Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Brighton-an open city to demonstrate

Congratulations must go to The Brighton Greens and Cllr Ben Duncan, cabinet member for communities, equality and public protection, ( what a title!) for upholding the right to protest. They state it is  a "duty" to protest against cuts to public services and we totally agree with them.

With effective demonstrations in Brighton by UK Uncut against the banks, occupying 5 of them, along with the Spanish protest camp , activists campaign effectively to oppose the international austerity measures being imposed on all of us.

This decision acknowledges and upholds our democratic rights, which working people have struggled for from the days of the Tolpuddle martyrs and the Chartist movement. They are not rights which were given down to us from on high but rights which were hard won through struggles against the State.

 2 months ago,  the local police did everything possible to allow the racist EDL and their friends to spread their hate message through Brighton, arresting innocent people for chanting anti-fascist slogans. Sections of the Public Order Act were used to kettle and restrict the rights of anti-fascists. Hopefully this will not happen again.

However, we all know, as in Egypt and elsewhere, what the state giveth so the state also taketh away. Our rights can only be assured if we all organise to defend them. That has been the history of the fight for democratic rights over centuries. It does help though that the Green Party has taken this progressive stand and we very much welcome it.

Monday, May 30, 2011

From Spain to Greece the message is loud and clear- No IMF/ World Bank austerity measures.

Thousands of people across Greece once again made it clear on the streets that they reject the IMF/ World Bank/ E.U. austerity measures being imposed and will not just sit and take it. Like people across Spain, Portugal and elsewhere, they stand up to the Bankers and the system that caused the crisis.

The crisis of capitalism is international and the solution must also be international. Defaulting on the debt and mobilising against attempts to impose these attacks on working people is a message spreading like wildfire across Europe. Inspite of attacks by  Greek fascists over the past few weeks,  the attempt to use  racism and scapegoats has not deterred the movement. and their messages of hate was rejected. The struggle continues. International solidarity must be strengthened. The lessons across Europe and the Middle East must be learnt. Workers' unity, co-ordinated action and the unity of the Left is essential.
The people on the streets of Athens shouted, "We want our life, we want our happiness, we want our dignity. Out with the thieves and out with the IMF".

In Britain, June 30th  must be made the largest day of joint industrial action by trade unions and service users in defence of jobs and the public services against the attacks by the Con Dems .

Resolution by the Popular Assembly of Syntagma square
… an assembly attended by 3,000 people.
For a long time now, decisions are taken for us, without us.
We are workers, unemployed, pensioners, youth who came to Syntagma to struggle for our lives and our futures.
We are here because we know that the solution to our problems can only come from us.
We invite all Athenians, the workers, the unemployed and the youth to Syntagma, and the entire society to fill up the squares and to take life into its hands.
There, in the squares, we shall co-shape all our demands.
We call all workers who will be striking in the coming period to end up and to remain at Syntagma.
We will not leave the squares before those who lead us here leave first: Governments, the Troika, Banks, Memorandums and everyone who exploits us.
We tell them that the debt is not ours.
The only defeated struggle is the one that was never fought!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Brighton Uncut in action to save the NHS

Well done to the organisers for their brilliant work!

June 30th Worthing Solidarity with the strikes - Day of Action Against The Cuts

On Thursday June 30th it looks highly likely that members of the PCS, NUT, UCU, and ATL unions among others, will be out on strike against government attacks on workers' pensions, pay and conditions. This is the next big crucial battle in upping the fightback against austerity, and one which everyone opposed to the cuts must support.

Worthing Solidarity Network is calling on everyone possible to support the workers taking strike action and make sure the community is connected to the strikes taking place:

- If you work, take the day off and go to a picket line to show support, and/or join union- and WSN-organised activities through the day
- If you don't work, if you are at school or college, just come and join in with the Day of Action

Details have still to be finalised, and your ideas are *very* welcome

This is an early warning to book the day off/stick it in your diary!

The strikes if they go ahead will be big national news, and - taking the lead of Spanish workers and young people at present - we want to make sure that everyone in Worthing hears about the alternative to cuts, and sees for themselves the unity being created between workers under attack and everyone else facing cuts to their benefits, EMA and services.

Worthing Solidarity Network
 Angry about your wages being held down while prices soar?
 Struggling to make ends meet?
 Worried about not having a decent pension when you retire?
Under pressure at work?
Fed up with poor and expensive housing?
 Worried about the future of our NHS, social care and other public services?
WSN is a group of ordinary people like you, coming together to support each other and to campaign against the cuts that the government and our local authorities are trying to push through – which they tell us we have no choice about. But the rich are getting richer and not paying their share, and the banks who caused the mess are raking it in! Get involved:
Tel: 07733151116 worthingsolidarity@gmail.com www.worthingsolidaritynetwork.blogspot.com Facebook: "Worthing Solidarity Network

Friday, May 27, 2011

Urgent update from Barcelona's camp in Plaça Catalunya

repressió en plaça catalunya
As you may have already seen in the media today, very early in the morning the police attacked Barcelona's camp in Plaça Catalunya. They blocked the square, with 300 people or more inside, and the cleaning brigade of the city began to dismantel the camp (tents, banners and so on...). Their official explanation was that they needed to clean and wanted to take away all the things that could represent a danger for people's safety tomorrow night: Catalunya square is the usual place of celebration of Barcelona's football team supporters and if Barcelona wins tomorrow the champions league, thousand's of people are expected to go to this area of the city (and usually there are riots with police and football supporters).

Very fastly thousands of people began to concentrate in the periphery of Plaça Catalunya and after a while people managed to break police barrier that was by that time weak and re-enter inside the square and joined the people inside and "reconquest" the square.

There are some people injured, probably 50 or so. The TV images show clearly the police violence and the nonviolent resistance of demonstrators.

Today we have called for demonstrations everywhere at 19 pm in solidarity with the camp and the movement. At 17pm, there is also a demonstration against health care cuts that will also end at Catalunya's square.

Tomorrow's night can be difficult because of the football match that offer a good chance for the government to create problems to the camp. Anyway what happened today it's a political victory and it's clear that public opinions supports the movement.

Police Fire Rubber Bullets at Protesters in Barcelona

by Marcelo Aparicio
BARCELONA — Spanish police fired rubber bullets and swung truncheons to disperse anti-crisis protesters in a Barcelona square Friday as cleaning crews cleared their tent camp.

Catalan police in anti-riot gear moved in after about 50 protesters sat down on the street to block a convoy of cleaning trucks leaving the Plaza de Cataluna square with remnants of the encampment.
Police, some with plastic shields, were shown on television dragging protesters along the street and swiping with truncheons at activists, who had been chanting: "They shall not pass."
An AFP reporter at the scene saw rubber bullets fired.

The protest blockade was broken up within minutes but about 100 protesters regrouped in the square. They were surrounded by two police cordons blocking hundreds more people from entering from nearby roads.
Demonstrators chanted: "The people, united, will never be defeated!" and "No to violence!"
Cleaning crews with 10 lorries dismantled the last of the tents under police surveillance. Later, police left the square and let thousands of demonstrators flood in but by mid-afternoon only a few hundred remained.
Ten people were taken to hospital, mostly for multiple bruises and psychological shock, after the clashes, said a Catalan emergency medical services spokeswoman. A total 87 people including one police officer were treated, mostly for light injuries, she said.

"Their cleaning has washed up blood, people bleeding from the head," said a comment on the Barcelona protest's Twitter account "acampadabcn".

It was the first attempt by police to clear demonstrators from a nationwide movement that began May 15 and grew in city squares across the country.

Police said they had to clear the encampment in case Barcelona beat Manchester United in the Champions League football finals in Wembley on Saturday and the square was needed for celebrations.They also swooped on an encampment in Lleida, in the same northeastern Spanish region of Catalonia, where the Plaza Ricard Vinyes was cleared for possible football celebrations.

"Once the cleaning is finished they can go back but without the tents, knives and potentially dangerous objects," a police spokeswoman said in Barcelona.

Activists vowed to return.
"They are making us leave because of the match but we will come back again here or elsewhere because our match is more important," said Albert Bonet, a 42-year-old artist who was in the protest.
The demonstrators are known variously as "the indignant", "M-15" after the birth date of their movement, and "Spanish Revolution".

Mostly young, they have gathered in city squares across Spain in peaceful protests to decry mainstream political parties, soaring unemployment, corruption and welfare cuts.

At the vanguard of the rallies in Madrid, protesters remained camped in the central square Puerta del Sol but in smaller numbers than at the peak just before Spain's May 22 general elections.

In the municipal and regional polls, voters punished the ruling Socialist Party for the grim economy and handed a huge victory to the conservative opposition Popular Party.

Madrid protesters say they plan to decide Sunday how to carry on the movement


Tickets £5. To book call 020 7801 2768  
Speakers include: Tony Benn, George Galloway, Tariq Ali, Lindsey  
German, David Swanson. More details:

Osama bin laden has been killed but the "war on terror" goes on.  
For all President Obama's rhetoric about a diplomatic solution,  
there are more than double the number of US troops in Afghanistan  
than there were when he was elected and he has expanded the war  
into Pakistan. Obama's generals are pressing him to extend the
2014 deadline for withdrawing US troops.

More Afghan civilians are being killed than at any time since the  
invasion 10 years ago. Another British soldier was killed last
weekend, bringing the total to 366, close to twice the number
killed in Iraq. American soldiers are dying at the highest rate  
since 2001, with eight killed yesterday alone.

No wonder a former British ambassador to Afghanistan says the
military strategy is "profoundly wrong" (SEE http://bit.ly/k31vYX  
), while even the US House of Representatives came close this
week to passing a bill requiring Obama to submit a plan for  
withdrawing US troops from Afghanistan.

Meanwhile the Arab spring has threatened western influence in the  
Middle East. The bombing of Libya is an attempt by the west to
re-establish its control. Despite all the talk of  
humanitarianism, it is clearly a war for regime change which  
marks a new phase in the "war on terror". (SEE JOHN PILGER:  
http://bit.ly/k9YocW )

Stop the War's conference on 11 June brings together some of the  
leading  activists and experts on the "war on terror" to analyse  
the way the war is developing and debate the next steps for the  
anti-war movement.

Forums at the conference will include:
* Afghanistan and Pakistan;  
* The Arab Revolutions ,:  
* Imperialism in the 21st Century;  
* Women and War;  
* Cultural Resistance to War;
* Iraq: The Aftermath.

Speakers include writer Tariq Ali, veteran campaigner and Stop
the War President Tony Benn, writer Pankaj Mishra,  US peace  
Campaigner and writer David Swanson, Joan Humphries from Military  
Families Against the War, George Galloway, journalist  Mehdi  
Hassan, Lindsey German, poet Sanasino, artists David Gentleman
and Peter Kennard, and many more.

The conference is open to all. Entrance is £5. To book your  
place, register now: Tel 020 7801 2768

A new Spanish movement to watch

Here is a new video from barcelona .

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Real Democracy- Spanish style

Camp_29may_VERTSpanish people living in London will be trying to emulate the protests from back home outside their London embassy this Saturday from 10am, though the notion of any political event starting promptly at 10 an a Saturday morning does have a slightly dreamy quality.
Here are the demands of their movement.
Alternatively support the Spanish camp in Brighton'

1. Elimination of politicians’ privileges:
- Strict control of absenteeism of elected people in their positions. Specific sanctions when they avoid doing their job.
- Suppression of their tax privileges; that elected representatives’ salaries be equal to the average Spaniard’s, plus offering them the necessary bonuses due to their specific functions.
- Suppression of immunity associated to having a government position; that corruption crimes do not prescribe.
- That all people holding public positions make a public statement of their wealth.
- Reduction of free designation positions.

2. Against unemployment:
- Create more jobs, thus promoting a reduction in the working hours and until structural unemployment does not exist, in other words, until unemployment rates are under 5%.
- Retirement age at 65, with no possibility of increasing that age, until youth unemployment is solved.
- Offering bonuses to those business that have less than 10% of temporary employees.
- Employment security: that collective firing and laid-offs be impossible, as well as those due to objective cause, as long as businesses have benefits; fiscalization of big businesses to ensure that positions that could be stable are not covered with temporary workers.
- Re-establish the 426€ subsidy for all long term unemployed people.  
3. Right to a home:
- Expropriation of homes built on stock but which have not been sold by the state, so that they are included in the market as part of the plan of protected rent.
- Offering economic help to young people and those who do not have the appropriate resources so that they can rent.
- That datio in payment be allowed in order to cancel mortgages on homes.
4. Good quality public services:
- Suppress useless expenses in the public administration; to establish an independent control of expenses and budgets.
- Hiring sanitary personnel to end waiting lists.
- Hiring more teachers to guarantee the student/classroom ratio and support groups.
- Reduction of tuition costs at the university.
- Public financing of research to guarantee its independence.
- Cheap public transportation; it must also be of good quality and ecologically sustainable: re-establishment of the trains that are being replaced by the AVE (high speed) with their original prices; make season tickets cheaper; restrict private vehicles in the center of the cities; build bike lanes.
- Social resources: that the Dependency Law be applied, creating networks of local care-givers, as well as local mediation and guardianship services.
5. Control of banks:
- Prohibition of any type of rescuing to banks: those entities which have difficulty must either file for bankruptcy or become nationalized, thus constituting a public bank under social control.
- Raise bank taxes in a way directly proportional to the social expense created by a crisis which has occurred due to a bad management.
- That the banks return to the Treasury all public capital. 
- The prohibition for Spanish banks to invest their money in any tax heaven.
- Regulation of sanctions to speculative movements and bank malpractice.
- Raise taxes to the rich and banks.
- Suppression of SICAV (similar to US open-ended mutual fund).
- Recovery of the Patrimony Tax.
- Real and effective control of fiscal fraud as well as the escape of capital to tax heaven.
- International promotion of the adoption of a tax to international transactions (Tobin)
7. Citizens’ liberties and participative democracy:
     - No Internet control. Abolition of the Ley Sinde.
- Protection of information freedom and research journalism.
- Obligatory referendum to important issues that modify citizens’ living conditions.
- Obligatory referendum before introducing any measures dictated by the European Union.
- Change in the Electoral Law in order to guarantee a real representative system, proportional so that it does not discriminate any political force or social will, and in which blank vote and null vote also be represented.
- Independence of the Judiciary power: Reform in the Fiscal Ministry to guarantee its independence; rejection of the appointment done by the Executive power of members of the Constitutional Court or of the General Council of the Judiciary power.
- Reform of the figure of Fiscal Ministry to guarantee its independence.
8. Reduction of military expenses.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Solidarity with Southampton Council workers

Threats of pay cuts, redundancies and cuts to services are being resisted by the council workers and they deserve our full support . They are taking action on behalf of all of us against these austerity measures. The bankers caused the crisis not trade unionists, service users or the local communities that the trade unions serve.
Whilst the gap between the rich and poor increases, with further attacks on public services being carried out, others are saying enough is enough and fighting back. The NHS, Welfare State and local public services are essential to all of us.
Southampton Council workers are this week taking a militant and principled stand against cuts and privatisation that deserves to be emulated everywhere and supported as much as possible.Please rush messages of support and solidarity (like the example below, whether from your union branch or as an individual) to the Unite union convenor there:

Mark Wood markwood366@btinternet.com
Solidarity forever!
Worthing Solidarity Network

I've been asked to send a message of solidarity to your members from the UNITE UK Combine Committee in Fujitsu.

Congratulations on standing up against the cuts to public services.  Those like you who work in them and who directly face just in jobs, terms and conditions, those like us who work in the private sector but supply the public sector, and everyone who wants decent public services needs to stand together against the cuts.  Your local strike, like those which have already taken place in Tower Hamlets, Camden and Doncaster, is an important step on the road to the sort of coordinated action needed to defeat the cuts.  You are playing a brave and vital role in building up the movement.

We wish you every success in your campaign, and if there is anything we can do to be of practical assistance, please don't hesitate to ask.


Ian Allinson
Chair, UNITE Fujitsu UK Combine Committee

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Green Party administration asked to reconsider the decision on Travellers in Brighton.

It appears that the controversial decision regarding the position of Travellers by Brighton and Hove Council has hit some sensitive points. The Green Party has had a consistent and progressive position in opposing racism, sexism and homophobia. Many of their members have played a positive role in the anti-racist movement over many decades. It therefore came as a shock to many when we learned that they were planning to move  25 famillies off land last week.

Romanies have in the past, and continue to face, daily racist attacks from the State and organised racist gangs across various parts of East Europe. In the past they were also victims of the Nazis. For this reason, it was hoped that a radical group, such as the Greens, would take a more sensitive approach towards them.

Since the announcement was first made we have been informed that  an alternative site is being investigated but the land is to be used both as a natural site and for building on. Could alternative land be used for the building? We are further informed that any postponement will incurr costs to the council, which if goes ahead could affect front line services.

It is also reported that Caroline Lucas MP suggested that the move should not go ahead until an alternative is found for the famillies. Many would agree with her on this.

For this reason we hope that the Green Party administration would reconsider its policy decision and consult fully with the representatives of the Romani groups in the UK before taking any further action. A suitable site providing stability for the famillies and their children needs to be established to prevent this happening again.The needs of Travellers also represents an important front line service that needs to be fully protected.




We are pleased to reprint this appeal from: The Angry Claimant- Benefit cuts for single people. Another example of callous policies by a callous government who put profits first and second with people coming last.

At the moment the government limits housing benefit for most single people living in the private sector to the local housing allowance for a room in a shared house.  The justification for this was originally that it was reasonable for young people to share.  It now intends to extend limit to single under 35s from this from January 2012.

Over 55 thousand claimants will be affected and the average loss will be £43 according to the Department for Work and Pensions.
By law the government has to refer changes (apart from those resulting from recent acts of Parliament) to the Social Security Advisory Committee (SSAC) an independent committee.  This will issue and pubilicise advice to the government about the proposed changes.  The government can and often does ignore the SSAC's advice, but a powerful objection from the SSAC is a good way of getting publicity. The SSAC has also been successful in getting changes of detail made to legislation.
Housing association and supported housing tenants will not be directly affected by this change, as local housing allowance does not apply to them.  But anyone who is generally concerned with the housing of single people, or who moves single people on into private rented housing, should be extremely concerned about this change. 
The SSAC is inviting your submissions on the proposals.  You can find details at  http://www.ssac.org.uk/, or from the Secretary to the Committee, Gill Saunders (0207 962 8345). Representations should be sent to the Committee at N E Spur, Level 3, Adelphi Building,
1-11 John Adam Street, London WC2N 6HT
or by email to ssac@dwp.gsi.gov.uk, or via the consultation response facility on the website, to arrive no later than 17 June 2011.
In your response you might want to focus on the difficulties people in this age group already have in finding accommodation.  You might also want to focus on the effect on people who are working in low paid jobs, particularly where they have had to move to get work. This measure hardly seems to tie in with the government's aim to create a mobile workforce.
I also suggest that you consider press releasing your response to local media.  It is important that people understand what is going on and what effect it will have.


Regrettably the angry claimant doesn’t have the resources to give advice about individual cases.  But you can get advice here:

Lewes Citizens Advice, 
3 North Court
, Lewes East SussexBN7 2AR   phone 01273 473082  web www.lewesadvice.org.uk

Newhaven Advice Hub, Summerhayes Centre, Newhaven, 01273 612360
East Sussex Disability Association (ESDA) – advice for people with disabilities-  web http://www.esda.org.uk/benefitsadvice/71  phone 01323 514500 
Age UK, benefits advice for older people, Lewes and Wealden 01273 476704 Ext 235

Always phone before visiting if you can to check opening hours and if they can help you.

Private solicitors may be able to offer advice under the legal advice scheme, but the government plans to close this.

If you have a disability or illness the organisation set up to cater for the condition may offer help with benefits.

There are a number of written guides to benefits.  The Disability Rights Handbook is good if you have a disability.  The Child Poverty Action Group sells a wide range of guides.


I’ve been involved in social security for over 40 years and I’ve been constantly amazed at how little people know about it.  We are nearly all claimants, contributing to the national insurance system and claiming child benefit, retirement pension and other benefits.  But most people understand very little about what they are paying for, how much they are paying, and what they are paying for.

This was brought home to me when I was engaging in debate with a an experienced Lewes district councillor, who didn’t appear to know that the council was about to be made completely responsible for devising a new system of council tax benefits, with 10% less money than the government currently spends on the benefit!

It seems to me that there is a real danger of the government getting away with its cuts in benefit because people do not understand what is going on and how it will affect our neck of the woods.  So I’ve started this newsletter.  It doesn’t aim to give benefits advice.  There are lots of sources of that. (See below).  It does try to explain what the system is and how the government’s changes will affect Lewes and Brighton.  Its aim is to improve knowledge, so you are welcome to forward it on to other people and to use the material in the newsletter, providing that you give me a credit and run any changes past me

Monday, May 23, 2011

Solidarity to the striking council workers of Southampton!

Solidarity to the 4,300 striking council workers in Southampton Unite and Unison public sector branches who began industrial action today with refuse workers walking out, on strike to oppose being summarily dismissed and re-employed on worse pay, terms and conditions brutally imposed upon them as the council attempts to implement savage cuts. Click here for a Unite news report on the dispute...

Dear brothers and sisters of Southampton Unite and Unison public sector branches,

All affiliated trade union members united under the banner of Brighton, Hove and District Trades Union Council offer our firm and dutiful solidarity and strength to you in your battle against employers Southampton City Council, as you embark upon the course of industrial action today.

This unnecessary attack upon your wages, rights and conditions reflects the regressive and unjust politics of this rotten Con-Dem government, which mistakenly attempts to destroy and rip apart the very fabric of communities and values our trade union predecessors fought so hard to achieve.

Stand firm in your fight. The eyes of the trade union movement are upon you to wish you every success of victory. Workers in other cities are facing the same threats to devalue our employment contracts, our pay, pensions, welfare and public services. Collectively in action, brought together in struggle, we are the biggest obstacle to these cuts across the country and beyond, as the very people who provide them and rely on them.

As you stand in the footsteps of all brave and enlightened workers who in the past have sacrificed so much in the struggle for progress, we stand shoulder to shoulder with you on your picket lines, meetings and rallies today, to collectively defend these achievements.

The just alternatives to these cuts are widely known and possible - if we unite to break these chains dragging us towards the misery of poverty that capitalism seeks to enslave us in they become achievable.

May we all stand together as a mighty oak against the coming gale, and let us demonstrate the truth that unity brings so that we may flourish and grow together in peace.

In solidarity,

Brighton, Hove and District Trades Union Council

Turn your nearest bank into a hospital

Here’s something useful you can do on Saturday instead of shopping, getting over a hangover or DIY. UK Uncut has made this helpful video showing how you can turn your local bank into a hospital. They have even provided a way of finding out where it’s happening near you but they probably won’t mind if you just go ahead and do it with some mates.

This is an emergency. The welfare state is in peril. Under the guise of ‘efficiency’ and ‘reform’, this government is plotting to cut the NHS and sell off what’s left. Andrew Lansley has claimed the government is in a ‘listening exercise’ about the proposed NHS ‘reforms’. But despite widespread outcry from doctors, nurses and the public the government isn’t listening to anyone apart from private healthcare lobbyists.
Let’s make Lansley listen. We want to keep our healthy NHS and fix our broken banking system. Whilst the NHS is being dismantled, the banks that caused this crisis in the first place have been left untouched. Reckless gambling, obscene bonuses and a global financial crisis are symptoms of a disease that requires a drastic intervention.

The banks are due a check-up. On Saturday May 28th, join UK Uncut’s Emergency Operation and transform your local high street bank into a hospital. Tell the government to leave our NHS alone; it’s the banks that are sick.

Turn HSBC into a hospital, fill Natwest with nurses, get bandaged in Barclays and operate in RBS. As usual, it’s up to you to organise an action in your area – so talk to your friends, your local union branch and anti-cuts group and then list an action on our website. All the resources you’ll need will be on our website, including a flyer to tell the public about the NHS emergency. Get organised, get creative and let’s make Lansley listen: leave our NHS alone and cut benefits to bankers.

See you on the high streets.

Welfare for the people, by the people - a Consultation

Please read and forward on to others this brill article:


Did you ever wish you hadn't started something?

When I started this blog, I had some hazy idea that perhaps I could share my stories and it might help other sick or disabled people to feel connected. I thought I'd tippety-tap away now and again, saving my poor hubby the trauma of 24/7 news bulletins and political rants.

I didn't for one minute think many people would notice. I'd used the odd forum here and there and imagined a kind of cosy support group where "spoonies" "sickies" and "crips" could enjoy reading the ramblings of someone who actually "got it"

I didn't think I'd find myself reading endless transcripts of a dangerous and callous welfare reform bill. I didn't think I'd be on radio shows or in national newspapers opposing cabinet ministers. I didn't for one second imagine my blog would shoot into the top 50 political blogs and stay there and I certainly didn't think I'd be invited to the Compass conference next month as a guest speaker.

And that's just the stuff I can tell you about!!

You may have noticed fewer posts lately and if you knew the stuff I can't write about (though I will) you'd see why blogging is having to take a bit of a back seat.

I've always liked to learn and OH MY GOD have I been learning. In just over 6 months, I've read just about every theory put forward on welfare reform over the past two decades. I've read Blue Labour, Purple Labour, Policy Exchange, Progress & Compass reports, everything written by Iain Duncan-Smith, James Purnell, Frank Field and Jonathan Rutherford**.

Shall I sum them up for you in a natty soundbite?

"I despair"

Or another?

"Get a bigger stick, throw away the carrots and beat 'em to despair"

I read their "proposals" with incredulous dismay. I wonder just how many have ever actually experienced any of the problems they wish to solve. From the mid nineties, politicians who timidly took the first steps towards reducing the welfare bill have been encouraged to "think the unthinkable" and over the years, they've forgotten that it was ever considered unthinkable in the first place. The "unthinkable" is now not radical enough and, as I write on an almost daily basis, we've reached the tipping point. We are on the brink of removing sickness benefits altogether and disability benefits are to be slashed so far, that sick and disabled people have only the last resort of our judicial system.

We have reached a stage, where only the Human Rights Act or the European Court of Appeal can save us now.

Why? How has it come to this? When asked to "think outside the box", why did every last politician think inside a tiny, claustrophobic box tied up with ignorance-string? How did the "scrounger" narrative get such traction? Why did every last politician consider how to throw us off benefits with little care or concern for where we will go? Why did a succession of Oxbridge educated men choose to focus on a mythical hoard of cheats and skivers, convinced that with bigger and bigger sticks we could be forced into work? If fraud is just 1/2 a percent, what convinces these men that most could and should work? When medical evidence assures them that many of us can't and, in fact, work will make us worse, why do they ignore it?

Now let's see how successful they've been. Since 1994, successive "work programmes" and schemes have been rolled out to get sick or disabled people back into work. Has the welfare bill gone down? Has business embraced us and modified their structures to include us? Have the private companies, paid billions to find us work been successful?

No, No and No.

Not one single thing has changed in 25 years. The sickness and disability benefits bill has stayed stubbornly constant and work programmes have pathetic success rates of between 8 and 15% (almost identical to the number of people who find work on their own)

The solution? Cheat.

Change the descriptors, make certain that fewer people will qualify and break a million eggs to make a rotten omlette. Since Labour started "cheating" in 2008 the rate of those claiming sickness benefits has fallen. Now the Conservatives are about to cheat in such a spectacular way that the financial bill will certainly go down dramatically, but at what cost? Using the model of the past 25 years, this will be considered a "success" as costs will finally be cut. Eureka!! All they needed was one almighty stick and a sneaky bit of legislation or two that effectively all but stops sickness benefits altogether.

One might think that if a government are serious about stopping sickness benefits, they would have their best thinkers devising plans to make sure that the people affected had somewhere to go. That they wouldn't be left to starve without some pretty cast iron guarantees that there would be an alternative. One might think that there would be research available to prove that pulling support would in fact be empowering and manageable, but there is none.

Having said all this, we're no closer to finding out "why?" politicians are convinced that we can all pick up our beds and walk - or are we?

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the "Psycho-Social Model"

Allow me to paraphrase. (The link above will give you the scientific stuff, I'll just put it in Sue-speak.)

We are all sick or even disabled because we choose to define ourselves as such. Despite our various diagnoses, those that manage to work have a better psychological grip of reality and do not become "victims". We choose to stop working from a lack of confidence or fear of failure and become lazy and plagued by doubts. The longer this fear develops, the less likely we are to find work and stay in it.

Any symptom, and disability can be overcome through perseverance and the right mental stance - we simply need re-training in our attitudes. Hence the conclusion we reach today, where you ask what work you can do, not how your illness or disability limits you. Those unwilling (remember none are unable) to find work they can do will be abandoned.

Time Limiting ESA will enshrine this in law. If you haven't overcome these "psycho-social" flaws within one year and found work, the state will wash it's hands of you. That's why the language speaks of "helping" us into work. The paternalistic state will stop our metaphorical pocket money and take away our sweets if we are disobedient. If "encouragement" doesn't work, there are a whole host of sticks to beat us with.

This also explains an assessment that focusses solely on what we are physically able to do and ignores any  pain or symptoms or distress. Pain and symptoms and distress can all be overcome according to the psycho-social model, they are simply a part of our psycho-social weakness; shields to keep the world away, to wallow in our own helplessness. If you can swallow or do up a button or pick up a penny, you must, no matter what it costs you, or you are simply allowing neurological impulses to get in the way of a full and financially productive life.

It might not surprise many readers to find that Frank Field and James Purnell are the most zealous advocates of a psycho-social approach to welfare. Reading my red-top precis, academics may nod sagely, believing there is much to recommend the theory. And that is the vast, putrid, hideous, terrifying problem.

If you don't have MS or bowel disease or cancer or schizophrenia or alcoholism or parkinson's or lupus; if your research is conducted in an academic bubble of theories and sociological studies and think-tank jargon, you might as well be designing policy for fish. However much an affluent, out-of-touch politician might think a theory is the answer to all their prayers, you simply cannot make an unsound theory fit reality without cheating.  An alpha-male, who has sailed through life without physical trauma, poverty or disadvantage, will simply be totally unable to empathise with the nuances of suffering. They can no more design a welfare system that works than I could design a new offside rule.

Until sick and disabled people start to put forward their own suggestions, their own answers, we will remain in the hands of ignorance and arrogance. Until we are at the heart of policy making, we will suffer policies that may as well have been designed by aliens. The time has come where it is no longer enough to oppose, we must educate and inform. We must save ourselves, because my endless nights spent poring over welfare papers has convinced me that we have no alternative. Privileged academics and politicians have proven themselves horrifically incapable of even beginning to understand our lives and if we are to get a welfare system that actually works for us, we need to start making suggestions. We have the experience, the knowledge and the understanding and they never will.

So today, please use the comment thread below to explain what would help you. Contribute your ideas and suggestions no matter how silly or unformed you think they are. Share your stories of trying to work and how the system has failed or supported you. Make them essays or make them just a few words. I don't care how long or short they are. Tell me what work you could do and what support you would need to do it. Does the state itself trap you? What could business do to enable you? Is there a working model that could suit you? What type of work would you like? Why is it unavailable? Do you want to work? Would it make you better or worse? Would it increase your affluence or plunge you further into poverty? In an ideal world, what would governments be doing to support you?

Remember, this is a brainstorm. Write anything. It can't possibly be more banal, mis-guided or unworkable than the suggestions of successive politicians.

Please help. Join in, engage, show politicians our endless strength, our great value and our hopes and dreams. Help me and I'll do my very, very best to help you.

As I started this article by explaining, I have been given a voice. I have the privilege of a platform. It's your platform too and I need you to share it. Otherwise, I might just end up as another mis-guided fool who thinks she knows it all. I can speak for myself, but I can't speak for you.

*Finally, please share this article with anyone you know who suffers from a chronic illness or disability. Urge them to contribute to the consultation, tweet it on twitter, share on Facebook and email to friends. Any consultation is only as good as the people who take part. It needs variety and balance. Thanks. 

**Rutherford is the one beacon of hope. He exposed the psycho-social model and opposed incompetent welfare reform before most of us knew it existed. Read more here 
And on a similar note:
The County Council is running a faux consultation exercise on the Cameron's favourite justify-the-cuts smokescreen, the "Big Society".
The West Sussex CC cabinet are enthusiastic for anything to do with this Government's neoliberal agenda. 

All people have to do is go to the survey here: http://www.bmgsystems.co.uk/westsussex/KMS/elab.aspx  and let them know what people in the county really think of the

It runs to 7th june - they will publish the results and claim it will be used to 'inform' their policy. Whilst we all know it's extremely unlikely they'll really do so, it cant hurt to air your thoughts - and maybe keep a copy to complain with when it's ignored!
Worthing Solidarity Network

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Spanish Revolution comes to Brighton

Yesterday in Brighton Spanish people marched and set up camp in solidarity with the struggle in Spain. Their manifesto is printed below:

Real Democracy Now Manifesto in English

We are ordinary people. We are like you: people, who get up every morning to study, work or find a job, people who have family and friends. People, who work hard every day to provide a better future for those around us.

Some of us consider ourselves progressive, others conservative. Some of us are believers, some not. Some of us have clearly defined ideologies, others are apolitical, but we are all concerned and angry about the political, economic, and social outlook which we see around us: corruption among politicians, businessmen, bankers, leaving us helpless, without a voice.

This situation has become normal, a daily suffering, without hope. But if we join forces, we can change it. It’s time to change things, time to build a better society together. Therefore, we strongly argue that:
The priorities of any advanced society must be equality, progress, solidarity, freedom of culture, sustainability and development, welfare and people’s happiness.

These are inalienable truths that we should abide by in our society: the right to housing, employment, culture, health, education, political participation, free personal development, and consumer rights for a healthy and happy life.

The current status of our government and economic system does not take care of these rights, and in many ways is an obstacle to human progress.

Democracy belongs to the people (demos = people, krátos = government) which means that government is made of every one of us. However, in Spain most of the political class does not even listen to us. Politicians should be bringing our voice to the institutions, facilitating the political participation of citizens through direct channels that provide the greatest benefit to the wider society, not to get rich and prosper at our expense, attending only to the dictatorship of major economic powers and holding them in power through a bipartidism headed by the immovable acronym PP & PSOE.

Lust for power and its accumulation in only a few; create inequality, tension and injustice, which leads to violence, which we reject. The obsolete and unnatural economic model fuels the social machinery in a growing spiral that consumes itself by enriching a few and sends into poverty the rest. Until the collapse.
The will and purpose of the current system is the accumulation of money, not regarding efficiency and the welfare of society. Wasting resources, destroying the planet, creating unemployment and unhappy consumers.

Citizens are the gears of a machine designed to enrich a minority which does not regard our needs. We are anonymous, but without us none of this would exist, because we move the world.
If as a society we learn to not trust our future to an abstract economy, which never returns benefits for the most, we can eliminate the abuse that we are all suffering.

We need an ethical revolution. Instead of placing money above human beings, we shall put it back to our service. We are people, not products. I am not a product of what I buy, why I buy and who I buy from.
For all of the above, I am outraged.

I think I can change it.
I think I can help.
I know that together we can.I think I can help.
I know that together we can.

Here you can see an album on Flickr with pictures of the Spanish Revolution Brighton!

How Green is our valley and at whose expense?

“First They came...” - Pastor Martin Niemoller. Well we all know how that famous anti-fascist poem went but we also know that Romani people were slaughtered and victimized by the Nazis just as much as any other minority. Even today in Hungary and Italy, they face daily threats from both the authorities and fascist gangs. The harassment and racism against the Traveller community in this country has also been widely reported over the decades.

It is with extreme regret then that one of the first acts of the Brighton and Hove Greens, who claim that they offer a new approach to radical politics, reverted to the old ways of populism, racism and opportunism. This is a continuation of the old policies of both Labour and Tories. “No we are not racist, but not in our back yard!”

In expelling travellers’ families from Woolard Field, Falmer, the new Green administration joined a long line of councils up and down this country who say yes we would like to help but we do not have the space. Using so-called eco arguments, this has nothing to do with ecology. Woollard's Field is an urban fringe site with - no doubt - a population of Common Lizards and Slow-worms and other common disturbed land and scrub species. The issue for the Greens, though, is about getting the site free'd up for the builders to move in this summer. The critical issue is not about a conflict with threatened wildlife. Translocation of sensistive and protected species is standard practice nowadays. This is a complete failure of political will by the Greens in finding an alternative temporary encampment site.

Joseph Jones, from the Gypsy Council secretariat, said there was a lack of sites across the South East, with more than a thousand pitches needed.He said: "The idea of slow worms taking priority over people - it is amazing really to think animals take priority over people.

"But gypsies and travellers are the lowest on anyone's welfare agenda. They have the lowest health and education outcomes and have the most problems in achieving standards of human rights."

As we know, racism unfortunately takes many forms and in failing to ensure an alternative site that is both suitable and acceptable to the Travellers, makes this decision extremely worrying. Land sell offs being put before the needs of people is unacceptable. This is something we would expect from the previous Council not the Greens.

Questions need to be asked of :
  1. Were representatives of the Travellers and their various organizations consulted or involved before ejecting the families?
  2. What methods of communications were made with the Travellers or were the police and security just sent in ?
  3. What alternative arrangements were made for the families?
  4. What alternatives are being planned?

According to Amnesty International, the Roma community suffers massive discrimination throughout Europe. Denied their rights to housing, employment, healthcare and education, Roma are often victims of forced evictions, racist attacks and police ill-treatment. Living predominantly on the margins of society, Roma are among the most deprived communities in Europe. In some countries, they are prevented from obtaining citizenship and personal documents required for social insurance, health care and other benefits. Romani children are frequently unjustifiably placed in "special schools" where curtailed curricula limit their possibilities for fulfilling their potential.

Let us ensure that the “new” Brighton is not tainted with this breach of human rights. Are the Greens turning red or blue on this and other issues?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

PCS defends the Welfare State whilst others attempt to destroy it..

"This coming year is going to be one of the most challenging years for the trade union movement - and public sector trade unions in particular - as the coalition government seeks to make the public sector and its workforce pay for the crisis, through cuts to jobs, services, pay and pensions.

"We will need to be creative in our campaigning, tough in our bargaining, and prepared to take action. We will continue to work, and build links, with other trade unions to make our voice as powerful as possible in our campaigning and in any industrial action.

"We can work together, campaign together and, yes, strike together - and together we can win."
Mark Serwotka  PCS General Secretary at the recent annual conference.

The welfare state is one of our nation's greatest achievements and should be "celebrated, not destroyed" by the government's ideological ambitions.

Speaking ahead of the launch of a new pamphlet published by the union that sets out a decisive defence of welfare and the entitlement to universal support, PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said the coalition has used the economic crisis to try to unravel years of progress in protecting some of the most vulnerable in society.

The pamphlet - ‘Welfare: an alternative vision’, includes sections on unemployment; low income; disability; children; housing; pensions; and the delivery of welfare services - and will be launched at an event this evening at the union's annual conference in Brighton. It calls for:
  • A welfare state that ensures everyone has a decent standard of living free from poverty
  • A government that commits to full employment
  • A welfare system based on need, not moral judgements
  • A government that acknowledges and respects the work of dedicated Department for Work and Pensions staff
  • And end to end low pay that leaves people dependent on means-tested benefits.
Mark Serwotka, who started his working life in the then Department for Health and Social Security, said: “Our welfare state is one of our nation’s greatest achievements and should be celebrated not destroyed.
“It is the mark of a civilised society that we support people when they are in need, whether they are ill, disabled or unemployed. Welfare is there to provide a decent existence.

“The constant denigration by ministers of those who receive welfare support is utterly shameful and seeks to blame those most affected by a crisis caused by greed and recklessness in the financial sector.”

Download the document

 Welfare: an alternative vision


During his speech Mark Serwotka, General Secretary of PCS, mentioned that a trade union nationally had jointly sponsored a pamphlet with a company aiming to further privatise public services and in particular introduce notions of US style workfare to Britain.  After shouts from the audience Mark revealed that it was the GMB.

Spain - statement from Fourth International comrades

Rebellion of the indignant. Notes from Barcelona’s Tahrir Square.

Josep Maria Antentas & Esther Vivas

There is no doubt about it. The wind that has electrified the Arab world in recent months, the spirit of the repeated protests in Greece or the student struggles in Britain and Italy, the mobilizations against Sarkozy in France... has come to the Spanish State.

These are not then days of “business as usual”. The comfortable routines of our “market democracy”" and its electoral and media rituals have been abruptly altered by the unforeseen emergence in the street and public space of citizen mobilization. This “rebellion of the indignant” worries the political elites who are always discomfited when the people take democracy seriously... and decide to start practicing it for themselves.

Two years ago, when the crisis which broke out in September 2008 took on historic proportions, the “masters of the world” experienced a brief moment of panic, alarmed by the magnitude of a crisis they had not anticipated, through their lack of theoretical instruments with which to understand it, and feared a strong social reaction. Then came the empty claims of a “refoundation of capitalism” and false mea culpas that little by little evaporated, once the financial system was underpinned and in the absence of a social explosion.

The social reaction has been slow in coming. Since the outbreak of the crisis, social resistance has been weak. There has been a very large gap between the discrediting of the current economic model and its translation into collective action. Several factors explain this, in particular, fear, resignation before the current situation, scepticism with regard to trade unions, the absence of political and social reference points, and the penetration among wage earners of individualistic and consumerist values.

The current outbreak did not, however, start from scratch. Years of work on a small scale of alternative networks and movements, initiatives and resistance of more limited impact had kept the flame of contestation alive in this difficult period. The general strike of September 29m 2010 also opened a first breach, although the subsequent demobilization by the leaderships of the CCOO and UGT and the signing of the social pact closed the path of trade union mobilisation and furthered if possible, the discredit and lack of prestige of the biggest unions among combative youth and those who have launched the camps initiative.


“Indignation” so much the fashion through the pamphlet by Hessel [the former French resistance fighter Stéphane Hessel], is one of the ideas that define the protests which have started. Here there reappears in another form, the "Ya Basta!" of the Zapatistas in their uprising of January 1, 1994, then the first revolt against the "new world order" proclaimed by George Bush senior after the first Gulf War, the disintegration of the USSR and the fall of the Berlin wall.

“Indignation is a start. One is outraged, rises up and then one sees” said Daniel Bensaïd. Gradually, however, we have passed from discomfort to outrage and from that to this mobilization. We have a true “mobilized indignation”. From the earthquake of crisis, the tsunami of social mobilization develops.

To fight more than unease and indignation is required, we must also believe in the usefulness of collective action, that it is possible to overcome and that all that has gone before is not lost. For years the social movements in the Spanish State have essentially known defeats. The lack of victories which show the usefulness of social mobilization and increase the expectations of the possible weighed like a heavy slab on the slow initial reaction to the crisis.

Precisely at this point the great contribution of the revolutions in the Arab world to the ongoing protests has registered. They show that collective action is useful, that “Yes we can”. That is why they, as well as the less covered victory against the bankers and the political class in Iceland, have been a reference point from the beginning for the protesters and activists.

Along with the belief that "this is possible”, that things can be changed, loss of fear, in a time of crisis and difficulties, is another key factor. “Without fear” is precisely one of the slogans most heard these days. Fear still grips a large majority of workers and popular sectors and leads to passivity or xenophobic and unsympathetic reactions. But the 15M mobilization and the camps expanding like an oil slick are a powerful antidote to fear that threatens to dismantle the schemes of a ruling elite at the forefront of an increasingly delegitimized system.

The 15M movement and the camps have an important generational component. Each time a new cycle of struggles breaks out, a new generation of activists emerges, and “youth” as such acquire visibility and prominence. While this generational and youth component is essential, and is also expressed in some of the organized movements that have been visible lately like "Youth without future", it must be noted that the ongoing protest is not a generational movement. It is a movement of criticism of the current economic model and attempts to make workers pay for the crisis which is fundamentally weighted towards youth. The challenge is precisely that, as on so many occasions, the youth protest acts as a triggering factor and catalyst for a broader cycle of social struggles.

The spirit of anti-globalization returns

The dynamism, the spontaneity and the thrust of the current protests are the strongest since the emergence of the anti-globalization movement more than a decade ago. Emerging internationally in November 1999 at the protests in Seattle during the WTO Summit (although its antecedents go back to the Zapatista Chiapas uprising in 1994), the anti-globalization wave quickly came to the Spanish state. The consultation for the abolition of the foreign debt in March 2000 (held the same day as the general elections and banned in several cities by the Electoral Board) and the big mobilization for the summit in Prague in September 2000 against the World Bank and the IMF were the first signs of this, particularly in Catalonia. But the mass movement really arrived with the demonstrations against the World Bank Summit in Barcelona on June 22 and 24, 2001. Just ten years later we are witnessing the birth of a movement whose energy, enthusiasm and collective strength has not been seen since then. It will not, therefore, be a nostalgic tenth anniversary. Quite the contrary. We are going to celebrate it with the birth of a new movement.

The assemblies now in Plaza Catalunya (and, indeed, all the camps around the state beginning with that at Sol in Madrid) have given us priceless moments. The 15M and the camps are authentic "foundational struggles" and clear signs that we are witnessing a change in cycle and that the wind of rebellion is blowing again. Finally. A true “Tahrir generation” emerges, as did before a "Seattle generation” or a “Genoa generation”.

Through the “anti-globalization” impulse across the planet, following the official summits in Washington, Prague, Quebec, Goteborg, Genoa and Barcelona, thousands of people identified with these protests and a wide range of groups from around the globe had the feeling of being part of a movement, of the same "people", the "people of Seattle" or "Genoa", sharing common objectives and feeling part of the same struggle.

The current movement is also inspired by the most recent and important international reference points of struggle and victory. It can be situated in the wake of movements as diverse as the revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia and the victory in Iceland, placing their mobilization in a general struggle against global capitalism and the servile political elite. In the Spanish state, the 15 M demonstrations and now the camps, in a simultaneous example of decentralization and coordination, generate a shared identity and symbolic membership of a community.

The anti-globalization movement had ithe international institutions, WTO, World Bank and IMF and multinational companies in its line of fire. Later, with the start of the "global war on terror" proclaimed by Bush junior, criticism of war and imperialist domination acquired centrality. The current movement places as its axis the criticism of a political class, whose complicity and servitude to the economic powers has been more exposed than ever. "We are not goods in the hands of politicians and bankers" read one of the main slogans of 15M. There is criticism of the political class and professional politics and criticism, not always well articulated and consistent, of the current economic model and financial powers. "Capitalism? Game over".

Towards the future

The future of the 15M initiated movement is unpredictable. In the short term the first challenge is to continue to build on the existing camps, set them up in cities where they do not yet exist and ensure they continue at least until Sunday May 22. May 21, the day of reflection, and May 22, election day, will be decisive. In these two days building the camps at a mass level is essential.

It is necessary to also consider new dates for mobilization, in the wake of 15M, to maintain the rhythm. The main challenge is to maintain this simultaneous dynamic of expansion and radicalization of the protest which we have experienced in the last few days. And in the case of Catalonia, look for synergies between the radicalism and desire for a change in the system expressed in 15M and the camps, with struggles against public expenditure cuts, particularly in health and education. The camp in Plaza Catalunya has already become a meeting point, a powerful magnet, for all the more dynamic sectors in struggle. It has become a meeting point for resistance and struggle, for building bridges, facilitating dialogue, and propelling future demonstrations. Establishing alliances between the protests under way among unorganized activists, and the alternative trade unionism, the neighbourhood movement, neighbourhood groups and so on, is the great challenge of the next few days.

“The revolution starts here...” was the claim yesterday at Plaza Catalunya. Well, at least a new cycle of struggles is beginning. So there is no doubt already that, more than a decade after the rise of the anti-globalization movement and two years after the outbreak of the crisis, social protest has come back to stay.

*Josep Maria Antentas is a member of the editorial board of the magazine Viento Sur, and a professor of sociology at the Autonomous University of Barcelona. Esther Vivas is a member of the Centre for Studies on Social Movements (CEMS) at Universitat Pompeu Fabra. She is also a member of the editorial board of Viento Sur.

Fascists threaten and attack democracy- their true face is now there for all to see.

Following their disastrous electoral results and splits widening within the BNP,  massive discontent is growing between Nick Griffin and the rest of the far right. Richard Barnbrook sees himself as the new unifier of Britain's fascists. He is calling for a new coalition of the BNP, EDL and other groups. This is what Hitler did in the 20's in Germany and what Mosley tried to copy in the 30's. So much for the EDL stating that they are not racist but just anti- militant Islam!

In the meantime, up and down the country, there are further events that show up their true colours of hatred, Islamaphobia, racism and street violence against those who oppose them and stand up to defend multi-culturalism. Last month a meeting in Brighton was attacked and only last week violence was committed against a meeting in Barking.

The anti-racist and anti-fascist movement needs to remain vigilant, united and organised to ensure this is nipped in the bud before it attempts to become a mass populist movement. They are not interested in defending the interests of workers but of promoting division and hatred. Whilst unions are busy building campaigns in defence of pensions, jobs,the NHS and the Welfare State, fascists use scapegoats to blame the crisis on the innocent victims of Capitalist exploitation. We must ensure that their vile message is countered with that of workers unity against the austerity measures of the Con Dem government.

In Spain, Greece and the Middle East, millions are on the march for freedom and democracy, saying loudly and clearly that there is an alternative. Do not let these fascists get the foothold they aspire to. The report on Barking makes it clear.

EDL teams up with BNP to attack antiracist meeting

The racist thugs of the English Defence League teamed up with their Nazi pals in the British National Party to attack an anti-racist meeting in Barking on Thursday night.

They smashed the windows of Crown House on Linton Road, where the meeting was taking place. A woman NHS worker who was attending the meeting was injured in the attack. She had to receive hospital treatment.

The meeting went ahead despite the EDL’s attempts to storm it. It had been called by local councillors and trade unionists together with UAF to defend multiculturalism in Barking & Dagenham.
Speakers at the meeting included Councillor George Barratt, local National Union of Teachers rep Dominic Byrne and Steve Hedley from the RMT.


Some 25 EDL thugs threw bricks and rocks at Crown House causing damage to the building’s exterior.
They chanted “EDL” and shouted racist abuse and death threats. At least two Barking BNP activists were involved in the mob attack.

The EDL has been active in Barking & Dagenham recently whipping up race hatred over proposals to build a mosque in the borough.

Anti-fascist activists believe the local BNP branch is turning back to street thuggery after the losing all 12 of its councillors in last year’s elections.

George Barratt, Labour councillor for Barking’s Mayesbrook ward, said:
It’s extremely disturbing that these people tried to break up an anti-racist meeting organised by democratically elected councillors and trade unionists from the local area.
We don’t want these EDL thugs here, and we won’t tolerate them attacking our meetings. Barking is multicultural — and it’s going to stay that way.
Steve Hedley, organiser for the RMT’s London region, said:
We won’t be intimidated by these street thugs. We will stand together and oppose them.
Weyman Bennett, joint national secretary of UAF, said:
This attack exposes the EDL for what it really is: a fascist and racist organisation that teams up with the Nazi BNP to attack anti-racists and labour movement activists.
It also sends a stark warning to those politicians who think it’s fashionable to attack multiculturalism: your words are giving succour to the likes of the EDL and BNP.