Protest Report: A Future That Doesn’t Work

Unison at the TUC march 20th October

Protestors at the TUC's "Future That Works" march

24hr General Strike in UK?

Tories OUT!

Protestors of all ages attended the march

Rally in Hyde Park

Disabled protesters out in large numbers as cuts hit the most vulnerable

We attended the TUC’s Future That Works rally in London at the weekend, to stand with those that oppose the Tories’ relentless austerity measures, and to take a few photos of what went on. Hampered by injuries and fatigue, we maybe weren’t pumped into our usual revolutionary fervor, but I couldn’t help but notice it wasn’t just us that seemed subdued. There can be no doubt that the turnout was good (estimates range from 100,000 to 250,000 participants), there was a lot of good drumming, placards and chants – but that’s where it seemed to end. It’s not that the mood was defeatist, it was more that the methods were conservative and the aims watered-down. While there were many calls for a General Strike amongst protesters on the street, there was little in the way of direct action, anger or real dissent. I’ve noticed that TUC rallies tend to me more populist and ‘middle-of-the-road’ than Occupy and UK Uncut et al, maybe necessarily so, but the real revolutionary contingent seemed missing this time around. What with Ed “One Nation Tory” Milliband speaking at the rally, with what basically amounted to a watered-down version of the Condem’s view on cutting the deficit, and a march that seemed more like a procession – it did appear that the movement had lost a little momentum, and was beginning to settle for ‘the lesser of two evils’.

This seems particularly strange in the current climate, as austerity begins to bite across the globe, with riots, general strikes and murmurs of revolutionary ideas beginning to appear in Greece and other European countries, my initial thought was maybe there just isn’t an appetite for that sort of conflict here in the UK.

But, on doing some reading when I got home, about what went on running up to the march on the 20th of October, it seems that the TUC were complicit in making the march as passive as possible. Read The TUC collaborate with the Met to sew up October 20 for more info on this. Further commentary on how the TUC handed the Met a list of 150 “violent activists” – from Libcom.org

If the trade unions are pushing to get Labour re-elected, and want to improve their image with the powers that be in order to do so, then this sort of conformity is to be expected, and their ‘Future that Works’ amounts to nothing more than ‘we’ll shut up for a promise of slightly less austerity’.

Another good post from Libcom.org, on the ‘state of the movement’ seems to confirm my suspicions that the right wing of the left was laying down the rules of engagement on the 20th of October. Read it here.

redeyewitness

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Occupy Yorke

Thom Yorke and 3D from Massive Attack DJ at the Occupy London Xmas Party at the old UBS building, the Bank of Ideas.

Babylon Burning

Protest Report: Occupy Westminster Bridge

Protesters block the bridge next to the Houses of Parliament
It's our future David. Hands Off
Crowds on Westminster Bridge
Block the Bill: Symbolically, St. Thomas Hospital lies across the river
Protesters don scrubs and surgical masks
Our NHS!
Public Assembly held
Public debate and civil disobedience
Anarchist Soundsystem
Down with this sort of thing
People of all ages and from all walks of life get involved
Don't Cut the NHS
Hands off our NHS
The closest thing to democracy Big Ben has ever seen
Walls of Police look on
Peaceful protest despite Black Bloc contingent
Protester dons the V for Vendetta mask under the Anarcho-Communist flag and the London Eye

Protest thins out after the first hour
Mark Thomas and Josie Long talk to the crowds

Awesome percussionists
Wake up! Occupy your world
The battle for democracy begins
I’m beginning to get a bit fucked off at the mainstream media in this country (and the rest of the world for that matter). The BBC may as well rename itself the Tory Propaganda Network. The Occupy movement in the USA is still going largely unreported, and now British protesters are getting equally ignored. I would have thought thousands of people illegally occupying Westminster Bridge, right under the noses of Parliament, would have been worthy of a news report. A small footnote at least. Especially when you consider the protesters are trying to save one of the UK’s most precious and important institutions (the NHS), which is in practically everyone’s interest. The news is being filtered. Fact. Why aren’t they reporting these protests?

As far as I am aware, Channel 4 news was the only program to feature proper coverage of this event – please feel free to correct me in the comments section if I am wrong (I hope I am). Their report claimed only 2000 thousand people were on the bridge during the “Block the Bridge, Block the Bill” occupation – it seemed at least treble that to me, but of course it is hard to judge these things from the ground. Suffice it say when we first arrived at the bridge it was full. From end to end. Admittedly, within an hour or so this number had dropped considerably.

Still, a significant number of people stayed all afternoon, and it was a great occasion by all accounts. The atmosphere was positive and defiant and the tactics playful and imaginative. A large assembly was held where anyone could speak out and get involved, and this was followed by comedians and live music on the bridge. Spirits were high for the whole event, and the police were wise enough to let it all happen without confrontation. More protests and occupations were planned for the near future and everyone was home in time for tea!

But what will come of all this? Will the protest go unheard? Is the NHS doomed to privatisation??

The effectiveness of protest politics is indeed questionable. I lost faith in it myself after the Anti War movement failed to stop thousands being killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. I know many others that felt the same. But the climate is changing. Millions of people are very angry. They are sick of austerity measures, banks and corporations calling the shots, the destruction of public services and the environment. They want real democracy, where people’s needs are put before corporate profits. From Tahir Square, to Wall Street, to Westminster Bridge – people are taking action, occupying public spaces and refusing to leave. A new people’s movement seems to be beginning… not that you’d have any idea from watching the news.

Can we do more to help save the NHS?

What’s next for UK Uncut? 

Channel 4 News bucks the trend

redeyewitness

“Robots of Brixton” by Kibwe Tavares


Amazing anime depicting the future for the downtrodden area of Brixton, London. This truly is a masterpiece and something which people should really try to take a message from. “History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.” – Karl Marx

Kibwe Tavares – Direction, animation, modeling, lighting, texturingetc…
David Hoffman – Photographer Brixton riots archive.hoffmanphotos.com/​
Mourad Bennacer – Sound Designer designsonore.tumblr.com/​
DJ Hiatus “The Great Insurrection” hiatusmusic.net

Anger for Doomed Youth

London Riots 2011

On April 11th 2010, Nick Clegg predicted in interview that if the Tories were brought to power, there would be rioting on the streets of London, to great derision by Cameron and the media. It was, of course, a transparent attempt to win votes. I wonder, however, if that moment went through his mind yesterday as he was confronted by the citizens of Hackney, desperate for answers as their homes and shops burnt. ‘Is this how England is going to be now, after the cuts?’ asked one man. ‘No, I don’t think so,’ was his weak, soft-voiced retort. The folk on the ground know it; even shopkeepers whose reactionary views are only to be expected have been heard to suggest it is the disenfranchisement of our youth that is behind this wanton destruction of property. This depth of thought seems to end, however, when the situation is interpreted by the media and those in power. Like the desperate children they so fear, the right only call for retribution, for an end to a situation they despise, without dissecting the reasons why it has escalated to this point.

Capitalism is in crisis. The evidence is all around us. Famine kills thousands while we reinforce hospital beds to deal with the obesity crisis. Oil wars rape the middle-east. Revolution and repression reign in Syria, Egypt and Lybia. There is so much international upheaval that following global politics is a full-time job. Governments around the world are cutting services because of deficits caused by greed. The poor are being made to pay for the mistakes of the super rich and unemployment is sky-high. In the UK, youth centres, sure-start centres, are closed down. Schemes offering books for disadvantaged children and subsidising food for young mothers are slashed. Many communities are in dire straights. Police morale is at an all-time low after too many cuts and too much corruption. The markets slump again in what is now being coined a double-dip recession and teenagers take to the streets in the worst riots for a generation. It all begs the question: what the fuck is going on?

The right-leaning media appears to offer few answers. Talks of ‘pure criminality’ (whatever that is) and swift ‘justice for the perpetrators’ wear thin. Can we really be so short-sighted as to think these kids just appear, evil, intent on destruction? How can we so universally, so ruthlessly condemn children who are behaving in the exact way society has trained them to behave? They value what we trained them to value: wealth, power and materialism – they are children of capitalism. Our society created this underclass, and kept them quiet with material aspiration… now there is no hope for material aspiration, this is the only place they have to go…

This is not Egypt, this is not Sudan. Our poor are not starving, our prisons (at least the ones based in the UK) are not places of torture and systematic abuse. During the Arab Spring, many of us were discussing exactly why such an uprising was impossible in this country. We cited our advantageous economic condition, the relative comfort and high living standards of our poor, stating that it would take much more then a little economic hardship to push the British over the edge. In hindsight, I think we neglected to address the potency of extreme inequality in this equation. As the gap widens, and the capitalist machine continues to push excess as an indicator of success, such anger is inevitable. Universal hardship unites us, but when we scrape together pennies for a loaf of bread, and pass six audis on the way to the shop, hatred and hopelessness begin to take hold. In their hopelessness, why should these children care about the repercussions of their looting and arson?

These riots have not been a grass roots rebellion, and they have been universally condemned from both left and right, but since when was vandalism labeled violence? Why are we only outraged now they are destroying property and not each other, in their quest for unattainable material possessions? It is this right-wing division of “us and them” which causes these sorts of problems in the first place. Continuing with this attitude towards our country’s disadvantaged youth will only help perpetuate this division. Reaction provokes reaction and the powers that be seem unwilling to address the bigger picture only talking in terms of short-term solutions. If these kids believe they are not part of society it is because they aren’t. Not the blasting of water-cannon nor the shooting of rubber bullets will solve that problem. Let us not forget, it was a shooting at a stop and search incident which provided a catalyst for these events in the first place.

In our gang culture it is viewed that there is an on-going war with the police, and these kids must feel they have had their first decisive victory in that war. In a battle for London’s streets last night, it is laughable to conceive that the police did anything other than lose.

Floatfly & Micolagist