Tag Archives: Protest

A Series of Strategic Responses to the Tory Majority, no.8. Partnership and Twinning.

11 May

Distance and centralism are powerful factors militating against success for left-wing, regional, and national groups within the UK system. The Tories can often form governments around south-east England, London and the foreigners and non-doms who control the political meaning of the City of London.  As the Tories, to themselves at least, are also the British national party par excellence, so they have no need to question or oppose the centrality of London institutions or or political action with its limits set at the walls of St. Stephen’s Palace.

They are strengthened in this by a transport and communications network that has been designed over the space of several generations to favour their viewpoints.  It is commonplace for ‘commuters’ who work in London to live in Cambridge, Oxford or Gillingham, and to get (and preach) a London-centred mindset as a result.

Other parties pursuing victory around that same set of allegiances – like Blair and Brown – end up following Conservative policy or even competing to be more conservative again.  Whereas groups that have never accepted the centrality of Westminster action, or which take their strength from other areas, are hampered insofar as they simply can’t move people (or ideas or action) around the areas that ought to be their natural home.  One example here should suffice: Welsh railways stop at Carmarthen, with an insanely slow bus journey being the only route north from there.  With an Assembly based in Cardiff Bay – itself an artificial development creating by further marginalising its historically poor and marginalised inhabitants – the sense of opposition that could come from having a committed and radical Plaid Cymru leader has already been substantially stymied.

I’ll obviously be coming back, later to how this relates to the necessity for a new media sphere and the practical arrangements necessary to put that into place.  For the moment, I want shortly to put some proposals for action based on the understanding that the regions, nations, classes and groups where radicalism is strongest are precisely the ones most likely to be hampered by the lack of opportunities for physical movement.  These will also apply to a certain extent to the way that organisations and individuals attempting to act online may organise, given that assets like high-speed broadband, computer parts, specialist data access etc. are always restricted at first by the physical networks of road and rail for installation, distribution and staff placement and recruitment.

One a priori I want to put before embarking on a list of proposals for action.  Transport difficulties are compounded the more people have to move over long distances or without good public transport.  They are – initially – doubly compounded for each new person or group which is seeking to participate in any given action.  All the initial suggestions I have put, therefore, involve a minimal number of people moving at any given time, and attempt to minimise the number of people or organisations they need to work with in order to achieve a measure of success for their chosen action.

1.  Partnership.

Those at the centre of power can act alone, or look like they are.  But the hardest part of a movement towards equality has to happen in an equal way .  My first suggestion is looking for one other person to work with immediately on action for political change, and pledge to work together for a common and realisable aim.  Promising yourself that you’ll take action is easy to go back on – it’s more difficult to break promises to your friends.  And once you’ve agreed to take common action then you’ll feel less like a voice in the wilderness and more like you can be part of something that matters.

The common and realisable aim you choose, should of course be something that will create more energy around it, and bring other people in.   Here’s some for starters:

i. One example might be organising an ‘art against austerity’ exhibition at your local village hall.  Invite national/local/protest movement media and social media organisations to review it

ii.  Another might be booking a room in a pub or cafe in order to have a lunchtime forum on the politics of austerity and centralism, and creatives responses.

During the course of today, I’ve agreed to collaborate on making some of these happen in the Newcastle Emlyn and Aberystwyth areas.  Your ideas, offers to speak, offers of projector loans etc. most welcome.  I’ll be drawing up the first draft of a leaflet shortly, which shall be mercilessly criticised and edited for simplicity’s sake.  Once it’s out there, your comments on wording and event organisation will also be very welcome.  In particular, are there certain people who should be invited – and would you be kind enough to let them know about it?  For now, we know just that we’re hoping to book places for the 19th and 21st of this month (May), in Newcastle Emlyn and Aberystwyth respectively.  First speakers also to be announced tomorrow.

iii.  Fill up your car with radical books and leaflets opposing the austerity agenda, and set up at a boot sale.  Make sure you’ve got a whole lot of freebies to give out and keep smiling even if it rains and nobody talks to you.  They will secretly admire your bottle.  If you make a profit beyond a day’s wage, keep doing it.  If you have the time to do it a lot, offer to buy back books.  If it becomes a wild success, build a people’s radical library in your town or village.

Sorry, got carried away to dreamland there for a second.

Or did I?  It wasn’t beyond the Welsh of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, why beyond us?

Whatever, I’d still love to see a giant red flag flying over a car boot sale.  It would give me hope.

 iv. Organising a sports event on behalf of your local food bank, and using the attendant publicity to condemn the callous nature of government policy towards those on benefits.

I suggest a plastic duck race down your local stream, with an instagram competition for the best decorated duck used to generate early publicity in the silly stories pages of the mainstream media.

 2.  Twinning

Partnership with others immediately around them will help people commit to radical projects, and get things moving fast.  But in order to fashion a movement (or set of movements) against austerity and centralism, there needs to be a sense of change that can motivate much larger geographical areas.

Creating national and regional organisations is a time-consuming task, and always offers the possibility that some of the resulting groups will be assimilated easily into the Westminster austerity concensus.

But no such difficulty exists if groups, even if they contain only a tiny number of people, agree to ‘twin’ with groups elsewhere, and put on events together with shared resources.  From such twinned groups, if organised rapidly amongst concerned friends to keep their heads up, can come the impetus to reach a broader national or regional alternative media and alternative community.

3.  Grow Sunflowers.

That one’s a teaser.  I’ll talk more about it another time.

nb.  I know some of this stuff is a bit vague.  But I don’t have time to write in shorter sentences.  See you at the boot sale.

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A Series of Strategic Responses to the Tory Majority, no.5 Political and Community Action 1

10 May

I’ll be returning, repeatedly, to ideas of media strategy.  And seeking to establish routes for resistance to austeriarchy will, I think, tend to force even more returns to the media issue than even I would like.

But let’s look elsewhere for a moment.  Outside Scotland there is no effective parliamentary route for the left to achieve anything.  The ground can shift now.  Two opening suggestions:

1.  Looking for targets and times for effective community and protest action that have good transport links, or organisation, within the region where radicalisation is desired.

Of course, transport links are not simply a given – you can do something about them.  Do you drive?  Especially, have you a minibus license?  If so, there’s something you can do…  Now it’s just a matter of finding someone you can do it for, or with.

2.  Moving informed political and philosophical discussion out of the universities and into pubs, workplaces, squats, temporary autonomous areas, and homes.  The Scots made a discursive society a reality, and have thus been able to upend expectations in two years’ flat.  Philosophy in Pubs is, as I understand it, the organisation most committed to making a thoughtful society.  Have a look at what they do.  If you like it, consider putting on political and philosophical discussions where you are

On that note about transport…  Bad and often worsening public transport offers the possibility of peoples’ organisations, under democratic community control, to create alternatives.  Some could be centred on transport, obviously.  More important, however, is getting events underway in local areas that are clearly, urgently and politically related to the election result and making a positive response.

3.  If you’re on the left in the Labour Party, and you’re sick of the New Labour regime that shouts upon every defeat that Labour must bend over further for business interests, then start researching law and scheming hard.  Would you be capable of organising a left-wing constitutional coup in your party organisation, whether at branch or constituency level?  If so, although it’ll be hard work, the time to look for like minded-people within that party is right now.  If not, consider whether you would be able to draw upon your time in the Labour Party to bring others like out of the party and into a new, membership-list supplied, organisation.

Similarly, pushing your branch into wider community links could best happen right now, whilst people are at a low ebb.  If you’re great at introducing people over beers and you know everyone in your area, then do some bringing people together.

4.  if you’re on the left of the Lib Dems.

There really is no hope for you, is there?

Unless… you go now.  Your coalition delivered the rUK to the Tories and Scotland to the SNP, whilst a catalogue of desperate and ugly deaths attests to what you have done, wittingly or unwittingly.  The only hope there is, is to immerse yourself in the new opposition – I don’t mean parliamentary opposition – with the zeal of a convert.  Otherwise posterity will not forgive you.

Incidentally, haven’t you noticed that the party you’re still in got half its name from a party that cemented Thatcher’s dominance at a key moment in history?  For God’s sake, Go.

Drive, put up posters, organise meetings, stand outside the jobcentres and give out free tea and coffee and listen to how people feel when their benefits get cut.  Argue your (very liberal) rights as the police move you on, and then consider how far we are from a democracy.

It’s the only way to begin to atone.

More soon.  I hope some of the ideas create a spark.  Let me know…

A Series of Strategic Responses to the Tory Majority, no. 1. First thoughts.

9 May

Over these few posts I’ll be aiming to lay out a large number of creative responses available immediately to all those on the left – considered very broadly.  This first entry will give a quick overall understanding of the areas I’m going to explore.  For many, this will be a time to put their heads down and theorise.  For me, it’s a time to throw out as many ideas as possible in the hope that some will be picked up.  As a result there will probably be some unfortunate mistakes as well as some absurdly specific ideas.

The broad categories, however, are media strategy, protest strategy, civic society, legal action and artistic action.  Next post: destroying the mainstream media.