Jeers and loathing in Manchester

25tyetyIf war is politics by other, more violent means; then surely politics is war via the demonstration, the megaphone, the occupation, the ballot box, and occasional argy-bargy between rival parties and factions. Hence politics and violence go hand in hand. It has become institutionalised and routinised in Western liberal democracies, but the association – as much as our (establishment) culture pretends otherwise – is there and can bubble its way to the surface. Yet it is sporadic and comes in two directions. There are individuals and/or political groups looking for rucks on demonstrations, or have targeted someone or, as is more often the case, some thing for violent direct action. And then there is the planned violence dished out by the police and their agents provocateurs. The former is rare and is pushed by those at the margins. The latter is more common, but is no less political than the anarchist who trashes a shopfront window. Yet we know that one form of political violence receives kids glove coverage, while the other is blown out of all proportion by headline writers and news bulletins. Continue reading

Why I went on the anti-austerity march & regret Labour’s leaders weren’t there too

Austerity demoLast weekend I attended the huge anti-austerity march and rally organised by the People’s Assembly against Austerity in London. Estimates of the size of the rally varied between 70,000 and more than 150,000. But demonstrators poured into London from all over the country, the march was self-evidently huge and it was definitely a great deal bigger than last year’s event. Several thousand more protestors gathered in Glasgow’s George Square and there were other smaller demonstrations in cities like Liverpool and Bristol.

I was there in London speaking at the beginning of the march and walked the whole route. It was an exhilarating event, purposeful but disciplined. I left it much more hopeful about the future than i have been since the General Election. And I was definitely proud to be there. Continue reading

Outside the Westminster bubble, people are mobilising against austerity

Austerity demoWithin 72 hours of the Tories forming a majority in Parliament it became crystal clear they were salivating at the opportunity to further impose their political austerity agenda for another five years. Attacks on freedom of speech, protest, the Human Rights Act and the right to strike came swiftly. Threshold limits on industrial action ballots are proposed, with higher thresholds for those working in health, education, fire and transport services. This will push many disputes outside the law as the shackles tighten on lawful action, enabling employers to challenge ‘small and irrelevant technicalities’ in the Courts. Alongside criminalising those engaged in picketing it adds up to a thought through attempt to debilitate working people and remove the most powerful collective weapon we have, the human right to withdraw our labour. Continue reading

4000 UK Uncut members in mass civil disobedience tomorrow in central London

UKUNCUTUK Uncut is planning a spectacular act of mass disobedience opposing austerity in central London tomorrow, with over 4,000 people expected to attend. Precise details of the action are being kept under wraps, but the group has promised bold, exciting and creative direct action at a prominent location. Protests are also being held in a number of cities and towns across the country, including Gloucester, Nottingham and Newcastle.

The protest follows the Queen’s Speech on Thursday, in which the Queen announced the government’s commitment to harsh austerity measures, including removing the social security for Britain’s poorest families. Continue reading

Save the NHS and join the march and rally 29 September!

Watch this great video by Unite which explains how the NHS was first established and the privatisation threat that it faces today and get ready to join the march and rally for the NHS on 29 September.

Then put this date in your diary!

Defend Jobs and Services. No to Austerity.

March and Rally – Sunday 29 September 2013

Supporters of the National Health Service and all those who want to defend jobs, services and a decent welfare state will be marching in Manchester to deliver a clear message to Conservative Party Conference that we mean to Save Our NHS from cuts and privatisation. Continue reading