Challenging Militarism


From The Tribunal December 6th 1917

_ This is a further update in a series of extracts from the No Conscription Fellowship’s journal, published in the UK between March 1916 and November 1918_
_For other extracts go to:_

From our Parliamentary Correspondent.

The problem of the conscientious objector still continues to exercise the minds of the House of Lords. On November 28th. Lord Charnwood moved that all conscientious objectors should be deported as a danger to the State and that teacher conscientious objectors should be debarred from the future training of the children. Among other things the noble lord described them as a hard, vicious lot of people, while lord Lambourne improved the occasion by imparting to his distinguished colleagues that: “My own firm belief is that out of a hundred so-called conscientious objectors – and I expressly exclude the Quaker sect – fifty are cowards, thirty are cranks , and the remaining twenty may be honest men. I believe that the indulgence shown to these men has not only encouraged them to what I believe to be unpatriotic conduct, but has encouraged others to follow their example.” Lord Lambourne as Colonel Lockwood represented Epping in the House of Commons for many years. He was famous in the world of sport for his decorative waistcoats and buttonholes and for sketches of dubious art with which he used to beguile the tedium of the House of Commons. Lord Charnwood has even less claim to distinction. As Mr. G.R. Benson he represented the Woodstock division in the House of Commons in the Liberal interest from 1892 to 1895. History has no other record.

The motion was opposed by Lord Crewe on behalf of the Government, who stated there was no intention “of extending the scope of the indulgence of exemption, now given to conscientious objectors.” Lord Parmoor, Lord Courtney, and Lord Gainford spoke against the motion, which was withdrawn.

By the time these lines appear in print it is hoped the House of Commons will have had an opportunity to reconsider its decision to disenfranchise conscientious objectors.

The atmosphere of the Commons is less oppressive than at any time during the last three years. Lord Hugh Cecil and Mr. Adamson’s speeches on disenfranchisement, Mr. Henderson’s open opposition to censorship of leaflets, and Lord Lansdowne’s letter have all contributed to clarify the air and to impart an untoward feeling of self-respect to Members of Parliament. The necromancy of the Welsh Wizard is being found out and the supply of hot air seems to evaporate much more quickly. I would advise the secret service to give eye and ear to the smoking room of the House of Commons; it is a very hotbed of seditious talk, and if not stopped someone might repeat some of the utterances withing the hearing of the common people who might be vulgar enough to give serious heed.

Talk of a Stockholm Conference has been revised, and it is rumoured that the Government will find itself in a much weaker position than when Count Czernin made his offer a few weeks back. The cards have now passed from the hands of the British statesmen.

On Monday last an influential conference representative of politics, literature and science was summoned under the signatures of Lord Parmoor, and Mr. R.D. Holt to consider ways and means of opposing D.O.R.A (27C), the censorship of leaflets, a powerful and significant combination.

The revised constitution of the Labour Party is being widely discussed and quite a number of Members of Parliament who are adherents to the Liberal Party are contemplating fighting their next electoral contest under the banner of Labour. I have met with one or two fairly prominent Nonconformist ministers who will join the Party while the “Medical World” announces that “among the Labour Party condidates at the next General Election there are likely to be ten or a dozen medical men pledged to support a programme of State Medical Service.

Snow stops play - but peace must go on

Snowflake image

NFPB was due to meet on 3rd March in Carlisle. As we approached the weekend, however, it became clear that – well, that roads and rail routes to the city and to the Meeting House were unlikely to be clear. Emails sent to all our members two days before managed to reach nearly all with the announcement that we would not be going ahead with a meeting on that date. Friends locally and further afield were grateful to have this decision made.


From The Tribunal November 29 1917

This is a further update in a series of extracts from the No Conscription Fellowship’s journal, published in the UK between March 1916 and November 1918
_For other extracts go to:_

The following poem is taken from a booklet entitled “Three Ballads (an intermezzo in War-time” by a distinguished man of letters

The case of Lieutenant Tattoon, M.C.
Is worthy of some remark.
He thought (and one should not think, you see)
That the War which was to make people free
Was now being fought in the dark.

For at first (he said) our aims were clear,
Men gave their lives with gladness
To save small nations from the fear
Of tyrants who would domineer
And doom mankind to madness.

Our rulers had claimed – and rightly I ween – That the Germans must be “broken”;
But afterwards, What that word might mean,
And what sort of peace was to supevene,
Were things which they left unspoken.

And no-one knew whatever on Earth
Our present objective and aim were,
And whether the loss and deadly dearth
Of another Million of lives was worth
Some gains in Mesopotamia.

These were the thoughts of Lieutenant Tattoon – Of course it was very improper,
But he actually gave them expression, and soon
Found out he was trying to jump the Moon
And only coming a cropper!

For to say what you mean is all right as a rule
In a far oversea Dominion,
But at home or under the Prussian school
It is not safe – and a man is a fool
Even to have an opinion.

A Medical Board sat on him, in state
(No wonder they looked so solemn);
His sins were entered upon the slate
With every lapse detailed to date-
And they added up the Column.

He thought – which for a Lieutenant was rash;
He spoke but should have kept silence;
He treated Imperial talk as trash
And considered the honour before the cash
Which might come to the British Islands.

‘Twas insubordination, they said,
And he surely must be crazy – Yet there he stood, in mien well-bred,
Collected and calm, with clean-cut head,
And looking as fit as a daisy.

An M.C. too – so what should they do?
‘Twas a most provoking and strange craze.
Yet to put him in prison a storm would brew
Of wrath – the mere proposal to mew
A hero in Woking or Strangeways!

For half an hour (as once in Heaven)
Silence fell on the folk assembled;
Till by one inspired the stillness was riven:
“‘Twas nervous shock.” The cue was given – And the whole court gaily dissembled.

“Poor fellow!” they said, “‘Twas nervous strain,
He’s a subject for our pity;
Let him to Hospital go, till his brain
Is healed, and there’s no danger again
That he will repeat that ditty.”

To a Shell-shock ward then he was sent,
And there he was kindly treated
And even indulged to the top of his bent:-
But there ever since has safely been pent,
And his words have been repeated.


From The Tribunal 22nd November 1917

This is a further update in a series of extracts from the No Conscription Fellowship’s journal, published in the UK btween March 1916 and November 1918
_For other extracts go to:_

In the House of Commons on Tuesday, 13th November, Mr. E. Davies asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether, in view of the feeling which exists in the country owing to the fact that mean who claimed exemption as conscientious objectors, but failed to satisfy the various standards of the tribunals in different parts of the country and who, refusing to obey military orders, have suffered punishment on more than one occasion for what is, in effet, the same offence,he is ina positions to say that the question of the method of dealing with these men is being reconsidered by the Government?

Sir George Cave: if the hon. member means by his question to suggest that the general feeling of the country is adverse to the continued enforcement of the law in the case of persons claiming to be conscientious objectors, I do not agree with him. It must be remembered that all conscientious objectors now in prison have been offered their release on condition of their undertaking non-military work under the Home Office scheme, and have either refused the offer or failed to carry out the conditions on which they were released. The question how these men should be dealt with has been recently considered by the Government, who have determined that the law must be enforced, and that they must serve their sentences in prison. But in the case of men of this class who have sentenced to a long term of imprisonment the Government have decided that some relaxation of the prison rules should be allowed to prisoners who have earned the marks representing a twelve-months’ sentence (whether such marks have been earned in one or more sentences), and I propose shortly to give directions to this effect under No. 243a of the Prison Rules.

In the House of Lords on Nov, 14th, Earl Curzon stated that he would consult with the Home Secretary and make a statement at a later date as to the possibility of a further relaxation of prison rules.

Information is to hand from one prison that an alteration has already been made there in the regulation regarding books. Under the new order a C.O. is allowed to have his own books sent to him at the prison. His name must be clearly written therein. These books are to be housed in the Library but kept for his use only and he is apparently to be allowed the usual number in his cell at a time. At the end of his sentence he will be able to take these books away with him. We await Lord Curzon’s further statement with interest.

STOP FUELLING WAR (SFW) - Eurosatory witness and action

Monday, June 11, 2018 to Friday, June 15, 2018

PARIS – at the time of the arms fair, SFW would like to have a large presence in central Paris. ..they want this event to be fun and approachable, to help the general public become aware of events such as Eurosatory, the influence of the arms trade on foreign policy, and the lack of investment in alternatives to armed responses to conflict.

Letter to the Editor from E. Sylvia Pankhurst

From The Tribunal, 13th December 1917

This is a further update in a series of extracts form the No Conscription Fellowship’s journal, published in the UK between March 1916 and November 1918
For further extracts go to:


Dear Editor.— Whilst there is yet time pacifists should seriously consider whether the present Representation of the People Bill is a measure worthy to be placed in the British Statute Book in this twentieth century when so many other nations have thrown open the franchise both for local and national purposes to all men and women without any weighting of the scales to the advantage of the rich and the disadvantage of the poor, such as is provided by plural and dual voting, by pauper disqualification and by registration which is not continuous. This Bill differentiates most unjustly against women, providing that less than half of them will be enfranchised under it.

By the evil precedent of disenfranchising conscientious objectors it has struck a formidable blow at freedom and progress.

When this war, once advertised as “The War to end War,” at last comes to an end, the militarists will make a hard fight to retain conscription. Should they succeed, we shall see year by year growing numbers of young conscientious objectors disenfranchised. Thus the vote against militarism will be whittled down.

Nothing can be more dangerous to liberty of conscience and the progress of human kind than toleration of a system which punishes convictions by disenfranchisement. There is no doubt in my mind that pacifists should urge Members of Parliament to oppose the remaining stage of this Bill. As a woman who would be enfranchised under this measure I would rather wait till I can vote with all men and women on equal terms.—

Yours, etc. E Sylvia Pankhurst
400 Old Ford Road, E.


From The Tribunal November 15th 1917

This is a further update in a series of extracts from the No Conscription Fellowship’s journal, published in the UK between March 1916 and November 1918
_For other extracts go to:_

Extracts from B. J. Boothroyd’s court-martial statement.

“I have refused to acknowledge military authority because I do do not regard myself as a soldier. That the law says I am a soldier does not concern me; the law was passed for the immoral purpose of forcing men to commit murder and to expedite murder, and therefore, I have no option but to refuse to obey it.

“War is the sanction of every vice that human mind can imagine. Every form of bestiality, every category of sin that human history contains is encouraged by war an exemplified in this one. War inevitably creates a state of things in which lying, treachery and end theft are enforced by Act of Parliament – in which the torture and destruction of men’s and women’s bodies is made the subject of technical instruction, and in which every evil, the capacity for which is inherent in humanity, is taught as a virtue by civil, military and ecclesiastical authority. With this state of things I am out of harmony, and to every manifestation of it I must offer uncompromising opposition.

“To ask me to be a soldier is to ask me to throw away my humanity, to extinguish the spark of divinity that is the soul of every man, and to ask me to act contrary to what are to me fundamental ethical laws, namely, to return good for evil, to refrain from judging and punishing the sins of others, and to treat others as I would be treated myself.

“Further, war necessitates the denial of that liberty of choice and action and that insistence on the sanctity of individuality which is necessary to human growth and development, and substitiutes a course of training that reduces the race to a set of standardised automata, without wills or judgement, permanently subject to the interest of a ruling class.

“Moreover, I am convinced that if the people of England and Germany could know to-day what I know of the political and financial events which led up to this war, instead of being fed upon the lies and half-truths of our officially ordered press, the men who are now killing each other in their ignorance would refuse to fire another shot unless it were at the rulers who have deceived and exploited them.

“Until this spell of false morality, false facts and bad logic, appealed for under the name of patriotism is broken, I believe there is no future for the race, but chaos and destruction. For my part, I intend to do all I can to exemplify another way of life, based on a conception of human relationships which will render way impossible. My alternative to punishment, whether of men or nations, is the example of a better way; to antagonism – amicable co-operation based on the common interests of humanity; to armed defence – fearless trust of my neighbour; and any law which orders me to live contrary to these principles I shall disobey without hesitation and try to persuade others to do so.

“With all due respect, I must disclaim any interest in the opinions expressed by this Court as to my guiltiness or otherwise, for I regard myself as the accuser in this case, believing this Court to be both a symbol and an instrument of that system of militarism which has plunged the world into misery. I wish to say, however,- and this in conclusion – that I do not wish my attitude to be mistaken for discourtesy towards the members of this Court, or to any soldiers.

My attitude towards soldiers is one of hope that their splendid qualities may some day be diverted from unnecessary destruction to the enrichment of humanity, by a fuller appreciation of the ‘Sermon on the Mount’ and a better acquaintance with foreign politics.”
B. J. Boothroyd

NAE NUKES ANYWHERE! March and Peace Rally at Faslane

Saturday, September 22, 2018

NB: Change of date International Rally at Faslane marking the first anniversary of the signing of the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (aka Ban Treaty) – being organised by Scottish CND

Christianity & War Reclaiming the nonviolence of Jesus

Fly Kites Not Drones

Sunday, March 18, 2018 to Sunday, March 25, 2018


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