Tag: Jeremy Corbyn

EVERYTHING TO GAIN (and everything to lose)

We’re entering a period of instability – all that’s solid seems to be melting into air. With an indecisive election and Brexit negotiations descending to the level of farce, our so called rulers look weaker and more divided than ever before. The faction ridden ruling elite of this country have embarked on the first stages of Brexit negotiations with no clear idea of what they want or how they’re going to get it. A fractured so called party of government seems to be more fixated on who’s going to replace the hapless Theresa May as prime minister and leader rather than getting it’s head around understanding exactly what Brexit entails.

A breakdown of trust

At local council level, councillors and council officers all too often are found to be self serving and incompetent. The Grenfell Tower disaster showed up the so called ruling elite at the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea as arrogant, out of touch and uncaring – it was ordinary people on the ground who took over the initial relief and recovery effort while the authorities floundered around.

Across the south of Essex, we struggle to find anyone who has a good word to say about their local authorities. Southend Council are obsessed with pointless vanity projects such as the museum on the cliff top instead of addressing the homelessness crisis in the town. Basildon Council can’t even organise a weekly rubbish collection on estates such as the ¾ in Vange without leaving bags of uncollected rubbish strewn all over the place. Thurrock Council are in full control freak mode attempting to dictate which media outlets can and can’t report on their proceedings and refusing members of campaign groups the right to ask questions at council meetings. People are losing what little faith they had in local councils to do the job of serving the public…

Whether, it’s at national or local level, trust in governance is declining, yet nothing appears to be happening to bring about real change. Much of the left has been subsumed into the bizarre cult of Jeremy Corbyn, buying into the deluded notion that should he manage to form a government, everything will be all right. The Corbynistas need to take a look at the dismal record of London Labour councils when it comes to socially cleansing the working class from London in the name of ‘regeneration’ – maybe that would give them the reality check they need. Everyone else appears to be just hunkering down and getting on with things as best they can…

There has to be a challenge

While the powers that be are divided and appear to be blundering from one crisis to another without a clue as to where they’re going or what they’re doing, they’ll continue to get away with it until there’s a serious challenge from below. At the moment there appears to be no sense of an opposition that can pose a real threat to the status quo, let alone a desire to move beyond the dysfunctional world we have to endure and build a more just, equitable and sustainable one. While this state of affairs continues, the ruling class can stagger from one crisis to the next safe in the knowledge that in the form of the state, they have the monopoly on the force that’s needed to keep their grip on power, regardless of how tenuous that may seem to be.

While the majority of people are under the illusion that things will be all right and thinks that the third of society that’s suffering needs to get its act together, there will never be a serious challenge to the system. Should things go seriously wrong as a result of another financial crisis or the Brexit process leading to a black swan event, then a large proportion of the population will be screwed. If there’s no significant radical movement in place by that point, we’re in serious trouble.

With the ruling class as divided as it is now, we have the best opportunity there’s been for a long while to build a movement that will bring about fundamental change through collective struggle. That movement can only be built from the grassroots upwards – waiting for the messiah in the form of Jeremy Corbyn will not bring about the change that’s needed. As the title of this piece says, there’s everything to gain if we can get our act together and build that movement. If we can’t, then as the bracketed subtitle suggests, there’s everything to lose…

The weird cult of Jeremy Corbyn

After the general election, I naively thought that we had reached the point of peak Corbyn and that elements of the left and other radicals would start to think a bit more independently again. Far from that happening, to all intents and purposes, the mania about Corbyn seems to intensified to the point where it has become a cult…a disturbing and weird one…

This was brought home to me on Saturday July 1st when, for the purposes of reporting the event and showing solidarity with any independently minded elements, I attended the Tories Out! Protest organised by the People’s Assembly. If you didn’t know anything about UK politics and saw the name People’s Assembly, you would assume that it was a left wing front representing a fairly broad range of opinions on that end of the political spectrum. Not a bit of it, the People’s Assembly is nothing more than the Jeremy Corbyn fan club. In fact it could well be argued that they do not represent the people in any way shape or form…

As for the Tories Out! protest, apart from a small autonomous block, a few other small, independently minded groups such as Class War and some individual renegades who all grouped together on the march, it was one massive Corbyn love-fest from start to finish. There were endless chants of ‘Oh Jeremy Corbyn’ pretty much from the off. Thousands and thousands of people putting their faith in one political leader and pretty much abandoning any vestige of independent thought let alone, autonomous grassroots action that has some relevance to the daily experience of most working class people.

I can normally tell if a protest like Tories Out! is going to be a large, because when there are huge London protests, there will be people getting on at various points along the c2c line to go to it. I didn’t see anyone getting on at any point on my journey into Fenchurch Street who looked like they would be attending Tories Out! As per usual, the train pretty much emptied at West Ham as most people piled off to go up to Westfield at Stratford for some retail therapy…

My guess about the numbers on Tories Out! is that the attendance was around the twenty thousand mark. Most of the attendees were the usual suspects plus people who have been swept up by the cult of Corbyn. It felt like a very middle class affair with lots of well meaning people but apart from a few of us renegades, little or nothing in the way of anger. Apart from a small autonomous block, the anarchist presence was pretty much zero. The working class presence was also pretty low as well. It’s pretty obvious by now that Corbyn is pitching for the young middle class vote and that everyone else is expected to fulfil their allotted tasks in securing that to ensure his victory.

Halfway down the Haymarket, a few of us had reached the point where listening to one more chant of ‘Oh Jeremy Corbyn’ would have pushed us over the edge so we departed for the pub. In the pub, the idea was hatched that a few people from Class War should go down to Parliament Square and get as close as possible to Corbyn to tell him a few home truths about the complicity of London Labour councils in social cleansing in the name of ‘regeneration’. Suffice to say, the plan was executed and not only did we manage to get the point across to Corbyn, prior to that we also encountered Len McCluskey as well – two for the price of one!

Needless to say, McCluskey and Corbyn weren’t best pleased at being called out on the dismal, anti-working class attitude of London Labour councils who are cosying up to the property developers. The Trots, stewards and Corbyn worshippers weren’t all that pleased at our intervention either. However, far from the metaphorical lynching I was expecting, there were people who were curious about what we had to say and there was a range of encounters and discussions with a few Class War papers getting handed out as well. All in all, it was a worthwhile intervention…

As for the cult of Corbyn, what has to be born in mind is that it is just that and doesn’t have a wide social base outside of the liberally educated, young middle class. The cult of Corbyn exists in a self reinforcing bubble that is apart from the day to day reality of most working class people. Hardly anyone on the estates in Thurrock and Basildon is talking about Corbyn – he’s simply not relevant to their lives. There’s still a massive political vacuum to be filled…

Dave (the editor)

Whatever you do at Tories Out! on Saturday, don’t rock the boat…

…because if you do get angry or depart from the script in any way, shape or form, the People’s Assembly Against Austerity will be really, really upset with you! As usual with a People’s Assembly event, everything is being as carefully choreographed as possible for what to all intents and purposes is going to be a massive, pro-Corbyn march and rally in the centre of London. There will be musical entertainment laid on to put everyone in a bouncy mood… There will be endless chants of ‘Oh Jeremy Corbyn’… The usual suspects will be mouthing the usual guff from the stage… One more push and Corbyn will be Prime Minister…so whatever you do, don’t rock the boat…

There’s musical entertainment before and presumably, after the march… Let’s just put this in context… This will be taking place a few miles down the road from the still unfolding horror of the Grenfell Tower disaster where the death toll will not be known / revealed until the end of the year: Grenfell Fire Death Toll ‘May Not Be Known This Year’http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/grenfell-fire-death-toll-may-not-be-known-this-year_uk_5953b719e4b02734df2ef257 This shows an utter lack of respect, not just for for survivors in the community around Grenfell but also for the considerable number of people attending the march who feel saddened and angry about this needless tragedy and would appreciate a more serious atmosphere to reflect that.

The subliminal message from the People’s Assembly is ‘don’t get angry and rock the boat’. How the ***k is it possible to not get angry when Grenfell Tower survivors have been banned from attending the first full cabinet meeting of Kensington & Chelsea council because of fears of ‘disruption’? See here for the story: Grenfell Tower: Survivors Banned From Council Meeting Because Of Fear Of Violencehttp://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/grenfell-tower-council-survivors-meeting_uk_595437c1e4b05c37bb7bdad6 How the ***k is is possible to not get angry when the retired judge appointed to head the inquiry into the Grenfell Tower disaster, Sir Martin Moore-Bick, basically gave the green light to social cleansing from London when he ruled in 2014 that Westminster council could re-house a single mother in Milton Keynes, 50 miles away from her support network? See here for the full story: Grenfell Tower inquiry judge has controversial history in housing caseshttps://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jun/28/grenfell-tower-inquiry-judge-retired-martin-moore-bick

Let’s not let the Labour party off the hook… Do you want to see what they’re really like when they get their hands on the levers of power? These are just two out of hundreds of examples we could quote that shows the reality, and how far that is from the rhetoric they’ll be coming out with this Saturday… Firstly, there’s this about the sheer arrogance of Newham council and their complicity in social cleansing in the name of ‘re-generation’: No More Fake News! This is realityhttps://focuse15.org/2017/05/19/no-more-fake-news-this-is-reality/ Then there’s this from Labour controlled Haringey council where they’re demolishing the Sky City estate in Wood Green and pretty much telling tenants they have no right of return to the area: Sky City, Wood Green – set for demolitionhttps://www.facebook.com/paul.burnham.31/posts/10211012337199605 How the ***k is it possible to not get angry when this is going down?

But, we’re not supposed to get angry and rock the boat on Saturday are we? That’s a tough call when the Tories have climbed into bed with the creationist, climate change denying, homophobic, anti-abortionist, religious fundamentalist, corrupt, loyalist terrorist loving scum otherwise known as the Democratic Unionist Party. The list goes on and on but we hope you’re starting to get the picture by now…there is a lot to be angry at right now! With the numbers expected at Tories Out! on Saturday, with the will, bottle and imagination, it could be a lot more than just another point A to point B march. At the very least, there should be a few buildings occupied / squatted to make some salient points about the housing crisis. A march like this should be angry and disruptive with the aim of putting the wind up the political establishment.

It should be, but we know it won’t be as the Corbynistas will not tolerate it. The truth is that anyone attempting to depart from the script on Saturday will most likely end up getting grassed up to the cops. As ever, any point A to point B march these days is a tokenistic exercise that’s designed to stifle people’s anger. Real change can only happen from the grassroots upwards on the estates, in our workplaces, in the colleges and out on the streets but, strictly on our terms…

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

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!