"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 August, 2011

Norwich social housing system on the brink after council agrees to withdraw from scheme

EDP article

The system through which thousands of families in and around Norwich are allocated social housing and council houses is on the brink of being scrapped, after one of the councils involved agreed to withdraw from the scheme.

The Home Options scheme was set up in 2007 with the aim that a single system would be used to find social housing for people in Norwich, Broadland and South Norfolk.

The government gave the councils a £100,000 grant to set up the system, which sees people apply on the internet for the type of housing they want.

Once on the housing register – and around 14,000 people are – they are given a banding ranging from emergency to low, through gold, silver and bronze.

They can then ‘bid’ for properties when they come up on the Home Options website and landlords, either one of a number of housing associations or the city council, offers the property to the applicant who falls into the highest banding of those who have applied and who has been registered for the scheme the longest.

But members of Broadland District Council’s cabinet today agreed to give officers the go-ahead to withdraw from the scheme and, with South Norfolk Council likely to follow suit next month, that will almost certainly trigger the end of Home Options.

The most likely outcome of the scheme being dissolved is that each council would set up its own system to allocate housing.

At today’s meeting, Roger Foulger, Broadland’s cabinet member for planning policy and conservation, said: “It’s a sound decision on two fronts – one that it will improve the service and second, that it will get rid of the waste which has been inherent in the scheme.”

Jo Cottingham, cabinet member for housing and environmental services said there would still be a need to link with other authorities over whatever scheme replaces Home Options.

South Norfolk Council had called in consultants KPMG earlier this year to look at the way the system operated, concluding it was wasteful and not good value for money.


The repercussions of a ban on the EDL

by Truth, Reason & Liberty on Thursday, 25 August 2011 at 20:30

Recently, I made the case yet again against using the state to fight fascism. One key point in this was that by calling on the state to stop a protest taking place because those marching are fascists you set a precedent for them to do so when those marching aren’t fascists. Thus, the only thing that surprised me was the rapidity with which that point was proven right.

Hope not Hate declared the police’s decision to seek a ban “a victory for common sense.” They are jubilant that the EDL have been “foiled” in their plan “to bring violence and disorder to the streets of Tower Hamlets.” This alone smacks of a staggering level of naivety, given that the police only have the power to ban marches and not static demonstrations – as the EDL themselves proved only this month in Telford. Not to mention Leicester, where a ban didn’t stop “violence and disorder.”

Then there is the statement from the Metropolitan Police;

We are in the process of applying to the home secretary for authority to
prohibit a march in five London boroughs for a period of 30 days.

As Dave Hill (who supported calls for a ban) admits, this “applies to all marches in the boroughs concerned,” with the exception of “funeral processions and marches that take place annually and are therefore deemed part of local cultural custom and practice.”

As a result, the Socialist Worker is calling on “everyone who opposes racism and fascism” to “protest about the ban” and to still “come to Tower Hamlets to show that the racist EDL is not welcome.” Peter Tatchell is concerned that the “proposed ban on EDL march may also ban anti-EDL demo & East London Gay Pride.” He rightly calls this “a dangerous precedent.” And if the ban extends to Newham, the Disarm DSEi protest against the world’s largest arms fair is another protest potentially in the firing line.

As Tower Hamlets ALARM say;

State intervention is a worrying turn, the State stepping in and banning
EDL protests is not a sign of a left wing section of the State acting,
or even an Islamic element gaining strength, it is a sign of a further
move to a totalitarian State. We already have the camps in Yarlswood,
thug police that get away with murder and an ever watching State
gathering information on us. We don’t need to campaign for them to ban
political groups. Today the EDL, tomorrow us.

We don’t need the State to stop the EDL. We need to do this ourselves.
We need our communities to work together, overcome divisive elements and
tackle the threat of fundamentalism in whatever forms it takes.

Let’s hope that the repercussions of this ban reach enough of the left that Hope not Hate’s approach will receive much more opposition next time.

Radical Industrial Action Heats up in the Capital!

News from ALARM.

Hot on the heels of their last victory, cleaners in the radical IWW union are calling for a demo to demand better conditions, union recognition and just some basic respect in the workplace. The demo will take place at City Guildhall, Gresham Street EC2V 7HH, this Thursday 25th August, 2pm-5pm. Make sure you get down to support growing rank-and-file militancy.

In other news, construction workers fed up with the bureaucrats of the UNITE union, have taken it upon themselves to organise autonomously against the worsening of their working conditions. Today saw a mass demo of electricians at a Balfour Beatty site at Blackfriars, who are one of 8 major construction companies looking to cut electiricians wages by up to 35% (amongst other things). This action was the product of a mass meeting of 400 electricians , who plan to roll out action accross the city. More news on these struggles soon.


Opinion: Only a child would expect the answer that “people are doing this because they’re bad.”

By Sam (NCAG)

According to a well known anecdote, a German officer visited Picasso in his Paris studio during the Second World War. There he saw Guernica and asked Picasso “did you do this?”

Picasso calmly replied: “no You did this!”

Today, when asked “did you do this? did you want this,?” we must respond – NO you did this, this is the true result of your politics.”

– Slavoj Zizek.

A man was killed in London, the next day a 16 year old girl was beated down to the ground by 15 police officers. Then for the next four nights London burned. People stole things, fought between themselves, others and the police, and generally trashed the city they lived in. And there is no doubt that most of the rioters had no political intent in their actions.

While the arguments on Facebook, in the pub, and on the streets was obviously divided and passionate, the arguments in the papers and from the mouths of politicians were all exactly the same formulated phrases.

The politicians answer has the benefit of simplicity. It states that these riots were the result of bad people doing bad things. That there is a class of people who are sad, bad, and nasty to know. These people have to be beaten into line. These people are responsible, the city burns because human nature is bad. But this answer is in no way satisfying. What’s really annoying people is that none of this makes sense. Only a child would expect the answer that “people are doing this because they’re bad.”

If that’s the case we have to ask some questions – why did they start being bad today? Why are we better than them? Are we better than them? If people are bad does it make sense to give certain members of our society guns and call them cops? Also if these people are bad, why have those who are better not managed to improve them yet?

There are so many questions that come from this seemingly simple answer, but the problem is that its completely wrong – people are social, it takes a lot of violence to make people riot.

“When liberty comes with hands dabbled in blood it is hard to shake hands with her.”
– Oscar Wilde

The problem is the fundamental way that we look at these protests. It’s not true to see this as a sudden outbreak of violence in an otherwise peaceful society. Rather this is the most obvious face of the constant violence in society. Not only do the poorest in London live a decade less than the more wealthy, not only do thousands die because of accidents at work that are due to the profit motive, but also alternately the fact that most people have no control over their lives. There ability to pay each months rent is questionable. Their ability to live is dependant on their boss, the police, any number of loan sharks or petty council officials. All of this is an act of violence.

Parents see their children denied educational opportunities, life stolen from them, constant poverty and uncertainty. Those who argue that these poor people are not poor enough- you can just fuck off. Whatever other objections you have – these areas are poor, these people are isolated from society.

If they weren’t rioting there would be something wrong. As long as the power to legislate, to pay and to dominate, is in the hands of a tiny minority, then violence will always happen.

To liberals, who claim to sympathies, to see the people at the bottom and see that they need “help”, to the people who condemn the riots as detracting from the work of making real change – to these people we have a simple message.

You’ve failed.

For over 100 years we’ve tried things your way, tinkering at the edges. Messing around. Don’t you think that if all society needed was a slight change in the tax regime, a few thousand more council houses, and ethical shopping that we’d have done so already? The real reason you condemn these riots is you don’t want anyone getting your ‘ivory towers’ messy.

What we have seen with these riots is the immune system of our society starting to kick back into action. In the same way as vomiting when you’re ill isn’t pleasant, but is necessary for the process of getting well, so it is with the riots. (If you were to over extended the simile then the clean up crews are like the friend that helps you into bed, nice and every thing but not really part of the solution).

What the ruling elites and all those who are suffering from Stockholm Syndrome are really objecting to is that these riots were effectively society rejecting the civilisation we have built up. The work of western capitalism has been judged and found wanting, and it is this that is the greatest insult to our lords and masters.

Obviously there is much work to be done. Raising money for the normal people who have lost their homes and places of work, explaining what these riots really mean, and building the alternative to all of this.

But there is also reason enough to perhaps smile a little. In some places the riots have found the real enemy. And who knows, maybe somewhere in some mountain range the branch of Al Queda that deals with the UK is shutting up shop, as a year of Tory policies has done much more than any terrorist could ever hope to do.

But most importantly if we can teach the police that every time they murder a man, and beat up a child, London burns, then a small victory at least has been achieved.

Dear ex Whitechapel Anarchists…

According to some person on the EDL website at least five of your lot have moved up here to Norfiick…damned rude of you to not bother getting on the blower like!

“A lot of the Whitechapel anarchists moved to Norfolk to escape the islamists, they will never publically admit it, but thats the reason. My research has told me about 5 hard core Whitechapel anarchists have moved to Norfolk in the past 18 months. There arent that many left now, infact one of their female members was mugged and had her arm broken 2 weeks ago by Bengali thugs, they didnt inform the police, but took her to The Royal London and said that she fell off her bike.

I have been researching these people for 2 years, for about 12 people they have a great internet presence.”

It’s been a funny ol’week, chuckles all the way!

Western Anarchism On The Rise.

Western anarchism on the rise

Arab Spring was followed or preceded by many similar mass movements, the last being the riots in London. Greeks were on the streets long ago. Israelis are no different; hundreds of thousands have poured onto the streets protesting their governments for a number of reasons.

Some protest against cuts in their wages, hurt by austerity measures that reduce public spending. Israelis demand affordable houses. In the town squares of many European cities young people are protesting unemployment and structural inequality created and sustained by earlier generations that still rule their countries. The same inequalities find their voice in the US under the banner of the “Tea Party” as if they are up against a colonial power.

There are different reasons for the rebellion of the masses, especially the youth in varying countries, but there is a visible commonality: they all want an “attainable future.” They can no longer see such a future within their reach. It is too elusive and seems inaccessible in the midst of a crisis that seems to last for an indefinite time. The middle and lower middle classes are especially affected. By pouring on to the streets they express their desperation and fear of a future that can no longer be imagined. That is why being a politician is getting harder by the day. People want results; they want to feel hopeful again. With spreading protest movements, the power and privilege of leaders and politicians are diminishing. As they lose face and power, they call these movements “anarchic.” Indeed they are because in ancient Greek anarchy means “without a leader.” Anarchists repudiate the omnipotence of the state. They do not want the state in their “business,” or the hierarchy it has created. They refuse a morality dictated by a state that leaves no room for the sovereignty of the moral law of the individual.

Today’s rebels (as they are often called “anarchists”) are anti-authoritarian. They show this not only in their rhetoric but also in actions that are getting increasingly violent.

The youth of Europe had learned that good government is good to its people. With stringent social welfare austerity measures they began to question this assumption. They now believe that governments prefer to sustain a system in which a small privileged minority receives more benefits than the common people.

The rebels or anarchists of Europe want a revolution. They yearn for a unified anti-authoritarian international network of activist groups composed of “autonomous individuals” who can think for themselves as well as other fellow human beings, not governments or regimes or financial systems. They tend to plan to sabotage the international economic and political system that has led the world from one crisis to another. That is why they see solidarity with other nations’ rebels as so important for their aims.

If such a plan works and an international front of rebels/anarchists is set in motion we may expect the following:

• Threatening leaders and harassing politicians.

• Attacking government facilities, police and law enforcement facilities (including courts) or personnel.

• Attacking embassies, starting with symbolic “imperialist” powers.

• Bombing banks.

• Vandalizing selected/symbolic cultural and political targets/groups.

• Symbolic robberies.

They see this selective violence as an “initial phase of the revolution” to come. Needless to say, they want this to be a global revolution. But as of now they have no post-revolutionary vision of a society or social nexus.

The European anarchists have a shared legacy of terror. Now this backdrop has been revitalized by the ongoing economic crisis that has upset the balance between economic prosperity and democratic stability. The young generations of Europe and the Americas are questioning this equation that has so long been taken for granted.

If the West does not mend the bridge that has collapsed between democratic stability and economic sustainability and welfare in the shortest time possible, terrorism of the alienated middle-class will be the biggest challenge of the Atlantic region. The massacre in Norway, the rise of racism, xenophobia and the violence-prone right must be eye openers. We are living in interesting times.



by Ian Bone


Jacob Michael dies aftr 11 cops attack him with pepper spray and batons: Eye witness:

‘They started chasing him and hitting him in the back of the legs with batons. They said, “Why don’t you stand up and give yourself some dignity,” to him. But he couldn’t even stand up after they’d hit him with the batons.

‘It was so upsetting to see. I couldn’t believe the police could do that. It was like something you see on those TV cop shows.

‘I went to speak to his mum. She didn’t know what happened. She was mortified when they knocked on her door those hours later and told her, “Your son’s died”.

‘They had banged his head on the floor and they were giving him punches. He was already handcuffed and he was restrained when I saw him. I don’t know what happened in the house, I just saw when they were on the street.

‘He was shouting, “Help me, help me”. He wasn’t coherent. I don’t know why they were bringing him in for affray. It doesn’t matter, he didn’t deserve that.

‘He’s never been in trouble before as far as I know’.