"I have long argued that the giving of offence, and even hate speech, should be a moral matter but not a matter for the criminal law. That is as true on the football pitch as on the streets. We should always challenge racism. We should also always challenge attacks on liberties in the guise of faux antiracism." Kenan Malik

Archive for January, 2011

Atos Mobbed – Poverty Pimps Shut Down By Benefit Claimants


The Second National Day of Protest Against Benefit Cuts took place yesterday with events targeting poverty pimps like Atos Origin and A4e.

Over 100 disabled protesters and claimants gathered at Triton Square, London where a noisy mob made their way to the front doors of Atos’ shiny corporate headquarters despite the best efforts of police to stop them.  Police formed a line protecting Atos whilst chants rang out of ‘Atos Kills’.  Many people spoke out of their often heart-rending experiences at the hands of Atos’ medical testing which has repeatedly stripped sickness and disability benefits from the most vulnerable.

Anti-poverty and disability protest groups were well represented including Disabled People Against CutsWelfare Action HackneyLondon Coalition Against PovertyMad Pride and many more.  Also present were members of PCS Union’s Euston branch who work in Euston Tower which overlooked the protest and who expressed solidarity with claimants.

Over the top as ever, the police briefly kettled the protesters.   After some time however people were able to leave if they agreed to be escorted from Triton Square, which lies on a privately owned business estate where protest is presumably not part of the corporate strategy.

One disabled protester valiantly attempted to breach the police line, but was bundled to the ground and dragged away to chants of ‘Let Him Go’.  With cameras everywhere and no doubt fearing another Jody Mcintyre youtube sensation they complied and as far as we know there were no arrests on the day.

Speeches and chanting continued as well as one impassioned song whilst many people, who had brought food to share, laid out a picnic alongside the impromptu free shop that had also been established.

It is unclear whether Atos closed their offices, but certainly the only people going in or out for the afternoon appeared to be cops and private security guards.  Also doing slow business were Virgin Health Clubs who found their main entrance inside the police lines and were therefore effectively closed for the afternoon.  They might like to think about that at their next meeting cosying up to the Condems in the hope of stealing a slice of the NHS.

As the day wore on police melted away and around 20 protesters headed to the Atos Testing Centre  and Jobcentre Plus administrative offices just up the road at Marylebone.  Entering the, admittedly almost closed building, they briefly occupied the Atos waiting room leaving messages of their experiences of Atos stuck to the walls.

Protests also happened around the country.  Atos testing centres were leafleted in Nottingham, Archway and Glasgow.  The protest outside Atos’ Scotland offices, reportedly in the middle of nowhere, still drew around 40 people and an equal number of police who surrounded the building and once again protected the poverty pimps.  Latest reports indicate heavy-handed policing but the good news is it appears Atos Scotland’s offices were closed for the day.  It’s nice to see Atos Origin being the vulnerable ones for a change.

A protest held in Leeds outside Atos called by West Yorkshire Solidarity Federation and autonomous claimants was successful in closing the Leeds branch of Atos’ corporate empire whilst a smaller, but successful protest in Burnley gathered significant local support.  Protests were also held in Newcastle, Lydney, Birmingham, Crawley, Chesterfield, Hastings and possibly elsewhere, please send details to notowelfarecuts (at) yahoo.co.uk.

Earlier in the week the Cardiff Unemployed Disco drew a fine crowd and they’re holding another one on February 18th.  It’s not over for Atos yet either as Brighton Benefits Campaign are holding an event this Saturday highlighting the pantomime which is the Work Capability Assessment.

Finally tories the length and breadth of the internet were well and truly trolled as part of the second National Troll A Tory Day.  Comments were left, letters to MPs written, petitions signed and Atos were not left out as many took advantage of their recently published health advice phone-lines.

Benefit claimants have vowed to be back with a third National Day of Action to be announced soon.  Atos Origin, the rest of the poverty pimps and the farcical Condem coalition should know that we are not going anywhere.

Pics of the London demo can be found at:http://www.flickr.com/photos/peteriches/with/5385496598/

 

http://benefitclaimantsfightback.wordpress.com/2011/01/25/atos-mobbed/

 

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Councils plan ‘disproportionate’ funding cuts for services supporting vulnerable people


Councils are planning to defy ministers by pushing ahead with plans to cut funding for services supporting vulnerable people by far more than the government has recommended, according to a survey of over 130 providers in England.

Housing associations, charities and community groups fear town halls will raid funds intended to support vital services for groups like the elderly, homeless and disabled, in order to protect other spending priorities, according to the National Housing Federation.

The survey reveals 73% of providers have been warned by their local authority to expect disproportionate funding cuts to services which provide support, housing and advice to some of the most vulnerable people in their community, such as women fleeing domestic violence and people with mental health problems.

In some circumstances whole services face closure as cash strapped town halls look to make massive savings over the next four years by disproportionately cutting from one budget to fund another.

In the Spending Review, the Chancellor announced that money allocated nationally to Supporting People – which funds services for over a million vulnerable people– would be broadly maintained, with a 12% real terms cut over four years.

No legal duty

However the money is no longer ring fenced and councils can spend it on whatever they want to as it rolled into their general grant from central government. There is no legal duty to support many of the groups traditionally funded by Supporting People – despite their vulnerability. These include some single homeless people, many older people and those with drug and alcohol addictions.

Nottinghamshire council is warning of a 67% cut over the next four years, Somerset council has already confirmed an 18% cut next year. Nottingham City Council has proposed a 43% cut from April this year. Hartlepool Council have been consulting on a cut in funding of 30% from April this year. Cornwall Council has meanwhile confirmed it will reduce its funding by 40% over the next three years.

Ministers have however warned councils about excessive cuts to Supporting People. Questioned at a DCLG select committee, Housing Minister Grant Shapps said ‘the idea that local authorities should use Supporting People as their front line for reductions is completely against everything that we would expect to see.

And in a letter to local authorities on 22 December from the Department of Communities and Local Government stated: ‘Ministers do not, however, expect authorities to respond to reductions in their budgets by passing on disproportionate cuts to other service providers.

Uncertainty

A survey of 136 housing organisations and charities which provide services for some of the most vulnerable people in their community however revealed a vast majority of councils had already indicated cuts greater than 12%. It found:

  • Nearly three quarters of respondents (73%) said local authorities they work in had already indicated cuts of greater than 12%. 41% of respondents expected cuts over 20% in their area, and 18% of respondents expecting cuts over 30%.
  • 60% of respondents said their organisation would be forced to reduce the level of service they offered
  • We asked housing associations services for which client groups we’re most vulnerable to cuts. The top five client groups our members thought were most at risk of cuts were: Single homeless people, older people in need of support, people with drug and alcohol problems, ex-offenders, people with mental health problems.
  • There’s still considerable uncertainty, with 42% of respondents saying one or more area they work in were yet to announce cuts.
  • The Federation has called on local authorities to be transparent and account for exactly what they will be spending their Supporting People funding on. It warned the long-term financial costs would also outweigh the short-term savings from cutting back on services – as demands on the NHS, police forces and the courts surge as a result.

    Disproportionately hit

    Federation chief executive David Orr said: ‘Local authorities are facing significant cuts to their budgets and face the inevitable task of deciding where savings can be made.

    But what we are beginning to see is that services which provide a lifeline to thousands of vulnerable people are being hit disproportionately by councils – with the first to declare their hands indicating they intend to cut back their funding by up to 67%.

    Raiding these budgets to pay for other spending priorities runs contrary to what ministers want, what the public wants and most importantly what the vulnerable who rely upon them want to see happen.

    Councils must now be completely transparent with their local communities and account for where they plan to spend their Supporting People cash.

    http://www.housing.org.uk/Default.aspx?tabid=212&mid=828&ctl=Details&ArticleID=3619


    Infiltrators, Informers and Grasses a Practical Security Handbook.



    Norwich UNCut TOP TEN TAX SHIRKER TOUR-No.3 BARCLAYS


    TOP TEN TAX SHIRKER TOUR

    Our next Tax Dodgers are-Barclays PLC, London Street, Norwich. 12 midday.

    All the UK’s major banks make extensive use of tax havens in the course of their business. As a survey for the TUC showed, in 2008 Barclays were the biggest user but all four of our leading High Street banks had large numbers of subsidiaries in locations such as Cayman, Jersey, The Isle of Man, Bermuda, the Bahamas and Luxembourg.

    One bank stands out from the crowd though. As MP Chuka Umunna showed in questioning of Barclay’s boss Bob Diamond before the Treasury Committee of the House of Commons in January 2011, his bank had 181 subsidiaries in the Cayman Islands alone in 2010, an extraordinary increase from 143 in 2008.

    Bob Diamond admitted he had no idea how many companies the bank of which he is chief executive had in the island, but said they were there for ‘tax efficiency’.

    In plain, straightforward terms that means they shift the tax burden from the bank onto other people.

    As this is Barclays who also are proud of proping up the arms trade this call out also goes out to all the anti-militarists and ant-Trident groups et al.

    Bring tanks!

    http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=146035495453992&num_event_invites=0

    Norwich Uncut and Norfolk Community Action Group.



    Bulletin To Build Colleges Walkout On 26 Jan – Print Off And Distribute.


    On 26th January, college students around the country will walk out.  The student movement which made such an impact in November and December will begin again.  A number of students and supporters around the country have worked together to produce a bulletin, which can be printed out and distributed in order to build the walk-outs.

    Introductory text follows

    Students around the country are worrying about their future.  For some, it’s  if they can go to university, for others it’s whether they can stay at college next year  – and for others still if they can turn the heating on this winter.  Our families are affected by other cuts.

    Why is this happening?  Because the government cares more about the wealth of the rich than the lives of the majority.

    That’s why students around the country will be walking out of college and protesting on Wednesday January 26th.  Join in!  Lots of laws like the poll tax get defeated after they are passed.

    We’ve already made a massive impact.  We need the protests to get bigger, and inspire others to get involved!

    Organise your walk out!

    It’s clear that students can’t rely on the NUS or the political parties.  That means, we need to organise ourselves.

    • On Wednesday 26th Jan, walk out of college and protest.  Don’t let anyone keep you in one place or stop you protesting!
    • Text everyone to join in
    • You can go to other schools and colleges and chant for students to walk out too
    • You can organise anti-cuts groups to prepare for the next one…
    • Let us know how it goes!  reallyopensu@gmail.com
    • Protest in London or Manchester on Saturday 29th if you can…

    Keep up the fight!

    Click here to download and print!

    http://thecommune.co.uk/2011/01/21/bulletin-to-build-colleges-walkout-on-26-jan-print-off-and-distribute/


    The Rise of Street Extremism


    Thanks to the Sons Of Malcolm Blog.

    It is imperative that ALL activists, no matter their struggle, watch and pay attention to all said by these people on the video below.

    An Irish former-revolutionary now sell-out / former police chiefs who dealt with Miners Strike, Poll Tax and Brixton etc all discuss how to beat us, politically and literally. So so much interesting stuff in here, needs close study and lessons learnt on the basis of.

    For those radical and revolutionary activists, this is THE MOST important video I have ever put up. Study closely what they are saying and analyse from a revolutionary perspective the lessons to be learnt for us. Just too much incredible info in this.

    Thanks to Brother Adam X for this summary of the talk:
    – ‘for kettling to work, police need to be able to beat with impunity’
    – ‘bring apsects of anti-terror legislation to public order legislation’ (phone taps? control orders on protest dates?)
    – ‘kettles + snatch squads’
    – ‘the bnp aren’t really a problem’ (and edl apparently not even worth mentioning in the response to the question)
    ‘the protest at prlment sq reminds of terrorism’
    they deny and cast doubt and avoid responsibility for every *POLICE INJUSTICE* from the death of the newspaper seller at G20, to the policeman who got caught on camera at G20, to Jody McIntyre getting dragged off a wheelchair across the street.
    i think the fact that they’re massively over-hyping UKuncut means we can suppose that they are equally over-comitted to keeping the consumer economy going…
    and i’m not surprised that the CST guy was quite pleased with the way over 90 Muslim youths were given much harsher sentences & ‘made an example of’
    ======================
    More comments from another few friends:
    i agree this is an important video. not so much because it represents any theoretical breakthroughs in the way of repression, but more because it provides ample quotes from established counter-insurgency figures about what they’re afraid of (the “feral underclass” as one puts it) and how they hope to neutralize it (applying the “vital tactic of kettling” to political debate as effectively as to street protest).
    A good educational tool for our side to use – thanks comrade for drawing our attention to it!
    Another friend:
    Immediate thoughts that haven’t been mentioned.
    Ideological war, politically and via the media (one guy said “the media story”) – it’s obviously gonna step up, our side needs to step waaaaay up
    All the powers police need are there for them, we don’t need to worry about new laws being passed, they are just not using them because of events like the Smellie arrest “terrified” them.
    They are shook about a critical mass developing – but don’t see that happen in the student protests
    They are worried about they Euro collapse, austerity measures kicking in and the effect of the f***eries they have caused in Pakistan calling the chickens home to roost.
    Small protests are counterproductive for the protesters, feds don’t care cos “no one will take notice”)
    Kettling will be kept “at all costs” – it is cost effective
    I didn’t know how seriously to take their concerns about the European Human Rights laws because I can’t really see how they have benefited protesters except that protesters can use them in the ideological war in the sense that they can shout about the police being in breach of the convention.

    http://sonsofmalcolm.blogspot.com/2011/01/our-enemies-discuss-how-to-squash-us-in.html


    Underground: Norwich Against Homophobia


    Born from the beautiful chaos of 2009’s Pride Punk Picnic, Underground: Norwich Against Homophobia will be partying, playing, fire-eating and much more all in the name of fighting homophobia, transphobia and prejudice of all kind.

    Next Event:

    UNDERGROUND at King Edward Vll, Aylsham rd. Feb 26th 2011
    The Restarts, Comply or Die, +more rockin bands,acoustic in afternoon, facepainting,fire-breathing, fancypants and much more..2pm-2am/£5/£3 donations on door, kid friendly till 8.