From South Essex Heckler.
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It was a lovely sunny weekend, with a superb music line-up. We made some new comrades and enjoyed catching up with the Bognor contingent, Bristol Afed, Swindon A’s, North London, South Wales, West Midlands IWW and many musician friends. Big shout out to the Wob Kitchen for all the tasty vegan meals.
Tolpuddle festival is the Ascot of the left; the various historical re-enactment societies and activist groups rub shoulders in a more or less cordial way and Che Guevara shirts are worn without irony. The Radical Workers’ Bloc idea began in 2011, as a new generation discovered rioting, exasperated with the blatant futility of representative politics. Ever since, in the jolly festival atmosphere, we’ve had frank tactical discussions between Marxists and anarchists, antifascists, environmentalists, trade unionists and hunt sabs. There has been a tacit acceptance of the need for militant antifascism and mass direct action generally.
This was a weird one, the main topic of conversation being the tedious soap opera playing out in the Labour Party. The Westminster freak show is beyond parody, so we understand that the concept of any politician not being a crook or a sociopath is such a fucking novelty it could easily be mistaken for “a new kind of politics”. A good few of our comrades think so: “it isn’t really about Jeremy …” – well you could have fooled us. Each campaign group, union and Marxist party in turn pledged allegiance to the Leader. Even the bands made a point of endorsing Him from the stage. The SWP stall featured a large banner that commanded: “Join the Socialist Workers Party Today!” above a poster of J.C. proclaiming: “We’re the Labour Party and we’re here to stay!” Very confusing.
A more worthwhile discussion is the TUC’s failure to agree a coherent policy on the environment. Unite’s website insists Hinkley nuclear power station must go ahead without delay, plus the third runway at Heathrow– which 13 comrades narrowly avoided prison over recently. We understand there’s still a row going on in the GMB over fracking. If the workers’ organisations are not prepared to take responsibility for the fate of this lump of rock we’re all stood on, then who is? The bourgeoisie don’t give a shit.
Since the weekend three quarters of her majesty’s loyal opposition have voted for a new Trident doomsday machine, they must be stuck on the stench of burning flesh. The Corbyn movement now numbers at least half a million, maybe a million, fair play. So apart from keeping Corbyn what are their demands? They are split on the EU but then so were we. We’d guess they fancy a bit of social Keynesianism in place of the military variety, nationalisation and a progressive tax regime, but how and where are their different agendas going to be reconciled? If half a million people committed to direct action on one single issue – preventing deportation for example – there would be no more deportations. If they announced they would not permit anyone to be evicted from their homes, there would be no evictions. If that doesn’t grab anyone they could shut down fracking, blockade the factories that arm Israel and Saudi Arabia, or stop Trident dead in its tracks.
The only people feeling more left out were the Maoists, whose literature still fumes about the ‘counter-revolutionary renegade’ Leon Trotsky, apologises for the death toll of the Great Leap Forward and offers a defence of the Taliban against western imperialism – bless! I suppose if you actually want a boot on your neck, the left or the right one will do. The retrospective justification of mass murder, though unpleasant, is of little consequence when the perpetrators are a spent force. For sheer convoluted self-justifying, revisionist bullshit they’ve got nothing on Unite’s Executive Council statement on Trident which pre-emptively lays the blame for Armageddon at the door of anyone but the only people with the power to stop it.
Still our seditious anarchist literature flew off the stall, so someone must be reading it, follow leaders all you want, we’ll still be here when you get back. As for paying to vote for one, if anyone’s actually got 25 quid they don’t need it would be better spent supporting political prisoners such as Michelle Smith, a respected community activist, antifascist, and Unite the Union official from Merseyside. This comrade, who has our unreserved admiration, received a one-year sentence last Tuesday for helping the people of Dover defend themselves from neo-Nazis. It is entirely thanks to people like Michelle that the fascist threat is well contained. She is the single mother of two children, we send our solidarity and best wishes for an early release.
A paypal account is being set up, in the meantime if you would like to donate, or write to Michelle, please send a message to Merseyside Anti-Fascist Network’s facebook page. There will be a fundraising event, Alerta! in Liverpool on sat 20th August 2016. Tickets are £5.
We’re back again for the sixth year running, with the stall, Freedom Books, the Big Tent and our Wob Kitchen on the campsite catering for our comrades from Friday to Sunday (F.C.F.S). Camp with us, eat with us and march with us on Sunday. We will have a few of our new ‘Friends of Captain Swing’ T shirts made by the Sabcat anarchist workers’ co-op. If you fancy one for a tenner, let us know through the contact form and don’t forget to include your e-mail address and size. We may ask for a small deposit depending on how much we have to front up – we’re rubbish capitalists!
We’ve also got a limited number of these left in black or red, also by Sabcat, larger sizes only, but they do work best as a billboard!
Here’s something that caught our attention here at AFN. We’re clear what conclusions we can draw from it, but encourage you to make up your own minds.
The posh boy neo nazis of National Action recently published a triumphant, yet hilariously delusional “action report” of their efforts to impress in Swansea. They attempted to infiltrate an antifascist demo to cause trouble back in March but it didn’t end well for them, with the attempt exposed and seen off by vigilant antifascists and almost the whole group arrested. Their online version of events was the source of much mirth and amusement for antifascists who have seen (the backs of) them in “action”.
Less entertaining was the bit where they gloat about all their charges being dropped. Not because we want them to be “brought to justice” (as militant antifascists we do not believe the state has anything to offer in this department), but because of what it means.
The antifascist comrade who was arrested for being part of defending the demo against the attack from National Action was recently approached by the police to be an informer.
Officers from the Welsh Counter Extremism and Terrorism Unit (WECTU) stated that if the comrade agreed to give information on other activists they would “help out” the comrade. When asked, the cops confirmed they would be making the neo nazis the same offer / request to grass. That same day it seems all the charges against the neo nazis were dropped. ‘Ello ’ello! What’s all this then? Could it be that South Wales police and the surveillance state have found some new helpers? Well, it all seems to be pointing in that direction to us.
at a time of great domestic political upheaval it is easy to forget about the plight of the Palestinian people. However, the suffering and oppression of the Palestinian people continues unabated and we have to continue to respond to it. On the 4th June Southampton Palestine Solidarity Campaign, together with other groups around the country, held a day of action to highlight the role of the technology giant Hewlett Packard in providing technological services which allow Israel to profile and control the lives of the millions of people living under illegal occupation. National PSC has reported this here They have also set up a dedicated web-site about Hewlett Packard which can be viewed here. National PSC has set up an on-line pledge for people to sign to let HP know that they plan to stop buying Hewlett Packard products until such time as HP ends its support for Israeli human rights violations and war crimes which can be found on the home page of the Stop HP web-site.
Next month will mark two years since the beginning of Israel’s major assault on Gaza which killed over 2,200 Palestinians – over 500 of whom were children. Although the time-line of events shows clearly that Israeli violence was politically motivated, and therefore terrorist in nature, the British main-stream media insisted in parroting what can only be described as propaganda lies put out by the Israeli government. We therefore found ourselves in the position of having to protest, simultaneously, the Israeli attacks themselves and the biased coverage of the main-stream media including the BBC. This included protests outside of the local BBC offices in Southampton and an open letter from Southampton Palestine Solidarity Campaign to the BBC. Since then Palestine Solidarity Campaign has continued to campaign for a two-way arms embargo between Britain and Israel as part of the Stop Arming Israel campaign – a joint initiative of Palestine Solidarity Campaign, War on Want, and Campaign Against the Arms Trade. We also run an on-going Fair News Campaign which aims to hold the BBC to account for its biased reporting and to which anyone who wishes to can contribute.
Recently we have had to try to defend ourselves against opportunistic efforts made by pro-Israel groups withing the Labour Party to use the controversy over remarks made by Naz Shah and Ken Livingstone to try to define anti-Semitism in a way that would severely curtail expressions of criticism of Israel within the Labour Party. In response to this Jeremy Corbyn set up an inquiry into anti-Semitism within the Labour Party led by Shami Chakrabarti. One good thing that has come out of this otherwise unpleasant episode is a wealth of excellent submissions to this inquiry explaining clearly and precisely the differences between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism and criticism of Israel. A Free Speech on Israel web-site has been set up which has collected many of these submissions. Many of the submissions are quite long but are well worth the effort as they provide a very clear explanation of anti-Semitism, Zionism and anti-Zionism. Submission which I particularly recommend include the submission by Palestine Solidarity Campaign the submission by the Jewish Socialist’ Group and especially the excellent submission by the UK Palestine Mental Health Network. Alternatively you could take a look at my shorter submission which received over 500 shares on Facebook.
We have an active time over the summer and will be running stalls at the Tolpuddle Festival and the Southampton Left Fest. Feel free to call by and say hello if you are attending either event.
The struggle against racism and discrimination is one that we support both in Israel/Palestine and here in the UK. I have been asked to let people know that on Saturday 2nd July the Southampton and West Hampshire Trades Union Congress are organising a demonstration, meeting at 11am at Bargate in support of diversity and multiculturalism. This is a response to plans by a right wing group that plans to demonstrate at that time and the demonstration organisers hope to significantly out-number them with people committed to supporting our precious multicultural society and all minority communities within it.
Adam Waterhouse Branch Secretary – Southampton Palestine Solidarity Campaign
I doubt any reader of this blog voted out because they were ‘concerned’ about migration, but if you did, you’ve been had, because it isn’t going to make a blind bit of difference. If the net population of this island falls, it will be from petty bourgeois fleeing the crashing economy. We hear the people in the Calais jungle still fancy it though, and they are most welcome.
Whilst the media kept herding the debate back to migration neither campaign presented any plans or targets for reducing it and certainly not for removing existing EU workers. The reason is obvious – capitalists don’t want to swap young, working taxpayers for retired bent car salesmen, and if they want to take advantage of the free trade area, they will have to accept free movement. Globalisation of capital means globalisation of labour, like it or not. We know that migration is not controlled by politicians but is entirely at the convenience of the bourgeoisie, but the Labour party and the TUC has been unable to say so because they are afraid of upsetting the bosses and being labelled ‘anti-business’. Plus, if you destroy the infrastructure of four countries, their populations are likely to shift, they couldn’t say that either, because most of them support the neoliberal wars. In short, the issue nearly everyone claims was central to the vote was all wind and piss.
You didn’t have to be Nostradamus to see this coming.
No one offered us anything, it was all threats: poverty, higher food prices, fewer rights, more austerity, TTIP, a continent-wide security state. The official ‘remain’ campaign, led by people who’ve been telling us for years we must work or we’re not fit to live, was that in the ‘national interest’ we must compete for work on the bosses’ terms with citizens of 28 countries. The official leave message was just the first bit.
The left case for leave stemmed from the late Tony Benn’s failed ‘possiblist’ strategy of creating a socialist state in a capitalist world through parliamentary democracy. You’ve seen what happened in Greece:
“To suggest that everything is going to change because there’s a new government in Athens is to mistake dreams for reality … There can be no democratic choice against the European treaties.”
– Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission
It was never fully elaborated, partly because of the fractured, authoritarian nature of the parties involved, but mainly because their priority was getting their man, Jeremy Corbyn elected with a parliamentary party that was mostly neoliberal. This version of Catch 22 left the field open to the state’s two right wings, with their appeals to fear and xenophobia; the racist media being fully let off the leash for the duration of the campaign.
The left case for remain was even thinner, all those who spoke of reforming the EU from the inside were unable to say how or when, and more to the point, why they had never mentioned it before. The Lisbon agenda was adopted in 2000 and the treaty ratified in 2009. John Major negotiated a full opt-out from the social chapter of the Maastricht Treaty, denying British workers its protection while exposing them to the worst excesses of the single market. Blair demanded a special protocol in the European Charter of Fundamental Rights so that it could not apply to the UK, then opted out of the EU Working Time Directive. Cameron negotiated further opt-outs to deny in-work benefits to new arrivals, thereby creating a two-tier workforce that would further drive down wages.
In radical circles the usual line was that the EU is shit but the alternative would be shitter, and usually concluded with “we’re all fucked either way”. How would you sell that in your factory canteen or union branch?
Successive UK governments have driven the most anti working class legislation in the EU, if I were a striking worker in Belgium, France or Greece, I would cheer to see those bastards dragged away from the table. If the British state ever reformed the EU, it would be for the worse. Now people are getting all emotional and waving EU flags as if they were symbols of freedom and equality. The only thing anyone ever liked about the EU was the conditional free movement of labour, which was always driven by poverty or the threat of violence, the result of EU policies. That is not freedom of movement.
Q. Why didn’t more people vote with their wallets?
A. Because their wallets are empty.
On the positive side, the whole sorry spectacle has put the ineptitude and dishonesty of politicians on display for all to see. It has utterly discredited the idea of voting, majority rule being no better than any other form of dictatorship. This undermines the basis for representative government. Half the voters didn’t get what they wanted, entire regions didn’t get what they wanted, and the other half will wake up in a little while and find out they didn’t get what they wanted either.
The Parliamentary Labour Party is shown up as a bunch of self-serving prima donnas after the choreographed flounce of the Blairites, who represented no-one whatsoever. Almost the last Bennite possiblist in the P.L.P. is Dennis Skinner who sheepishly backed the leave campaign. Corbyn now stands astride a chasm, as a possiblist who advocated something that makes his aims impossible.
Boris and Nigel are just a couple of shifty con men. I’d just finished a piece on why Boris wouldn’t be Prime Minister when he jumped. Gove has accepted the poison chalice because, as anyone in the teaching profession will tell you, he is a complete fucking idiot. He will go down in history as the politician who presided over the break up of the United Kingdom, because Scottish independence is going to happen now. The SNP government will not consent to the change, provoking a constitutional crisis. They will be overruled and the resulting fury will carry the day (don’t fuck it up, Nicola!) Britain will lose its last colony in the North of Ireland and the sun will finally set on its empire.
Much has been made of the fact that Porky declined to invoke Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon before resigning. That can’t happen until the 1972 European Communities act has been repealed. A bill must be presented to parliament and obtain a majority in both houses, which with their present composition is unlikely. This will get a lot messier, the next election will be fought between two labour parties and two tory parties, plus UKIP (renamed EWIP) and the others, so any trade negotiations will be conducted by a feeble coalition government.
Let’s make the country ungovernable.
Even Cornwall may go, so we could be looking at cantonalism, autonomous regions that aren’t economically self-sufficient so will have to federate, in the absence of any significant political power such federation will have to be mediated by the working class – because we do all the fucking work!
What matters now:
Fascists and racists think they’ve been vindicated, and the right-wing press are simpering about it; they need putting back in their box a bit sharpish. One racist attack is too many, though I believe a narrow remain vote would have provoked a bigger right-wing backlash. We are more than capable of containing this if everyone turns a hand, as shown by the size of pro-migrant demonstrations such as the one in London last weekend. Please contact your local antifascist group or send an e-mail to the Anti Fascist Network, who will put you in touch. The number of fascists willing to actually risk life and limb for their warped idea has been dwindling for some time, and this time it’s the right who are going to let their own side down because none of their deluded followers are going to gain anything from this.
It’s all about class and always was.
The ruling class have scored a massive own goal! We must seize the narrative and replace nationalism with class war, before they come up with plan B.
Working or otherwise, you need to be in a union, we recommend the I.W.W. or similar grass-roots organisations, but if your workplace already has a union presence get involved. The TUC unions are mostly weak and reformist but that is because there aren’t enough members. You can be dual-card and supplement collective bargaining with direct action tactics; get in there and radicalise the fuck out of them.
Let’s replace “take our country back” with Take Our Lives Back.
Nigel Farage appeared on the BBC to apologise for losing the E.U. referendum shortly before the first result came in, how odd! Could it be that he was buying time for himself and his mates to get their money out of sterling, or could it be that he is a state asset and he just stuck to his script?
This wasn’t meant to happen.
Some years ago a centrist single-issue party, UKIP* was taken over by a gang of right-wing tories, who rapidly converted it into a nationalist, proto-fascist movement. Their task was to give the Tory party room to move to the right and drag the others with it, egged on by the corporate media. The British state would implement its neoliberal austerity programme and everyone would blame it on foreigners.
*founded by Dr Alan Sked who disowned it long ago, he was reportedly dismayed by Farage’s racist language and intention to recruit former neo-nazis, so he walked away.
It worked too well and Cameron had to throw a referendum to keep his job. Who knows how many of the 24% who voted for him did so solely for this reason? The state then put its most ridiculous comedy toffs in charge of the leave campaign, along with the increasingly preposterous Farage, in the hope that no one would take them seriously. Their task was to look more ridiculous than a man who fucked a dead pig.
To be honest I never believed the British state would allow itself to be extricated from the EU and I still don’t, there is too much at stake. Global capitalism relies on these trans-national structures being beyond the reach of the working class.
The actions of the fascist gunman Thomas Mair in assassinating Jo Cox MP, could hardly have done less to promote his preferred choice. If it’s true that Britain First is riddled with spooks and police ‘informers’, was this in fact a last-ditch attempt to rehabilitate the political class? The British state has got form for using agents provocateurs and for facilitating political assassinations, they did it in Kenya, Malaya, and Ireland.
A couple of days before the vote, the leave campaign did its level best to throw the game. Farage unveiled UKIP’s highly racist ‘breaking point’ poster and was immediately vilified by his colleagues Gove and Johnson.
But working class people are used to being misunderstood and were past caring, they just wanted their spanner.
Mal C x