London Anarchist Bookfair finds new home

With great pleasure and some relief I can report that the London Anarchist Bookfair will be going ahead this year as usual. After several very successful years there, it had outgrown Queen Mary College and had to look around for a new home.

This proved to be a much more difficult undertaking than expected as alternatives were explored. Kensington Town Hall, which latterly housed for the London Vegan Festival, never even bothered to reply. Perhaps that venue felt an area colonised by the super-rich wouldn’t be the most suitable location!

As time wore on and nowhere was found, the unwelcome prospect of a year without a Bookfair emerged. That would’ve been really bad news but then just as things looked bleak, step forward Central Saint Martins College in King’s Cross.  I know nothing about the venue but it’s in an excellent location and I look forward to being there on 24 October.

That was World Week that was

World Week of Action For Animals in Laboratories finished yesterday, 26 April. The wwaail.org website listed a number of events, most of them in the USA and connected to the No New Animal Lab campaign which is trying to stop the building of a $124 million animal laboratory at Washington University.

Saturday’s march drew hundreds of people and has been called “the largest grassroots animal liberation demo in the US in some time”. A report in The Seattle Times said: “500 animal-rights supporters marched across the University of Washington (UW) campus Saturday and temporarily blocked neighborhood streets.”

The following day saw many home demos against “key players” in the construction of the lab in Seattle. Home demos were outlawed in the UK in 2003 but they are still legal in America. There were also protests against the company building the lab, Skanska. One activist commented:

“In solidarity elsewhere (nationally and globally), activists had their own local office Skanska demos and office disruptions throughout the week.  On Friday, UW lost a significant lawsuit against the activists legal team for secretly voting to build the lab.  All of these combined factors electrified the mass protests onSaturday.  And this was all grassroots!

The cloak of fear and that has shrouded the US scene for over a decade was lifted this past week.  Comfort vegan lifestylism was replaced with hundreds taking the streets of Seattle and activists elsewhere demonstrating in solidarity.  I haven’t seen this level of enthusiasm
and mass action since the SHAC days.”

Skanska is also the corporation behind the building a new facility for AstraZeneca in Cambridge.  On Saturday a march in that city attracted about 300 people from all over the country. Cambridge University already uses 170,000 animals in cruel experiments every year and with planning approval for the new laboratory this looks set to rise steeply.

The march was organised by Cambridge AR, which is one of the oldest – if not the oldest – local group in the UK. Whether a sustained offensive will emerge from the protest remains to be seen. Since SPEAK failed to stop the building of a animal research lab in Oxford eight years ago, there have been a number of campaigns against universities who use animals, including Leicester, Cardiff and Newcastle, but none have lasted for more than a few months.

Finally I’d like to give a big shout out to Merseyside AR who organised a whole week of events including street stalls, a demo against Liverpool University and a day of action against charities who fund animal experiments, such as British Heart Foundation and Cancer Research UK.

The university protest received good coverage in the Liverpool Echo who reported:

Merseyside Animals Rights group staged a protest after learning through a Freedom of Information request the university carried out 14,753 experiments on animals in 2014.

The group said the animals used included mice, rats, rabbits and other rodents, chicken, sheep, cattle, horses, zebra fish and trout. The animals were used for biological, medical and veterinary research.

In a statement activists said: “1,451 of these experiments were classed as severe in terms of the pain and suffering inflicted on the animals. These severe experiments all involved mice or rabbits. Most other experiments inflicted mild to moderate pain and suffering.”

The university was forced to defend itself and used the same old cliches about animal use being “essential” and ensuring: “The number used is minimised and that procedures, care routines and husbandry are refined to maximise welfare as far as possible. Liverpool’s facilities for animals involved in research are among the best in the UK.”

Well done to MARC for their week of action and for putting Liverpool University under the spotlight and forcing them to account for their despicable actions. This is exactly what they want to avoid. All vivisectors wish for is to be left alone to continue with their grisly work. They hate having to justify what they do because it is unjustifiable.

No one can deny that opposing vivisection in the UK has not been easy in recent years. The failure to stop the Oxford Lab and the survival of Huntingdon Life Sciences, together with media-orchestrated smear campaigns and repressive laws targeting anti-vivisectionists, has led to a decline in morale and the numbers of activists.

MARC’s successful week of action shows the best way back could be through local groups targeting laboratories in their areas. As ever, it is decentralised grassroots campaigning that offers the best way of rebuilding the animal rights movement.

23 April: Anti-election meeting at Freedom Bookshop in London

The Anarchist Federation will be holding a meeting on the forthcoming election entitled No Matter Who You Voted For, the Government Got In. This is what it will be about:

“People are realising that voting isn’t part of the solution – it’s part of the problem. Voting means accepting this rotten set-up, pretending that we have a meaningful say in how things are run. The fact is that politicians couldn’t really change anything even if they wanted to, because of the way the political system is set up. The main aim of parliament is to keep things going the way they always have, so a rich few at the top have all the power and the vast majority of us have none. Voting just props the whole system up by making it look democratic.

So whoever gets in after this next election, the important thing is that we are ready to fight, whether it be Labour, Tory, or a coalition cobbled together with other parties. We know that whatever government is formed, they will continue to drive through cuts and austerity measures. We must be prepared to organise to resist.”

The meeting will start at 7pm at Freedom Bookshop, Angel Alley, 84b Whitechapel High Street, London E1. Refreshments available and plenty of time for questions.

UKIP and Vegfest

The past week or so has seen a load of controversy over UKIP and Vegfest. What has a right wing anti-immigration party got to do with a vegan festival, you might ask? Well the organiser Tim Barford has had the crazy of idea of trying to the link the event to the impending election by holding hustings there. Labour, the Lib Dems, the Tories, the Green Party and UKIP were all invited.

On the event’s website, under the headline UKIP joins 4 other main UK Political parties at VegfestUK Brighton, Barford gleefully announced that: “Nigel Carter of Brighton and Hove UKIP is joining the conference to debate his party’s stance on Health and the Environment, VegfestUK now have a complete pack of cards with political heavyweights including Kerry McCarthy, Caroline Lucas, Henry Smith and others making their appearances at the conference.”

He had no inkling of the storm that would ensue and it soon all over social media. Truth be told, Barford is no stranger to this. His festival brand (Vegfest first popped up in Brighton years ago but they’ve spread throughout the UK) has been attacked for years by some who think he’s watering down the ethics of veganism. For instance he allows stallholders such as the RSPB who cull birds and there have even been rumours that all his events are not 100% vegan.

UKIP are especially despised because one of its policies is the repeal of the Hunting Act and Nigel Farage has gone on record as saying he’s like to bring back hunting with hounds (not that it’s really gone away but that’s another story). Despite this, however, they are not strangers to the world of animal welfare. A few months ago they were invited to speak at a live exports rally in Kent, where they naturally felt at home being xenophobic about cruelty to animals abroad. A number of protesters launched a tirade against their representative, however, who scuttled away feeling most unwelcome.

Back to Vegfest and two of three days after the announcement came a grovelling apology:

“It has become clear to us as organisers that we would be unable to create a safe space for our visitors, especially families, but also those who have suffered at the hands of racism and other minority discrimination. There has been an unprecedented level of complaints about UKIP being represented at Vegfest, and out of respect for the views of the vast majority of our visitors, and with security in mind, we have withdrawn the invitation to the UKIP member to attend.”

At least Barford recognised his mistake and rectified it but what a dreadful mistake to make in the first place. And why stop there? The difference between Farage’s lot and the three main parties is one of of degree, not kind, and they’re all heading rightwards anyway in UKIP’s slipstream. Ban the lot of them I say.

Unfortunately that won’t be happening but hopefully those who attend Vegfest’s “party political conference” will see through the lies of the politicians there and decide none of the parties deserve their vote.

16 – 21 March: Week of action against corporate media

One of the biggest obstacles to the transformation of society is the power and influence of the corporate media. Therefore it’s great to see a whole week of action on this subject. It’s being organised by Real Media who promise “loads of actions directed against the Daily Mail, the Murdoch media empire and other corporate media for their biased news coverage.”

On Monday 16 March , 20,000 spoof copies of the Daily Wail containing stories the billionaire-owned paper would never report will be distributed in London and Manchester and both cities will also be plastered with posters highlighting themes ignored by corporate media. 

Inside the paper are stories people don’t tend to read in the mass media – articles on mass rent rises and displacement of social housing tenants, the privatisation of the NHS, how the sick and disabled are being bullied off benefits by huge private corporations, and everything you need to know about TTIP – the secret international trade agreement that’s going to de-regulate everything.

Also every day this week, campaigners will highlight crucial issues ignored by the corporate-dominated press:

• Monday 16th: corporate influence undermining democracy
• Tuesday 17th: climate change
• Wednesday 18th: austerity increasing inequality to record levels
• Thursday 19th: privatisation of healthcare and other public services
• Friday 20th: the arms industry’s interests driving the war on terror
• Saturday 21st: human rights

The Real Media campaign isn’t just about slagging off the corporate news. In early April the group will be launching a website that aggregates alternative independent news platforms

Meanwhile, to follow up the Real Media Anti-Daily Mail Week, the group Occupy Rupert Murdoch will be hosting a week of action by the new HQ of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire at London Bridge. For more details on this see  http://www.occupythe media.org.uk

For more details on Anti-Daily Mail Week see http://www.dailywail.co.uk/ or the Real Media website http://realmedia.press You can also follow the actions on Twitter @RealMediaGB and @occupy_murdoch

20-26 April: World Week for Animals in Laboratories

WWAIL is calling for a global grassroots week of action from 20-26 April 2015 in keeping with the traditional remembrance of laboratory animals that has been marked by World Day for Animals in Laboratories on 24 April. Rather than the traditional march, all actions will be organised by and for local groups or grassroots campaigns.

There will be a diverse range of activities challenging vivisection in as many ways as possible. These will include demonstrations, street stalls, film showings, solidarity for activists either in prison, facing or recovering from repression.

Please email your actions and events and we will publicise them. Email them to: info@wwail.org

Send us your reports afterwards and we can put them on the website so everyone can be inspired by your amazing events.

This decentralised week of action has been organised with a commitment to eradicating all forms of oppression. See our anti-oppression statement here:  http://wwail.noflag.org.uk/?page_id=41

For more information about the reality of vivisection today, see the information and resources page here: http://wwail.noflag.org.uk/?page_id=11

www.wwail.org

20-22 February: Earth First! Winter Moot in Bristol

The Earth First Winter Moot in Bristol is “a weekend gathering for people involved or wanting to know more about ecological direct action around the UK including fighting opencast coal, fracking, GM, nuclear power, new road building and quarries with discussions and campaign planning – emphasis on the tactics and strategies, community solidarity and sustainable activism.”

Workshops include: Intelligent resistance: its strategy and implementation in the modern world, Sustaining resistance: avoiding burnout, Reclaim the Power meets Earth First,  Legal defence monitoring and a Campaigns go-round.

It’s at the Kebele Community Centre and for a sliding scale of £20-£30 includes vegan meals and accommodation. Kicks off at 7pm on Friday with dinner followed by films and an introduction to EF! Shame I won’t be there.

Their website says: “Earth First! is a network of people and campaigns who fight ecological destruction and the forces driving it. We believe in non-hierarchical organising of Direct Action, to confront, stop and eventually reverse the forces that are responsible for the destruction of the Earth and its inhabitants. EF! is not a cohesive group or campaign, but a convenient banner for people who share similar philosophies to work under and doing it ourselves rather than relying on governments or industry.”

https://earthfirst.org.uk/actionreports/content/earth-first-winter-moot-bristol-20th-22nd-february-2015-full-programme

Mass Surveillance, Liberty & Activism talk

We’re kicking of our pre-general election campaign with a talk on the 24th February at MadLab :
http://www.meetup.com/ORG-Manchester/events/220481722

ORG’s Executive Director Jim Killock will talk about mass surveillance, liberty and activism. He’ll say why mass surveillance is a danger to democracy and how we can work together to curb it.
This event is free and open to the public. You don’t need to be an ORG member to attend, just someone interested in an open and free internet.
If you don’t want to use Meetup you can email manchester@openrightsgroup.org to RSVP.

Arrive from 7.15pm onwards for a 7.30pm start.

14 February: British Heartless Foundation Day of Action

A well probed theme of this blog has been the decline of effective grassroots anti-vivisection organising in the last 10 years. Repression, low morale and dwindling numbers have all played their part in this but I’m pleased to say that all is not doom and gloom as there is an excellent campaign around at the moment.

The British Heartless Foundation has been busy protesting outside BHF’s charity shops for some time now and tomorrow sees the a special Valentine’s Day of Action which asks the public to have a heart for the animals who suffer because of the the charity.

Most of the people who donate and/or buy from BHF’s charity shops have no idea what their money goes on – cruel and pointless experiments on animals such as dogs, rabbits, pigs, mice, rats and even sheep. The campaign’s website states:

Behind the pleasant imagery that we associate with the British Heart Foundation, smiling doctors, thoughtful patients, colourful shop fronts and fun runners pounding the streets, lies a dark secret: money donated in good faith is spent on sickening animal experiments, often at top name academic institutions  A number of cruel fates await an animal unfortunate enough to be part of a BHF “research project” – they could be bred sole to have their hearts ripped out, be poisoned, or have a heart attack artificially induced. No wonder they don’t advertise the fact they test on animals in any of their shops or at any of their events.

Tomorrow their will be demonstrations at shops across the UK. Unfortunately the group’s website does not list them, they are available only on its Facebook page. As I know on everyone uses social media, here is the complete list.

BHF Nottingham on Angel Row at 12.00pm, BHF Swansea at 10 am,  BHF Trowbridge 10am, BHF Neath in the afternoon, BHF Cardiff, Albany Road, from 11am,BHF Hereford. Eign Gate at 10am then in the afternoon too, BHF Wanstead High Street. 2 – 4pm, BHF Brighton, Western Road 12 – 2pm, BHF Acocks Green, Birmingham TTBC, BHF Derby. Corn Market. 11am onwards, BHF Glasgow Sauchiehall Street – 11am-1pm, (meet 10.45am outside the Centre of Contemporary Arts on Sauchiehall st), BHF Camberley, High Street, Surrey 11am, BHF Cambridge TTBC, BHF Chelmsford. 9:30am, BHF Poole, High st. 10.30 – 2.30pm, BHS Southampton, BHF Bournemouth, BHF Northumberland, BHF Ipswich, BHF Camden, High St, London  11am -3pm,BHF Croydon. 7-10 Suffolk House, George Street 10am -11am, BHF Clapham, London 11.30 – 12.30pm, BHF Fulham, London, Northend Rd 1- 2.30pm, BHF Newcastle, Clayton St, 11am onwards, BHF Norwich, BHF Bury St Edmunds, BHF Hereford, BHF Galashiels 10-11 am,  BHF Coventry Hertford st. (Bull Yard), CV1. 11am onwards, BHF Hastings, BHF Ramsgate, BHF New Malden, Surrey, BHF Leeds, BHF Dundee, 14 Reform Street, DD1 1RG. 2pm-on, BHF Sheffield, BHF Milton Keynes, BHF Inverness, BHF Romford, South Street 12pm, BHF Southend, Essex. 11am Southend High St, 11am, BHF York, 11 Goodramgate, YO1 7LW and 14 Bridge Street, YO1 6DD, BHF Swindon, BHF Wanstead, London, 2-4pm, BHF Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, BHF Nicolson Street, Edinburgh. 2 pm, BHF Brook Street, Ilkley 11-3, BHF Eastbourne, BHF Stourbridge, BHF Swansea, BHF Spalding, Lincs, BHF Hemel Hempstead, BHF Gosport, Bold Street Liverpool around 12pm, BHF Preston, Lancs, BHF Leicester.

As you can see, it’s an amazing effort; no doubt the biggest grassroots anti-vivisection event this country has seen in many, many years. Hats off to the campaign and all the people who will be out tomorrow. This is the animal rights movement doing what it does best, getting on to the streets and campaigning to ordinary people, hitting an animal abuser where it hurts most – in the pocket – and exposing BHS’s dirty secret.

20 years ago there was a similar campaign against Boots the Chemist which had its own laboratory near Nottingham. This went on for years and was eventually successful when the company caved in to the pressure and pulled out of the pharmaceutical business. It was an amazing breakthrough that paved the way for later initiatives against laboratory animal breeders such as Consort, Hillgrove and Shamrock.

Can the BHF campaign be as successful? Who knows? One thing it doesn’t have which the Boots campaign had was the tremendous number of attacks on the shops. A national newspaper reported during the early nineties that 60 – yes 60!! – of Boots’ stores had their windows smashed every month.

Direct action on that scale simply doesn’t go on anymore. But even without it, we know that BHF are getting seriously rattled because they’re scared stiff of people knowing the truth about their dirty secret.  This is one campaign that is not going away!

http://britishheartlessfoundation.co.uk

 

Behind the pleasant imagery that we associate with the British Heart Foundation thoughtful patients, colourful shop fronts and fun runners pounding the streets, lies a dark secret: money donated in good faith is spent on sickening animal experiments, often at top name academic institutions1. A number of cruel fates await an animal unfortunate enough to be part of a BHF “research project” – they could be bred solely to have their hearts ripped out2, be poisoned3, or have a heart attack artificially induced4. No wonder they don’t advertise the fact they test on animals in any of their shops or at any of their events

Behind the pleasant imagery that we associate with the British Heart Foundation: smiling doctors, thoughtful patients, colourful shop fronts and fun runners pounding the streets, lies a dark secret: money donated in good faith is spent on sickening animal experiments, often at top name academic institutions1. A number of cruel fates await an animal unfortunate enough to be part of a BHF “research project” – they could be bred solely to have their hearts ripped out2, be poisoned3, or have a heart attack artificially induced4. No wonder they don’t advertise the fact they test on animals in any of their shops or at any of their events

Behind the pleasant imagery that we associate with the British Heart Foundation: smiling doctors, thoughtful patients, colourful shop fronts and fun runners pounding the streets, lies a dark secret: money donated in good faith is spent on sickening animal experiments, often at top name academic institutions1. A number of cruel fates await an animal unfortunate enough to be part of a BHF “research project” – they could be bred solely to have their hearts ripped out2, be poisoned3, or have a heart attack artificially induced4. No wonder they don’t advertise the fact they test on animals in any of their shops or at any of their events

Behind the pleasant imagery that we associate with the British Heart Foundation: smiling doctors, thoughtful patients, colourful shop fronts and fun runners pounding the streets, lies a dark secret: money donated in good faith is spent on sickening animal experiments, often at top name academic institutions1. A number of cruel fates await an animal unfortunate enough to be part of a BHF “research project” – they could be bred solely to have their hearts ripped out2, be poisoned3, or have a heart attack artificially induced4. No wonder they don’t advertise the fact they test on animals in any of their shops or at any of their events

30 January: Islington Against Police Spies “Sack Bob Lambert” demo

Islington Against Police Spies (IAPS) was set up late last year following a meeting at London Metropolitan University. This is where disgraced ex-police spy Bob Lambert works as a lecturer in criminology. Before his career in academia, Lambert worked as an undercover cop for Special Branch and infiltrated political groups such as London Greenpeace. He then became operations manager of a top secret Scotland Yard unit called the Special Demonstrations Squad and managed other spies.

IAPS say: “In November we held a lively picket of London Metropolitan University in Holloway, launching our campaign to demand the sacking or resignation of Bob Lambert. Former police spy, Special Branch manipulator, abuser of women, agent provocateur, Lambert is now lecturing at London Met on policing and criminology.

As local residents we feel it is totally inappropriate for London Metropolitan to be employing a man with Lambert’s record in such a position; where he has not only influence and power over the lives of students, who may be young or vulnerable. Most particularly Lambert has shown he cannot be trusted not to abuse and lie to women.

Islington Against Police Spies have committed ourselves to holding regular events to keep putting pressure on the University and raising awareness of Lambert’s past, until he is forced to leave London Met. We call on anyone who thinks Bob Lambert should not be working in a supposedly progressive university to support our campaign.

The protest will be this Friday, 30 January, at 12.00 – 2.00pm, LMU Tower, 166-220 Holloway Road, London N7 8DB. The organisers say: “Bring placards, banners, anything to make noise. The bigger and noisier our protest, the more notice London Met will have to take of us.”

The website also has a list of senior management to email and call. There is even an email address and telephone no. for Lambert himself so you can “let him know what you think of his activities”.

https://islingtonagainstpolicespies.wordpress.com/

For further information see: https://network23.org/redblackgreen/police-spies-and-surveillance/