Close Shave for Wasted Life?

12924467_10154055714565948_2822209783488569725_n‘There have been tensions bubbling away in Stoke-on-Trent between antifascists and the far right for some time, particularly on the live music scene, and it’s receiving much wider attention after events this weekend.

The poster on the right from the 161 crew shows the details.

As you would expect, those with the finger pointing at them have come out in complete denial, despite Liam ‘Magzy’ Hart, singer of Wasted Life, posting a picture up on his Facebook of a ripped T Shirt and a clump of girl’s hair – trophy style – and with the caption:-

 

‘Oh dear, great night at the Lemmy tribute at Vale. Great bands, great people apart from a couple of jumped up little lefties who are are still wet behind the ears. Anytime… Hahaha. Got a couple of souvenirs..’

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Wasted Life now have a statement up on their Facebook page, and various corners of the internet are riddled with purile memes and comments about antifascists, some from people with profile pictures that say things like ‘No Surrender’, or have photos of themselves proudly wearing Skrewdriver T Shirts etc etc. In fact, a large proportion of those jumping to the defence are out and proud patriot/fascist/Blood & Honour types. If nothing else, even if events somehow didn’t take place how they’ve been claimed to, and those bragging about ‘souvenirs’ are without guilt , this is an interesting indicator of elements of their fanbase.

12928241_10154057469985948_8791161426946731493_nIn the aforementioned statement, Magzy claims no links with the EDL. Other posts and comments elsewhere claim that there are no fascist links here at all yet, for starters, there’s the screenshot on the right where he talks about the EDL in a favourable light.

 

Also spotted was a post highlighting some of his Facebook ‘likes’ and, leaving out all of the anti-EU ones, here’s some of what was found: –

North West Infidels Blackpool II – a division of a proudly fascist ‘street’ spin off of the EDL,

True British Patriots – yet another EDL spin off,

Lionheart GB – a Britain First spin off merchandise type thing,

March for England – known for the Brighton, Blackpool and Dover fascist marches,

SoTS – set up by various people involved in the BNP,

Smash Cultural Marxism – another load of far right hate fuelled shite,

David Cameron – erm, haha!

Nope, not Hate – UKIP supporter drivel,

Liberty GB – are/were the spin off from the EDL, BNP, British Freedom Party that are now linked in with Pegida UK,

Atheists Against Islam – more Islamophobic propaganda,

English and Proud – ditto,

EDL Sikh Division – guess that shows that he isn’t racist after all, which is good isn’t it

and

Close Shave – infamous far right band.

Of course, Magzy would feel obliged to like Close Shave because two of their members, Rat and Sean, are also in Wasted Life. His finger must have slipped and accidentally liked all of those other pages.

Clearly, there are no far right interests or connections here at all.

Boom tish.’

Submitted by Dusty – Guest Contributor

 

 

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NO UKKKIP!

This is the draft text on a leaflet we plan to produce… let us know what you think…

VOTE UKIP…

AND OPEN THE DOOR TO AN EXTREME RIGHT-WING NIGHTMARE

UKIP’s manifesto for the local government elections blames immigrants for “crippling local services”. THIS IS A LIE. Government cuts and all round “austerity” are crippling local services. But the Tories and their more extreme stalking horse, UKIP, would prefer you blamed foreigners.

As sure as night follows day, when a society is in the midst of an economic crisis, those that helped cause it try to get off the hook by finding an easy scapegoat. The super-rich, using the media they control, create a tide of exaggerated half-truths that demonize a minority, creating divisions among the population. Meanwhile, the rich get richer – the richest 150 people’s incomes are rising at the fastest rate ever – as they wage war on the poor with increasing austerity, cuts in essential public services and rising food costs.

A similar scenario happened in the 1930s when Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists launched attacks on Jews, in parallel with Hitler in Germany – with the Daily Mail cheering him on. It happened in the late 1960s, when Tory politician Enoch Powell’s racist “rivers of blood” speech spurred the rise of the National Front.

The main difference between these two prior occasions and now is that this time a much greater proportion of people in Britain are sleepwalking into the realm of fascism – wrapped up in a cloak of respectability, given front-page coverage by the Sun, Mail, and most of the mainstream media – like a sheep in wolf’s clothing.

Across Europe, blatant fascism is on the march. The universal scapegoat this time is people from Eastern Europe.  In Greece, the rightwing haters, the Golden Dawn, are openly fascist; in Britain, UKIP shies away from white supremacism – in public anyway, though you can find this doctrine around its fringes. It  officially calls itself “a patriotic party that believes in putting Britain first”, that “believes in civic nationalism”, “opposes multiculturalism and political correctness and promotes uniculturalism”, and recognises “the numerous threats to British identity and culture”.

UKIP is fighting the 2013 local elections mostly on a wholly unfounded claim that Britain is about to be invaded by millions of Romanians and Bulgarians. THERE IS NO EVIDENCE. UKIP IS SCAREMONGERING.

Just as it is in the interests of “free trade” to kill off most of Britain’s manufacturing industry and import goods from abroad because they are produced cheaper, so it is in employers’ interest to exploit immigrants as cheap labour, working for long hours in substandard working conditions. After years of British people unsurprisingly refusing to do the exploitative jobs given to immigrants, now youth unemployment is sky-high, immigrants are accused of taking British workers’ jobs – although they weren’t British workers’ jobs in the first place. The arse-about-tit logic of UKIP would be laughable if it wasn’t so hateful and being believed by so many…

Many would agree, it’s not  a good idea to be part of the EU, although our membership costs a fraction of the amount (£95bn) estimated to be lost from corporate tax-dodging every year. But despite its name, UKIP doesn’t really want an independent UK: UKIP wants Britain to instead be a poodle to the US in terms of defence via Nato, and trade agreements.

A closer look at UKIP’s policies (see UKIP’s website) reveals the immigration issue is only one element of UKIP’s far-right, opportunist agenda. Many people perhaps aren’t aware of the danger UKIP poses to education, public services, the NHS, our civil freedoms and human rights – as none of it appears in the 2013 election campaign.

Read the small print before you consider casting your vote for UKIP. And bear in mind that UKIP is a member of a far-right group which contains openly fascist and neo-Nazi parties in the European Parliament, is openly admired by the French National Front, and some UKIP candidates have been revealed as having links with fascist and Nazi groups in Britain; other candidates have called for the euthanasia of disabled babies, and for every British town to have prison cells available for “rounded up” immigrants.

It is UKIP official policy to:

  • Oppose clean, renewable energy such as wind and solar and invest in shale gas fracking, coal-fired power stations and a massive nuclear programme
  • Double the amount of prison places
  • Double the size of the territorial army
  • Increase defence spending by 40%, buy nuclear weapons from the US and buy more arms.
  • Bring back fox-hunting
  • Encourage the destruction of the NHS by introducing vouchers for private health insurance.
  • Large cuts to public spending, and cutting two million public sector jobs.
  • Deny climate change is manmade
  • Scrap British and European human rights laws
  • Deport all illegal immigrants with no amnesty whatever their circumstances
  • Lock up all asylum seekers while their applications are being decided, and limit appeals
  • Scrap the Crown Prosecution Service and give more power to police to bring cases to court
  • “End the active promotion of the doctrine of multiculturalism”
  •  “Strengthen our commitment to NATO, while withdrawing from all EU operations”
  • Encourage the privatization of key NHS services and GP surgeries
  • Privatise state schools and colleges
  • Opposition to same-sex marriage
  • Scrap workers’ rights such as maximum working hours, holiday entitlement, redundancy, sick pay and parental leave
  • UKIP is wary of “works committees of employees being set up” and Trade Unions. “UKIP would need to be convinced that workable, strict procedures could be introduced to prevent mischievous individuals trying to gain control”.

UKIP claims to be “democratic” and “libertarian”, it claims to put local and national interests before anything else… UKIP now says it is against the Bedroom Tax. UKIP will say anything and jump on any populist bandwagon to win votes. It is riddled with contradictions, but lurking not far below its surface is a cold-hearted dystopian vision that makes the Con-Dem Coalition’s war on the poor seem like a picnic!

VOTE UKIP…

AND SAY GOODBYE TO HUMAN RIGHTS, COMPASSION, THE ENVIRONMENT AND THAT FAMOUS BRITISH QUALITY OF TOLERANCE

ARE YOU WITH THE 1% (LAB-CON-DEM-UKIP, CORPORATE MASTERS AND BANKERS) OR THE 99% (THE CITIZENS OF BRITAIN AND THE WORLD)?

TIME TO CHOOSE SIDES. WE, THE PEOPLE, ARE THE ALTERNATIVE TO THE POLITICIANS.

BEWARE THE FASCIST TROJAN HORSE OF UKIP! UNITED WE STAND, DIVIDED WE FALL! DON’T LET UKIP DIVIDE OUR COMMUNITIES!

 

 

 

Sources: UKIP, Hope Not Hate

UNITE OR FIGHT WITH MARXISTS? OPEN FOR DISCUSSION…

Let’s be clear straight away, we’re going to have disagreements. Humans, particularly humans who aspire to be free thinkers and anarchists, will not and should not all try to have the same views. This writer would argue, however, that we should try and find common ground and strive for consensus, even though it might be hard sometimes…

Below is the unedited version of an article written for the Forest of Dean & Wye Valley Clarion, a bimonthly magazine for lefties, which was published (slightly edited) a few weeks ago.

Since it was written, FOD Anarchists has progressed as a group, various people within it involving themselves in various campaigns and movements (see the agitation and news sections). We have also had people from the Leninist/Trotskyist Socialist Party (formerly known as the ‘Militant’ tendency) taking part in some of the same campaigns, and also coming along to our meetings and taking an interest generally.

Being Marxists, the Socialist Party (along with the SWP, Communist Party, etc etc) have one fundamental difference from anarchism – in the Marxist version of a socialist revolution, there must be a ‘transitional state’ before true socialism is achieved, and a ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’.Marx got the anarchists expelled from the 1st International (Socialist grouping) in the 1870s largely due to this disputed doctrine. Anarchists generally disagree fundamentally with Marxists over this issue to this day, arguing that the means defeats the end… how many socialist countries can anyone name who made the transition to an anarchy/free country? I can’t think of one…

But, this is my argument… those aligning themselves with the colours red, black and green are stronger working together and trying not to let their differences tear them apart than all slagging each other off… the Monty Python fronts of Judea/splitters springs to mind…

This article from the anarchist site libcom (libertarian communism) makes some valid points: http://libcom.org/blog/%E2%80%9C-real-enemy%E2%80%9D-why-we-should-reject-left-unity-concept-17022013 and has been applauded by some within our group…

The argument presented in the Clarion, however, encourages left unity on the grounds that all our hearts are in the same, or similar, place. Note: this is an individual viewpoint, not one agreed by consensus by Forest of Dean Anarchists. This issue will come up again and again, inevitably, and I think it needs to be open for debate…

DEAR Socialism, I don’t want you to be a dirty word for so many any more. You are needed and we all need to embrace you.

I had been wary about putting my cards on the table for all to see: but Government and Parliament have provoked me into doing so. I feel it’s time to stand up and be counted.

 “This government – a government with a flimsy, pathetic excuse of a mandate – is intolerable, and it must be stopped in its tracks. No more silent simmering with rage.” Owen Jones says it better than I could, in his editorial for The Independent,  January 9, 2013. “Take to the streets. Strike, and support those who do. Learn from this country’s proud history of peaceful civil disobedience…”

“Sounds too radical, too extreme, or too much like hard work?” he continues. “In the years to come, you will be asked what you did to stop this horror show. And if you need another incentive, picture again those baying Tories, jeering as they mugged the poor.”

As the New Labour project was on its last legs, having stuffed banks’ black holes with £1.3 trillion public cash, the stand-up comic/activist Mark Thomas told the 2009 Put People First rally in London: “We have to build a movement that will fight… to reclaim democracy, to reclaim our lives from capitalism… WE are the alternative… We must start today.”

Occupy made waves internationally last winter, putting into practice a form of direct democracy through general assemblies, consensus when making decisions, and calling for the 99% to overpower the 1%. Occupy is loath to label itself as an –ist movement, and I’ve heard campaigners reject the old left/right-wing definitions.

But I’m holding five cards in a leftwing, anti-authoritarian, egalitarian pack, which I feel correspond with Occupy, plus the Tony Benn-fronted, TUC-aligned Coalition of Resistance, and a massive groundswell of autonomous individuals not part of any organisation but fired up by the spread of information outside the traditional mainstream media, their personal deprivation, disenfranchisement and victimization by a clutch of nasty, cruel, inhumane millionaire powerbrokers. All of us want an end to exploitation and oppression, all want to strike back against the bullies, and all want to be part of a united movement, I would hope, to achieve those goals.

I’d hope that even if many folks and their organizations only share one or two of these five cards I hold in my heart, it won’t deter us towards solidarity, co-operation, and organizing in a broad resistance movement.

First on the table is Socialism, my Ace of Hearts (no kings and queens in this pack!).  I’d think I’d share that card with anyone who supports The Clarion.

The second is Democracy – I believe the Chartists and Suffragettes got so far, but a vote proscribed and regulated by the bourgeoisie every four years for a nominal change of guard with no option to end capitalism, is not real democracy.

I lay my third, Pacifism, face-up, as I believe freedom for all, something I strive for, cannot include the freedom to punch another person in the face, or blow them up. It might seem the Cold-War spectre of the mushroom cloud, of MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) went out with Perestroika and Reagan. But we’re surrounded by nuclear facilities, the arms trade is flourishing, and so is war. There are innumerable ways of sorting disputes that do not involve violence: many anthropologists, many civil rights and civil disobedience advocates, including Gandhi, can vouch for that.

Cue now a thundering theme tune (by Motorhead, perhaps?). My fourth card is… the Ace of Spades…  Anarchism.

The revealing of this card might possibly provoke a confused or hostile response based on misconception. To borrow the 1920s words of Bartolomeo Vanzetti, anarchists are seen as “the black cats, the terrors of many, of all the bigots, exploiters, charlatans, fakers and oppressors. Consequently we are also the more slandered, misrepresented, misunderstood and persecuted  of all.”

You’d be hard pushed to find a universal definition of what anarchism is, but in my view, and that of so many of its thinkers past and present, from Peter Kropotkin to Noam Chomsky, anarchism is a type of socialism, just as Marxism, syndicalism or Fabianism are.

The 19th-century American individualist anarchist Jo Labadie explains it well: “It is said that Anarchism is not socialism. This is a mistake. Anarchism is voluntary Socialism. There are two kinds of Socialism, archistic and anarchistic, authoritarian and libertarian, state and free. Indeed, every proposition for social betterment is either to increase or decrease the powers of external wills and forces over the individual. As they increase they are archistic; as they decrease they are anarchistic.”

The living Scottish anarchist Stuart Christie, closer to the collectivist anarchist school, provides a definition: “Anarchism is a movement for human freedom. It is concrete, democratic and egalitarian … Anarchism began – and remains – a direct challenge by the underprivileged to their oppression and exploitation.”

Although Marxists and anarchists often don’t see eye-to-eye (with the exception of the Zapatistas of Chiapas, Mexico, whose peaceful and highly successful peasants’ movement, is anarchist-based but whose spokesman Subcomandante Marcos, leans towards Marxism), their histories have been intertwined from the start.

The Paris Commune of 1871 and its failure resulted in Marx’s “dictatorship of the proletariat” theory, and then, the following year, Marx and his followers getting anarchists expelled from the (socialist) First International.

But Anarchists took part alongside the Bolsheviks in the Russian Revolution. But, as Marx had, Trotsky and Stalin each went out of their way to violently crush anarchists in power struggles – Stalin’s influence split the republican forces in the Spanish Civil War, giving Franco victory; Trotsky responded to calls for democratic rights and freedom of expression for sailors and peasants in the Kronstadt Rebellion of 1921 with a 60,000-strong Red Army; while the Makhnovist anarchists’ Free Territory in Ukraine (1918-21) alliance with the Bolsheviks to defeat the Tsarist White Army, was undermined by Trotsky who seized the area for the USSR.

Many people, including those who label themselves anarchists, will have a different idea of what anarchism is (as I emphatically believe that a capitalist cannot also be an anarchist, despite the erroneous claim of so-called right-wing ‘libertarians’ and laissez-faire free-market extremists, few Marxists would embrace Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge or China’s current one-party neoliberal model).

So many people refuse to consider the concept of anarchy, in much other than pre-Enlightenment, Hobbesian, terms. In 1651, Hobbes defined anarchy as a state of nature, a naturally depraved selfish free-for-all; an authoritarian state, monarchy or dictatorship, he argued, was essential to protect people from themselves.  And this belief still upholds even the most vicious authority.

Anarchism does not mean chaos and disorder, as it is commonly claimed, but the opposite. Almost every school of anarchism speaks of order from the bottom up. Perhaps a good example of an anarchist achievement is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948; or it could be something as prosaic as the internet or world postal system arrangements, not coerced and controlled by an authority but the result of friendly agreements and mutual aid (incidentally the author of the key text Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution was the anarchist Kropotkin).

The fifth and final card I am laying down I’m not sure how to define precisely: it could be compromise, consensus, responsibility to others, community tolerance – it could also be viewed as realism, hypocrisy or prostitution… it’s about give and take, it means I would vote Labour if there was an election tomorrow although I consider just about all politicians in the rebranded One Nation party charlatans and turncoats. It means that although I detest supermarkets, I will do my shopping there as I can’t afford to buy more ethically.

It also means that while arguing about anarchism – and confirming it as a form of socialism – until the cows come home, I will join together in solidarity, and seek common cause, with others fighting the good fight against the Tories and capitalism! Being involved with the HOOF campaign has shown me that people of all political persuasions, religious and non-religious, of all classes, backgrounds and ages, can come together to defeat the authorities, with their beliefs and individual freedoms staying intact and respected.

THEY want the left to be split, THEY want us divided. Let’s show them otherwise… Unity is strength, and so are diversity and openness. And I’d like to see both Socialism and Anarchist given the prominence, respect and attention they deserve, for people to say it loud, that they’re red (or red-and-black) and they’re proud!

FOOD FOR THOUGHT/ RECLAIM THE FIELDS

Traditionally, Foresters have been working-class and proud of it, and resolutely independent… so imagine our dismay to see local folks – many of whom had sent the government packing when it tried to privatise their woodland, and when the previous government had tried to shut their hospitals – marching IN FAVOUR of the world’s largest supermarket corporation owned by an extremely rich family from Arkansas, USA… in Cinderford, these pro-ASDA marchers, flying the flag of the Walmart family’s corporate logo, were claiming to speak for everyone and some were getting nasty and personal about Co-op employees, just because the Co-Op’s head office was trying to block the ASDA store from being built at the bottom of town… Some of us decided this just wasn’t on, and faced violent threats from one of the pro-Asda supporters as soon as we launched the No Asda In Cinderford campaign (https://www.facebook.com/NoAsdaInCinderford). Then the Co-op lost its application for a judicial review and the district council’s green light was on again… like the demolition of Northern United and the concreting over of forest and grassland, it’s presented at ‘regeneration’, despite the very likely potential of the out-of-town store giving people even less reason to enter the town centre.

Of course, it’s just coincidence that since Tesco came to Lydney that it no longer has an independent greengrocer or baker (while Cinderford has several bakers, plus several butcher’s and Keith’s greengrocer).

The same man who led an anti-Co-op campaign for a Tesco in Coleford (this one was turned down by the district council) had transferred his attentions on ensuring Cinderford got its Asda despite not coming from the town. Was he aware that Asda employees are typically paid much less than other supermarket workers, typically don’t last much time in the job and are prevented from joining trade unions? Did he care? Does anyone care as long as their food is a few pence cheaper?

The problem is, the Co-op is to the co-operative movement what the Labour Party is to socialism – a lame excuse for it. While ostensibly members may get a say, the fact that in Coleford it built an extension and filled it with a cafe despite there being other cafes in town, and in Cinderford helping to empty the town centre by taking various shops under its wing, hasn’t endeared it to foresters. No matter that in 1984/85, the Co-ops in the Forest donated food to striking miners in South Wales in a show of solidarity, the Midcounties Co-operative has strong protectionist and monopolist tendences, and does indulge in the exploitative measures the other supermarkets do, albeit not as appallingly as Walmart and Tesco do.

So, Tesco’s appeal has been adjourned thanks to the concerted actions of HOOT (Hands Off Our Towns), rightly complaining they hadn’t been properly consulted, and word reaches us of a meeting at the Bailey Inn, Yorkley next Tuesday, February 19, from 7.30pm. Richard Hadley from Tescopoly will talk about his successful campaign to block Tesco from Ledbury, and Laurie Moseley of Friends of the Forest will talk about environmental and legal issues.

We are now facing a third supermarket invasion – Sainsbury plans to build on Crump Farm on the edge of Lydney. Another death knell…

What would you have instead then? The supermarket fans might ask us. Well….

FOLKS ARE CREATING AN ALTERNATIVE…

Yorkley Court Community Farm plan to have grown enough vegetables to feed the entire Forest within two years. People from the non-profit direct-action group have also set up the beginnings of a “people’s supermarket”. Formerly known as La Bodega at Taurus Crafts, just outside Lydney, the newly installed Forest Food is offering a range of veg they’ve grown, a co-operative bulk buying scheme of dried goods, recipe ideas and info swaps.

At Yorkley Court (on the way to Yorkley from Lydney), there will be a RECLAIM THE FIELDS extravaganza…

On March 8 and 9 there will be a 2-day permaculture course, followed by five days of building an infrastructure for community growing, then talks, actions and more up to March 25.

For more info, email all@protectthewilderness.co.uk

 

Other ideas people are working on is the concept of a free shop(s), like the already existing Freecycle but with a physical building to donate free items and pick them up… to reinvigorate a system of skill-sharing, swapping trades and services similar to LETS… and a genuine regeneration of our town centres, rather than the pretend one which is really a land grab with millions of public funds going straight into the hands of corporations with community interest servile or non-existent versus the pursuit of private profit.

You know what the problem is? Capitalism is wrecking our lives, turning us against each other, and also destroying the fabric of our communities and planet. We have to destroy it, or the downward spiral will continue relentlessly.

Can we rely on Labour or any other political party to do that? Hardly. Libertarian socialism and participative democracy is what we stand for – get involved with us! We can’t promise an easy ride or that we’ll achieve what we want, but at least we’ll give it a go!

See also https://www.facebook.com/wewantrealregenerationincinderford

NUCLEAR POWER? FUKUSHIMA OFF!

Chernobyl, Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Fukushima are places the global nuclear industry would rather we forgot, as it continues to dredge the planet for uranium and plutonium and then sink the spent radioactive substances back wherever it can find a dumping place for it…

Despite the massive catastrophes and the massive accidents just waiting to happen. Despite the strange coincidental nature of most clusters of leukaemia and meningitis cases occurring around the sites of nuclear power stations, our lovely government wants to build a whole new generation of the horrible things – including two just across the river Severn from the Forest of Dean.

Berkeley may have been decommissioned, but Oldbury carries on well past its sell-by date (it is regularly permitted extensions from a government that favours private profit over human beings), and under-reported shutdowns have occurred in recent years after something or other caught fire.

So, despite the smothered ringing of alarm bells from time to time, nuclear is still seen as the future – no matter that, if the time and resources were put into it, energy could be produced from methane expelled from human and animal arses’, machines in gyms, friction from concourses, the sun, the air, the water – and the government has given the green light to new power stations to be built at Oldbury, across the road from the current one, and downriver at Hinkley, Somerset.

STAND (Severnside Together Against Nuclear Development) aren’t having it. They’ve organised a benefit DJ night at Westbury-on-Severn Village Hall on Saturday March 9, 7pm-midnight, tickets £7 on the door, and a demonstration on Monday March 11 to mark the second anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, outside the Horizon/Hitachi headquarters (the company behind the proposed new Oldbury power station), near Gloucester at noon…

STAND say:  “We will hand in a letter to Horizon and Hitachi explaining why we do not want their Nuclear Power Station, thank you! Coaches will pick up at Chepstow, Lydney, Coleford and Cinderford. Coach tickets £3-£5 depending on what you can afford. Bring your guitars and song sheets! (We’ll be there an hour) And banners! And for those of you a little extrovert – wear white suits (available from DIY shops for decorators) and masks. Plus, most importantly, waterwings, rubber rings, goggles, snorkles etc – to emphasize to the press that there will be flooding!
To reserve a seat on a coach call Barbara on 01291 689327 or email barbara@standagainstoldbury.org. If you cant go on the demonstration but wish to support, maybe you could donate a fare for someone who wants to come but can’t afford it. Also email
Please spread the word… bring as many people as you can to the music night and the demonstration.”

See STAND’s website for more info: http://www.nuclearsevernside.co.uk/

STOPPING THE BADGER EXTERMINATION PROGRAMME

Is it badgers that cause the spread of TB in cattle, or is it just about any wild animal? Obviously, to a farmer, the life and health of his/her livestock is more valuable than any other beast – after all, the capitalist system ensures that the farmer’s survival depends on their capacity to produce, produce, produce and make profits or be forced to pack it in and end up being branded a “scrounger” on benefits.

Having said that, there were too few farmers willing to fork out for licences to exterminate all the badgers on their land to make the Government’s planned mass-extermination pilot programme in Gloucestershire cost effective last year. Plus it was evident that groups such as Gloucestershire Against Badger Shooting (GABS) weren’t going to make the job of the hired death squads plain sailing either…

But, despite all reason going against it – as well as humanity – the Government intends to push ahead with its killing spree of our black-and-white friends in the summer. So we have several months in which to persuade Defra and the National Farmers’ Union to change their minds.

They still need to be persuaded that perhaps the course of action decided by the Welsh Assembly just miles away from the planned cull zone (which stretches from the Forest of Dean to Herefordshire and Worcestershire) might be better all round? In Wales, badgers are being vaccinated against TB rather than blown away with shotguns. The NFU and Defra for some reason seem loath to help farmers out with biosecurity measures – such as keeping troughs clean regularly to stop infected badger slobber from being passed on to cows so easily…

So far, the guns are winning… so we and they have a fight on their hands.

First stop, on February 27, is outside the NFU conference at the International Convention Centre (ICC) in Birmingham from 9.30am… bring the noise (such as vuvuzelas) to raise the roof!

On April 1, GABS will be running badger walks to identify setts that need to be protected against human murderers…

The cull is due to begin on June 1.

If anyone owns land within the cull zone and wishes to opt out of the killing zone, contact GABS with your postcode and approximate acreage.

See http://www.glosagainstbadgershooting.org/

phone: 07901  522669
email: glosagainstbadgershooting@gmail.com

Or Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GlosABS

 

OPPOSING THE GOVERNMENT’S WAR ON THE POOR

31 March 1990: Thousands of people rioted in Trafalgar Square against the Poll Tax, a modern-day equivalent of the 1381 Peasants’ Revolt (also sparked by a poll tax). On November 22, 1990, the hated Margaret Thatcher handed in her resignation as prime sinister…

23 years on, Thatcher has been feted by successive Labour leaders (as well as her own party), we’re about to pay for her giant state funeral, and her prodigies David Cameron and George Osborne are spearheading a government that has even more audacity, a better oiled propaganda machine, and more millionaires and is going that much further, so some people almost feel Thatcher was a soft touch. It hasn’t helped that Labour sold out the people during its tenure…

30 March 2013, near enough on the anniversary of that Battle of Trafalgar Square, there is a planned demonstration against the Bedroom Tax at the same London location close to Downing Street.

What is the bedroom tax? A good potted guide can be found here: http://www.coalitionagainstcuts.org.uk/blog/2012/10/04/get-clued-up-on-the-bedroom-tax/

The riots that defeated the Poll Tax, historians now widely acknowledge, contributed significantly to the downfall of the Thatcher government (her successor John Major wasted no time in scrapping the poll tax and replacing it with council tax). In the year leading up to the riots, a massive campaign of non-payment and direct action against bailiffs swept the country, starting in Glasgow. Councils were left in dire straits by a mass refusal to pay.

Could history repeat itself with the Bedroom Tax? Could this be this government’s “Poll Tax moment”? We hope so, but it’s unlikely to happen spontaneously – it requires a lot of effort and organisation, and determination to refuse to pay,

At least 600,000 households will be adversely affected by the Bedroom Tax, and at least 450 in the Forest of Dean. It’s a case of CAN’T PAY WON’T PAY, or CAN’T PAY SO BECOME HOMELESS… given that if a council doesn’t renege on its obligation to give a homeless family a roof over their head, it can cost taxpayers £3,000 per week to house one family in a hotel… so the tax is not only unnecessarily cruel, it’s also stupid and senseless. Ignoring the thousands of empty properties owned by the rich, the Government wishes to force overcrowding on the poor recipients of housing benefit. Ironically, the one sector of the population whose homes will typically have spare bedrooms after their offspring have flown the nest are exempt from paying.

Perhaps you have a child or children from a previous relationship, and your kids stay over in the holidays or on weekends? That’ll be £20 or more you’d have to find from your meagre income every week to pay the rent… perhaps you have four children – there’ll have to share the same room from now on. Perhaps there are no one- or two-bedroom properties available. Tough. Perhaps you can’t afford the cost of a move. Tough.

As if those who claim housing benefit (and that includes people in work, on low incomes) don’t have it hard enough, they are being put under unbearable stress from April onwards by a bunch of rich millionnaires who don’t only seem to not care a bit about the poor and vulnerable, they want to actively crush them, while using the Sun, Mail and Express as Goebbels did the Nazi propaganda machine to sow seeds of discontent and get these poor folks to instead turn on those even worse off than themselves (or in as bad a situation) – immigrants and the unemployed.

The propaganda machine is evidently working – I’ve lost count of friends (now ex-friends)  of mine who’ve started making racist and ‘anti-scrounger’ comments. Friends who were once merry and had a live-and-let-live philosophy ground down into making scapegoats of others.

And meanwhile, the relentless shower of shit from this government continues to rain on us. There are three choices – you either become a scumbag like the Sun wants you to be and start blaming certain groups of working-class people; you let yourself be rained on, perhaps complain a bit, but do and say nothing and keep consuming, hoping your umbrella doesn’t break; you fight against it.

Well, as far as the bedroom tax is concerned, GABTAG (Gloucestershire Anti-Bedroom Tax Action Group) is going to do what it can, depending on numbers. The first organising meeting is being held on Monday February 18 @ Barton Street Community Centre, Gloucester, from 7 to 9pm. Anyone who wants to help set up actions, protests and/or public meetings before and after the March 30 London protest is welcome to come along.

GABTAG is receiving tips and receiving help from already up-and-running groups in Leeds and Bootle, Liverpool.

Contact GABTAG by email at gabtag2013@gmail.com

Join the Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/gabtag/ (also join your friends to it!)

Add yourself to the mailing list: https://groups.google.com/forum/#!aboutgroup/gabtag

Check out the new website: http://gabtag.wordpress.com/about

 

The more of us getting involved in this, the better!

THE PEOPLE VS THE LAND ROBBERS

Foresters have a long, long history of fighting people, corporations, governments and royalty which enclosed the Forest of Dean, and on a great many occasions they won their battles.  The latest battle has been rumbling on for well over a decade, and now we’re at the eleventh hour in a bid to save a swathe of OUR land, more than 200 acres north of Cinderford, from being buried in concrete. The plans have been rubber-stamped, and all that stands in the way of the road-builder and bulldozers is a wildlife license, a High Court ruling… and direct action.

The Forest of Dean was first claimed by the crown decades before the Normans arrived, as their exclusive royal hunting ground. But freeminers managed to successfully win the right to dig their own iron (and later coal) and commoners to graze animals and gather wood, while centuries of squatters built cabins within the woods. Fences were torn down repeatedly from at least the 17th century onwards, culminating in the Dean Forest Riots of 1831, led by my own ancestor Warren James. Warren may have been transported to Tasmania, where he spent his last days, but the Foresters eventually won the rights to public land. In 1919, the crown formally handed over the entire Forest to the state to hold in trust for the people. 

In 1981, 1993 and again in 2010, Foresters had to do battle with successive Tory governments against attempts to privatise the woodlands. On the first two occasions, the local Tory MP, Paul Marland, took the side of the people against his own party’s government, while on the third, the current immigration minister, the dastardly Mark Harper, refused to support his constituents and he and his beleaguered local party stood alone, in favour of the attempted sell-off.

From 1997 to 2007, the Forest had a Labour MP and council, but when New Labour tried to shut down the local hospitals, the people rose up en masse, and the Tories jumped on the bandwagon and took over the political scene as a result.

Labour did get involved in the Hands Off Our Forest campaign, though, and gained a few councillors as a result… one rebel Tory meant that the district council narrowly voted to support the HOOF campaign too, along with just about every other organisation and association –  political and non-political – in the Dean. HOOF recognised that to win, it needed to be as inclusive and single-minded as possible, so there were strenuous efforts made to prevent politicians from hijacking it, to maintain unity between groups that previously were at each other’s throats. There were also a fair few anarchists involved in the HOOF campaign (which included thousands of people)… some might argue that the direct action engaged in by autonomous people outside the steering group helped to achieve victory, finally confirmed in January this year with a government guarantee (whatever that’s worth) that no woods would be sold and that they would continue to be publicly managed. For one thing, there were yellow ribbons and freeform banners galore, murals, a giant sculpture of Big Ben burnt on a great bonfire, and Mark Harper achieved the nickname of ‘Scarper’ for his habit of running away from his constituents… Below is some video evidence:

1. Harper is obliged on camera to commit to holding his own public meeting after refusing to attend one arranged by campaigners (at 8mins 20secs)

2. About 3,000 people (police estimate) attend a rally in a blizzard and burn an effigy of Big Ben

3. Harper flees from his own public meeting… within a fortnight, the government did a “yew-turn” and suspended its “consultation” and scrapped the Public Bodies Bill (which would have permitted a wholesale sell-off)

So… hurrah for us all for standing united against the government, and hurrah for HOOF… BUT… after the battle, all the local politicians went back to their old tricks of betraying the people to please their corporate chums. HOOF remains committed to its original aim, of saving the forest in its entirity, and is keeping a watching brief, ensuring the people get represented in future management plans, and enough public funding comes through to do the management. It will not – and, in my opinion, should not – be diverted to other campaigns, especially ones which are not supported by all those groups which signed up to the vast umbrella group. But, then again, we can’t help but consider the piecemeal theft of public resources and land amounts to the same thing as the Forest sell-off, albeit on a smaller scale.

Using the excuse of austerity cuts (despite the centre covering almost all of its costs) Gloucestershire County Council put a vital public resource up for sale, the Wilderness Centre, a residential centre which for decades had taught groups of city children about the environment. A softly-softly “trust” was formed by concerned people formerly associated with the centre, Friends of the Wilderness Centre. They succeeded in raising pledges of over one million pounds to buy the centre, courtesy of a local entrepreneur (and developer) multi-millionaire, Brian Bennett… despite jumping through all the hoops of the Tory-run  council, they have yet to secure the Wilderness Centre for future use as an environmental centre. For six months, a direct action group, Protect The Wilderness managed to keep the plight of the centre in the public eye, until they were forcibly evicted in a massive police operation. The taxpayer continues to pay thousands of pounds each week for security preventing the public having access to what is lawfully theirs…  Rumours persist that the council is intent, despite the Friends doing all they can to buy what is already ours, on selling to a housing or hotel developer…
Protect The Wilderness recently revisited to do some gardening work. Here’s what happened…

That fight isn’t over yet, and nor is the fight to save the Forest’s last intact deep mine, Northern United, and a large area of woodland, lake and open ground between the old pit (including a monument to miners who died there), and the hamlet of Steam Mills. The so-called Cinderford Regeneration Board – a partnership fronted by a Labour councillor (who, ironically, played a prominent role in the HOOF campaign) of Forest of Dean District Council and the governmental Homes And Communities Agency… while more than enough land is available on the edge of the town on derelict industrial (brownfield) land, the ‘regeneration’ team insists it has to demolish all traces of a mine recognised by English Heritage as an important site to build a ‘spine road’ cutting through woodland and grassland; destroying habitats for rare bats, newts and other wildlife, a key biodiversity site as recognised by Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust.

It will build ‘business units’ on the wildlife/heritage site of Northern United – which will, according to the council propaganda machine, create 300 jobs (we presume this estimate relies on all the units being occupied by businesses). There will also be a new housing estate (no idea how many of the houses will be ‘social housing’ for those that need it most, or dream second homes for the rich escapees of the urban rat race), a hotel adorning the side of a currently unspoilt lake, and a new college, although the existing college down the road at Five Acres is an excellent facility, with its own theatre, leisure centre and playing fields… an inquiry is under way to decide whether to demolish the Five Acres college and flog the land including its playing fields off to housing developers.

For more than a decade, environmentalist groups such as Forest of Dean Friends of the Earth and Friends of the Forest, as well as cultural campaigners such as Dean Forest Voice and the Local History Society have been using all legal means to fight this land-theft proposal, formerly known as Northern Arc but reborn as the Northern Quarter after the almost identical Arc proposal was condemned by a government inspector. Untold amounts of taxpayers money have already been spent on consultants giving the people non-choices on near-identical schemes, and security to guard the Northern United site 24/7.

Plans for the demolition of Northern United were passed on November 6 2012, held up by Natural England who need to grant a wildlife licence (so we’ve been told) before the destruction of this invaluable heritage site can take place. So far the fact the decision was made six days after the expiry date for the planning application, and that there appears to be no public record of councillors making a decision, has gone unchallenged by campaigners.

So at the moment there is petition to Downing Street, a form letter for the government’s Eric Pickles to call-in the decision on this and other plans for the road and associated works which were passed this February by all councillors bar one rebel (Jackie Fraser, we salute you), ignoring representations at the meeting and hundreds of letters of objection.

There have been growing calls for direct action, which Forest of Dean Anarchists support. An autonomous group of people took a walk down to the site, accompanied by the police, to the partially destroyed (by the over-eager road contractors) and fenced off public monument to the miners who lost their lives in pit disasters last century.

Some very knowledgeable mining engineers and experts fear that the entire bowl-shaped landscape could be flooded as a result of construction works and tampering with the water levels… yet the corporate land-grabbers, given free rein by both Labour and Tory politicians, are pushing on regardless in their plan to concrete over what was until very recently the public’s land until stolen and handed to the government’s Homes & Communities Agency. 1,200 jobs are promised but whether they will last more than a few months or go to local people isn’t known…

Plans are afoot to set up info camps at the entrance, and to build momentum to stop this corporate land-grab. Watch out for updates here and on this new campaign site, Save Northern United:

http://savenorthernunited.wordpress.com/

 

 

 

SNOW CLEARANCE… ANARCHY IN ACTION?

The editorial in this week’s Forest Review newspaper cheered the numerous neighbourly and community efforts to clear snow and ice so people could get out and about – the overused phrase “Dunkirk spirit” was used. To me it seemed like a perfect example of anarchy in action.

Shamefully, I admit, I arrived too late to help my partner dig her car out for work, and just caught three sets of neighbours shovelling the last compacted snow and sheet ice away from the car and pouring grit on the road. A neighbour across the road from my parents, who they’ve hardly exchanged words with previously, cleared my folks’ entire path without being invited.

In contrast, I heard horror stories about the Co-op/district council car park in Coleford and elderly people sliding around with their trolleys and almost falling and breaking their necks. It seems no one in the supermarket or council had given the order to make the paying car park safe for patrons, so it didn’t happen. And the council-contracted gritter finally got down our road a few days after neighbours gritted our road themselves.

Another FOD Anarchists supporter reports that he and his neighbours cleared their entire lane up to the main road, which benefited them all, including the rich folks with the classic cars collection (who didn’t take part in the community self-help operation).

So, people helping each other out, on their own initiative, without being given orders from above, simply because it needed to be done… without any help from government or the authorities…

And they keep telling us that anarchy would never work, that it would be “chaos” because “human nature” and “greed” would take over?

Humans of various kinds have been roaming the planet for three million-plus years; the current settlement in Britain post-ice age, for up to 15,000 years. For only 2,000 years has there been a government, and yet without it for the majority of the time we all flourished. I will go into this in more detail (if you’re interested) in a future blog, but increasingly it’s becoming clearer that humans have endured because of co-operation, NOT competition.

Yet a massive flank of unrelenting propaganda keeps trying to reinforce the message that people are greedy, they can’t help it, it’s in our nature – the rich rule over the poor because it’s the natural way of things… that without politicians “representing” us and running things, we’d all go stark raving mad and murder each other over the last scraps of booty…

This Spencerian survival-of-the-fittest, natural-hierarchy mantra helps to perpetuate this unfair system and the notion that we MUST have monarchs, lords, MPs and gods to bow down to because we are incapable of managing our own affairs. This idea, outlined by Hobbes in 1651, has endured post-Enlightenment because it is in the ruling class’s interest that THIS is our pre-ordained path as human beings. Indeed, the idea the poor deserve their lot and the rich are rich by natural right is being revived by the current government.

The more of us realise this is nonsense as soon as possible the greater the chance we have of averting environmental catastrophe and an ever-greater divide between rich and poor. As part of FOD Anarchists I hope that we can spread the idea, rather than keeping it to ourselves. That anarchy, in small and large ways, is and can be an everyday thing – not some utopian dream.

The 1% have continued their stranglehold on our society and communities using illusion… In a small way, I hope the recent snowfall and how we dealt with it might dent it, perhaps even shatter that illusion for more of the 99%?