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…


Time for some light relief:)

Ever since Theresa May’s announcement of talks with the Democratic Unionist Party in a bid to come to some kind of an arrangement to prop up her tattered and battered government, the Internet has been having loads of fun at her expense. Below are our favourite memes:)

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…


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!


The end of UKIP?

With UKIP being wiped out in the local elections that took place on Thursday 4th May, losing every seat they held, many commentators are saying it’s the death of the party. Which in terms of UKIP as a viable political party with a coherent programme that will attract voters is pretty close to the truth. The point is that if pushed, a lot of UKIP activists wouldn’t give a toss because as far as they’re concerned, they’ve won hands down…

Firstly, they have played a major role in achieving Brexit. As we’re more than a bit ambivalent about the issue: A few thoughts on Brexit…https://southessexstirrer.wordpress.com/2017/03/29/a-few-thoughts-on-brexit/ we won’t dwell too much on this…

Secondly, they’ve driven the Tories to the position of being a nativist, even more reactionary and right wing party: Local elections: UKIP aren’t dead – they’re in chargehttp://www.politics.co.uk/blogs/2017/05/05/ukip-aren-t-dead-they-re-in-charge Check out the rhetoric from the Tory party conference with the crap about people who see themselves as citizens of the world being derided as ‘citizens of nowhere’.

Thirdly, they’ve had the media feeding out of their hands while they peddle their reactionary crap, knowing that all the while, the Tories are taking note of what they’re saying and absorbing it into their agenda. In other words, UKIP have assumed the role of a massive pressure group, forcing the Tories to adopt many of their ideas.

There’s no reason for UKIP to exist any longer because they’ve done the job they set out to do. We have a Tory party with an agenda heavily influenced by UKIP… The Tories are on course to win the forthcoming election on June 8th and when they form the next government, they will have the forces of the state at their disposal to implement an agenda that’s pretty much been written by UKIP.

A motley crew of twenty far right boneheads were harried and hassled by almost three hundred anti-fascist protesters in Croydon on Saturday 6th May: Huge police presence as pro and anti-immigration groups protest in East Croydonhttp://www.croydonadvertiser.co.uk/counter-protests-are-happening-in-croydon-today-over-immigration-and-racism/story-30316396-detail/story.html Which is great but…the fact that only around twenty boneheads were out on the streets tells its own story. Namely that a growing number of racists and reactionaries see Theresa May’s Tories as the ones with the ability to implement their agenda…

We have a huge task in front of us… One that will not involve voting in a Labour government – regular readers of this blog will be aware of our views on the complicity of London Labour councils in social cleansing in the name of urban ‘re-generation’. It’s one that involves going a fair bit further than the ballot box: Lob a spanner in the works and let’s have some real change!https://southessexstirrer.wordpress.com/2017/04/20/lob-a-spanner-in-the-works-and-lets-have-some-real-change/


Pre-election desperation!

The Tory MP for Thurrock, Jackie Doyle-Price, has held urgent talks with PM Theresa May regarding the decision by Highways England to go for Option C (Route 3) for the Lower Thames Crossing: Thurrock MP Jackie Doyle-Price in urgent talks with Prime Minister over Lower Thames Crossing proposalshttp://www.thurrockgazette.co.uk/news/15257677.Thurrock_MP_in_urgent_talks_with_Prime_Minister_over_Lower_Thames_Crossing_proposals/ Those of you who have been following the saga of the Lower Thames Crossing will be aware that Doyle-Price has long been an advocate for Route 4 which was to run between Orsett and Stanford-le-Hope and eventually join up with the A127. She saw this route as having the least impact on her constituents because it predominately went through the neighbouring South Basildon & East Thurrock constituency. Don’t you just love politicians when they play their little games of divide and rule?

Doyle-Price has long criticised opponents of Option C, basically saying we had no option but to accept it. However, as soon as Highways England announced their preference for Option C (Route 3), she expressed her objections to it, fearing for her slim majority. Well, not long after the decision, May goes and calls a general election sending Doyle-Price into a panic. At the 2015 election, it was pretty much a three horse race. Our gut instinct is that a fair view of the votes that may be leaving Labour will go to UKIP and as much as we detest Tim Aker and think he’s a total plonker, there’s a fair chance that as he opposes Option C outright, he could oust Doyle-Price from her seat.

Doyle-Price holding urgent talks with May is a deeply cynical move – no surprise really, she’s an MP desperate to hang onto her seat and the influence and perks that go with it. While the furore over the Lower Thames Crossing will make the election battle in Thurrock even more of a spectacle for those who like their politics dirty, we would like to add a few words of caution… Basically, don’t rely on the outcome of the election in Thurrock to make any difference to the intentions of Highways England. While a fair number of voters will see it as a chance to give Doyle-Price a well deserved kicking, that’s all it will be. As anarchists, we don’t believe that elections will make a significant difference in a system that’s rigged…

We want to conclude with this excerpt from a post we wrote back in April when the decision was made: Lower Thames Crossing decision – let battle commence!https://southessexstirrer.wordpress.com/2017/04/13/lower-thames-crossing-decision-let-battle-commence/ However, this question has to be asked – has it come to the point where direct action aimed at physically stopping the road and crossing from being built has to be considered? That could well be something along the lines of the infamous protest against the Newbury bypass in the 1990s: Twenty years after the protests, what is the legacy of the Newbury bypass?http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/jan/24/newbury-protest-camp-bypass-legacy with the obvious caveats that lessons from their experience need to be taken on board. For obvious security reasons, we don’t want to publicly comment on what could happen in terms of direct action as we don’t fancy being branded as ‘domestic terrorists’! Suffice to say, there ‘s a lot to discuss in terms of strategy and tactics…