying Bill – namely, that unless significantly amended (or better, scrapped and completely redrafted) it will let corporate lobbyists off the hook while gagging non-party organisations and unions.

Lobbying Bill trade union 'data grab' should also be resisted

Much attention has been focused on the Transparency in Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning, and Trade Union Administration Bill in recent weeks – notably, its failure to tackle the real problem of 'big money' corporate lobbying, together with its attack on the democratic rights and free speech of non-party NGOs, charities, faith and belief groups and other civic organisations in the run-up to an election.