Friday, 12 November 2010

Which side are you on? Remember.

Firstly, a message of support and solidarity to the activists who vividly brought the violence of the ruling class to the attention of the nation on Wednesday. Students, lecturers and others demonstrated in unity for free education and against tuition fees and the scrapping of the EMA. Over 50,000 took to the streets which is fantastic however the media might have barely even sniffed at it had the courageous occupation of Tory HQ not taken place.

The media/ politico/ chatterati battlefield following the 'Siege Of Millbank' rages with an intensity not quite as fierce as the justified anger of those students who took to the streets and vented their frustrations on Wednesday. The largely right-wing press has unsurprisingly attempted to focus on the 'violent' protest rather than the issue of why the students and lecturers were demonstrating.

The usual rag-bag of right-wing commentators were wheeled out on Question Time, including Caroline Flint who described them as a load of 'trots, anarchists and idiots'. If QT included pundits of such description on their panel occasionally it would be an improvement. Let's not forget which party perpetuated tuition fees during their last turn in office, so no prizes for guessing which side Flint is on in truth.

Many do indeed have short memories. Including the Lib Dems who have forgotten their election 'promises' and anger is rightfully being expressed in their direction. Many who voted for them fell let down, even betrayed. However many who have seen Lib Dems in action during elections will have experienced some of the tricks they will pull to get elected. Opportunists, wrapping themselves in a cloak of 'protecting civil liberties' whilst wholeheartedly embracing free market neoliberalism, no-one should be surprised at their arrangement with the same old Tories. I was amongst those who warned prior to the election that the Liberals would prop up a Tory Govt This analysis which was also doing the rounds before the election is well worth a read:

In a subtle twist of fate the LibDems are now apparently a cloak for the Tories as they perpetuate their crimes against the working class and society as a whole. However they wear the cloak well with hand in matching gloves. LibDems squirming and protesting their innocence and that 'it's not our policy but...' will have no sympathy from me or the millions of others whose lives and futures are being dismantled and wrecked for the sake of profit and defending the interests of the capitalist class. They may vacillate wildly during election time in order to secure their seat, but it won't wash now.

So from broken empty promises to broken glass. Young scallywags, smashing windows: Short memories again? Of course that was just a roisterous jape and I am sure that mummy and daddy would have paid for the damage with a clip around the ear and an 'away with you young scamps' from the local constabulary. The question is who will pay for the damaged windows at Tory central? More to the point, who were the Tories paying rent to for the windows and indeed the building? Well, as it turns out it seems that non-dom tax-evaders are once more the beneficiary of their generosity:

Nobody has condoned the hurling of a fire extinguisher, not least the protesters as many accounts have testified, including: However this has been used as a smokescreen for the class violence being perpetuated by the ConDems. Let us not forget the reason why the demonstration was taking place. The anger of those young people is justified, how much more do they have to do to be listened to? Learning lessons of past failures we have to take direct action beyond marching from A to B in a police cordon before getting the bus home. Educate-Agitate-Organise-Occupy! (The exception is occupation of other countries of course before any Labour apologists for the war try to discredit the Stop The War movement)

Let us not forget also the history of police violence against peaceful protesters and innocent people in their custody. It will not come as a shock should the 'violent protesters' from Wednesday be brought to 'justice' one hell of a lot quicker than the cop who murdered Ian Tomlinson for example. Oh wait, it's been 19 months and they haven't brought him to justice.

How soon will it be until the police use the events of Wednesday to justify a plea for stopping cuts to the force and for more funds? The ConDem cuts have barely begun and already public anger is being expressed on the streets. How long will it take for the government and their business buddies to panic and throw more riot police out onto the streets to protect their interests? After all the police were established to protect rich communities and their wealth during the 19th century, as capitalist accumulation established widening class and social inequality and division. As we return to 19th century Toryism it surely won't be long before Cameron and Osbourne succumb and write the cheque for more police funds, to keep the rest of us facing job losses and the end of the welfare state in our place. Maybe Vodafone will help pay the Bill.

If the police were to march in protest against cuts (which is unlikely as they are forbidden from joining unions), who would be marching with them in solidarity?

We remember the G20 protests. We remember the polltax riots. We remember the miners' strike. As I was singing to the police who were forcefully pushing me and other anti-fascist protesters off the road and into a fence, thus allowing the fascist EDL to march on Parliament back in the Spring, "Which side are you on, boys, which side are you on?"

It pains me then as a Green Party member to see the response from Green London Assembly Member Jenny Jones to Wednesday's events. Her original quote was taken down from the Green Party website, but has been replaced by this, which believe it or not can count as an improvement:

The Green Party thus appears to be putting the message across that better policing is needed to suppress popular anger, dissent and protest, rather than positively supporting the action. Those of us in Green Left and many in the wider Green Party have been incensed by this, no less the Young Greens many of whom were at Millbank. Sam Coates from Cardiff had an article published on the Young Greens website which should have taken pride of place on the national website, a true reflection of what those represented on the demonstration felt:

Well done also to him for this in the Guardian:

Which side are you on?