UK Social Struggles Feature Archive
You are expected to turn out to vote on May 3rd. By this seemingly straightforward act you will tacitly endorse a sham democracy and are unlikely to change anything really important. Voting alone does not a democracy make. It crucially depends on which particular issues you are allowed to vote for, or not.
Why is our democracy a sham? Democracy is supposed to be 'rule by the People' but there are huge areas in the UK system of government where the People have absolutely no say at all, such as foreign policy and defence. They also cannot influence by voting the decisions of global organisations which may have a profound effect on the lives of UK citizens, such as the G8 and the WTO. Much the same applies to multi-national corporations and quangos operating within the UK.
So what are you allowed to vote for? A strictly limited set of policies contained in a party manifesto, mere promises which may or may not be honoured during the next term of office before you are permitted to vote again. Those who abstain from voting may not be able to bring about a proper democracy in the immediate future but at least they will have the satisfaction of knowing they are not helping to perpetuate a downright lie.
From the newswire: Vote Nobody! Campaign hits Cardiff city centre | Vote Nobody at the Welsh Assembly elections | Bristol Indymedia: Local Elections Round-Up | A Change is Gonna Come | Vote Nobody on May 3rd! | Election Circus Comes to Town! Brummagem Star issue 1
Other: General election 2005 | 66% saying the government is not by the will of the people | Just how little MPs knew about the Iraq war | Royal Prerogative | Party Whip
To find out more about the background, read MMC: an explanation for patients [parts 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 ]. Other sites of interest include the MTAS debacle, as witnessed by the junior doctors of the Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital, and various artistes of the blogosphere such as Dr. Rant, Professor Scrub and Junior Doc. Maybe there will be an NHS in 10 years time, after all.
As Britain continues the 2007 celebration of 'Abolition 200', the legal end of Britain's official involvement in trans-Atlantic slave trading, and with most eyes on the main slave trade ports like Bristol and Liverpool, our local councils seem quite unconcerned about direct or indirect involvement with the profits of slavery in Notts and East Midlands, and seem happy just to leave local churches to do the soul searching. Let's ask some questions...
An easy example of Notts involvement in slavery is the well-known Mellish family, whose name is probably best associated in local minds with a Nottingham school. The family is known to have had involvement with ownership and official dealings with plantation estates in the West Indies in the 18th century. Even a cursory look at the Mellish family online archive record reveals inheritance of slave plantation estate property from the governor of the Bahamas (John Tinker), and we can read about William Mellish's official dealings with plantation monies in Jamaica as Receiver General for the Customs & Excise (he was also MP for Retford).
Links: The Mellish and Buchanan Families of Blyth and Hodsock - A Brief History | The Nottingham Sparrow, Nottingham AF | 'Slavery - the Hidden History', Bristol Radical History Group | Anti-slavery march demands reparations for slave trade
From 20th till 25th of January 2007 the World Social Forum (WSF) took place in Nairobi, Kenya. It is the seventh Forum which coincides in opposition to the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos Switzerland.
Up to a 100 000 participants were reported at the WSF though criticism of exclusivity because of high entrance fees was raised from the local population. (The impact of the WSF on the people of Kibera: "a Failure" | Kibera fails poor). This lead to the local population storming the entrance and the overpriced catering: What happened in Nairobi .
Sarah Choukah has written that the WSF "failed to address in an articulate way one of the main global issues: today’s ongoing wars in the Middle East and Central Asia".
Reports about the WSF on other Indymedia sites: [ Indymedia.org | Israel Indy | Germany IMC | Ecuador IMC | Argentina IMC | Athens IMC | Belgium | Norway IMC | IMC Philadelphia | Barcelona IMC | LA IMC | Houston IMC | Marseille IMC (1 | 2) ]
National Grid is attempting to construct a high pressure, high volume gas pipeline right across South Wales to connect two new liquid natural gas (LNG) terminals at Milford Haven with the existing national gas distribution network at Tirley, Gloucestershire. Local people have campaigned against the project on environmental, ecological and safety grounds, as well as complaining about the lack of proper consultation. The 'official' routes for their many objections having been exhausted, protesters launched a campaign of direct action against the pipeline at the end of last year, with several protest camps set up along the proposed route [Reports: 1 | 2].
January has seen new camps and more direct action, which have successfully held up construction work at various points along the pipeline route. Activists from across the country are supporting local efforts to protect the beautiful Welsh countryside from this impending environmental disaster.
In a recycling rate league table just released by the Government, Nottingham City Council came an embarrassing 339th out of 393 local authorities, with a combined recycling and composting rate of just 18.6 per cent for 2004-05.
Nottingham's Recycling rate is less that 3 per cent higher than the worst performing authority in the UK, Tower Hamlets. But it doesn't have to be this way, if next door neighbours Rushcliffe can achieved the second highest rate just short of 50 per cent, why can't Nottingham?
The Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 (SOCPA) is a major piece of legislation, which established the Serious Organised Crime Agency, an FBI-like agency to tackle "serious organised crime", as it says on the box.
People-trafficking, drug wholesaling, violent armed robbery, torture, extortion and murder, is the kind of thing that might spring to mind. The bill, however, was used as an opportunity to deal with issues that might not be considered so serious. It introduced us to ASBOs, for example; outlawed animal activists' "interference with contractual arrangements" and, most pertinently, the right to protest in designated areas without prior permission.
Below is a comprehensive 'diary', put together by IMC UK activists, of events related to SOCPA since it came into force on 1 August, 2005. See also the SOCPA topic page for full coverage.
On Wednesday 6th December, Professor Sir David Williams came to Nottingham to talk about 'Public Order and Freedom of Expression'. His lecture at Trent University covered "both the traditional law and principles relating to freedom of assembly and with the impact of new legislation and new responses with regard, for instance, to anti-terrorism, to race and religion, and to new forms of protest. It will involve an inquiry into many pressing issues of legal, political and social concern".
First suggested by Canadian artist Ted Dave in the early 90's, Buy Nothing Day has become an annual global event. Using Direct action and culture jamming, activists use this day to challenge consumerism and capitalist way of life.
This year, on 25 November, the Space Hijackers decided to resurrect one of their favourite projects: the half-price sale". Many actions and activities took place in Bath, Birmingham, Manchester, Oxford, Redditch and York.
Today police forces evicted the occupied Dalston Theatre in Dalston Lane, Hackney. Police came around 4.30 in the morning, climbing the massive building from several sides with ladders.
By 9.00h everyone is evicted from the theatre, police is still around the whole building. Read full story and the chronology of the building and 'Rebel Thanks to Everyone' from the Everything4Everyone collective..
A peaceful demonstration to show support and solidarity with the Oaxaca people currently suffering violent police and military repression by the Mexican state took place in front of the Mexican Embassy in London on Monday [Press release]. Around 60 people including drummers and Indymedia supporters gathered in front of the Embassy with banners, and murdered indymedia videographer Brad Will's final footage was projected directly onto the Embassy's facade - all eventually violently interrupted by a massive police presence resulting in eight arrests. Reports: 1 | 2 | Photos: 1 | 2 | 3 | Videos: 1 | 2 | Updates on the London arrests: Tuesday and Wednesday.
On Wednesday night red paint was thrown on the walls, stairs and doors of the Mexican Embassy in London to symbolise the blood of the people of Oaxaca. On Thursday another demonstration took place outside London's Mexican embassy [Photos] Later in the evening, discussion and screening of films related to Brad and the situation in Oaxaca took at rampART Social Centre and another one is planned for Saturday 4th (E4E).
There were also protests at embassies and consulates around the world, with 14 demos in the US including direct action at the Mexican consulate in New York City | demos in Rio de Janeiro, Soa Paolo, Brasilia, and Fortaleza in Brazil | Madrid | an embassy occupation in Barcelona | an embassy occupation in Napoli | and several actions in Berlin.
Further information: Last Communique from NYC Indymedia Journalist Brad Will | NYC Indymedia | IMC Mexico | Narco News | CML | La Jornada | APPO Radio Live Broadcast (Sp) | Live Radio Transcript (Eng)
"They might have the strength to impose their will, but we will never give them our consent". (Extract from the Radio APPO log)
Outrage spread around the world over the weekend following the killing of the documentary filmmaker and Indymedia video reporter Brad Will, from New York City at the hands of pro-government supporters who opened fire on unarmed protestors on the outskirts of Oaxaca, Mexico. Three others were also killed alongside him (making four dead in total); one member of Radio Universidad was injured.
On Sunday, more than 10,000 military swept the streets of Oaxaca. At their head were tanks with water cannons, laced with tear gas, followed by lines of 3,500 riot cops with batons. Behind them, a further 3,000 military police with automatic rifles. 5,000 army troops were waiting in the outskirts of the city while the paramilitaries continued attacking. Reports came in of snatch squads operating within the city centre, with police and military using helicopters and ambulances to grab protestors and injured people. Many arrests were reported, and at least two protestors were confirmed to have been killed in the clashes. See timeline of events. Photos: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5.
This unprovoked aggression by the Mexican State against the pacific and unarmed people of Oaxaca is one of the largest in the recent history of México and Latin America. As a result, the Zapatista Army of National Lberation (EZLN) is calling for a day of action on November 1st and announces a nationwide strike on November 20th [Call]
A peaceful demonstration against the repression by the Mexican state (police and military) of the Oaxaca workers and the general population took place in front of the Mexican Embassy in London on Monday evening [Press release]. 60-70 or more gathered in front of the Embassy, with a screening of Brad Will's final footage projected onto the Embassy's facade - violently interrupted by the police, resulting in eight arrests [Update on arrests: Tuesday | Wednesday]. Reports: 1 | 2 | Photos: 1 | 2 | 3 and Video. On Wednesday night red paint was thrown on the walls, stairs and doors of the Mexican Embassy in London to symbolise the blood of the people of Oaxaca.
Since late 2000 there has been an on-going attempt by multinationals and the Irish state to devastate a remote coastal area of county Mayo with a toxic refinery and a high pressure production gas pipeline. Since the summer of 2005 mass pickets shut down the refinery construction site after five residents were imprisoned for refusing to allow Shell’s sub-contractors access to their and their neighbours' small farms which the pipeline is to go through.
In August Shell announced that they intended to re-take the site in September, however during that month over a hundred people would gather at the gates when ever there was indications that such an attempt was to be made. Shell failed in September, but on the third of October a massive two hundred strong police unit forced a path for Shell. This week there have been sporadic sit down blockades of construction traffic and solidarity protests have taken place in locations across Britain and Ireland.
Reports from Mayo: Interview with Rossport Solidarity Camper | Rossport - Shell to Sea Video Report | S2S Oct 12 - 3 arrested in Mayo, Dempsey cornered in Galway | Bellanaboy, Community Under Siege - Day 11
Construction work seems to be taking place on every corner of Liverpool city centre, tarting up town in time for the Capital of Culture celebrations in 2008. But within easy walking distance of this rich man's paradise project, squalid homes are being starved of repair money, whilst more than adequate social housing dwellings are torn down. What is the Lib Dem(olition) council's agenda? Why, profits of course! All the rich newcomers will need somewhere to live, so working class people have to pay with their homes! But campaigners are fighting back...
At 1pm on Monday October 9th, up to one hundred and fifty angry and concerned people converged on the Palace of Westminster, to sack parliament. The plan was to surround parliament and cause parliamentary activities to cease. MPs, Lords and civil servants would be prevented from re-opening Parliament.
As soon as protesters started to arrive, police quickly moved in stop and search everyone that was considered 'suspicious'. Many people were turned away from reaching Parliament Square, others were singled out by police units and prevented from joining the protests. See 2pm update when protesters were surrounded by police. An NUJ photogapher was hospitalised by police [photo + witness appeal] after being violently thrown into a kerb. See also 3pm update and a report.
Eventually the people trapped in the police ring were let out and escorted from Parlianment Square after having been searched, photographed and identified [treatment of press report]. All were told that they would be reported for summons for the offence of taking part in an unlawful demonstration.
There are reports of up to 40 people having been arrested. The court hearings for those arrested and summoned will start on Tuesday 17th Oct at 10am in West London Court [details] Anyone who can get down there to show solidarity and support to those involved will be greatly appreciated. [screening of footage (tuesday 10th)]
- Tue Oct 10 - London - RampART - 15-17 Rampart St (starts 8pm)
- Wed Oct 11 - Brighton - The Cowley Club - 12 London Road
- Thu Oct 12 - Nottingham - The Sumac Centre - 245 Gladstone Street, 7.30pm (read article | report and audio from screening)
- Sat Oct 14 - Glasgow - Document 4 Intl. Human Rights Film Festival
- Sun Oct 15 - Edinburgh - Quaker Meeting House, Victoria Terrace, 7pm
- Mon Oct 16 - Edinburgh - Forest Café, 3 Bristo Place, 7.30 pm
October 7 saw many decentralised, coordinated migration-related actions and events across the world. From Warsaw to London, from Hamburg to Nouakchott, thousands of migrants and their supporters protested against the denial of their rights, against the criminalisation and scapegoating of refugees and, above all, against all immigration controls. They were demanding a European unconditional legalisation and equal rights for all migrants; the closure of all detention centres in Europe and everywhere; an end to all deportations and the 'border externalisation' process.
Links: October7 Campaign | No Border | MakeBordersHistory | UK NoBorders groups and communication channels | UK Indymedia's Migration topic page | Dutch: All Included | French: pajol | German: no-racism.net | fluechtlingsrat-hamburg | deutschland-lagerland | Greek: socialcenter | Italian: GlobalProject | Melting Pot Radio | Spanish: Indymedia Estrecho
Following the street protest on 23 July, 2006, on Birchwood Road in Birmingham [pics], where angry residents expressed their opposition to the installation of a CCTV camera on their road without any consultation with residents, there have been ongoing activities to demand the removal of the camera and extend the protest to other CCTV cameras in the city.
An anti-CCTV information leaflet was distributed to all residents shortly after the protest, then a petition was put together demanding the removal of the CCTV camera. Every house on Birchwood and Alder roads was called upon twice. Those who have been active against the camera were surprised at the number of residents opposed to the camera and their very good reasons for doing so. Almost everybody was dissatisfied that they had not been consulted about the camera going up. Moreover, activists are now trying to expose the businesses behind it.CCTV protest | Anti CCTV placards and banner | CCTV Protest in Balsall Heath Continues
The new centre is like Fort Knox. Its barred windows and security checkpoints make it clear that if they don’t want you to get out, you won’t. Many from Nottingham have been told to attend Nottingham with no indication of whether they can claim the fare back. Little or no information has been given about how to get to Loughborough, when the switch would be made, and how to get more information about it. One of the first asylum seekers to be transferred to the new office was told to sign on the fifth of every month! What if it’s a weekend? Who would invent such a system except an idiot; or a sadist trying to prevent A-S having any identity except one of dependency on the system.
Though there has been more than one outbreak of industrial action on Merseyside over the summer months, the firefighters' dispute looks like being the most significant.
Merseyside firefighters have ended their strike against £3.5 million worth of cuts to essential services. The region was without much of its fire cover, since the Territorial Army were in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kazakhstan, supporting Blair's oil wars. However, this was not the firefighters' fault, and they were only striking to prevent cuts that would leave Liverpool city centre with less fire engines than we currently have, and at least one hundred less firefighters. If the government pulled out of any Middle Eastern country, they could invest the money in more fire engines, and lots of other positive things!
Liverpool Indymedia reports: Mersey Firefighters to Fight Service Cuts | Ex-Firefighters To Stand With Bosses On Cuts Agenda? | Breathtaking Hypocrisy of Mersey Fire Authority | Firefighters to Strike Over Cuts | Area Commander Dan Stephens Betrays Merseysiders | Fire Scab Scandal | Eight Day Strike For Liverpool Lives | Day 1 of Mersey Fire Strike: Great Show of Solidarity | Day 2 of Mersey Fire Strike: Authority Calls On "Fantasy firefighters" | Day 3 of Mersey Fire Strike: FBU's Skarratts Blinks First | Day 4 of Mersey Fire Strike: More 'Negotiating' Amid Allegations | Day 5 of Mersey Fire Strike: Talks Break Down | Day 6 of Mersey Fire Strike: "We are not getting anywhere." | Day 7 of Mersey Fire Strike: More Delaying Tactics By Authority | Day 8 of Mersey Fire Strike: Scale of Cuts Confirmed | Day 9 of Mersey Fire Strike: FBU publish alternative cuts plan | Day 10 of Mersey Fire Strike: Yet More Strike Dates Promised | Day 11 of Mersey Fire Strike: Desperate Authority Makes False Accusations | Day 12 of Mersey Fire Strike: Massive March and Rally in Liverpool | Day 13 of Mersey Fire Strike: Negotiations Continue Following Rally | Day 16 of Mersey Fire Strike: Authority Claims "positive and constructive" Talks | Day 18 of Mersey Fire Strike: Compromise Seems Likely | Day 23 of Mersey Fire Strike: Authority Considers FBU Demands | Day 25 of Mersey Fire Strike: End in Sight Following 'Cordial' Talks? | Day 26 of Mersey Fire Strike: Back To Work As Union Agrees £3.5m 'Savings' | Details Of Merseyside Firefighters' Agreement