coalition

I am writing this after 20 hours of travel and protest but I wanted to get out some quick thoughts on the issue of violence at the demonstration yesterday. But take a look at the video above and tell me: does this look like a “tiny despicable minority ruining it for the others” to you? Or does it look like a thousand very pissed off students deciding that passively listening to Aaron Porter talk about “action” (as if he has any idea what that means) wasn’t enough of a message?

I made it into a pub about 3pm while in London for the NUS/UCU National Demonstration against education cuts to find out what was going on, to discover that the reason the march I had been on had stopped and then started to disperse was because a) there was a sit-in in Parliament Square, and b) student had stormed the Conservative Party HQ. Commentators repeatedly referred to “a few anarchists, not students”, being responsible, and Aaron Porter, president of the National Union of Students, accused a “small minority” of having “hijacked” the event and described the violence as “despicable”.

Ignoring the rather stupid implication that anarchists cannot be students, the fact is, however the media will spin it, maybe a couple of hundred broke into the building itself, but the reason they got away with it (the people arrested are people who stayed at Millbank well into the evening) is because of the thousands of protesters who surrounded the building and prevented the police from getting hold of them. At least 2000 people watched as people broke the windows of the Tory Party HQ and hung banners from the roof. And it would have been more if NUS stewards had not lined up at the end of the road and started lying to people that the Millbank protest had ended in an attempt to get them to go away.

I have been to a lot of protests and several that have turned violent, but this has to be one of the first where a small group of people started to engage in violent direct action and were immediately supported by *everyone* around them. I disapprove strongly of throwing fire extinguishers from rooftops, but direct action against buildings is as valid a method of protest as any other. The fact that so many people were prepared to engage in and support direct action should probably tell us all something about the potential scale of the movement that we are building, and just how powerful we can become.

And I think the message got through today that this is real, and we’re not going to go away, and people’s lives are going to be ruined by these cuts. Time to put some meaning into Mr. Porter’s dictum, “We will not stand for cuts”.

This is just the beginning.

Subscribe to SarahMcCulloch.com via Email! (or via RSS!)

Related Posts:

{ 1 comment }

This blogpost is the last part of a four part series.

A Lib Dem sign with a

Liberal Democrat polling is at its worst for 13 years.

I have now devoted some 4000 words to why I have left the Liberal Democrats and how the coalition government is literally a matter of life and death for some people. The response I have had from my decision has been massive, but a significant part of it has been suggestions of other parties that I might be interested in joining. So I thought I would write a little bit on why I don’t think that is a good idea.

For all that I have said previously, I’m not going to say that there aren’t things I do quite like about the Coalition over their predecessors. The scrapping of the National Identity Register (though not for foreign nationals…). The scrapping of ContactPoint. Supporting the autonomy of home educators. Not spending £800 on a Christmas tree. Telling the EU to get stuffed when it asks for more money. That’s cool.

But do you remember the part where people are going to die…? Is a higher personal tax threshold really worth the increased poverty of millions? Please, coalition supporters, tell me how you can live with yourselves, because I am stumped. Would I give up my £700 a year to keep my friends with mental health issues on community support programmes and out of psychiatric wards, hospitals and graveyards? I’d give it up in seconds.

Many people have suggested that I join the Labour Party. Several of my friends have now done so in the wake of the election and the black-haired Mr. Milband taking the leadership. However, to those who seem to think that the Labour Party will save us all from the clutches of the scissor-wielding George Osborne, I can say only one thing: have you forgotten?

A tank burns after a ambush in Iraq.

A tank burns after a ambush in Iraq.

Have you forgotten Iraq, death of David Kelly, the millions of Iraqi dead, the protests of a million people ignored? Have you forgotten 90 day detention, 42 day detention, detention without trial, control orders, extraordinary rendition? The National Identity Register, the ContactPoint database, the Forward Intelligence Team, the Independant Safeguarding Authority, NHS spine? Tuition fees, academies, the slow but steady abolition of special schools? The expansion of prisons, prison sentences, and reactive legislation (Labour created one new offence a day, every day, for 13 years)? The privatisation of everything they could possibly justify, including health, transport, education, and the post office? The handover of sovereignty of Europe and refusal to hold a referendum that they promised us? The emphasis on political expediency over evidence-based policy (drug policy, introduction of “alternative therapies” on the NHS)? That whole deregulation of the banking sector thing?

Post office workers on strike.

What has happened that no-one found it odd that the post office union had to strike under a Labour government in order to protect their jobs and prevent privatisation?

Have you forgotten just why Labour lost its majority? It’s because they did the Tories’ work for them. How can anyone tell me that Labour are the answer when they were the problem until May this year? Do you seriously believe that a man who has been at the heart of government since 1997 and who has a cabinet made up of people *responsible* for the creation and implementation of these policies are suddenly going to become lovely, fluffy social democrats without a war-mongering, authoritarian, privatising bone in their body? I don’t think so. People tell me to join the Labour Party – I can only reply that they have very, very short memories.

The Green Party logo.

Hi! Vote green for fiscal irresponsibility based on middle-class outrage!

People who want me to join the Green Party, however, are assuming that what I am looking for is an even whiter, even more middle class organisation. But while I care about the environment, I’m not prepared to deal with “the welfare problem” by putting everyone on it, giving everyone in the country £5000 a year and shutting down all private alternatives to public services. Here be authoritarian paternalism… The Green Party’s major priority seems to be, not spreading their message or persuading others of their policies, but getting the voting system reformed so their party can get more people elected. Somehow, I find that rather suspect. And what is up with that banning stem stell research thing?

A screenshot of Life of Brian.

Brian from the CPGB tries to explain why supporting war credits in Germany in 1914 is *crucial* to current revolutionary struggles...

I’m not joining any of the spectrum of the right wing parties on account of the fact that they are cheerleading on the kinds of policies that made me quit the Liberal Democrats in the first place. Been there, done that, sold out people worse off than myself. The left-wing parties I think are more thoughtful, but useless. I appreciate that socialists and communists are fundamentally concerned with human beings rather than money, but on the other hand I have far better things to do with my time than argue over the shades of theories of documents written in 1926 (you think I’m kidding…). No revolutionary system can be that detailed because no-one’s going to agree to implement it.

As for me, I think I am largely done with party politics now. But right now I’m pretty open-minded on where I go next, so feel free to leave a comment if you adhere to a brand of politics worth looking into. And by that, I mean one that doesn’t shrug at the potential death toll of thousands of people in favour of some vague idea of “fairness” that stops being meaningful the second you have the chance to do something about it.

See also:

Who’s Affected by the Cuts?: Why the Coalition is Going to Kill People Part 3

Death to the Liberal Democrats! Or, Why the Coalition is Going to Kill People Part 1

What’s Affected by the Cuts?: Why the Coalition is Going to Kill People Part 2

Subscribe to SarahMcCulloch.com via Email! (or via RSS!)

Related Posts:

{ 9 comments }

Who’s Affected by the Cuts?: Why the Coalition is Going to Kill People Part 3

October 25, 2010

This blogpost is the third of a four part series, and the fourth part will be published tomorrow. So, my friends, we established yesterday that the systems are going to be taking something of a hit as a result of coalition government. What about the people who depend on the state? What has the coalition […]

10 comments Read the full article →

What’s Affected by the Cuts?: Why the Coalition is Going to Kill People Part 2

October 25, 2010

This blogpost is the second of a four part series, and the third part will be published tomorrow. Many Liberal Democrats drunken on power seem to be getting all misty-eyed over an AV referendum and the pupil premium and entirely forgetting about things like, say, the cutting of social care for the elderly by 30%. […]

5 comments Read the full article →

Death to the Liberal Democrats! Or, Why the Coalition is Going to Kill People Part 1

October 25, 2010

This blogpost is the first of a four part series, and the second part will be published tomorrow. Further to my rage-fuelled spontaneous combustion last week, I thought I would write a somewhat more thought-out explanation as to why I was planning to leave the Liberal Democrats even before I was so offended by the […]

6 comments Read the full article →