Mark Wallinger: Brian Haw was the conscience of a nation grown quiescent

Share
Related Topics

Brian showed us what a quiescent and supine country we've become. After two million came out to protest against the Iraq war it was as if everybody decided to give up. But Brian never gave up. Then they brought in laws trying to curtail his/our right to protest outside Parliament and very few lifted a finger to do anything about that.

He was a unique and remarkable man. Earlier, I was asked how to describe him and the first words I came up with were tenacity, integrity and dignity. And then Michael Culver, an old colleague of his, said rage, and I think that is absolutely right. That's not to say he wasn't a funny man. He was self-aware and could be ironic or sarcastic. What Brian was saying was never really reported properly, nor was the depth and heroism of his struggle. People who should know better would describe him as a crank and wouldn't bother to hear what he had to say.

I first met Brian six or seven years ago. I started taking photographs of his protest, not for any real reason, just because I was so impressed. But his achievement went beyond protest. He documented the horrific birth defects suffered as a result of depleted uranium from the first Gulf War; and the lies and evasions of Bush and Blair, which were emblazoned on banners as their words turned to ash. These images and the facts were overwhelming.

Over time, Brian has been proven wholly right. It's pretty obvious to everyone now that we went to war on a lie. In many ways he was the guilty conscience of all the complacent, lazy people who hadn't taken a stand or examined their views at all. I think people often felt threatened by that. You would spend time with him and people would drive by, shouting abuse, and I think it's because they were threatened that they'd never taken such an adamant stand about anything.

He was a Christian and there was a sense that he was bearing witness to what was happening in the world. But what angered him most was the death of the innocents: the children who lost their lives to warfare and sanctions. That angered him more than lies, stupidity and self-serving politicians. Brian Haw stood for peace and love. What are we going to do now there is no one there?

Artist Mark Wallinger's 'State Britain' was a recreation of a display which had originally accompanied Brian Haw's peace protest

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Office / Sales Manager

£22000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established and expanding South...

Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Order Fulfilment

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join a thrivi...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Syria's Kurds have little choice but to flee amid the desolution, ruins and danger they face

Patrick Cockburn
A bartender serves two Mojito cocktails  

For the twenty-somethings of today, growing up is hard to do

Simon Kelner
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones