We got it wrong on the turnout…

A few posts back, we predicted that there would be a low turnout at the general election: Election 2017 – some thoughts from outside the bubblehttps://southessexstirrer.wordpress.com/2017/06/01/election-2017-some-thoughts-from-outside-the-bubble/ Well…we were wrong on that one weren’t we?! The turnout was up, boosted by many young people registering to vote and then going on to exercise that right: Huge number of young people believed to be behind vote that rocked Torieshttp://metro.co.uk/2017/06/09/youth-out-in-full-force-as-72-of-young-people-vote-in-general-election-6696890/

A fair number of them voted for Corbyn’s Labour. It has to be acknowledged that despite Corbyn starting out from a pretty dismal position in the polls, the ensuing campaign energised a lot of younger people into registering and voting, making May’s campaign look wooden and stilted by comparision. Yes, regardless of our criticisms of Labour, we’re admitting that Corbyn has created a new force in British politics and that has to be acknowledged. The question is, what happens now?

We still stand by every criticism that we and our comrades have made of Labour, particularly the way Labour controlled councils in London are actively complicit in the process of social cleansing in the name of ‘re-generation’: Clusterfuck! Labour’s Shameless Council Estate Rip-offhttps://southessexstirrer.wordpress.com/2017/06/07/clusterfuck-labours-shameless-council-estate-rip-off/ However, we also realise that many of the people who were swept up by the enthusiasm of Corbyn’s campaign were not aware of the reality of what Labour councils in the capital are actually doing. Those of us who are calling these councils to task (Architects 4 Social Housing, Class War, Focus E15 to name a few) don’t have the reach or clout we would like to get the message across and we know we have to up our game in order to do so.

The election is over and we would like to leave the arguments within anarchist circles about voting or not voting behind us and start to look at the task ahead. If just some of the people who were energetically campaigning for Corbyn can get stuck into grassroots activism in the community, workplace, colleges and out on the streets, it really would start to make a difference: What now? Fighting austerity in a hung parliamenthttps://libcom.org/blog/what-now-08062017

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Welcome to the ‘coalition’ of shite

It looks as though Theresa Mayhem is going to try and prop up the battered Tory government by an ‘arrangement’ with the Democratic Unionist Party: DUP leader Arlene Foster vows to bring stability to UK with Conservativeshttps://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/jun/09/theresa-may-reaches-deal-with-dup-to-form-government-after-shock-election-result-northern-ireland It’s common knowledge that the DUP has had links with Loyalist paramilitaries: DUP has been criticised for loyalist linkshttp://www.irishnews.com/news/2015/10/09/news/dup-has-also-been-criticised-for-loyalist-links-288278/

This is a flavour of the reactionary policies the DUP espouse: So, who are the DUP?https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/adam-ramsay/so-who-are-dup Creationists, climate change deniers, anti-gay, anti-abortion…what a lovely bunch of people NOT! Let’s just get this straight – May wants to enter a coalition with a party that has links to organisations such as the Orange Order that are happy to tolerate the kind of scum shown above turning up at their events. If this isn’t an act of utter desperation from a prime minister whose reputation has been trashed in a disastrous election campaign, we honestly don’t know what is. However, we should not be surprised at the depths the Tories will sink to in order to stay in power…

Obviously as anarchists, we do not recognise the right of government to impose itself upon us. That’s a formal position that informs our politics and analysis. What we are now experiencing is a raging visceral gut reaction that we will never, ever kowtow to a government that gets into bed with the likes of the DUP. As far as we’re concerned, the administration that May wants to cobble together with the DUP has zero legitimacy in our eyes.

Somehow, we don’t think this coalition of shite is going to enjoy a long life. A period of uncertainty and instability awaits us. It’s a period that will bring danger and pain but if we as anarchists and radicals can get our act together, it’s one that could provide the best opportunity we’ve ever had…

Initial reaction…

Well, it looks as though we have a hung parliament: Election results live: Theresa May under fire as hung parliament confirmedhttps://www.theguardian.com/politics/live/2017/jun/08/general-election-results-2017-uk-live-labour-tories-corbyn-may-election-results-live-news-line As things stand, it’s difficult to see how a government is going to be formed. Whatever government is cobbled together as a result of shady backroom dealing, they will have little in the way of legitimacy.

Constitutional and political chaos has arrived and could well delay the start of the Brexit talks that are due to start later on this month. There is already talk of another election in a bid to clarify things – in other words, keep voting until the powers that be get the result they want! The one thing the City and the financial sector hate is instability – well, they’ve got that big time! The pound has already plummeted in reaction to the election result – if it stays down as the constitutional chaos develops, that will impact on the economy and inflation. The financial sector and the security establishment will be desperate for some kind of stability sooner rather than later, regardless of how it’s achieved. Suffice to say, we live in interesting, challenging and potentially dangerous times…

Obviously, the production of the next print edition of The South Essex Stirrer is on hold until we get a firmer idea of how the political landscape we operate in will shape up. Needless to say, whatever content does go in will be generic in nature as opposed to newsy – we don’t want to be saddled with hundreds of out of date papers as a result of fast moving political developments!

What is a concern is that if there is another election in the next few months, the time and energies of a lot of activists will be sucked into another push to get Corbyn’s Labour party elected to government. That in our view would be a waste of time and energy that should be going into grassroots campaigning on the estates, in the workplace, on the campuses, in our neighbourhoods and last but by no means least, out on the streets…

Election 2017 – some thoughts from outside the bubble

Being political activists, there’s a tendency to hang around with other political activists and end up getting sucked into a bubble that distorts the view of what’s really happening in the wider world. We do our level best to avoid that but even we end up getting sucked into the bubble of endless discussion about the forthcoming election and in particular, the hyped up predictions of the Corbynistas about how well they might do.

There’s an easy way for us to take a reality check… It involves switching the laptop off, leaving the house and walking round the streets where we live. Apart from a huge Tory banner on the side of a barn on the edge of town, you wouldn’t know there was an election on. Sure, we know the tradition of putting posters in your window to declare your voting intentions has been in decline for some years now but there’s now almost a complete absence of election posters on display in our town. Anecdotal evidence from comrades in London and other parts of the country confirms a near total lack of election posters on display.

Once you step outside of the activist and media bubble, it’s pretty clear that this election is leaving people feeling distinctly underwhelmed. Even with Theresa May’s reputation as the ‘strong and stable’ candidate looking distinctly tattered after a string of gaffes and no shows leading to a narrowing of the Tory lead, out here, there’s still widespread cynicism about the election and the self serving reasons it was called.

We’re sticking to our original prediction that out of the total electorate, the number of people who chose not to vote will be greater than those voting for the ‘winning’ party. In other words, whoever forms the next government will have little in the way of meaningful legitimacy. Given that May’s reason for calling the election was to have an overwhelming Parliamentary majority to back her up in the forthcoming Brexit negotiations, if she only achieves a slim majority on the back of a low turnout, she will have sod all legitimacy.

If a weakened Tory government is perceived by the other EU nations as having little in the way of meaningful legitimacy, it will make the Brexit negotiations ‘difficult’ to say the least. It could well mean more instability and the prospect of the UK crashing out of the EU without any kind of a deal. Suffice to say, there is a lot of turmoil to come as the political and economic system we live in becomes ever more crisis prone. Looking beyond electoral politics to a future of instability, it’s stating the bleeding obvious that there are dangers ahead but also, if we as activists can get our act together, there are opportunities to start to push the project of fundamental system change…

Election ‘fever’

Campaigning for the general election taking place on Thursday June 8th has resumed. An inept election campaign from Theresa May which even has the Tory supporting Spectator voicing its concerns: This is the worst Tory election campaign everhttps://www.spectator.co.uk/2017/05/this-is-the-worst-tory-election-campaign-ever/ and: Could Theresa May blow this general election?https://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2017/05/theresa-may-blow-general-election/ is leading to excitable talk from the Corbynistas in the Labour Party that a win could well be possible. It would seem that for many on the left, any political activity that’s not devoted to the election of Saint Jezza is a betrayal of the ’cause’. As for us here at the Stirrer, we can’t wait for this diversion to be over and for the focus to return to resistance on the estates, in the workplace and the colleges and last but by no means least, out on the streets…regardless of who wins…

Regardless of who wins…because even if by some weird fluke Corbyn scrapes a narrow victory, as far as the housing activists we know in London are concerned, there’s going to be no honeymoon period. Unless every so called ‘re-generation’ scheme (a.k.a. social cleansing) that’s currently been set in motion by Labour councils such as Lewisham, Southwark, Lambeth, Hackney, Haringey and Newham to name just a few of the culprits is halted with immediate effect by a Corbyn government, then not only will resistance continue, it will intensify. So bollocks to any talk of letting Saint Jezza get his feet under the table before a decision is made on calling in the social cleansing schemes that London Labour councils have been complicit in!

As things stand, it’s most likely that May will scrape back in but not with the significant majority she was hoping for – Karma coming back and biting her on the bum… Which means there will be an enormous army of demoralised Corbynistas at a time when we warned that we’ll be needing activists prepared to carry on and escalate the real resistance against a system that’s broken: Three more weeks of hot air and then what?https://southessexstirrer.wordpress.com/2017/05/18/three-more-weeks-of-hot-air-and-then-what/

What do we mean by real resistance? Here are just a few examples… Architects 4 Social Housinghttps://architectsforsocialhousing.wordpress.com/ who have consistently exposed the role of Labour councils in London in facilitating social cleansing through ‘re-generation’. Focus E15https://focuse15.org/ who have harried Newham Council at every opportunity over their dismal record on social housing, social cleansing and allowing three tower blocks on the Carpenters Estate in Stratford to sit empty for over half a decade while they await the right offer from a developer. United Voices of the Worldhttps://www.uvwunion.org.uk/ – a grassroots union empowering marginalised workers who are often on zero hours contracts to fight for better conditions and pay. The list of groups and organisations offering real resistance at the grassroots goes on…

If you want to go out and vote on June 8th it’s your decision, whatever the justification. All we ask is you recognise that fighting for a better world involves a heck of a lot more than putting a cross in a box every few years. It certainly involves a lot more than putting all of your trust in one politician to sort out the problems of the world – Corbynistas, please take note!

Dragging party politics into the campaign against the Lower Thames Crossing

Back in February 2016, we attended a packed and very lively meeting at the Tilbury Cruise Terminal to discuss the options on the table for the Lower Thames Crossing. Campaigners against the crossing such as George Abbott were there in force. Highways England were there to attempt to sway what was a largely hostile audience – they failed miserably! Also present were councillors and MPs from across the political spectrum. In the fractious world of Thurrock politics, it seemed that for one brief moment, divisions had been forgotten and we were all united against the crossing. The one thing we took from that meeting was the desire of the campaigners against the crossing to keep party politics out of it.

Fast forward to the present and we have this: Thurrock UKIP claim to be only party to “reject Thames Crossing proposals”http://www.yourthurrock.com/2017/05/20/thurrock-ukip-claim-party-reject-thames-crossing-proposals/ Yup, Tim Aker has attempted to hi-jack a non-party political campaign in a cynical bid to boost his election campaign in the Thurrock constituency. Aker is up against John Kent, the former Labour leader of Thurrock Council who’s also on record as being opposed to the crossing and the sitting Tory MP, Jackie Doyle-Price who was in favour of Option C, Route 4 that mainly went through the neighbouring South Basildon and East Thurrock constituency.

Supporters of Labour have waded into the debate refuting Aker’s claims to be the only party against the Lower Thames Crossing: Letter to Editor: UKIP wrong over Lower Thames Crossinghttp://www.yourthurrock.com/2017/05/21/letter-editor-ukip-wrong-lower-thames-crossing/ Fair enough, Labour have a right to counter the crap that Aker is coming out with but there are issues with this… Namely that responding in this way has turned the campaign against the Lower Thames Crossing into a party political football in what is a bitter election battle in the Thurrock constituency.

As much as we have occasionally questioned George Abbott’s strategy and tactics in the past, our sympathies go out to him and the other campaigners on the ground who want the crossing stopped and don’t want the fight against it sullied by petty political point scoring in an election clash. Dragging this campaign into the squalid realm of party politics and the squabbling and bickering that goes with it is going to damage it. That seems to matter little to the politicians who seek to exploit the issue to gain an advantage for their respective parties, regardless of the consequences. This is why we as anarchists want nothing to do with party politics and the system as it stands and why we prefer to work with grassroots campaigners whose concern is the issue they’re dealing with and not seeking political advantage…

No More Fake News! This is reality

Well, our previous post: Three more weeks of hot air and then what?https://southessexstirrer.wordpress.com/2017/05/18/three-more-weeks-of-hot-air-and-then-what/ has certainly generated a reaction…one that was quite hostile to our position! A fair bit of that hostility has come from Corbyn supporters and people intending to vote Labour. If these people seriously think Labour has the answers to the housing crisis in London, they need to look at the dismal record of Labour run councils in Greater London and their complicity in the social cleansing resulting from so called ‘regeneration’ schemes. This post from the Stratford based Focus E15 campaign shows up the complicity of Newham council in social cleansing. Bear in mind that Newham council have been sitting on three empty tower blocks on the Carpenters Estate for years waiting for the right offer from a developer while they continue to move people out of the borough and homelessness in the area continues to soar. As we’ve written before, what happens in London as a result of so called ‘regeneration’ and the subsequent social cleansing has a direct impact on the housing crisis in the area we operate in along the Thames estuary: The housing domino effect…https://southessexstirrer.wordpress.com/2017/03/07/the-housing-domino-effect/ So this is why despite the ardent pleadings of Corbyn supporters, we cannot in any way, shape or form, endorse the idea of voting for Labour in the coming general election…

Focus E15 Campaign

Robin Wales and his parallel universe of lies and deception!

Focus E15 campaign went along to Newham’s Annual Council Meeting on the 18 May. This is a big gala event.  250 people heard Robin Wales make vainglorious speeches about how wonderful he has been for Newham.  It was grotesque. Robin Wales made a speech about his work programme for 2017/18 and spoke of Newham having the best services in London, compared to 25 years ago when the borough was, an “incompetent backwater”. It was hard not to feel sick.

He  then went on and blamed the housing crisis on the Tories and explained that Newham Labour are standing up against criminal and rogue landlords. He promised that Newham Labour are putting “power into the hands of the residents”. Robin Wales ended his speech by concentrating on the Newham borough motto, which is, ironically, considering the amount of social cleansing that has been going…

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Three more weeks of hot air and then what?

If all of the hot air emanating from the ongoing election campaign could be captured and put into a combined heat and power scheme, it would make a significant contribution to this country’s energy needs. We make no apologies for sounding cynical – as the saying goes, if voting could significantly change things, it would be abolished. Real change leading to a more equitable, sane and sustainable world doesn’t come about by putting a cross on a ballot paper every few years, it comes through concerted action at the grassroots as people and communities work together to start to gain control over what happens in their neighbourhoods.

Over the last few weeks, it seems that many of our so called comrades have forgotten all of this as they get sucked into a desperate frenzy of supporting Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party. Wise up people – the powers that be and their mates in what is a predominantly right wing media have no intention of letting Corbyn win. The way the system and media are rigged in this country means that Labour has sod all chance of winning and the time and energy expended supporting Corbyn’s vision is being wasted.

Not only that, if you want to know what Labour is like in power, take a long hard look at what Labour councils in London are doing in the name of ‘regeneration’. Ask any of the former tenants of estates such as the Aylesbury and Heygate in Labour controlled Southwark what they think of a council who demolished their homes and relocated them miles away from their communities and you’ll hear some pretty frank language. Ask any of the current tenants of estates such as Broadwater Farm in Labour controlled Haringey what they think about the council’s plans to demolish their homes and break up their community and you’ll get a sense of the anger that’s brewing.

For a forensic expose of what Labour’s housing policies really mean, we recommend this piece from Architects 4 Social Housing: Secure Homes for All? The Labour Party Manifesto on Housinghttps://architectsforsocialhousing.wordpress.com/2017/05/16/secure-homes-for-all-the-labour-party-manifesto-on-housing/ To put it bluntly, there’s no way we could endorse a vote for Labour and ever be able to look a London based housing activist in the face again.

What will unnerve the powers that be will be a low turnout and / or a high number of spoilt ballot papers. If the turnout is 55% or less, then we could have a situation where less than 25% of the total electorate will have voted for what is inevitably going to be another Tory government. Looking at those kind of numbers, we’ll have every right to claim that the government has no meaningful legitimacy. When we have a government that has been elected on a low turnout and has no legitimacy, we have the justification to lob multiple spanners into the works and make this country ungovernable.

The energy that’s currently being expended and wasted by some of our so called comrades in supporting Corbyn’s Labour party would be far better used in planning how we resist and frustrate the operation of the next government. Rather than experiencing the feeling of utter dejection on June 9th that will inevitably follow the rout of Corbyn, surely it’s better to conserve our energy and plan for the long term struggle to come?

Lob a spanner in the works and let’s have some real change!

There has been a lot of speculation as to why May has done a massive U turn and called for a general election on June 8th. A fair few people think it may have something to do with the ongoing election expenses scandal that’s dogging the Tory Party: Claims May called an election to escape Tory expenses scandalhttps://politicalscrapbook.net/2017/04/claims-may-called-an-election-to-escape-tory-expenses-scandal/ The Crown Prosecution Service is currently investigating claims that up to 20 Tory MPs broke spending limits during the 2015 general election.

If these MPs were prosecuted and had to stand down thereby forcing by-elections, the government’s slim majority would have been made considerably slimmer or possibly even wiped out. Given that May is facing enough grief trying to negotiate a Brexit deal, the thinking is that she’s taking a gamble on a general election in the hope that the Tories will get a big enough majority to give her the support she needs. What May has done is a crass act of cynicism – no surprise there as she’s a politician.

The right wing element in the media have gone into overdrive with talk about ‘crushing opponents’ and the like. No surprise there either, that’s what rags like the Daily Mail do. The problem is that the predictable hype from the right wing gutter press has led to a level of hysteria among Labour supporters, particularly Momentum activists, who are pretty much implying that it’s our duty to vote Labour on June 8th. Even some people we thought were ‘comrades’ are falling for this, saying that we need to set aside our anarchist principles and cast a vote for Labour.

If you want to see examples of principles being abandoned, take a look at any Labour run council in London and the way they’re jumping on the re-generation gravy train, sucking up to the property developers and becoming complicit in socially cleansing the poor from the capital. This is just one example of what a Labour run London council is doing and how it impacts on the housing crisis out here on the estuary and beyond: The housing domino effect…https://southessexstirrer.wordpress.com/2017/03/07/the-housing-domino-effect/ Tamely going along to a polling station to cast a vote for Labour as the ‘lesser of two evils’ will do sod all to bring about change.

This is the best chance we’ve had in ages to send a message to the political class that we’re sick of their machinations and that we want power from the grassroots upwards. Actively campaigning for a boycott of the election or mass spoiling of ballot papers will, if we can get the numbers, send a chill up the spines of the political class. If the turnout drops towards the 50% level, that sends out a massive signal that people are losing faith in the system and that whatever government gets elected, they will have no meaningful legitimacy.

When you have a government with no real legitimacy, when the shite hits the fan as austerity tightens its grip, it’s only a few steps from this to starting to make the country ungovernable. When the country starts to become ungovernable as a government with no legitimacy starts to get ever more grief trying to push through austerity, that’s when we can start to get meaningful system change on to the agenda. Basically, there’s everything to play for… Now is the time to think creatively about how we can lob a sodding great spanner into the works!