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Statement on violence and inclusion at the ESF

Liz | 01.11.2004 10:46 | European Social Forum

A number of unions and NGOs have signed a statement claiming that violence was used to stop free speech at the ESF and singling out the Wombles as inciters of this.
It also claims that the whole ESF organising process was inclusive from the start.

Statement on the third European Social Forum in London
29 October 2004

We consider the organisation of a European Social Forum involving more than 20,000 people in Britain, one of the countries where neo-liberalism was born, is a considerable achievement for which we would like to congratulate and thank everyone who contributed.

The London ESF, like Florence and Paris, will stimulate discussion of a wide range of issues of policy and organisation, including many lessons and criticisms, and there is plenty of time for that discussion in the months to come.

We think it is important for the future of the movement, that a sense of proportion is retained when discussing differences, recognising that we have collectively organised the third of the most inclusive, diverse and internationalist conferences for social justice in Europe.

One issue, however, requires an immediate response – that is the introduction of physical violence by a very small minority to undemocratically suppress people’s views within the ESF. An equivocal or apologetic position on the use of physical violence to suppress views within the ESF would risk legitimising behaviour which, in reality, attacks the democratic rights of every participant in the process.

Inclusion and Exclusion
The European Social Forum in London was entirely inclusive with more than 20,000 people attending 500 plenaries, seminars, workshops and cultural events with more than 2,500 speakers representing every shade of opinion within the social justice movement. The topics and speakers for the plenary sessions were agreed by consensus at the European Preparatory Meetings. The seminars were merged through a European-wide process of agreement between those proposing sessions. The workshops were open for anyone to propose and organise. Provision was made for autonomous spaces and these were advertised in the programme. The entire process at every level was open to anyone who wished to participate. Minutes of the agreed consensus decisions were taken and were published on the European-wide mailing lists as well as on the website of the ESF.

The only attempts to exclude anyone were by two small minorities. One, a group of anarchists, who are opposed to the ESF and WSF and urged people to boycott it, made a series of threats of physical attack on Ken Livingstone and others, called for, and carried out the storming of the anti-fascist session of the ESF and tried to storm the platform of the rally following the ESF demonstration.

In an unrelated incident, a different set of people, numbering 40-50, made up of various groups and individuals, prevented the plenary opposing the occupation of Iraq from taking place because they objected to one of the speakers.

These two groups do not represent even one per cent of the 20,000 people who took part in the European Social Forum in London and fully respected its democratic principles. They were not even half a per cent of the 70,000 or more people who took part in the demonstration.

The censorship of views by premeditated physical violence at the ESF is completely unacceptable. If such methods were introduced into our movements they would destroy all democratic functioning. We hope and expect all participants in the ESF to make clear that physical violence to exclude different views has no place in the process.

Threats of violence before the ESF
The threats of violence started with the publication of calls for people to physically assault Ken Livingstone on one of the websites involved in the Beyond the ESF alternative events. This website ( called upon people to:


These were not idle threats as shown by the subsequent storming of the platform upon which Ken Livingstone had been invited to speak (and, like every other plenary speaker, the invitation was agreed through the democratic processes of the ESF structures).

Total opposition to the ESF as such, not the way the London ESF was organised
This website and that of an anarchist organisation called the Wombles (, published a document, which they say is the result of six months discussion, entitled `A short analysis of the socio-political role of the WSF-ESF’. They state explicitly that they are hostile to the ESF and WSF as such and not just, as those who have tried to justify, excuse or explain away their actions claim, to the way the London ESF was organised.

They condemn the ESF as one of `the contemporary institutions of domination’. They say: `the ESF is incapable of achieving revolutionary change because it accepts the current hierarchical system and seeks minimalist-reformist change inside current governmental structures.’

They condemn: `the inclusion of organisations i.e. non-governmental organisations (NGOs), which are a-critical and directly facilitate capital’s expansion.’ They also single out for criticism the refusal of the ESF and the British anti-war movement to engage in violence.

Their total political opposition to what the ESF and WSF stand for, not some supposed failure of the organisers to include them, is why they did not participate in the London ESF.

As part of their campaign of threats of violence leading up to the ESF, the day before the opening of the ESF, both the London ESF offices and City Hall, were fly-posted with posters threatening Ken Livingstone, Lee Jasper and Redmond O’Neill.

Storming the anti-fascist session at Alexandra Palace
On the Friday of the ESF, the Wombles circulated an email in which they urged people to meet at Alexandra Palace at 6.30pm on the Saturday just before the anti-fascist plenary at which Ken Livingstone had been invited to speak and ‘storm’ the ESF.

They carried out their threat. About 100 people, who had not participated in the ESF, some masked, charged into the anti-fascist session and stormed the platform, punching the chair, snatching his mobile phone and pushing him off the platform.

This was in spite of the fact that he had given them the microphone to speak – the organisers having already agreed that, to avoid violence, they would not prevent the demonstrators from entering the building.

It has been suggested that the organisers of the ESF may have asked the police to intervene against the demonstrators after they left Alexandra Palace. This is not true.

Unsurprisingly, given this group’s very public threats of violence and calls to storm the ESF on the internet, the police arrived with the anarchist demonstration at Alexandra Palace. ESF stewards asked the police not to intervene and the police left the building.

Violent attack on the ESF demonstration
The next day in the middle of the rally in Trafalgar Square following the entirely peaceful ESF demonstration of more than 70,000 people, a group of 100-150 anarchists who had not been on the demonstration, most of whom had been involved in the previous day’s attack on the ESF, some masked, arrived at the front of the square, accompanied by police.

Shortly after their arrival, this group made a series of determined attempts to storm the platform of the rally while Aleida Guevara was speaking. In the process they attacked the stewards and tore down crash barriers around the platform. This violent attack continued for a considerable period of time and at a certain point the police intervened. (We have no reason to disbelieve Javier Riuz when he says that he was trying to mediate at the time of his arrest during this incident.)

It has been claimed by Piero Bernocchi that the police were asked to intervene by the ESF stewards. This is not true. The police arrived with the anarchist group and intervened on their own initiative when the group started trying to storm the stage, attacking the stewards and tearing down protective fencing.

Prior to this attack on the rally, some of the anarchist group had asked the stewards to announce that a number of people in this group had been arrested while en route to the demonstration. It was agreed that this would be done and an announcement about the arrests was made from the platform.

Is it irrelevant that the anti-fascist meeting was attacked?

The fact that an anti-fascist session with Black and Jewish speakers was stormed or the Black person chairing the meeting was punched and pushed off the platform is not to suggest that the attack was racially motivated. Nor is there a suggestion that the attempt to storm the stage of the rally (after the demonstration) which took place while Aleida Guevara was speaking, was because the attackers’ goal was to stop Guevara from speaking.

Having said that, it is not irrelevant to note that the perpetrators were so obsessed with their own concerns that they paid no attention to whose meeting they were disrupting, nor who was speaking when they attacked nor who would be hurt by their preparedness to use physical violence.

Disruption of the Iraq plenary

At the Iraq plenary, a different group of 40-50 people who objected to one of the speakers, Subhi Al Mashadani from the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions, shouted down the platform and tried to storm the stage. The facilitators spent about an hour trying to reason with them to allow all of the speakers, who had been democratically agreed through the European process, to speak. The overwhelming majority of those attending the session made clear in a show of hands that they wanted all speakers to be allowed to speak.

The facilitators explained that they would not allow one speaker to be undemocratically prevented from speaking and that they would close the session if the demonstrators continued to prevent it from starting. The session was then closed. We agree with the decision of the facilitators to close the session rather than allow the platform to be censored.

Conclusion – there is no place for violence within the ESF
The London ESF was open and inclusive. The UK Organising Committee excluded nobody. All of its meetings were open. Every viewpoint wishing to be there was given space in the programme – including autonomous spaces. The debates were open and often vigorous. The experience of 99 per cent of participants was highly positive and the demonstration was a huge success. At the same time, there was a premeditated attempt by a small group opposed to the ESF to impose its views and suppress other peoples’ views by aggression, intimidation and physical violence. That must be unequivocally rejected.

Billy Hayes, General Secretary, Communication Workers’ Union
Paul Mackney, Gen Sec, National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education
Barry Camfield, Asst Gen Sec, Transport and General Workers’ Union
Rod Robertson, National Organiser, UNISON
Mick Connolly, Secretary, Southern and Eastern Region TUC
Megan Dobney, Chair, SERTUC Women’s Rights Committee
James Lloyd, National Secretary, National Union of Students
Kate Hudson, Chair, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
Lindsey German, Stop the War Coalition
Simon Woolley, Black Londoners Forum
Muhammad Sawalha, Vice President, Muslim Association of Britain
Milena Buyum, National Assembly Against Racism
David Hillman, Tobin Tax Network
Alex Gordon, RMT
Anne Kane, Abortion Rights
Pav Akhtar, NUS National Black Students Officer
Caroline Gooding, Trade Union Disability Alliance
Martin Collins, Agreed Ireland Forum
Kirsten Hearn, Regard
Carole Regan, Chair, Palestine Solidarity Campaign



Hide the following 30 comments

They Must Be Desperate

01.11.2004 12:57

Using these so called threats publihed on IM - which were almost certainly either the work of a troll or swp symapthiser - to attack the protest for a more democratic and inclusive ESF is either an act of desperation or complete ignorance.

Pete S.

Not as Desperate as you.

01.11.2004 14:26

Hear hear to the main article above. It is about time that the disruptive and destructive role of some in the so-called autonomous movement was exposed. It was clear from the ESF that you represent nobody and have no support. Your physical violence against black and jewish activists is a disgrace, whatever your disagreement with their political platform.

If you have a problem with Livingstone or the swp or whoever, why not take it up with them directly, rather than helping the nazis by disrupting an anti-facist meeting? Your criticisms of the far left in this country ring hollow - that they are 'authoritarian' and use undemocratic methods - when so-called autonomists are prepared to use physical violence to impose their opinions on the other 25,000 people at the esf. You are as bad as the nazis, with all your violence and hatred of anyone who is different.

Anti-racist, anti-facist, anti-capitalist trade unionist.

Anarchists / Wombles / Indymedia

01.11.2004 15:14

Everything is an SWP conspiracy if you look through an Anarchist balaclava.

Indymedia should also have a look at its role in facilitating the events referred to above. Don’t let this anti-Left minority hijack and wreck a website that has given such solidarity to the anti-capitalist movement so far.



01.11.2004 15:30

To clarify the issue of the calls for violence against red ken - the links provided in the statement above are to some situationist-type web site, and as such the text calling for people to kick ken represents the view of the author and that person alone. The page is a rather unfunny derivation of the original wombles text.

i took part in the preparation discussions for the action on saturday night and there was at no point a call for physical violence against anyone.


Oh come on!

01.11.2004 15:43

>>You are as bad as the nazis, with all your violence and hatred of anyone who is different.>>

Whatever the merits of the arguments either way, this is just silly.

I do find it interesting, as an aside, that we are being told by trade union
bureaucrats that the process was 'transparent and democratic'. Well of course they
found it so - it was stitched up by their mates for their benefit!

I'm deeply worried by the dismissal of any claims that the ESF 2004 had problems. It
clearly *did* and denying that problems existed is not going to make them go away. When
COBAS, WDM, Wombles, Greens and scores of other groups agree that they experienced
problems with the process, then they aren't just making it how about some
grown up analysis rather than a total denial of the facts?

Proper discourse

Since we're so irrelevant...

01.11.2004 16:11

...why do the Trots keep coming back here, whining on and on and on about how what a small minority all us non-Trots are?

Rent-a-Trot whined:
"Everything is an SWP conspiracy if you look through an Anarchist balaclava."

No, not everything, just that very small number of events that the SWP are involved in.

Then he whinged:
"Don’t let this anti-Left minority hijack and wreck a website that has given such solidarity to the anti-capitalist movement so far. "

Hahahahaha! Who built this global news network of web sites that you read and post to every single day? And whose website gets all the traffic, that the Trots so desperately long for? Anarchists and autonomists, of course.

Hey Mr. Trot, why not try posting lots of mind-numbing rants from the Socialist Worker up here? That might work.

Hee hee hee...



01.11.2004 16:35

A Wombles statement is being prepared and will be out soon, but this is my strictly personal response (not on behalf of anybody).

The above article is the most underhand and low attempt I have seen yet to spread lies and smears about the Wombles and others who occupied the stage at the ESF, and to whitewash the hierarchical and exclusive ESF process which a huge number of people, not just Wombles had problems with.

First of all, loads of people had problems with the ESF process, with how hierarchical it was, with the way the GLA, memebrs of the SWP, and some union leaders apperared to have decided things beforehand in secret meetings. I was involved in the ESF process at the beginning, along with some other people from wombles and we genuinely hoped to make the process better with practical suggestions and hard work, along with a lot of other people who formed the horizontals. We had already been part of the London social forum and liked the way it worked and the people we worked with in it, who were from many different backgrounds and there seemed to be genuine attempts by many, including ourselves, to try and infuse the ESF process with the same openness and willingness to find new ways of working together we had found in the LSF.

I joined the practicalities group, which at that time included several wombles, several IMC people and other horizontals, aswell as people from SWP, unions and individuals. I hoped by being in the practicalities group, to make sure that the ESF was more inclusive by suggesting a creche, free accommodation, cheap or donation food, and by trying to make sure the financial process was transparent. After we had been working and discussing for about a month, I was shocked to find that a decision had been taken, by some of the union leaders and the GLA that all working groups would be disbanded. Also, during discussions about affiliation fees, I and many others put forward the suggestion which was met with wide support, that there should be a sliding scale, starting at zero, for affiliation, so as to include migrant and refugee groups and unemployed groups. Although, in the meeting where this was discussed, there appeared to be a consensus on this, I was later told in a tirade from Jonathan Neale that this sliding scale could not happen as it had been blocked by SERTUC (who had not made an intervention in the meeting).

These things and others made me personally feel that I could not continue as part of the official ESF process, that the promised committment to open and inclusive ways of working were not really happening.

In May Wombles put a call out for an autonomous spaces meeting, which was attended by about 70 people from many different groups and political backgrounds. People had different positions on the ESF (some wished to continue as part of the process while also being involved in autonomous spaces, others did not wish to have anything to do with the official process). About 11 autonomous spaces were organised. We worked together on co-ordination, publicity, and accommodation, while accepting our differences. Some wished to be in the official program, others did not. None of them received any funding or resources from the ESF.

The space organised by the Wombles was called beyond ESF, and it took place in Middlesex University. I saw it as an opportunity to put into practise many of ways of organising I had hoped to see happen at the ESF. Entry to our event was free as was accommodation. We organised over 70 workshops, discussions and presentations. Every evening there were films and live music. We also organised an opening assembly for the auonomous spaces. Among the themes of discussion we organised around was 'No Borders'. This strand included, on the Saturday, an all-day self-organised refugee forum. Hardly an event that would be organised by racists!

Not only was all of this free, but the structure of meetings was participatory with plenty of opportunity for discussion (one of the things we had found depressing about the Paris ESF, was endless platforms of speakers with little or no opportunity for participation). We also served 3 vegan meals a day from a donation kitchen (Anarchist teapot). We had requests for accommodation from over 800 people, and managed to find them all free accommodation in squats - some stayed in already existing squats, but we also squatted and cleaned up 2 large buildings for 600 people to stay in. Many of these people attended both the ESF and the autonomous spaces. Beyond ESF and the other autonomous spaces were not "tiny, marginal" events. They were attended by thousands of people from all over the world. Beyond ESF was our (successful)attempt to show that events like these can be organised according to our principles and be successful, large and inclusive events.

For the full program see

Among the actions we participated in organising, was a No Borders action at Waterloo Station, on the Thursday, where we occupied the passport control in the Eurostar terminal, in a solidarity action with refugees and asylum seekers who were not granted visas to come to the ESF.

We also put a call out for the saturday occupation of the stage at the ESF plenary. The reason this plenary was chosen was because Ken Livingtone was speaking at it, not because it was an ani-facist meeting. Over the past 4 years we have been consistently involved in anti-facist and No Borders activity and action. Wombles did NOT call for people to "attack red Ken" etc, nor did we put up posters threatening Ken, Lee Jasper or anyone else. This is bullshit! The occupation of the stage at the ESF was supported and participated in by many groups and people of different races and nationalities. Among others, Babels, No Vox (a french migrant and refugee support network), and IMC participated. Personally I hugely resent the lie (and there is no other word for it) that we made a racist attack on black and jewish speakers. We did not. We did not steal anyone's mobile phone!! The demonstation only lasted for half an hour (so the meeting did go ahead)after which demonstators left voluntarily. The intevention was supported and cheered by many of the people attending the plenary. It was clear ferom the banners: "Ken's party war party", "another world is for sale" what the demo was about, and that it was absolutely nothing to do with racism or facism! On leaving Alexandra Palace, people were stopped by police, beaten and several arrested.

I've got more to say about the Sunday, about how we were treated and are always treated by police, and the lack of solidarity from much of the movement, but this is pretty long already, and times up in the internet cafe, so it'll have to wait.

a womble
- Homepage:

Silly. Really?

01.11.2004 16:49

I don't personally see much difference between 'autonomists' violently disrupting an anti-facist meeting and nazi boneheads doing the same. I am sorry that some people felt excluded by the esf process, but many of these individuals boycotted the process and so in effect excluded themselves.I can't see how any point of view can claim to be excluded, given the broad variety of views in the hundreds of meetings on offer. I notice that the programme of events in the autonomous spaces was advertised in the main programme. It is not the organisers fault that this was so poorly attended, but your own. For myself I was glad to see the trade union movement in this country engaging with anti-capitalsits of all stripes. In my opinion, the trade unions, however bureaucratic, with their millions of members are more representative of working people in this country than the 100 or so boneheaded autonomists who are so intolerant of other peoples views and opinions that they resort to physical violence (unintended or not) against a meeting to discuss our response to the threat posed by the far right. I am glad that such 'autonomism' only represents a tiny faction of the movement. If it had been up to them, we would not have had 2 million people on the streets against war on f15, but 250. Just because you are outvoted in meetings does not make them undemocratic. If you find yourselves in such a tiny minority in future, why not look to what you are saying and why you thoroughly alienate most working people in this country, far more than the trots ever did.

Anti racist, anti facist, anti capitalist trade unionist.

balaclava palava

01.11.2004 17:37

The storming on the stage and the attack on the secretary of Unite Against Fascism was an absolute disgrace.The wearing of balaclavas and masks at a huge international meeting of anti fascists and anti racists was bizarre and quite frankly juvenile except the consequences have rumbled on and on...and on.The chairman of the meeting was also robbed of his mobile and wallet which has security implications for him and others.
What were these masked individuals playing at causing mayhem and wrecking the meeting?There is a clear and growing threat from the far right out there and it is the Roma community and refugees who are in the front line .Roma speakers were lined up to speak when the storming of the stage took place and they must have been very disappointed and confused by the violence and the uproar.We have to do better than this !


Re: Since We're so Irrelevant...

01.11.2004 17:56

Just the sort of intolerance I'm on about. You are a parody of yourself and sound just like the people you are attacking.

Anti racist, anti facist, anti capitalist trade unionist.

Boycott Indymedia

01.11.2004 18:30

I'm boycotting this FACIST website, right now. I've had enough of all this bloody intolerance.

It's spelled "fascist", by the way: it's nothing to do with faces.

Surely This Statment Can't Be True

01.11.2004 18:36

Where was this statement first published? It must ne a hoax. Who is the poster Liz? Surely it cant be true, they wouldn't publish such self-evidently ludicrous nonsense. Some should contact Billy Hayes press office and ask he he actually put his pen to this.

The deranged commentators in support of the statement only highlight how bizare it is - they sound off worse than any Daily Mail or right wing rant I have ever read or heard. It's vile.



02.11.2004 11:46

Why does Indymedia UK moderate right-wing trolls, but not left-wing trolls?

Both get in the way of reporting the news, right?


Re: Boycott Indymedia

02.11.2004 11:57

Sorry about the spelling. As a low paid healthworker I don't have the benefit of your expensive public school education.

Who's talking about boycotting Indymedia? Still nobody has said to me why they thought it was a good idea to disrupt an anti fascist meeting. Livingstone wasn't even there, so that excuse is bullshit. Even if he was, what gives you the right, a tiny unelected clique, to determine who is or isn't heard at such an event? I can't stand Livingstone and I don't have too much time for many of the trots, but like it or not, they are just as much a part of the political scene as you. Whoever was responsible for storming the stage on that night should be ashamed of themselves and their actions.

Anti racist, anti fascist, anti capitalist trade unionist.

what do the wombles actually do??

02.11.2004 13:05

since the attack at the ESF, i have never heard the WOMBLES name come up so much.

can anybody give me background.

what i do know is that wombles stands for white overalls something or other. they copied Ya Basta the italian group. what i recall is that Ya Basta tactics, put it bluntly were crap. they dressed in padding and attempt to break police lines in prague. it was a total failure. why then do the WOMBLES aspire to be like these idiots???

red letter


02.11.2004 13:26

You arrive in London from abroad, you're not loaded, you're not specially sponsored by a trade union, you are a member of a grassroots group or organisation with no funds. You had wanted to do a joint workshop at the ESF, but couldn't afford to stump up £200+, you find out that you will have to pay £30 for entry and a space on concrete in the Dome,the only food available is shit and expensive. Do you not think that this kind of experience is fairly exclusionary? I personally arrived in london having had to make emergency repairs to a van to get 4 people down there, and had my benefits stopped on the thursday. I had £20 for the weekend. I survived at Beyond ESF, and 'stormed the palace' to support those others who felt that the financial basis of the whole event was excluding average joe.


Same rights as you

02.11.2004 13:45

"what gives you the right, a tiny unelected clique, to determine who is or isn't heard at such an event?"

Same rights as the tiny unelected clique we were protesting against.

"I can't stand Livingstone and I don't have too much time for many of the trots, but like it or not, they are just as much a part of the political scene as you."

Exactly. Same as all the rest of us. Yet the trot minority hijacked this event, using GLA money and stitched-up meetings. We don't have money, and we couldn't stop the stitchup. But the stage invasion was mostly supported by the crowd attending: photos and independent witness reports back this up.

And spare us your excuses about education: I went to a grubby comprehensive, same as you. Next time you feel like implying that people you disagree with are fascists, make an effort to spell your smears right.


Seriously, something needs to be done.

02.11.2004 13:56

Is there nothing that can be done about all the moronic malicious provocative bullshit, mainly posted as comments.

I guess not much, censorship would be using a sledge hammer to crack nuts (pun intended),

Can't IM put in a warning message - some advice to users - when posting, for example,
There are Trolls (explain this) operating on this site, we advise you not to respond to them; or something a bit more snappy.


John Spelling?

02.11.2004 14:06

Must be one of the best ever comments on IM, John, but I tripped up on the last clause. What does: "make an effort to spell your smears right." mean.

I think you may have meant: "...smell you smears right." Yeh? But this still leaves me puzzled, can you elucidate?


True colours shown again

02.11.2004 16:28

red letter show the true colours of the authoritarian left when he decides which tactics are the best and what other people should or should not be aspiring to.

Why dont you trots get it sussed?
We will do our own thing, you can suck up to leaders and give each other a nice pat on the back. Did you also give yourselves a big pat on the back for mobilising more police than an ENgland game (probably all paid out of the 30 quid entrance fee)? You can carry on as a bunch of sycophants.



dangerous behaviour

03.11.2004 12:37

The threat by the swp to call the police on activists is abhorrent and disgusting. It was only the threat of a walkout of the ESF by some European activists and groups that stopped them doing so. This incident dramatically highlighted the level of collusion with the state, the exclusion of those who disagreed with the way in which the process of the ESF was organised and the decisions made and the support for those trying to have a voice by many Europeans with whom the ESF as it was in London, is discredited. SWP, you haven't done yourself any favours. You have shown your organisation to be what it is, sucking up the arse of the state with dangerous consequences for other activists.

If I'd had been in the right place at the right time, I would have stormed the stage and I support absolutely those that did. Instead of calling people racists and using daily mail style imagery and rhetoric to discredit those people who took direct action at the session where Livingstone was meant to be speaking, and later tried to tell people at Trafalger about the level of police harrassment people at Beyond ESF had experienced all weekend, the SWP should look at its own behaviour in this.

No chance of that though, is there? Too busy slagging off the Wombles who achieved what you failed to do, and didn't shop anyone to the cops in the process.

person who was at Beyond ESF

swp seems DESPERATE

03.11.2004 14:22

About a fortnight ago some individuals of the German delegation signed a petition in solidarity with the ESF organisers, similar to the one above, it was whining about the "shameful racist atacks of the anutonomists" a.s.o. Some of those who signed are affiliated to the SWP sister´s org. A couple of days later a left wing daily, who had reported critically about the role of the SWP´s influence published a sort of courtesy interview with a leading memeber of the SWP´s sister org, stating that the SWP is not to blame for the direction the ESF went, and that, hold your breath, the SWP was not involved at all in the selection of the speakers for the ESF meetings! Oviously, the SWP gives the impression of a frantic team of fire fighters. Why all this harping on the subject of the wombles and what not? Why all this covering up by the SWP?

The point I want to make is, let´s talk about that there were no radical trade union activists, like Mark Servotka, a unorganised Trot, invited as speakers. The ESF was nosebrowning the TUC bureaucracy. And why is a meeting "antifascist" - with no activists from European antifascist groups on it? Of course, no one has the right to decide who is antfascist and who not. But comrades, please, what qualified Ken Livingstone to speak on an antifascist meeting?

Also, comrades, who stormed the meeting on war in Iraq because one of the speakers, Iraqi TUC gen sec Subhi Mashadani is a "colaborater"? Wasn´t that comrades of the SWP?

Instead of smearing others as racist, let´s recall this one: "I want to hear criticism, comrades!", Duncan Hellas, rip, opening a discussion on a meeting.


coupla things

03.11.2004 17:45

Is there any evidence ESF organisers called the Police? Weren't they there anyway?

And the group who stopped the IFTU speaker weren't SWP, they were (I think) Workers Power.

But more importantly, why are we still going OVER and OVER and OVER this? The rest of the world is talking about Bush getting back in and the likely imminent destruction of Fallujah. In the light of which even the trade unions and Stop the War seem to be patching up their differences. Couldn't we seem a bit self-obsessed if all we want to talk about is 'What we did to the SWP at the ESF'?


@ (A)

03.11.2004 18:14

u have not answered the question.anyway

u accuss me of being the authoritian ,persumably accussing me as being a non indepenedent thinker. well take a good look at the WOMBLES , are they independent thinkers, or do they they follow orders?? i think the latter,the last time i saw one of these idiots was in the CHATs palace hackney dressed in white overalls handing out leaflets, like some daft clowny clone. do all WOMBLES wear such clothing when on duty? wheres the individuality in that??

by the way, yes i do think we can learn from past experiences and adopt tactics which have been proven successful, only a fool would not (e.g strike action has been used time and time again as a means to defend workers from their bosses).not to say to dismiss fresh ideas. but when the tactics of YA BASTA were proven to be wrong, one would think that u cotton on, instead u have totally adopted,clothing and all.

lesson fought, lesson taught

red letter

Workers Power

03.11.2004 18:56

There's less than thirty Workers Power members nationally, and most of them wouldn't have been at the ESF. I'd be surprised if they alone stopped the meeting: there's not enough of them stop the traffic in Tottenham high street.

No, it was reported that SWP, who have an ample 800 comrades nationally, were in there on the front line, arguing with the platform. The little hypocrites, eh.

The SWP are known for shooting themselves in the foot. They probably invited this guy in order to have a protest against him - it's their idea of direct action and is though good ruse for bonding and doubles as a little recruiting stunt. I kid you not, they can be odd, and get very angry, when righteous indignation takes hold.

They have since kept their heads down because of obvious backlash


COBAS condemns uk esf committee domination of the ESF closing demonstration and

03.11.2004 20:45

COBAS condemns uk esf committee domination of the ESF closing demonstration and treatment of young people from 'autonomous spaces'.

Tuesday 19th October 2004 :
From Italian union COBAS regarding the ESF rally

The closing rally for the European Social Forum in London has been deeply marred by the intolerable behaviour of the British Organising Committee, and in particular by the forces that dominate it: the Socialist Workers Party, Socialist Action (the group behind London’s Mayor Ken Livingstone), and some trade unions. Several hundred young people coming from the "autonomous spaces"� (included in the programme of the Forum and who the day before had fiercely criticised, although without violence, the management of the Forum) were coming to the demonstration when the Police attacked them making four arrests (two Italians and two Greeks).

Despite the insistent requests from the Italian delegation at the head of the march to demand their liberation, the British Committee did not say a word.

At the end of the march, when trying to give news of these events from the stage, we discovered that access to this was restricted to the British Committee. Instead of the agreed concert, we had around twenty speeches monopolised by the English to the exclusion of all other European delegations.

At this point the young people previously surrounded by Police were trying to access the stage, upsetting the stewards of the rally, who called the police provoking further arrests, bringing the number to a total of nine. Among these was Javier Ruiz, one of the persons responsible for Indymedia in England.

From COBAS we denounce the grave responsibility of the British Committee and the organisations involved,who have managed the rally as if it was their own, and have used the Police to "solve" the conflicts in the movement. This casts a dark shadow over a Forum that has seen many thousand people passionately debating, and that started important mobilisations against the wars in Iraq and Palestine, against the liberal social policies and in defence of migrants. In it’s conclusive assembly the Forum argued for a deep modification of its own structures inadequate for a growth of the organisation to confront liberalism and war.

We will talk about this, and about how to make sure that events like those that happened in London are never repeated, in the next European Assembly in Paris on the 18th and 19th of December.

Piero Bernocchi
Confederazione Cobas

Rome, 18th October 2004

original Italian text:

Lee Jasper, Senior Race Advisor to Ken Livingstone (unwelcome anarchy at
ESF, Guardian letters October 19th) engages in a crude attempt to
portray what was effectively a protest against the lack of democracy and
consensus by the GLA in the organisation of this years European Social
Forum as a 'racist attack'. As members of some of the UK's leading
anti-racist organisations dealing with the daily reality of racial
violence for minority communities and its impact on our society we feel
compelled to ask Lee Jasper to stop using accusations of racism to
provide political cover for what was clearly political dissent aimed at
his employer the GLA and the Mayor of London.

We witnessed the protest and that whilst there is never any excuse for
any sort of 'scuffle' - the protest was supported by large sections of
the audience, with banners highlighting the Labour Partys policies on
racism and war and calling for its representative the Mayor not to be
allowed to speak in the forum. What ever the rights or wrongs of such
protests, Lee Jasper and the GLA must not play 'the race card' to
silence these voices.

The ESF did however clearly highlight that our real fight is against
Tony Blair, David Blunkett and New Labour and policies which have done
so much to legitimise popular racism and Islamophobia and herald the
re-emergence of the British National Party. Lets save the accusations of
racism for where they really belong.


Piara Power, Director Kick It Out

Ashika Thanki, Secretary Newham Monitoring Project

Suresh Grover, Chair of National Civil Rights Movement

Rajiv Menon, NMP Educational Trust

COBAS condemns uk esf committee domination of the ESF closing demonstration and
- Homepage:


03.11.2004 21:52

let us be very clear, the allegations made by weyman bennett are untrue. No violence was used against him by those who took the stage. His allegations are unsupported, uncorroborated & unsubstantiated.

The only aggression was by weyman bennett attempting to drag people off the stage.

How can anyone comdemn the violence when there wasn't any?

someone who was there

to trot or not to trot that is (not) the question

04.11.2004 11:53

Type writes >Couldn't we seem a bit self-obsessed if all we want to talk about is 'What we did to the SWP at the ESF'?<

Well, no problem with that. Hope many IM users are coming to join the picket line on Fri in London to support the Chunnel workers! I´m not in the country, unfort., but I hope that swappies, wombles, horizontals and verticals will join the picket and will give the coppers a good shove on my behalf!

Also folks, please stopp this trot-bashing. Most trots on this lovely planet dispute wether the SWP is trot at all. Apart from that the SWP/UK should stop this silly scapegoating of people whose action during the ESF only reflected what many people were enraged about.

The SWP should realize that European activits are following this discussion very attentively. (Well, it´s the brass of the SWP who are making all this trouble about the "racist wombles" , innit? Pompous git Prof. Alex Kalashnikoff et Cie.. Coze they are up to some big change of tactic. A new zigzag of the party line underway? If the SWP chiefs are suffering from delusions of grandeur it´s their problem, but leave the movement alone.


so the SWP closed down an SWP meeting?

04.11.2004 12:27

HH, that makes no sense. Lindsey German (SWP) was chairing that meeting and tried to keep it going by talking over the protesting group. You really think the protesting group were also SWP and the entire meeting was a set-up? This is all getting a bit tin-foil-hat.. Do you think everyone you meet is an SWP spy?


Resposne to a pack of liars

07.11.2004 17:55


This quote comes from the website which includes the statement:

"This text was not discussed and prepared over a six-month period through a series of discussions, WOMBLES meetings and open forums to decide our reaction to the European Social Forum [ESF] planned for London in October 2004."

The text quoted was not placed on the wombles website.

Clearly the signatures of this text prefer to attack their political opponents through lies rather than dealing with the truth. They should be treated withg the contempt they deserve.

West Essex Zapatista

West Essex zapatista
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