"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 October, 2011

United Families And Friends Campaign Attacked By Police-Can There Really Be Any Doubt, There Is Something Really Very Wrong With This Country?


Members of NCAG joined the United Families And Friends Campaign in Trafalgar Square for a silent march to Downing Street on Saturday.

‘UFFC’ is a coalition of families and friends of those that have died in the custody of the police and prison officers as well as those who are killed in secure psychiatric hospitals. It includes the families of Roger Sylvester, Leon Patterson, Rocky Bennett, Alton Manning, Christopher Alder, Brian Douglas, Joy Gardner, Aseta Simms, Ricky Bishop, Paul Jemmont, Harry Stanley, Glenn Howard, Mikey Powell, Jason McPherson, Lloyd Butler, Azelle Rodney, Sean Rigg, Habib Ullah, Olaseni Lewis, Smiley Culture, Kingsley Burrell, Demetre Fraser and Mark Duggan to name but a few.

The march itself was calm but highly emotional, especially when a list of over 3000 names of people who had died in custody since 1969 was handed out to all present. In 42 years of deaths in custody, not one person has been convicted for any of these deaths.

Each year the campaign makes it’s way to Downing Street to listen to speeches and to hand in a petition calling for those responsible for all deaths in custody to be held to account.

This year was no different, or so we thought, until Downing Street police refused to accept the petition. That was insult enough for the relatives you would think…only the police then proceeded to attack, kick, punch, drag across the road, kettle and arrest family members of victims and their supporters.

The police never cease to amaze us with the lows they can stoop to, but this can not just be brushed under the carpet this time. Surely there can be nothing as low as the brutalization and obstruction of families in mourning by the very people responsible for many of the deaths to their family members.

We’d urge all witnesses and victims of this degradation to submit complaints as soon as possible, and all those who have not joined the UFFC to do so immediately and start to take stock of some of their other political priorities….because how can there be anything more a threat to ordinary decent members of the British populace, than an out of control and unaccountable state sponsored army of police thugs brutalizing and murdering their way across the streets of this country.

No Justice No Peace.

Advertisements

Education Bill: Peers oppose proposals to make worship optional in schools


Peers in the House of Lords this week rejected moves to make collective worship in schools optional, rather than compulsory.

The law in England and Wales states that children at all publicly-funded schools “shall on each school day take part in an act of collective worship”.

One of the proposed amendments to the Education Bill would have given community schools the freedom to decide for themselves whether or not to hold acts of religious worship. A second amendment would have given pupils the right to withdraw themselves from worship. A further amendment would have allowed pupils aged 15 or older to withdraw themselves, building on the NSS success in 2006 in introducing sixth form pupils’ self-withdrawal.

The amendments were moved by NSS Honorary Associate Lord Avebury during the Report Stage of the Bill on Monday. He said: “It is time for the long-standing tradition which no longer reflects the beliefs of more than a tiny fraction of the people to be jettisoned”.

Speaking in the Chamber, Lord Avebury set out a list of reasons why requiring schools to conduct a daily act of religious worship is no longer appropriate. Not least of these were numerous references to the high rate of schools’ non-compliance with the law, showing it to be unenforceable and unpopular. Ahead of the debate, the NSS sent extensive evidence to the Education Minister at the request of the Department for Education. England and Wales are alone among Western democracies in requiring such enforced worship in community schools. The Joint (Parliamentary) Human Rights Committee endorses the proposal to bring down the age of self -withdrawal.

Speaking on behalf of the Government, Lord Hill of Oareford made it clear that the Government did not support the amendments. He said “Our starting point is that the requirement is long-standing. It is difficult to dissociate that from the history of the country and the role that the Church has played over a long period in individual schools and also collectively in society. A full account of the debate can be readhere.

Stephen Evans, Campaigns Manager at the National Secular Society said “It is disappointing to hear the Government repeat the same old tired justifications for insisting on a daily act of Christian worship.

“The amendments were pragmatically drafted not to argue for an end to all worship in schools but simply to allow schools the freedom to choose for themselves whether hold it. It is perhaps an indication of the influence wielded by the Church of England that the Government wasn’t willing or able to make even the smallest concession, in the face of such reasonable amendments.

“The law requiring worship will eventually change; it is just a question of when. It is important that people make their views known to their MPs as it will clearly take a massive groundswell of public opinion to give the Government the backbone to stand up to the Church on this issue”

Sex and relationship education

Also this week, during Wednesday’s Education Bill debate NSS honorary associate Baroness Massey of Darwen issued a strong rebuke to the Christian Institute over their deceitful campaign against her amendment to ensure that the chief inspector of schools reports on the delivery of personal, social and health education including sex and relationship education.

Speaking during the debate, the Baroness said: “My amendment is about well-being and protecting children. The public have been fed dangerously misleading information. Never in the time that it has been my honour to serve in your Lordships’ House have I known such a sinister and vicious campaign, which has sought to misinform others.”

Baroness Walmsley, who also put her name to the amendment, told the chamber, “we have a so-called Christian organisation telling lies and being both uncharitable and cruel.”

The amendment was not supported by the Government, who are seeking to make inspections less prescriptive and more focused, and was withdrawn.

A further amendment from NSS Honorary Associate Baroness Flather to re-introduce the duty for the Inspector to report on schools’ contribution to community cohesion went to the vote but was narrowly defeated.

http://www.secularism.org.uk/education-bill-peers-oppose-prop.html


Norfolk Community Respondents Initiative


There’s been a lot of talk over the last few months by the coalition government about the need for the public to accept difficult decisions that the state are making on our behalf.

These decisions are now about to affect all of us. Decisions we were not party to and have little say in. Most of them will likely be irreversible.

As you know,they involve cuts in our services such as in our health care system, in housing, cuts to state benefits, cuts in education, in fact few sectors of public ownership will remain untouched. More than that though, the level of cuts to the public purse are starting to affect the private sector too and very few of us over the next few years will be unaffected.

Let’s be brutally honest here-many of us will soon be losing our jobs, our houses, our benefits, in fact our whole way of life will likely see major upheaval, all across the country. Norfolk will not be spared, in fact there’s every reason to believe we’ll be one of the worst hit regions.

While this is occurring the left-wing in Britain march in our cities waving placards declaring FIGHT BACK and the right-wing rub their hands with glee and constantly repeat the mantra IT’S ALL LABOUR’S FAULT.

What the left-wingers mean is

‘I have a public sector job-support me or you’ll regret it!’

They offer little response when you ask,

‘Why? What are you going to do for us? Why aren’t you marching on our estates and offering us assistance-we’re the ones who’ll really be hit!’

What the right-wingers mean is

‘Don’t blame us for the mess we’re about to launch at you, just be grateful you live in Britain! We suggest you blame the foreigners among you.’

They offer little response when you ask,

‘How come the wealthiest in our country are getting wealthier and the rest of us are close to losing everything? If it’s all Labour fault why is there an international financial crisis, did they cause that too?’

We believe neither the left-wing or the right-wing, or the political parties that represent these clubs that come knocking for a few days every four years at election time with their promises, care one iota what happens to us as long as we do not become a problem. We are required to support the left, and accept the actions of the right.

Likewise while the right-wing would have us at each other’s throats using race as the issue, the left-wing would define us by identity (race, sexuality, disability, age, etc) and separate us accordingly, our own identity ghettos if you like.

These are simply two sides of the same coin. Both actions take away our fundamental and collective unifying force which is the power to organise ourselves and our lives based on our common goals and interests. No longer should we be celebrating our differences but recognizing our similarities.

And we should start by organising ourselves within our streets, neighbourhoods and communities.

We recently received a message from a supporter we have been speaking to over the phone,

“ I feel very strongly these groups are very important to communities – there are many people dealing with very serious problems with anti social behaviour, problems with their neighbours and hate campaigns where serious threats of harm are made to some families and the Police say they are unable to help as the communities are too scared to speak out in fear of  a back lash mostly due to of race, disability, culture and religion or just being a bit different? From personal experiences I have and am still fighting a battle of over 2 years against being bullied by local drug dealers, anti social behaviour and isolation and a hate campaign due to disability/mental health issues of a young member of our family. We have been forced into isolation and our neighbours around us from being able to speak to us in fear of them being targeted next, leading us to be forced to leave our home and friends just because they are not willing to be bullied by the offending people and do there best to report issues of crime in their community.

It was only 1 week ago the situation got so dangerous we were offered safe-housing in a B&B in a non disabled friendly place over 50 miles away from our loved ones and our pets to be put in kennels. But as much as we were scared and very fragile we refused to be bullied out of our home until we are ready and have somewhere suitable for our needs. – congratulations to those who have set up these support groups to help others. I can help in anyway I gladly would offer my help.”

The simple fact of the matter is that in many cases similar to the above the very organisations who could/should be helping to solve the highlighted issues rarely prove to be fit for purpose before or after the governments cuts. The Police work on a scaled target system and would be first in attendance if you lived in a mansion on Norwich’s Newmarket Road, but a council house
on the Heartsease? They may pop in several days later if you’re lucky, if at all.

Likewise the council, the social services…all appear to do more to hinder than help. Do we not pay our taxes? Are they not supposed to be working for US? Either they’ve forgotten who they serve or we’ve simply got it all wrong.

We are calling for a local debate. A debate for direction to set up local neighbourhood groups to tackle the repercussions of the cuts we now face and some of the more unsavoury issues the likes of the Police, the Council, political parties and the Womens Institute can’t handle! A debate in respect of forming a Norfolk Community Respondents Initiative which would be the first port of call to cover all situations in our communities from the basic checking in on the elderly in winter to turning out against bailiffs harassing members of the community, to the more difficult subjects such as violence on the streets outside our houses and so-called ‘antisocial behaviour’.

We would welcome input from all and will be organising local public meetings shortly and will post up the details in the next month. All we ask is that people leave their political parties at the door on the way in and come with an open mind and serious ideas and see if together we can’t create the communities we deserve as opposed to the ones our government suggests we live in. On a day when it emerges that the wealthiest boardroom directors are giving themselves 50% pay rises while we are close to destitute, it’s time we started finding inspiration from each other rather than populist celebrity.

We do not look to the past to some imaginary golden age when our communities were some how idyllic. We do however believe the future can be a lot brighter if we act together and finally wake up to the fact that the state and all it’s services are mostly not worth the price of a peak rate telephone call.

The Norfolk Community Respondents Initiative coming to your neighborhood soon.


Annual Remembrance Procession Against Deaths in Custody, Saturday 29th October


See you there.

 

South side of Nelsons Column. Trafalgar Square. London. WC2N 5DN.  12:30 – 15:30

 

Who We Are

The United Families and Friends Campaign is a coalition of families and friends of those that have died in the custody of police and prison officers as well as those who are killed in secure psychiatric hospitals. It includes the families of Roger Sylvester, Leon Patterson, Rocky Bennett, Alton Manning, Christopher Alder, Brian Douglas, Joy Gardner, Aseta Simms, Ricky Bishop, Paul Jemmott, Harry Stanley, Glenn Howard,Mikey Powell, Jason Mcpherson and Sean Rigg to name but a few. Together we are building a network for collective action to end deaths in custody.

What we believe

• That failure of State officials to ensure the basic right to life is made worse by the failure of the State to ever prosecute those responsible for custody deaths.

• That the failure to prosecute those responsible for deaths in custody sends the message that the State can act with impunity.

What We Demand

• Deaths in police custody must be investigated by a body that is genuinely independent of the police.

• Prison deaths must be subject to a system of properly funded investigation that is completely independent of the Prison Service.

• Officers involved in custody deaths be suspended until investigations are completed.

• Prosecutions should automatically follow ‘unlawful killing’ verdicts at inquests.

• Police forces are made accountable to the communities that they serve.

• Immediate Legal Aid and full disclosure of information be made to the relatives of the victims for investigations, inquests and subsequent prosecutions.

• Officers responsible for deaths should face criminal charges, even if retired.

• CCTV to be placed in the back of all police vehicles


Occupy Norwich And The Hidden Racist Rubbish That Appears On Their Facebook Wall


We’ve had a bit of a running commentary going on in regards to the Occupy group in Norwich recently. Their declaration of ‘true democracy’ appears to mean that any old racist nutter can post any old guff on their Facebook page irrespective of the content. The majority of which is most definitely coming from 9/11 ‘truth’ campaigners that appear to be growing in number recently.

While we wouldn’t want to tar everyone involved in the Occupy movement with the same brush, the rabid antisemitism behind the propaganda that is being posted is blatantly obvious to anybody with an ounce of intelligence, and all Occupy groups are at risk of letting this poison seep out into the mainstream. It would be a shame to think that ‘Occupy’ in a years time was only remembered for giving these racists a platform.

We condemn these idiots completely. So should you!

To keep up to date with exactly what these people are coming out with next you may want to check out Paul Stott’s 9/11 Cultwatch blog.


Opinion: On “Infighting” And The Left


From the Cautiously Pessimistic blog.

 

A fair amount of the stuff I write is made up of criticisms of various parts of the left. Lefties and anarchists famously spend a vast amount of their time arguing with each other, and a lot of people, understandably, get upset by this and tend to think that if only we could just get on and work together we’d achieve so much more. It’s certainly a view I used to take when I was slightly younger and less cynical. So, here’s my attempt at giving a few reasons why I think it’s perfectly legitimate to spend a lot of time sniping at the left:
1) I think it’s more important to say something that isn’t that obvious, rather than to say something that everyone knows. Pretty much everyone can tell you that the BNP are bad. Ed Miliband, the Guardian, and probably your gran can all tell you that David Cameron’s a wanker, even though they might not all put it in those terms. An explanation of the way that unions and left-wing parties, rather than just standing up for workers, actually often suppress workers’ struggles, is a lot harder to find, so offering that kind of criticism feels a bit more worthwhile than just reminding everyone that the tories are bad, again.
2) Being politically active necessarily gives you a skewed viewpoint on reality, something that all activists would do well to remember. Obviously, the extent to which your perspective gets warped will vary wildly depending on what you do and how active you are – camping out in an eco-village is very, very different from normal life, trying to get the people you work with to go on a go-slow not so much – but still, if you’re politically active in some way, your experiences will differ from the experiences you’d have if you weren’t active. You’re unlikely to bump into a BNP organiser on a picket line, and the chances of meeting a hardline tory at a march to save your local hospital aren’t great, but you are pretty much guaranteed to meet someone selling Socialist Worker wherever you go. So it’s not really that much of a surprise that you build up pretty strong opinions on much of the left quite quickly.
3) This is the important one that needs to be borne in mind: these people are part of the problem. From Germany in 1919  and the Kronstadt rebellion  to the Spanish revolution and May 1968 , those claiming to be on the side of the working class have often ended up as the most dangerous enemies of a revolution. But this isn’t just some dry historical point: there’s plenty of examples to prove the same point today. Of course, the most dramatic case is that of Greece, where Communist Party members joined with the police to protect the Parliament from attack last week , a move which has been condemned by the popular assembly of Syntagma Square . Elsewhere, an “Anarchist Watch” twitter account has been set up by McCarthyite elements in Occupy Denver to try to drive radicals out of the Occupy movement; it’s already inspired an “Anarchy Watch UK ”, which may or may not be a pisstake, it’s anyone’s guess.

‘My left boss leaves me unemployed while (the “communist” party) KKE asks for my vote’ (from contra info)


But, even though the left here doesn’t actually assemble squads to fight in defence of capitalism, and the “Anarchy Watch UK” account may well be fake, there’s still plenty of examples to show how keen the left are to serve our rulers: from the tiny Trotskyist groups mourning the tyrant Gaddaffi  to the Labour Party supporters taking the opposite approach and arguing that “now the left should back UK big oil” , the perspective of international working-class struggle against all dictators and exploitative companies doesn’t even get a look-in. I don’t often look at the Weekly Worker, but I happened to do so this week* and found a very revealing article on the recent violence in Rome ,  which is especially relevant in light of last week’s battle in Greece, where they complain about the fact that anarchists and autonomists had been “allowed” to fight the cops, and blaming this tragedy on the Spanish movement’s hostility to political parties, because “parties have a degree of internal cohesion, group loyalty and discipline” that would have allowed them to take control of the situation. In an article complaining about the black bloc’s fighting with the cops, this can only mean that, as in Greece, the left groups see their role as being to act as an external guard for the police, beating back militants before we can even reach police lines. Of course, groups like the Communist Party of Great Britain or the Workers’ Revolutionary Party are far too weak to actually play the thuggish, reactionary role they’d like, and they’re totally irrelevant to most people’s lives, so confronting them won’t be a strategic priority for the forseeable future; but still, just because they’re weak enemies doesn’t mean we should forget that supporters of Gaddaffi, UK oil companies and the police are still our enemies.
Still, it’s not enough to just be against the various defenders of capitalism; we also need some idea of what we want, and what kinds of action we want to encourage. So, to turn over to the positive section of this post, parents and staff at Bournville School in Birmingham have recently defeated plans to turn their school into an academy , the Indian car workers who occupied their factory have won the reinstatement of 1,200 jobs , disabled folk and their supporters rallied all over the country at the weekend , Frank Fernie, the student jailed for his role in the March 26th protests, is now out , students occupied Chile’s senate building for several hours last week , and the rank-and-file struggle in the construction industry continues with protests in London and Manchester on Wednesday 26th October  and plans for a national demo on November 9th . Since that’s the same day as a major student demonstration, things could get very very interesting then, and I’d urge anyone who’s a student or unemployed to try and get down to London for the night before, since things are likely to start pretty early in the morning.
Finally, a few interesting articles that I’ve seen recently: Italy Calling has a piece on the clashes in Rome one week on , Open Democracy has a big analytical article looking at the Occupy movement and UK Uncut as examples of a new kind of movement without organisation , and libcom’s Occupy Wall Street tag just has loads of interesting stuff, updated fairly regularly . Of particular interest is this communique from Baltimore . “Identity politics” and class struggle are often seen as conflicting, but the W.A.T.C.H. communique does an excellent job of showing how feminist, queer, trans, and anti-racist “anti-identity politics” are vital to a truly revolutionary class struggle anarchist/communist analysis.


After Dale Farm, Where Next For #Travellers Solidarity?


The protests around Dale Farm have seen unprecedented solidarity from the settled community. This is just the beginning. All are welcome to this gathering to discuss what activities and actions we want to plan in the future. From Traveller education, to legal support and monitoring, to advocacy and direct action — join us as we launch the Traveller Solidarity Network and decide what form it will take.

05 November · 11:00 – 16:00

Cityside House,

40 Adler St,

London E1 1EE

Please rsvp to savedalefarm [at] gmail.com to attend.