If you’ve not seen the new SolFed website, take a look here: www.solfed.org.uk
If you want to see the latest from Northampton, find us on the ‘Locals’ tab.
On Thursday 20th January members of Northampton Solfed attended a local meeting “Northampton Alliance to Defend Services” at the Guildhall. The meeting was well attended, the hall was packed with between 200 and 300 people. (Which meant we hadn’t taken quite enough Catalysts with us!)
The first speaker, Tracey Morel, represented a local charity “Autism Concern” and spoke about the imapct on people with autism, but touched on those needing various types of care. In particular she discussed the implications of changes to disability allowance and the massive problems it will cause to individuals and families.
The second, Mick Kavanagh, represented the CWU and talked mostly about the impact of privitisation of the Post Office, including the implicated attack on the pensions fund.
The third, Mark Serwotka, from the PSCU gave a more general outline of the cuts and what they represented to society, and the need for people accross all sectors to join forces and fight them. He also talked about the viability of alternatives to cuts, based on the fact that the ratio of debt/GDP has been much higher over the last century: notably after the wars, when there were massive building programmes and the NHS was launched.
There were also a few speakers from the floor.
A member of a local resident’s association talked about the stupidity of closing a library in an area of social deprivation.
A member of the local tax office spoke (brave man) about the taxes lost through abuse of loopholes, simple non payment and deliberate illegal evasion. He talked about the inconsistency of cutting jobs in tax offices when over £100bn in tax remained unpaid: enough to more than offset the cuts. (He gave a list of the numbers of schools, hospitals, fire stations etc which could be built with just a small proportion of this money: the list was staggering)
A representative of disabled people spoke of the impact of withdrawal of care: her message written on an ‘inco pad’.
Others talked of the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan…
Next on the list for Northampton is a march against the cuts on 12th March.
Feelings ran high in the meeting which further exposed the cuts as being based soley on an anti workers political ideology, which favours the elite, the rich, whilst continually erroding the conditions for the rest.
According to the Independent, Aaron Porter, NUS president is reported to have said “Despite repeated dismissals by Nick Clegg that these are uninformed protesters, students are intelligent, articulate people who are not being listened to by those in whom they placed their hope for a different politics.”
But we say…
What the students… should learn is that if they really want a new politics, they need to look further than voting Lib Dem, a party which, unsurprisingly, has demonstrated that it is, when all is said and done, just more of the same old.
The need to look to a truly new politics: not the capitalist joke of a ‘democratic’ system we live under now.
Recent events, both here and abroad, have shown that there is no escape from this circus through the ballot box.
£68 million in cuts this year, £25 million next year, £136 million over 4 years.
Plans to cut 50,000 jobs are being discussed. Not only will this mean 50,000 people with no jobs, it will also most certainly hit front line services: the council says that only 4% of it’s budget goes on back office services.
“When the county council faced its last major round of cuts and changes to services in 2006, hundreds of people took to the streets of Northampton to oppose the changes and the chief executive said he would not rule out such scenes being repeated when this year’s budget is announced next month.”
The budget will be announced on 14th December.
Info from this Chronicle and Echo article.
On Monday 29th November a meeting has been arranged by the Socialist Party and the Green Party to discuss the cuts.
Venue: the Bat and Wickets, NN1 3RR
Time: 7:30 – 10:30pm
Don’t Be Kettled!
Students walking out on 24th November should avoid being trapped outside the Lib Dem HQ, says one of the groups behind the Radical Workers and Students Bloc on the 10th November demonstration. Instead, according to South London’s branch of the anarcho-syndicalist Solidarity Federation, those taking action on this day should hold roaming marches blockading general economic targets.
By attempting to occupy the Liberal Democrat HQ, students and workers are likely to be confronted by a much greater show of police force than was encountered at Millbank Tower. The Metropolitan police were left red faced by the trashing of the building containing Conservative Party HQ and will be looking to ensure that those events are not repeated. Anyone going there risks being kettled and quite possibly feeling the wrong end of a truncheon. To keep the movement growing we need to spread throughout the city bringing it to a standstill.
The British economy depends on the flows of capital, commodities and information, and it is by blocking these flows that students, school children, benefits claimants and others without the ability to withdraw their labour from a workplace can disrupt business as usual. One participant in the walkouts said: “We’re all going to Trafalgar Square for the demonstration, but what’s the point of taking the bus, we could march and block the streets”.
(Courtesy of South London Solfed)
A campaign of demonisation has started against the students who trashed Tory HQ on Wednesday, who are being portrayed as unthinking thugs. We re-publish here an article about what happened at Millbank by one of the participants.
Breaking glass, building solidarity?
Yesterday was glorious. It was inspiring, fun and yes, ‘anarchic.’ I spent most of it laughing and hollering into the brisk air on those sunlit streets. Scary, huh? The news reports seemed to think it was very serious. That may have been because of the seriousness of the cause for which the demonstration was organised, and indeed the violence of the attack on education by the politicians, directors of institutions and the rest, is far greater than anything demonstrators could have dreamed of doing, even the absolute plank who chucked a fire extinguisher from the roof.
Larger demonstrations have at least 3 important functions- inspiring the local campaign work, adding courage and perhaps leverage to the national campaigns by raising their profile, and creating a semi-autonomous space which is a sort of ‘practise’ for a revolutionary situation where people discuss, learn, show their creativity and put their beliefs into action. As such, tactics should be weighed up with these in mind.
It just so happens that on Tuesday I had been reading an article on such tactics as those used at Millbank, only regarding the Toronto G20 demonstrations (http://www.walrusmagazine.com/articles/2010.12-essay-the-question-remains/1/). Much of the article is precisely about ‘the limits of protest,’ and pointed out that discussion of the demonstrations was shut down in what we might call ‘mainstream discourse’ because of the tactics used. I’m not interested in the ‘intrinsic morality’ of property destruction.
My only sympathy is with the invariably low-waged sods that have to clean up. A part of me says that it is not our fault if people use their own deluded sensibilities as an excuse to ignore the issues, and that we shouldn’t pander to such sensibilities. Another says that like it or not, this is a consequence and could be marked up as a downside of such tactics. However, I suspect it simply vindicates those who disagree with our position anyway, and does raise the profile of the cause, nay the movement, in a way that the march and rally alone wouldn’t. Whatever your opinion of it as a whole, in the popular recollection of the British suffrage movement, whose tactics were best remembered and are probably the most inspiring? I’d suggest it was the WSPU, and so I’ll throw it out there that property damage is a valid way to grab public attention. And let’s remember that mainstream media and majority opinion, however linked, are not equal.
The media reaction would be disappointing if it weren’t so predictable. Jeremy Paxman’s attempt at character assassination of Clare Solomon on Newsnight was pathetic for example, but pretty standard. It was, after all just ‘a bunch of rowdy anarchists and other troublemakers, not ‘real’ students.’ The implication that only students currently in formal education, and within that perhaps only HE students, have the right to be there is in itself preposterous of course. The cuts are an assault on us all: lower management, families, school students, teachers, lecturers and practically everyone else in between. Even the bankers are affected, although they probably don’t lose sleep over such long-term repercussions. And more than that the cuts are, in fact, an assault on thought itself.
A more rooted problem in much of the mainstream coverage, perhaps, is the caricature of a student as a twenty-something consumer of Heinz products. This isn’t an accurate reflection of students. It also couldn’t be further from the general concept of each and every individual in society being a student – I know I never want to stop learning, and that concept is something I firmly believe in as a principle of action and organisation. And for the record, if we are to make such concrete distinctions, there was a greater proportion of those ‘ordinary students’ than ‘troublemakers’ in and around that building.
Finally, on the demonstrators’ side of things, I’d say a large number of the people there, and yes there were thousands at Millbank Tower (don’t take my word for it, check the Daily Mail), had never been on a demonstration before. Was it educational for them? Yes. Did it radicalise some people? Yes. Did we descend with some of the fire in our bellies that the French and Greeks are famous for? Yes. Would I say it was a positive experience overall? Certainly. Never surrender!