Radical Workers’ Bloc at Tolpuddle: Martyrs Festival and rally: 17-19 July 2015

Radical Workers’ Bloc at Tolpuddle: Martyrs Festival and rally: 17-19 July 2015

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Radical Workers’ Bloc at Tolpuddle 2014, photo by Wheelz.

It’s our fifth anniversary! Usual deal: scaring the taxpayers, winding up the Tankies – Winning friends, influencing people and impressing them with our revolutionary praxis. Every year we welcome comrades from as far afield as Wales, France, Spain and the Midlands; we enjoy frank but good-natured debate with fellow trade unionists and activists alike. A small contingent doesn’t want us there, but sod ‘em – The Friendly Society of Agricultural Labourers was an example of working-class self-organisation – Stalin would have had them shot. Still we hope to extend our safe spaces policy to all festival-goers; their kids will learn to swear without our help and please be kind to the cosplay cops, the council would charge a fortune to close the public highway.

Visit our stall in the Martyrs Marquee, if you’d like to help run it, or you have anything you’d like to give away / accept donations for please contact us An advance party will pitch tents on Friday afternoon, we corral them together so that people can get to know each other. If you’re just marching with us on Sunday 19th July, Meet up as usual 1:30 pm outside the Martyrs Museum; bring your flags and banners, this year’s theme will be politicians heads on spikes…

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Freedom Press

Message from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Southampton Branch.

Next week Students for Palestine will be running Israeli Apartheid Week at the University of Southampton with the following events:

Monday February 23rd, 7 to 8.30pm: Boycott Israeli Apartheid – Beyond the Propaganda. Nuffield Theatre, Lecture Theatre A (building 06/ room 1077)

The first event of Israeli Apartheid Week 2015 – a panel event on the growing BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) Movement to put peaceful pressure on Israel to respect human rights, international law, and basic dignity.

The panel will discuss the principles and importance of BDS, and will address common myths and misinformation surrounding BDS, with time for the panel to answer your questions about the Boycott movement. We will be joined by a trio of eminent panellists from various backgrounds, consisting of:

Professor Suleiman Sharkh: Southampton Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Dan Judelson: Jews for Justice for Palestinians
Rena Zuabi: Students for Justice in Palestine

Wednesday February 25th, 6.30 to 8pm: Murder Merchants – Israel and the Arms Trade*. University of Southampton Murray Building (building 58, room 1009)

The second panel event of Israeli Apartheid Week at Southampton will explore the murky world of the international Arms Trade, and the way in which the thriving trade in weapons and military technology between the UK and Israel facilitates and rewards the atrocities Israel commits against the Palestinian people, with the massacres of last summer being just one example.

The arms trade between the UK and Israel is a glaring example of our country’s complicity in Israel’s actions, and companies involved in the arms trade profit directly from the frequently illegal actions of the Israeli state and military. There is therefore a very strong case to be made for boycotting and divesting from these complicit companies, especially in our unique position as students.

We are honoured to be joined by three brilliant activists and speakers for this panel, who will give a fascinating insight into the world of arms dealing, explore what is to be done, and answer any questions you may have:

Mike Deas: Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement, The Electronic Intifada
Ryvka Barnard: War on Want, Jadaliyya
Maya Evans: Voices for Creative Non-Violence UK, Campaign Against Arms Trade

Friday February 27th, 6.30 to 8.15pm: Roadmap to Apartheid – Film Screening*. Nuffield Theatre, Lecture Theatre A (building 06/ room 1077)

If seeing the words “Apartheid” and “Israel” together shocks, confuses, or even angers you, Roadmap to Apartheid is essential viewing to understand the rationale for the description.

This award-winning documentary, directed by a white South African and a Jewish Israeli, examines and explains the Apartheid analysis, demonstrating how it applies to the situation faced by Palestinians, and why it is a analysis that is increasingly being used in discourse over Israel/Palestine.

Using a facts-based analytical approach, with input from a great variety of respected analysts and commentators, combined with archival material and anecdotes from South Africans, the film forms a complete picture as to why the analogy is being used with increasing frequency and potency – come along and bring your friends!

Map of Highfield Campus showing the location of the Nuffield Building and building 58.

Portsmouth branch group of Palestine Solidarity Campaign is holding a Palestine Day on Saturday 28th from 12 to 5pm.

The event will be held at St. Swithuns Church Community Centre, 105 Waverley Rd, Southsea, PO5 2PL, Map with the following talks:

12am: Palestine and Sport – Red Card Israel Racism – Gareth Edwards (Lecturer in Sports History)
1pm: lunch (free Palestinian food)
2pm: Health and Education in Palestine – Aimee Shalan (Director of Friends of Birzeit University)
3pm: Why is Gaza Blockaded – Kevin Ovenden (Viva Palestinia Organiser)
4pm: BDS – The Way Forward – Salim Alam (Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Campaigns Director)

Free entry, all welcome. For further details about the events  e mail. Southampton Palestine Solidarity Campaign Website Blog

Left events this Saturday: 4th October. Portsmouth and Dorchester.

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From the battle to keep common land to women campaigning for the vote, from mutinous sailors to the fight against racism, the past struggles of local people are a source of huge inspiration and interest. 

Portsmouth Socialist Network invites you to a day dedicated to the radical history of our city. Facebook event

Dorset Socialists meeting Saturday – CHAOS IN IRAQ: the bitter fruits of imperialism.

Saturday 4th October, 1.30pm at the Colliton Club (opposite County Hall), Dorchester.

“Iraq is in a mess, and the Western leaders, who have been in effective charge since the invasion of 2003, have no idea of what to do about it. A region of relative wealth and prosperity, with above average women’s rights for the region and minimal sectarian conflict has been turned into its polar opposite.

An admittedly repressive dictatorship has been replaced by a Shia regime which is entrenched in sectarianism and up to its neck in corruption. And all under the supposedly liberating Western occupation. The naked pursuit of oil profits has plunged the whole country into a crisis which threatens those very same petrochemical interests, and threatens to drag us all back to a boots on desert fighting was. A renewed war can only make matters worse.

Join us to discuss what is to be done.”
DS

Pubs to avoid: the Alma arms, Southsea.

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Barry painted the Alma white.

The Alma arms at 193 Highland Road, Southsea, Hampshire, PO4 9EZ [map] [gmap] for years was notorious as a hangout of the far right; the former landlord Barry Smith being an old-school Nazi who hosted regular events for local fascists and hooligan firms. The pub was taken over in July 2013 by Steve Lant who also runs The Nell Gwynne, in Jessie Road, Southsea, and The Old House at Home, in Locksway Road, Milton, Portsmouth, on behalf of Enterprise Inns. Since then the Alma has been keen to shed its Nazi image, to the extent of sucking up to local antifascist groups and other lefty causes.

Last Sunday Pompey Punx Collective put on a benefit gig at the Alma on behalf of Medical Aid for Palestinians; according to a friend of one of the bands the venue had been leaned on by the cops to hire ‘security’, supposedly in case of fascist ingress. When we arrived there were a couple of awkward looking bodybuilders striking poses in tight-fitting black uniforms and we wondered if someone had hired a striptease act. Anyway we got to see Grant Sharkey do his unique socially-conscious double bass comedy thing (his act is pretty hard to describe, you just need to check it out). The acoustics are shit by the way, no really they are.

It was a Sunday night and the place wasn’t exactly rammed, more like a private party as nearly everyone knew each other, but the atmosphere was dampened by these dudes glaring at people and constantly fussing over who had paid – frankly a gatecrasher would have stuck out like a dog’s bollocks and been challenged instantly. One of us put up a Palestine flag, and was told by the management (one Simon Lawrence, who confesses to be a mate of the old landlord) to take it down, so she wore it instead, the bodybuilders told her to take it off and she refused, we had a word, but they were intransigent, so we just ignored them. Grant’s set, which is the kind of material you really want to listen to, was marred by the bickering going on in the background. More fussing, it seems they were texting Grant’s lyrics to the owners! They didn’t want anything to do with politics they said, they actually used the phrase ‘sitting on the fence’ and we all know where that goes. They were there ‘as a deterrent’ – to what exactly? They didn’t inspire a lot of confidence, “have you done this before?”. Really they should stick to playing paintball. We were informed the event was now a closed one and no-one else would be admitted.

Next up was Thee Infidels, A riotous German Ska/punk band, they got through a couple of numbers then a male comrade put the flag on and was forcibly thrown out. We all followed, the band walked off the stage and came with us. We could not continue under these circumstances and started loading up the gear. About 20 minutes later there was a call from the owner to say he was calling the event off – a bit late for that, mush!

So, is this just a case of a venue badly run by incompetents out of their depth, or was it a set up in league with the police to shut down autonomous organising in the area? A proper antifascist gig was to follow in a couple of weeks, at which they would never have got away with such antics, so this little set piece seems well timed. Never mind, there are plenty of proper venues to choose from.

The Alma will now have to go back to hosting fascists because no one else is going to touch it with a barge pole.

Bournemouth mobilises against fascism! 23rd August.

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Oppose the racist English Defence League in Bournemouth on 23rd August!

Once again this bizarre right-wing cult threatens one of the most peaceful and diverse communities in the south. Their proposed ‘Bournemouth against the Islamification of Britain’ march is a crude provocation to a section of the population that has been here since before most of them were born.

A broad-based coalition, ‘We are Bournemouth’ comprising unions, community organisations, traders and individuals from all walks of life has called for a massive, inclusive, family-friendly counter demonstration against racism and fascism.

Local antifascist groups such as BHstopEDL, StopEDL Bournemouth and of course ourselves will also be out and about on the day, something for everyone. Bournemouth EDL has a history of importing fascists from elsewhere, notably Southampton and Portsmouth, as the blighters have been quite effectively blocked in their own areas, so we call on antifascists from across the south to join us on the day – who knows, you might get to spot one of your local boneheads!

The EDL, which mostly focuses its hatred on Muslims but attracts every kind of bigot has suffered badly in recent years from defections, criminal convictions and internal splits, but has somehow stayed under the radar in Dorset – mainly because most people have never heard of it or are unaware of its fascist origins and sinister agenda, and because there are few racial tensions here to exploit – let’s keep it that way. Their new chairman Tim Ablitt, who was Dorset organiser for the BNP splinter group ‘British Freedom Party’, lives at Fitzworth Avenue in Poole.

Now, we didn’t make this up, honestly.

berksIt was a response to Bournemouth fascist Gary Hazel‘s plea on farcebook for a field where out-of-towners could get heavily refreshed the night before. The cops having refused the fascists permission to use public campsites – not that any would have them – after telling them they aren’t allowed to cook a pig on the beach.

Details will follow as both march routes are being challenged by the locals, we’ve been forwarding e mail enquiries to BHstopEDL

See you on the streets – they shall not pass!

Tolpuddle 2014.

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Photo by Wheelz.

We take a moment to salute our illustrious comrade John Flower (see below 4th July) who passed away in June, we left a small memorial to him at the annual International Brigades ceremony and antifascists from Wessex, Portsmouth and Southampton attended his funeral.

But life is for the living and we had another cracking weekend! We were delighted to welcome four comrades from CNT-AIT Caen this year.

Minor drama on Saturday when some prat tried to trash the stall after a specious argument about royalties. His objection was to our use of the ubiquitous John Harris photograph of Lesley Boulton at Orgreave, on this the 30th anniversary of the Miners’ Strike, which could be seen adorning T shirts all over the site. He was safely and efficiently restrained by one of the older members of our group, who also happens to be a photojournalist. We have several NUJ members in the collective who questioned him about his motives. All became clear when we visited his stall which carried similar images at four quid a pop! It turned out he was just some bourgeois flogging lefty posters for the benefit of no one but himself, and he was upset that we were giving away something he was trying to sell.

The unseemly fracas didn’t do us any harm as people queued up to tell us – and him, what a prick he was, and our now slightly disheveled literature flew off the stall. He approached the organisers (not us) to offer an apology, and we replied that since he cares so much about money, he could make amends by sticking some in our donations jar, this he failed to do.

The stuff we carry on the stall is only there because we want people to read it; we produce it ourselves and we only take donations for it to cover our costs so we can do it again next year. The cash we take for Freedom goes to Freedom. Revenge was foregone as we were reluctant to relinquish the moral high ground we occupied, but if you’re doing a class-based event keep an eye out for this arsehole who just might decide to barge in and fuck shit up. Stocky bloke with white hair, gold-rimmed glasses and beige trousers. This is from his web site, ‘Past Pixels’ click on it to go there:

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Numbers on the march down a bit on last year but it was good to welcome some new faces.