"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 March, 2011

Some Thoughts On The Stop The War Coalition’s “10 Reasons To Say No To Western Intervention In Libya”.

By Stan Cullen Grant

Some thoughts for discussion by Stan on yesterdays statement by the Stop The War Coalition on international involvement in Libya. The ‘left’ in the UK once again deem themselves to know what’s best for the people in foreign lands. There’s something slightly ‘imperialist’ about that isn’t there?
While we would never support international intervention that would likely be used for hidden agenda, we also would never stoop so low as to treat the oppressed of any nation to a lecture on whats best for them while they are screaming out for assistance.
Marching against military intervention while Free Libyans are fighting for their lives is nothing short of disgraceful, but we’ve come to expect that from the British ‘left’. They should be thrown out with the rest of last centuries trash.

1. Intervention will violate Libya’s sovereignty.  This is not just a legalistic point – although the importance of observing international law should not be discounted if the big powers in the world are not to be given the green light run amok.  As soon as NATO starts to intervene, the Libyan people will start to lose control of their own country and future.
The rebels are in the process of trying to establish a more democratic form of government-Libya’s ‘soverignty’ is already in question. If the rebels have a right to sovereignty and have requested aid through an apparatus of provisional government their soverignty is NOT being violated.

2. Intervention can only prolong, not end the civil war.  “No-fly zones” will not be able to halt the conflict and will lead to more bloodshed, not less.

The civil war will only be perpetuated in so far as it will not be ended by a swift and brutal massacre of rebel forces but a consolidation of their power, which will take longer than exterminating them and it seems more pertinent to assess the scale of violence rather than its length.

3. Intervention will lead to escalation.  Because the measures being advocated today cannot bring an end to the civil war, the next demand will be for a full-scale armed presence in Libya, as in Iraq – and meeting the same continuing resistance.  That way lies decades of conflict.
The rebels have repeatedly expressed their opposition to the deployment of ground forces, and only by violating their wishes will their soverignty be violated. Perhaps the STWC should send a delegate to Benghazi and give them advice?

4. This is not Spain in 1936, when non-intervention meant helping the fascist side which, if victorious in the conflict, would only encourage the instigators of a wider war – as it did.  Here, the powers clamouring for military action are the ones already fighting a wider war across the Middle East and looking to preserve their power even as they lose their autocratic allies.  Respecting Libya’s sovereignty is the cause of peace, not is enemy.

Whilst Gadaffii’s rump state has access to superior technology and more resources non-intevention will aid his regime. (Or is that precisely what the British Left want? If so come out and say it.)

5. It is more like Iraq in the 1990s, after the First Gulf War.  Then, the US, Britain and France imposed no-fly zones which did not lead to peace – the two parties in protected Iraqi Kurdistan fought a bitter civil war under the protection of the no-fly zone – and did prepare the ground for the invasion of 2003.  Intervention may partition Libya and institutionalise conflict for decades.

To replace oppression with conflict is an attempt to liberate oneself. Do the STWC know better than the people of Libya what is good for them? Sounds like old school colonialism…

6. Or it is more like the situation in Kosovo and Bosnia.  NATO interference has not lead to peace, reconciliation or genuine freedom in the Balkans, just to endless corrupt occupations.

To oppose one action under the assumption that it will inevitably lead to another assumes too much, especially as there is merit to the former, independent of the later.

7. Yes, it is about oil.  Why the talk of intervening in Libya, but not the Congo, for example?  Ask BP.

Ofcourse its about oil and futhering corporate and national interests, but to the rebels its also about averting their impending deaths.
As one Benghazian put it on Al Jazeera
“Thankfully we have the oil so the West will come to our aid but we pity our brothers in the Middle East who have none…”

8. It is also about pressure on Egyptian revolution – the biggest threat to imperial interests in the region.  A NATO garrison next door would be a base for pressure at least, and intervention at worst, if Egyptian freedom flowers to the point where it challenges western interests in the region.

The spread of revolution across the Middle East and North Africa must surely pose a greater threat to western hegemony than one ‘successful’ revolution alone.

9. The hypocrisy gives the game away.  When the people of Bahrain rose against their US-backed monarchy and were cut down in the streets, there was no talk of action, even though the US sixth fleet is based there and could doubtless have imposed a solution in short order.  As top US republican Senator Lindsey Graham observed last month “there are regimes we want to change, and those we don’t”.  NATO will only ever intervene to strangle genuine social revolution, never to support it.
It is indeed hypocritical but to allow people to die for the sake of consistency seems somewhat inhumane, unless the people of Libya are nothing other than faceless individuals playing out a caricature in history…

10. Military aggression in Libya – to give it the righty name – will be used to revive the blood-soaked policy of ‘liberal interventionism’.  That beast cannot be allowed to rise from the graves of Iraq and Afghanistan.

A lot of people will die if this does not happen, and if the left wing opposes UN intereference but understands the need for Libya to be liberated where exactly are the ‘International Brigades’ running to their assistance?


by Ian Bone

‘ We are asking people to form up from 11am at Victoria Embankment, but we don’t expect the last marchers to leave until well after 2pm.’

‘The march will leave at noon and then head to Hyde Park for the rally. This will start around 1:30.’

Two quotes from the TUC website. People will be asked to form up at 11am but many will not move off to ‘well after 2pm’. So that’s a three hour wait at least – well handy for the old, kids. anyone who needs a toilet. Knowing that many won’t even move off  by then nevertheless the rally will begin at 1.30pm – with breaks the TUC tell us for those who might have to get a coach home from Wembley! So many lining up for hours will never see any of the rally.

Fact is that the TUC are just not geared up for a million people. They require hundreds of thousands to leave before the others can get in. Everything is subordinate to getting a prime time slot for Ed Miliband and ed Balls.



Feeder March Saturday 26th March 2011

Anyone getting off the train at Liverpool St / Fenchurch St?
Feeder march departing the east end / city 11am Saturday 26 March 2011.
Locations tbc on day follow us @riseupeast

- Homepage: http://riseupeast.wordpress.com


Police Exert Control On 26 March Protest.

It was, of course, expected that the TUC would work with the police in the planning of their protest on the 26th March. But the TUC has not stopped at discussing logistics and route planning. For this demonstration the TUC has been co-opted into the entire policing operation, bringing about a whole new level of police control.

Senior TUC stewards are receiving training directly from the Metropolitan police. The police and TUC stewards are sharing communications, and listening in to each other’s radio conversations. The TUC has a ‘pod’, a location in the police operational command centre, so it can play a part in the wider policing operation. In return for such ‘openness’ from the Met, the TUC will be expected to fully cooperate with policing strategy and tactics. In short, TUC stewards are expected to become some sort of temporary police specials for the day.

The role of stewards will be much more than just guiding the march on its agreed route. Senior stewards will share intelligence with the police via their radio communications,
and have agreed strategies on how to bring the police in if ‘trouble-makers’ infiltrate the march. The TUC is also working closely with the police to deliver ‘key messages’ to those
participating in the demonstration.

TUC route stewards are being trained to be a ‘first response’ in a similar way to stewards at football matches. They will alert senior stewards, and thereby the police, to any incidents, including the approach of ‘troublemakers’. They have been instructed to deal with minor incidents – a group of people doing a sit-down protest en route, for example –
on their own in the first instance. If or when the stewards don’t get a positive response, or if things escalate, the police will move in. It appears to be very much a ‘zero tolerance’

In a move that is completely new, the police have even dictated who will provide legal observers on the demo. Approaches from established legal observer groups were turned down by the TUC, who said having legal observers gave ‘the wrong impression’. But when the police suggested that Liberty should do the job, they were more than happy
to go along with it. Liberty have very little legal observing experience, but they too will be helping to plan the police operation, sharing ‘intelligence’, and sitting in police central

Meanwhile, some of the comments made by Asst Comm Lynne Owens suggest the police will not tolerate any protest not under police control. Occupations of public areas by protesters may not be unlawful, but she has pledged regardless to deal with them ‘robustly’. Plans are being made to implement kettles if they are ‘necessary’, and the
police are monitoring social media networks to gain ‘intelligence’. The Met are also on the look-out for the sort of people, ‘anarchists, football hooligans and criminal gangs’ that were ‘responsible’ for violence back in December.

The stance taken by TUC and Liberty is at best naive, and at worst complicit. Protest should be independent and not state controlled. These actions are being justified under the guise of protester safety, but this level of collusion between protest organisers and the police is unprecedented and unjustified. Freedom of expression and assembly is not just about marching from A-B, and by adopting this stance, Liberty and the TUC seem happy to adopt the police’s view of dissent. This is a dangerous step and has to be resisted

For an insight into the policing operation on the day see Lynne Owens evidence to the Joint Committee on Human Rights.




On Saturday 26th March the Trades Union Congress has called for a march against the cuts, and there is going to be a South London feeder march starting at Kennington Park which we will be joining. South London is one of the areas to be hardest hit by the cuts and has seen some of the most inspiring resistance to their implementation with the storming and occupying of town halls, the occupying of libraries and university buildings along with large demonstrations and regular small actions. Anarchists have played a key role in these struggles arguing that we fight the cuts based on the principles of solidarity, direct action, and self-organisation. We are calling on anarchists, libertarian communists and militant workers from across the country who agree with these principles to join us on the demonstration to provide a visible presence and a revolutionary alternative to the reformism of the TUC.

With sufficient rank-and-file anger, the trade unions may be pushed into calling a general strike – only the second in British history. However, it’s us, not the union bosses who can stop the cuts. All reformist unions can offer us is sellouts like Aaron Porter from the NUS. We can’t put our faith in anything other than our own solidarity and ability to organise. We must take a lead in organising action ourselves rather than waiting on the TUC or anyone else to do it for us.

We also intend to argue that it is capitalism that has caused the crisis that has led to these cuts and that in response to their class war we need to reciprocate: meeting cuts with direct action – strikes, occupations and civil disobedience – whilst fighting for a different world which puts human needs first.

Bring red and black flags, banners and propaganda. The workers movement needs anarchist ideas and methods more than ever if we’re to beat the cuts.

Meet at 11am Kennington Park, South London.

Called by South London Solidarity Federation and the Anarchist Federation







Protest Parade planned for Norwich City Centre, Sat 19th Mar 2011, 12 noon-3pm.

Protest Parade planned for Norwich City Centre Uk Uncut – Norfolk A Peaceful ‘Protest’ Parade is being planned for Saturday, 19 March 2011 from 12 noon to 3pm.

Meet up: Norwich city centre, location TBA.

Whatever grievance you hold, be it Business/Bank Tax Evasion, Privatisation of Our NHS, Cuts to Children’s & OAP services, Bankers Bonus’s…

Please share & invite your friends.

TUC and Liberty undermine independent monitoring of police actions

News Release – for immediate release

The Network for Police Monitoring, a network of experienced protester support organisations , today slammed the decision of the TUC and Liberty to work alongside the Metropolitan police in deploying legal observers on the TUC march to be held on the 26th of this month.

Legal observers have traditionally been fiercely independent of the police, a position which is seen as essential in maintaining the trust and co-operation of protesters and protest groups. Campaigners say the actions of Liberty and the TUC will undermine this position and have long term implications for the effectiveness with which police behaviour can be monitored and challenged through the complaint system and the courts.

“The decision by Liberty to work so closely in partnership with the police shows a complete lack of understanding of the need to monitor the police from an independent perspective,” said Val Swain. “It is a misguided decision which could have serious consequences for those groups who have been working for years to monitor the policing of protest.
“The ability to monitor policing effectively depends on having some distance from the police, and on having the trust of protesters. All of this is inevitably undermined if legal observers form part of the overall policing operation.”
Legal observers have operated at many major demonstrations over the last few decades, including the G20 protests, environmental protests and student demonstrations. They are trained and co-ordinated by a number of legal support groups, including the Legal Defence and Monitoring Group (LDMG), the Green and Black Cross, and the Network for Police Monitoring .

The TUC appear to have made a u-turn on their decision to have legal observers at all. In the beginning of the year they told the Network for Police Monitoring that they would not be deploying legal observers as it ‘gave the wrong impression’.
“This appears to be the result of an initiative put forward by the Metropolitan police,” said Val Swain “It is hard not to see it as a cynical and manipulative ploy to undermine the role of legal observers that operate independently of the police and have been crucial in highlighting serious police misconduct in the most recent demonstrations. I would urge Liberty to support the work of independent legal observers, and urgently reassess their role in this demonstration.”

Andy Meinke from LDMG said, “We are truly independent and there to support the rights of protesters, much in the way Liberty did when it was founded in the 1930’s. Liberty says they are honoured to accept the Metropolitan Police invitation to provide ‘independent monitoring’. Sadly, Liberty seems to have lost its way.”

Notes to editors

  • The Network for Police Monitoring is an umbrella organisation including Newham Monitoring Project, Climate Camp legal team, FITwatch, Legal Defence and Monitoring Group (LDMG), Gaza Demonstrators Support Group, Aldermaston Women’s Group and CAMPACC.
  • Asst Comm Lynne Owens said in evidence to the JCHR yesterday, “We have been, alongside the TUC, engaging with Liberty who are working with us on the planning process. A number of our Liberty colleagues will have access to the intelligence we have in the run up to event, they will be involved in planning of the event with us and based in our specialist operations room, our control room for the event, and they will also have observers working alongside us on the streets, watching how our strategic intentions are put into practice and providing us with advice and guidance post the event.”
  • As well as affecting the flow of information between protester and observer, Liberty’s actions may effectively place future legal observers at risk. Legal observers often operate in tense or confrontational situations, when having the trust of protesters is crucial to their safety as well as their ability to work.
  • The role of legal observers is to ensure protesters are aware of their rights, to gather data on incidents, and to monitor the use of police public order strategies, such as the controversial tactic of kettling or the use of stop and search powers. Legal observers gather witness statements and document police behaviour.
  • The role of legal observers has been crucial in providing evidence for criminal and civil trials, and in raising awareness of misuses and abuses of police power, such as the unlawful stop and search operation at Kingsnorth, and the disproportionate kettling operations at G20 and the student demonstrations.
  • Liberty deployed legal observers in Wapping in the late 1980’s, but have very limited experience of providing legal observers at demonstrations since that date. Unlike other legal support groups, which tend to work in co-operation, Liberty has made no contact with any legal support group.

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