UK Newswire Archive
31-05-2011 06:35THE new wave of hope created by the real democracy movement continues to inspire people across Europe.
Coal protesters show solidarity with the people of South Mongolia, and stand against China's crackdown on freedom of expression.
The occupation of city squares across Spain has shown the oppressed in Europe there is a way forward in our struggle for representation of our views. Fear dissappears when the need becomes greatest, and that is when a nation of traditionally fearful people like the Spanish, still recovering from a violent dictatorship 35 years ago, rise up together and take concerted action.
United against the apathy of the centre and the fascism of the right-wing, this move to enforce an anarcho-libertarian model for deciding matters of importance could be the beginning of something big across Europe. It showed that when there is no money in a nation, power is transferred to those who have the most representative ideas for the future. When capitalism fails to provide a hope and a future, when people's homes are snatched by the greedy banks, when the government withdraws the few financial aids it has provided in order to pay back the same banks and when disenchantment with politics grows to become intolerable, the bubble inevitably bursts.
This bubble is the one that is still holding the people inert in Britain, because they are too conformed to the current system which has for so many hundreds of years given wealth to this country. They have hope that things will get better, because they always have. That pride in their institutions keeps them from doing anything but moan among themselves while the whole welfare system is sold out to the highest bidder. The last thing to go will be the jobseekers allowance, the main procurer of comfort for the otherwise poverty-stricken working class. Desperation may flow then but it will probably be too late.
In Spain the questioning has already started. A fully-fledged globalised capitalist system that placed the country's economy at a delusive fourth place in the EU just five years ago now seems a long way away. As unemployment edges towards half the population and those years of abundant credit now seem long gone, the yolk of debt is choking the life out of their hearts and they must break free. The mobilisation of thousands of people to the main squares of both Barcelona and Madrid is a sign that the Spanish feel they should be given a chance to contemplate a different future. The indignation and repulsion felt when the police violently assaulted the protestors shamelessly shows they no longer see things as black and white as in Britain. The continuation and expansion of the assemblies across the neighbourhoods of the two Iberian metropoles, indicates that deference is dead.
Now the challenge has been laid: Will we respond to the desperation and react to bring about a Russian Revolution or will we continue to trust the patriarchs as they lead us to a new feudal state where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer? I don't know if anyone noted last week that Marks and Spencer, an upper middle class institution, registered record profits of over £700 million in UK. This is a crisis for the poor and just an opportunity for the rich to balance the books by enslaving us even further. Capitalism is unsustainable unless we are too concerned with surviving to fight it.
When the British population hedged their bets in their traditions they forgot their realities. Last week I saw it with my own eyes. At another poorly attended UK Uncut demo, five burly drunks approached us and started arguing with the organisers. They were informed we were fighting for them but these football fans were hardened in their pride and said: “If you don't like it you can leave the country!” I just hope the rest of Britain will not shy from our problems in this way. If we do not fight now when we have a foot to stand on, change is going to be all the more painful when we are on our knees.
31-05-2011 00:37The UK Government is paying up to £12,000 towards the fees of International students, plus air travel, plus living costs.
The "battle of the potato" field in Wetterem, near Ghent, Belgium, was a resounding victory for anti-GM activists on Sunday (29 May) as members of a crowd of around 400 people broke through police lines and barbed wire fences to destroy an experimental Genetically Modified potato crop.
Following two weeks of daily protests and assemblies outside the Spanish embassy a camp was set up, once again, during the bank holiday weekend.
But during the long weekend activists from 'Real Democracy London' also took the protests away from Belgrave Square taking advantage that thousands of Catalan football supporters were in town, as well as many crews from Spanish mainstream media. They staged a series of actions and protests on Friday 27th and Saturday 28th, and on Sunday 29th, they joined the 'European Revolution' call to action that saw a large assembly taking place in Trafalgar Square. See reports and photos ...
What happened during the weekend?
Around 100 people from he London Camp and Assembly made sure that their voices where heard during the news broadcast from the main Spanish TV channel that was following the Catalan football supporters gathered in Hyde Park. Activists, showing solidarity with the Barcelona square occupation that had been violently attacked by riot police that same morning, took position just behind the TV reporter as he was doing a live broadcast. See video of the action.
They then moved back to Belgrave Square outside the Spanish embassy where a meeting took place to decide on the practicalities to set up camp, as well as debating the proposals for further actions during the weekend,
At around 1pm, and as hundreds of the Catalan football supporters in town for the Champions league final were gathering at Trafalgar square, a group of around 50 activists turned up with banners and placards protesting against the police brutality that had gone on in Barcelona's Plaça de Catalunya camp the day before. They read a manifesto in solidarity with the Barcelona square occupation, and called the football supporters to take the protest into the stadium and make it visible during the football match as the world's media would be broadcasting it. See video of the action.
Later in the afternoon, a larger group of activists made they way to the gates of Wembley stadium where they staged a protest. They were also approaching groups of Barcelona's football supporters asking them to take a 12m long banner they had prepared and display it inside the stadium during the match. Finally, a group of football supporters agreed to it, took the banner and unfurled it in the stands [see pic]
People then made their way back to Belgrave Square outside the Spanish embassy where they set up camp for the night. They then gathered in an assembly to asses the day's actions, and to decide on whether to participate as a group in the 'European Revolution' assembly that had been called for the following day in Trafalgar Square.
A series of workshops took place at the camp in Belgrave Square during the morning, including drumming by Rhythms of Resistance, and a debate workshop with guests from several groups who work for the social justice in the UK, Italy, Greece and other countries. After the camp was cleared in the early afternoon, another assembly took place which decided to move as a group and participate in the mass action called to take place later in the evening in Trafalgar Square.
At 6pm around 500 people gathered in the centre of the square where a mass assembly took place. People from 'Real Democracy London' addresed the crowd explaining the reasons for their protests whilst putting it in context with what has been going with the square occupations throughout Spain for the last two weeks, They also explained the brutal police attack to the Barcelona's camp of friday morning,
Then people from Greece explained the situation in their country since the last wave of 'austerity measures' were imposed after the county's 'bail out' by the IMF, and called for a mass European uprising against the austerity measures being imposed throughout Europe. They also called for participatory and direct democratic systems of organising instead of the representative democracy farce.
An activist from Queer resistance then explained their current campaign against NHS cuts which will see the closure of many Sexual Health Clinics which provide information and treatment to HIV patients. People from Italy, Iceland, Palestine and UK also spoke about the situation in their countries. The assembly then debated whether to continue with the actions in the future, to which most of those present waved their hands to the air showing their support for the idea,
For the time being, 'Real Democracy London' is calling for a series of talks, assemblies and actions for this week and into the weekend:
- Thursday 2nd June: Talk about 'How Banks Work' from 7 to 9pm, followed by a mass assembly. Both events due to take place outside the Spanish embassy in Belgrave Square.
- Friday 3rd June: Meeting to address and debate about what the Real Democracy 'movement' is and where it is going, and possibly set up camp if people are up for it.
- Saturday 4th June: Possible camp and further discussions about the 'movement' and its direction.
- Sunday 5th June: Meeting with other UK groups and movements from other countries from 11.30am, and at 2pm departure towards Regents Street for the ''Taste of Spain' corporate event, to make the protest visible in central London once again.
For updates see the Real Democracy London blog
Related past articles in London Indymedia:
This post is a response to Charlotte DuCann’s beautiful and heartfelt post over on the Transition Norwich blog arguing that Transition needs to more explicitly embrace activism. It is wonderful to see, whether through that blog, through Transition Voice, or through the emerging social reporting project, new voices coming through in the Transition blogosphere. Charlotte speaks powerfully to the split that some of those engaged in Transition feel, that they almost need to keep their activism ‘in the closet’ in order to remain engaged. She states that she sees her post as a ‘working document’, and invites reflections, so here are a few of mine.
30-05-2011 20:03Picket Atos Recruitment Evening
Atos Medical Assessment Centre
29 Cadogan Street
Glasgow G2 7AB
Monday 6th June
5.30pm – 8.30pm
30-05-2011 20:01If I can't dance to it, it's not my revolution (or even their "liberal democracy!")
Police Brutality at the Silent Flashmob at the Jefferson Memorial
30-05-2011 19:30Heavy military training today in the Valley
30-05-2011 18:52International Day of Action in Solidarity with the Autonomous Municipality of San Juan Copala, Oaxaca, Mexico
The police have a good track record in abusing breach of the peace powers. The situation in Scotland is very different, but in England and Wales the arrest is preventative, so doesn’t result in charges or convictions. But it does give police a handy tool to get people out of the way, and in the process, get their names and addresses.
Denouncing tax dodging by big companies and opposing cuts in public services, people took action at Boots, Vodaphone and BHS shops in Edinburgh on Saturday 28 May. Imaginative street theatre saw tax avoiding bosses detained by the Big Society Revenue and Customs Inspectors. But police acted to defend the tax-dodging criminals against Edinburgh Uncut's protests, arresting, detaining and charging two women.
On Saturday 28th local high street branches of different banks were transformed into hospitals in a 'UK Uncut's Emergency Operation'. Anti-cuts activists from several parts of London followed the call to "tell the government to leave our NHS alone; it's the banks that are sick" [read full call].
UK Uncut's Call to Action:
"The NHS will last as long as there are folk left to fight for it."
- Nye Bevan, founder of the NHS
"Andrew Lansley. Greedy Andrew Lansley. Tosser."
- MC NxtGen
This is an emergency. The welfare state is in peril. Under the guise of ‘efficiency' and ‘reform', this government is plotting to cut the NHS and sell off what's left. Andrew Lansley has claimed the government is in a ‘listening exercise' about the proposed NHS ‘reforms'. But despite widespread outcry from doctors, nurses and the public the government isn't listening to anyone apart from private healthcare lobbyists.
Let's make Lansley listen. We want to keep our healthy NHS and fix our broken banking system. Whilst the NHS is being dismantled, the banks that caused this crisis in the first place have been left untouched. Reckless gambling, obscene bonuses and a global financial crisis are symptoms of a disease that requires a drastic intervention.
The banks are due a check-up. On Saturday May 28th, join UK Uncut's Emergency Operation and transform your local high street bank into a hospital. Tell the government to leave our NHS alone; it's the banks that are sick.
Turn HSBC into a hospital, fill Natwest with nurses, get bandaged in Barclays and operate in RBS. As usual, it's up to you to organise an action in your area - so talk to your friends, your local union branch and anti-cuts group and then list an action on our website. All the resources you'll need will be on our website, including a flyer to tell the public about the NHS emergency. Get organised, get creative and let's make Lansley listen: leave our NHS alone and make the banks pay.
See you on the high streets.
Report from Wood Green:
28 May 2011: NHS activists joined the anti-austerity campaigning group UK Uncut to occupy Lloyd's Bank in Wood Green, London this Saturday. Up to 30 campaigners dressed in doctors' and nurses' uniforms with fake blood set up an "emergency operating theatre" inside the bank. Supporters of the Defend Whittington Hospital Coalition, Haringey Alliance for Public Services and Right To Work campaign chanted "Bail out the NHS, not the banks!" Children tried to operate on a toy version of Andrew Lansley, health secretary, and passers by signed 'Save Our NHS' petitions blaming the banks and government for the financial crisis -- not the NHS.
NHS worker Terry McGrath said, "I took part because the banks, who caused the financial crisis, are still making billions in profits, whilst the NHS is being attacked. We wanted to show that people will not stand for these cuts, and I want to see Cameron buckle under the pressure of growing strikes and widespread protests."
Report from Angel:
The NHS is not for sale!
On Saturday 28 May, Angel, North London, was the site of a drop-in surgery for people worried about the bad effects of the cuts on their health. This event was called by Fight racism! Fight Imperialism as part of the UK Uncut day of action to save the NHS.
Doctors, nurses and patients set up their cuts consultation inside the Angel branch of RBS, recipient of £45 billion of bail out money -- 40% of the annual NHS budget!
The patients' recovery was assisted by ukulele players and energetic speeches, making sure that the public understood why we were there.
The banks got bailed out, and now we are being sold out. Hospitals are making swingeing cuts and the health and social care bill is about to abolish the duty of the secretary of state for health to ensure health provision for everyone.
We are being told we have to swallow this bad medicine because of the national debt. However, as one of the speakers pointed out, the national debt in post-war Britain, when the NHS was set up, was greater than it is now.
Speakers also talked about Private Finance Initiatives and the debt that hospitals are in due to the 30-60 year contracts that they have signed, which will see them paying many times over the costs of the initial investment from private firms.
The condition of the patients in the bank got worse as they heard this depressing news, however, they perked up immensely when one of the nurses took to the megaphone and talked about Cuba and their incredible achievements in health and education: their low infant mortality, their high doctor to patient ratio and their health internationalism. In fact, during the most difficult economic times of the Special Period in the 1990s, Cuba increased their health coverage, increased the numbers of doctors and nurses and didn't shut down a single health clinic, service or hospital.
The security staff and tellers in RBS seemed receptive to our words - clearly they aren't the ones getting the bonuses.
Now is the time to collectively make our voices heard and this event, along with all the other banks occupied on the day, was a very good start.