Monday, 22 November 2010

Carnival of Resistance

Today’s offering is a post of reflection; an intent consideration of the cuts campaign thus far. Of course it’s still early days and many people are still totally unaware and oblivious to the government austerity straitjacket made to measure and forced upon on us all no mater were in the country we live, young and old both alike.

So far then, there has been much talk, speculation and general condemnation from the usual and to be expected assortment of would be leaders of residence, this coming Saturday sees the formal lunch of the Coalition of Resistance an idea first prompted, headed and promoted by the veteran and former parliamentarian Tony Benn.

The Coalition of Resistance against the government's public spending cuts, is bringing together trade union, community, political and civil society groups, and has announced the agenda for its organising conference to be held as I say this coming Saturday 27 November - which already has 500 representatives signed up.

The opening plenary has the same uniformity’ about it as is now regular and unvarying in familiarity, the speakers include:
Mark Serwotka PCS, Andrew Murray, Jean Lambert MEP, Bob Crow RMT, Christian Mahieux (Solidaires unions, France), Clare Solomon NUS, Heather Wakefield UNISON, People's Charter, John McDonnell MP, Lindsey German

Last Saturday saw the latest march take place in London organised by Stop the War coalition, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) and the British Muslim Initiative, the protest march entitled, 'the Time To Go' snaked through London’s weekend streets leading and ending in Trafalgar Square where they assembled to listen to the usual long list of speakers and audience participation of shouts: “troops out” of Afghanistan and “Britain get out of NATO”.

This is not a time to be sectarian as I keep reminding myself and telling others, but it has to be said; and I’m saying it; if the Stop the War coalition is anything to go by then the Coalition of Resistance needs to do things much differently if its to be both galvanising and effectively retaining the support of working people, unlike those many thousands who were once involved in the war campaigns, but then wondered off never to be seen again. The last thing we need is a talking shop or building a platform for the massaging of self-bloated egos of self-importance.  Let’s be honest millions came out onto London’s streets against the Iraq invasion; on Saturday even the organisers claimed that 10,000 was good, but was it?

In Newham were I live we have a short of repeat run of what I think went on with the local Stop the War conception, which no longer exists, which probably explains to some extent why Saturdays demonstration was rather small in comparison to the earlier days, and when you consider that three national organisations were involved then it was dismal and a tokenistic drop in the ocean of discontent.

Now I’ve attended two planning meetings of the Save Newham Services Group, which was set up a week before the Con Dem budget, and without deliberately meaning to put it down; I have to say it’s not going anywhere in a hurry, it’s rocking onto December and it hasn’t even decided to take to the streets or plotted any simple petition or awareness work, and I don’t holdout any hope that it will be able to drive an energetic campaign now or in the time to come. However all is not lost, I’ve been able to join-up and work with local members of the Revolutionary Communist Group (RCG), they are youngish activists and we have been working the main shopping centre in Stratford, collecting signatures and generally just talking to people. I better add that I have no intention of becoming a member of the (RCG) but it gives me an opportunity to speck with people, and I must say the response has been very good and there is everything to build for, and the sooner we get started the better. I honestly believe that the real fight back will come from a new generation, a generation of all ages, young and old alike who understand what is at stake not just the local services and jobs, but this is an ideological attack waged on working people in the here and now.

So that’s my whinge out of the way, now let’s look at the positive and the up and coming this week; well the students are back in the thick of it, on Wednesday they have a national day of action billed in London as National Walkout and Day of Protest against Tuition Fees. I hope to be able to join them on their street demonstration giving support and showing solidarity. I will endeavour to post a full report of my observations and experience as soon I can.

Eleven days on from what I consider and will describe as a brilliant and magnificent standard set by our students that should be an example for us all to follow in the coming months. But let us also remember or not lose sight of the fact that the media and the police have whipped up a frenzied atmosphere, centred on the one potentially serious incident, when a fire extinguisher was thrown from the roof of Millbank Towers. Accounts have changed repeatedly, but there is no evidence that anyone was injured.

The Police Federation have called for the individual involved to be charged with attempted murder. He is student Edward Woollard just 18 and faces charges of violent disorder and a possible five-year prison sentence, we all need to give unreserved support to this comrade, and the call of the Police Federation is an insult, a put-on when you consider they close ranks, keep silent and get off scot-free when they killed in cold blood poor helpless Jean Charles de Menezes the young Brazilian man shot in the head seven times at Stockwell tube station, or Ian Tomlinson killed on his way home from work by the brutality that has become a hallmark of the Metropolitan Police on demonstrations in these times of economic turmoil.

So far, at least 61 people have been arrested over the Millbank incident, including 12 youths who are under 18. The police trawl is being widened to include any individual who was in the vicinity of the protest. The media has promulgated CCTV photographs of alleged offenders, calling for them to be turned in for criminal prosecution. An unnamed senior police figure told the Observer that the student protest would help end criticism of the police “for being too provocative,” particularly after police violence at the G20 demonstration last year that resulted in the death of newspaper vendor Ian Tomlinson. He gloated that “during the next demo no one can say a word,” against police actions.

Last week, in a further attack on civil liberties, the Metropolitan Police’s public order CO11 branch forced the Fitwatch web site to close. The site had been giving advice to students threatened with arrest for their involvement in the Millbank occupation. Fitwatch was set up in 2007 in opposition to the provocative close-up filming tactics used by Forward Intelligence Teams during demonstrations.

This situation points to the major political problem confronting workers and young people as they seek to develop resistance to these measures. Nowhere do working people have a political party that represents their class interests against those of big business and the global financial elite.

Faced with a systemic crisis of the capitalist profit system, the bourgeoisie intends to destroy all the social gains won by working people. To do so, it must resort to violence and repression. Against this, workers and youth in Britain and internationally face a struggle for political power against the big business parties and the repressive forces of the state.

This fight is not of our choosing, nor was the capitalist world meltdown, coursed by its inherent greed, an essential constituent and characteristic of a very rotten system!”  

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