UK Newswire Archive
05-05-2012 19:58ATMs sabotaged in Memphis (USA) // Explosive placed in police mausoleum by "DESTRUCTIVE LUMPEN" in Temuco (Chile) // Petrol bomb attack on Wells Fargo bank, Portland (USA) // "The CeCe McDonald Brigade" vandalise Star Bucks and a cop car in Denver (USA) // financial and real estate targets smashed up on 2 high-streets in Bristol (UK) // cop car smashed up by anarchist group, Denver (USA) // "Some Wayward Nocturnals - Informal Anarchist Federation" (FAI/IRF) arson National Bank ATM (Bolivia) // Arson attack on Wells Fargo bank, Portland (USA) // "Friends of the Earth - Informal Anarchist Federation" torch more luxury cars, Buenos Aires (Argentina) // State Security Agency vehicle torched by "Cell for Violent and Excessive Attack on Power / Informal Anarchist Federation", Mexico City (Mexico) // "Anarchist Nihilists" make responsibility claim for smashings and arsons in the streets of Barcelona (Catalunya)
This year Notts Trades Council decided to organise a march and rally for May Day. Amongst the expected representatives of trade unions and activist groups, their star speaker was to be Sir Alan Meale, Labour MP for Mansfield and loyal Blairite. This, unsurprisingly, caused a lot of controversy in the run up to the event. A march of a few hundred trade unionists, socialists and anarchists went from the Forest to the Congregational Hall for the rally. A number of speakers from trade unions and Notts Uncut spoke, but Meale was prevented from speaking by vocal protests and an intervention with placards. Many trade union leaders were furious and used physical and verbal aggression in an attempt to end the demonstration. After the rally, Autonomous Nottingham organised a demonstration against workfare in the city centre.
It was all change on May Day this year. After increasing pressure from council bureaucracy the May Day organising group, a collective of grassroots activists, decided enough was enough last year and they wouldn't be organising another event. This left the stage open for other groups to take it on and do their own thing. The Notts Trades Council decided to organise a march and rally, at which the star speakers were to be Mark Serwotka of the PCS union and Sir Alan Meale, Labour MP for Mansfield.
This immediately caused a lot of controversy within the left and the anarchist movement. The division brought about deep divisions in Notts SOS, the anti-cuts group, which has been putting a lot of pressure on the Labour party to change its "not so deep, a bit more slowly" approach to the cuts. Locally, Labour-dominated Nottingham City Council has been swinging the axe with abandon leading to massive job losses and reductions to services. Many were angry that a representative of this party was being invited to have a platform on "our day". Similarly, those opposed to the Labour party's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, its ID cards scheme, its implementation of tuition fees in higher education and its crackdowns on migrants were adamant that Meale was the wrong person to invite, as he supported all of these policies. As if these weren't enough reasons, Meale was one of the MPs caught with his hand in the till, claiming tens of thousands of pounds of expenses for gardening and redecoration of his home. As a result of these deep disagreements, an open letter to the Trades Council asking them to withdraw their invitation to Meale and the "anti-working class politics he represents" was written by Autonomous Nottingham and Nottingham Anarchist Federation.
In response, the Trades Council wrote to Autonomous Nottingham requesting a meeting with us, something that we initially agreed to engage with. However, at the last minute they let us know that withdrawing the invitation to Sir Alan would not be up for discussion. Given this unwillingness to negotiate, we did not see what the point of such a meeting would be and the Trades Council representatives did not come.
Today, a few hundred people gathered on the Forest with banners, flags and placards. One of the first people I met was a photographer who said he was doing a project on the decline of trade unionism. "I think I've come to the right place!" he joked. Not really the most uplifting start to the day, but maybe a fair point. We left surprisingly promptly, causing the coppers to scramble into their vans to block Mansfield Road in time. The march featured the usual lefty chants and there was a good breeze to move all of those flags and banners. It was all very good natured apart from when an anti-workfare banner ended up in front of the main Trades Council banner which the cops got all arsey about.
Initially we were told that we were going to be marching to Speakers' Corner, in the town centre, for a rally, but at the last minute this was changed to the Congregational Hall, tucked out of the public eye. It turns out the Trades Council couldn't book the Square because there was a patriotic parade for some soldiers going on.
By the time I got inside the building, someone had already cornered Meale who had denied all of the objections people had raised about him, despite the fact that they are a matter of public record. First up was a speaker from the Communication Workers Union, who talked up breaking the law to organise pickets in defence of workers rights. So far, so good. Then, the MC announced it was Meale's turn to speak and the hall errupted into protest. A large group at the back of the hall blew whistles and a vuvuzela, shouted loud accusations, slow clapped and booed. Meanwhile, a second group with placards stepped in front of the podium. The placards said something like "That would be SIR Alan Meale..." "...who claimed £11,000 in expenses" and there were others about "Labour: Different butchers, Same knife". Most were people we knew but there were many others who agreed with our protest.
Trades Council heavies moved in and started trying to physically intimidate people into stopping but it didn't work. "Look at the clothes he's wearing!" was tutted at one of the anarchists. We were also called "fascists". Those holding placards at the front were particularly adamant about not moving and eventually the exasperated MC gave up and moved on to the next speaker. Calm resumed.
There were then a number of trade union speakers, many coming out with a lot of platitudes about how passionately they were committed to "taking action" although I've never seen most get involved with anything except other trade union rallies. Some speakers were openly contemptuous of the anti-Meale protests whilst others were more open to the idea of differences of opinion within the labour movement. One speaker, an AWL activist, made the rather contorted claim that it was right to involve the Labour party in the movement because we need to worm our way into the party and take it over for the working classes! That's not an argument that would fly in my workplace and I doubt it would at his either.
By far the best speaker, who received the loudest applause, was the only speaker representing an activist group. The Notts Uncut speaker launched into a blistering attack on Alan Meale, speaking about kleptocracy - rule by thieves - and finishing by asking "Why did you vote for the war in Iraq? Why did you vote for ID cards? And why did you pick on asylum seekers?" The speech was immediately claimed by the MC as evidence that the Trades Council weren't in agreement with Alan Meale, which seemed rather unbelievable.
Finally, all the other speakers were done (as many had predicted, Mark Serwotka didn't turn up) and another attempt was made to give the humiliated looking Meale the platform. Again, a wall of placards went up and this time the response was more hostile. A number of large men from trade unions leapt to the front and started physically manhandling the protesters, pointing and shouting in their faces. We were accused of censorship and suppressing the free speech of a man who can make speeches in the Houses of Parliament any day of the week! "Freedom of speech" is a value that Meale helped to take away from the victims of wars he voted for, from Iraqi workers under a neoliberal puppet government and from the asylum seekers he wanted locked up.
I have to admit though, I wasn't sure about continuing to block Meale from speaking. We had clearly made our point and Meale had been totally humiliated by protests on and off the platform. I was almost interested to hear how he would respond to the blistering criticism. But I also wanted to stand by comrades who were being treated so poorly by the trade union movement, whose picket was not just being crossed but was being broken up by thugs. We had heard a lot about solidarity from the Trades Councils speakers and I was going to uphold that value even if they were going to make a mockery of it. It was also a great relief to break the monotonous passivity of the setup, where we were expected to sit down and receive the wisdom of "our leaders" with unthinking applause. We answered back, and they didn't know how to engage in the conversation.
It worked. Meale, who had obviously been ready for a taxi home for the past hour or so abandoned his speech and the meeting broke up in scenes of acrimony and disgust. The parting shots were fired by the MC who waxed lyrical about how democratic the Trades Council is and how if we'd wanted a voice we should have put ourselves up for election within our trade unions. He clearly didn't understand that anarchists are opposed to the sham of representative democracy, in no small part because it allows unaccountable cliques like theirs to make bloody awful decisions like inviting Alan Meale. Not to mention that many of us are unemployed or in precarious work that the unions simply won't touch. Not to mention that those of us who are involved in trade unions are sick to death of being sold out by their leaders and have little confidence in them to stand by us any more. The sad fact of the matter is that the trade union bureaucracies have become so divorced from ordinary workers that they can't see why continuing to support the Labour party is so alienating to us.
No doubt the finger will be pointed at "the anarchists" as the troublemakers who ruined May Day (even though there were many more in support of the protest than just us), in an attempt to gloss over the underlying schisms that were exposed today. There is a massive disconnection between relatively comfortable, unionised workers in stable jobs and those who are unemployed or in precarious work, who are not seen as a priority for the unions. There is a lack of understanding between those who do a lot of "organising" of other people but rarely get involved in the nitty gritty and those for whom direct action is a way of life. The decision to invite Alan Meale betrayed a fundamental lack of solidarity by the Trades Council towards all those working class people who were fucked over by the Labour party whilst it was in government.
To wind down, and to prove that we were about more than just A to B marches, anarchists organised an anti-workfare demonstration that followed the rally. Workfare is a name adopted for all of the many government schemes to force the unemployed into work whilst only paying them their benefits. It is an attack on the unemployed, who are made to do unskilled labour, with no prospect of a permanent job at the end, as well as an attack on paid workers whose pay and conditions are undercut by free labour from the Job Centre.
We took a "Workfare ain't fair" banner and a bunch of leaflets on a short tour of Top Shop, Holland & Barrett and Poundland, just a few of the companies profiting from free labour. We had a lot of good conversations with members of the public about the issues involved and why we see workfare as an attack on workers and the unemployed alike, including making links with some workers who were being exploited at their workplaces. Many of the workers in the shops we targeted didn't know anything about workfare and had no idea what their employers were getting up to, so we managed to raise awareness there as well as on the street.
All in all it was a pretty good day that will hopefully make the traditional and complacent trade unions aware of the need to 'up their game' if they want to remain relevant.
05-05-2012 17:57As part of the Summer of Resistance
On Saturday 5th May, in a bizzare juxtaposition of trade unionism and militarism, the Trades Council-organised May Day parade and soldiers from 73 Engineer Regiment both marched through Nottingham city centre.
Around 5-600 people joined the May Day march which is about typical (although probably bigger then last year when some people may have taken advantage of the extended Royal Wedding bank holiday weekend).
This year the march formed up at the Forest Recreation Ground before marching down Mansfield Road into the Market Square - a route most local lefties could do with their eyes closed.
It had originally been intended that the rally would be held at Speaker's Corner, but with rain likely organisers decided to move it to the Congregational Hall on Castle Gate.
Here marchers were addresssed by assorted local trade unionists and - more controversially - Alan Meale MP who was heckled.
While the rally was taking place the 73 Engineer Regiment, joined by the Band of The Royal Engineersas well as 30 Officer Cadets from the East Midlands Universities Air Squadron, marched from St Mary's Church to the Market Square where they were lined up in a fenced off area.
Apparently the Regiment and the cadets were exercising their "freedom of the city".
Assorted dignatries including the Lord Mayor, the Sheriff and people who looked like senior officers, inspected the ranks, with the band ocasionally piping up, at one point playing 'Whiter Shade of Pale.'
Quite how these contemporaneous events would have worked out if the May Day rally had taken place at Speaker's Corner as intended isn't obvious to me. As it happens the EDL were not in evidence (presumably they're off endearing themselves to the people of Luton), but this is exactly the sort of event to which they are normally attracted (particularly given the proximity to a good selection of cheap pubs).
It was certainly noticeable that the military parade seemed to attract more people than its political counterpart, something we might want to reflect on.
05-05-2012 04:55For the fifth day of the week of action for May Day, South West Against Nuclear (SWAN), Bristol Stop Hinkley C along with members of the Bristol First of May Group, held a noise demo against Hydrock due to their involvement with Hinkley Point, Somerset's nuclear power station.
At five: discussing the big stories in Bristol, Britain and around the world
After six: straight talking and investigative reports
For all the shows back to Easter 2009 visit the Friday Drivetime archive page.
04-05-2012 22:55this is a bristol indymedia story
Bristol 4 Tibet are hosting an important event about the serious situation facing Tibetan Nomads.
Where: The Unitarian Chapel, Brunswick Square, Bristol BS2 8PE.
When: Monday 7 May at 2:30 - 5:00 pm
Cost: suggested donation of £3.
The Chinese Government are forcibly moving 2.5million Tibetan nomads into ghetto housing. As well as the slow genocide this will entail, this situation is one aspect causing rapid change in an increasingly fragile area - the Tibetan plateau, the highest region on Earth.
The afternoon will be devoted to the plight of the Tibetan Nomads, and will consist of video clips and short talks from a variety of speakers :
¤ Tash Despa (Undercover in Tibet, Channel 4 Dispatches) - tbc
¤ Pema Yoko (Students for a Free Tibet)
¤ Mandie McKeown (International Tibet Network)
¤ A former Tibetan Nomad talks of current wave of self-immolations and extreme crackdown in Tibet.
Also gift stalls: Tibetan prayer flags, books, cards etc.
FFI: phone 07585 466811 / 07980 304480.
More info here.
04-05-2012 22:55Following the confiscation of PeaceStrike HQ and tent on Parliament Sq , Maria Gallestegui who has been on strike for six years, continues to defy the PRASRA law which forbids the use of 'sleeping equipment' on Parliament Sq. Last night (3.am) police officers came and confiscated Maria's sleeping bag and roll mat, leaving her with nothing but a bin liner to brave the cold. A court summons has been issued for a alledged breach of the PRASRA.
04-05-2012 22:06...the true scale of Fukushima fallout poisoning is beginning to unfold.
04-05-2012 20:59A Communiqué from ITCCS International Brussels and Dublin:
The Roman Catholic Church faces permanent disruption and banishment in at least five countries if it does not comply with ten “non-negotiable measures” by September 15, 2012, according to a global coalition of survivors of church rape and torture.
04-05-2012 18:55Friday 4th May
Environmental protesters armed with loud hailers,te clearly that a campaign of energy conservation would keep the lights on.
3) A report from independent scientists from Green Audit, prove that the land has not been thoroughly tested to best practice when dealing with the complex pattern of pollution that radioactive tailings demand.
Opencast coal mining in the Douglas Valley is about the ruling class destroying communities for their own financial gain. Its about ecological destruction on a massive scale for capitalism’s unquenchable thirst for cheap energy. Its about absentee fat-cat land-lords making millions off land that shouldn’t be theirs.
04-05-2012 15:54S.N.O.B A.H.A has confronted two forms of fascism this month.
04-05-2012 15:14The May 12 is the next upcoming global protest day of "indignant" or "occupiers" all over the world.
04-05-2012 15:02Man dressed up as police inspector and drove around in patrol car during Birmingham riots
A SPECIAL constable who dreamed of being a full-time police officer has been jailed for posing as a senior officer and driving a patrol car without permission.
A court heard Ian Atterbury “indulged in a spot of fantasy” and was “anxious to impress” at the time of last year’s Birmingham riots.
Fascists had a bad night in local elections across the country. The BNP has, at the time of writing, lost all of the seats it was defending and failed to win any new seats. None of the smaller fascist groupuscles has fared any better.In the East Midlands, the BNP lost their two seats in Heanor where their share of the vote was considerably reduced. Cliff Roper’s term as “the invisible councillor” obviously didn’t go down well with the electorate and his share of the vote has fallen to 19.1% from the 36.5% he won with in 2008. Beaten into third place, Councillor Roper has become simply another nationalist chancer, the Heanor Patriot. Lewis Allsebrook’s replacement, Adrian Hickman, also failed to impress and came last. In Heanor & Loscoe the BNP’s share of the vote was halved and in Ripley & Marehay it was reduced to a third of the 2008 result. Emma Roper did particularly badly, getting only 59 votes (4.2%) in Codnor & Waingroves. This is about a quarter of the share won by fascist farmer Alan Warner in 2008.
Over in Lincoln, disgraced Nazi sympathiser and BNP candidate, Dean Lowther, got a pathetic 49 votes (2.8%) coming in last place. This is less than a quarter of the 12.2% he got last time around.
In Derby, the BNP did slightly less badly but their vote was still down on the 2008 results. Paul Hilliard’s black shirt campaign won him 14.7% of the vote in Chaddesden, but this was down from the 17.9% he got in 2008. The only good news for the party was that candidates in Derwent and Spondon beat the Lib Dems into last place, gaining 11.9% and 8.1% of the vote respectively.
It seems that electoral support for the fascists is well down from its peak. Nick Griffin’s troubled leadership of the BNP looks decidedly shaky and party activists and voters are leaving in droves. The new fluffier British Freedom Party, who are backed by the EDL, haven’t got off to a good start either. Their candidate in Basildon only managed to get 4% of the vote and none of the 4 candidates currently declared in Liverpool got more than 3%.
These are good results for anti-fascists but we should never be complacent. The BNP was still voted for by a little under 1 in 5 people in Heanor and they are consistently winning over 10% in parts of Derby. There is always the danger that the far right will rearrange itself around a new pole in the wake of the BNP’s plunge into obscurity and start building on these foundations. Their current failure is a cause for celebration. Let’s make sure they don’t come back from the dead.