Workfare Shutdown and 20 October

By Tim Hardy

While many of us are marching on Saturday, not all of us are enthusiastic about the back-to-the-recent-past message of the march or the prospect of listening to Ed Miliband telling us that the answer to the crisis of capitalism is more episodes of BBC Watchdog.

The Green Party believes the world needs a far more radical change than a different managerial response aimed at a return to unbridled growth. While we are marching again in solidarity with the TUC we have yet again been denied a platform at the end of the march.

For me, what promises to be far more interesting than Miliband’s words is the Workfare Shutdown organised by Boycott Workfare at 2.30pm at Oxford Circus.

Shutdown Workfare October 20 Oxford Circus 2.30pm

Mediocre Dave offers some excellent advice for those going to the march that is worth reading whether you plan to go and listen to Ed or take part in peaceful direct action like this:

Despite all being out on the same march, people will come with strikingly different agendas and ideologies. In the face of the law, the media and the reactionary backlash that attends any major protest, we need to rekindle the sense of sincere solidarity that sustained us through the intense period of protests in the Winter of 2010/2011. People are marching because they’re angry, because the lives that they were promised haven’t materialised, because they’re finding it harder and harder to cope. That anger will be visible in many different forms. Following the protest, the police, the government, the TUC and the media will all construct their own version of events; their interests are not the same as ours, their agenda is not our agenda. Life is getting increasingly difficult, the actions of the government and the capitalist class are having increasingly devastating effects on us and, though we all know marching won’t change things, coming together and sticking together is the only real hope we have. Each day it becomes truer and truer that all we have left is each other. I have no idea how the day will turn out, but whatever happens, keep each other safe.

(Notes Ahead of the TUC March)

We saw on March 26 last year with the mass arrests of peaceful protesters that the police will lie, most of the media will support those lies and supposedly progressive MPs such as members of the disgraced Liberal Democrat Party will withdraw their support of groups like UK Uncut when Cameron tells them to do so.

The TUC will distance themselves from any action and – if tempers flare – will accuse those participating of attempting to kidnap the event, in effect falling into the trap of blaming protesters for a failure of the mainstream media to report fairly.

The police, MPs, the BBC, Sky and the rest of the media will demand with all the fervour of  Joe McCarthy, that people condemn any trouble on the day while conflating all behaviour that doesn’t fit into the category of marching placidly from A to B and labelling it “violence”.

Please resist that pressure.

Last year I suggested we adopt the St Paul’s Principles.

These are a set of principles of unity  agreed in February 2008 by those planning to confront the Republican National Convention.

1. Our solidarity will be based on respect for a diversity of tactics and the plans of other groups.

2. The actions and tactics used will be organized to maintain a separation of time or space.

3. Any debates or criticisms will stay internal to the movement, avoiding any public or media denunciations of fellow activists and events.

4. We oppose any state repression of dissent, including surveillance, infiltration, disruption and violence. We agree not to assist law enforcement actions against activists and others.

Oxford Circus is a comfortable distance from the march route so people who do not wish to get involved will not find themselves caught up in it.

If you do not feel comfortable participating in direct action or are concerned for your safety (a sadly justified concern because the police response to peaceful protest is often savage) I would ask you to pause and reflect.

That you do not feel comfortable is because you think you have something to lose. That you think you have something to lose is a sign of your privilege.

And if you instinctively trust the police to act fairly and tell the truth that is another sign of your privilege.

Everyone coming to the day should participate at a level with which they feel comfortable and in support of whatever agenda they sincerely believe will help build a better world. We will not always agree with the exact aims and tactics of others but a people divided is easily defeated.  If some act in a way you legitimately cannot support, please remember that there are different ways of disagreeing without descending to tabloid, knee-jerk, blanket condemnations.

The fallout from infighting after 26 March was devastating for many who had been providing the opposition to the coalition that Her Majesty’s Most Loyal Opposition had failed to do.

Since then as various groups have bickered and seen their members fade away, the Conservatives have continued to enrich themselves through accumulation by dispossession.

One day of action will change nothing in itself but if handled correctly it can help inspire and invigorate the constant process of community building and the dialogue and actions needed to steer our society away from its current path to social, political and environmental devastation.

Be safe and support each other tomorrow. Remember who the real enemy is. Solidarity forever.