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Direct Action London on March 26

category international | anti-capitalism | feature author Friday February 04, 2011 07:06author by Chris Knight Report this post to the editors

featured image
Liberate London - (and perhaps Ireland)!

Regional TUCs are expecting 300,000 to converge on central London on March 26. It should be an interesting day. While stewards are being recruited in liaison with police to stop any repeat of what happened to Millbank, there’ll be thousands of us with other ideas. If an NUS demonstration of 30,000 can accidentally demolish the Tory Party HQ, what might 300,000 achieve?

In January, anarchists from around Britain met in Manchester to form a ‘network of networks’ called ‘Network X’. It was agreed to mobilise for direct action on March 26. “This is a major step forward for the anarchist movement,” quipped Class War’s Ian Bone, “being the first time anarchist groups have agreed to a central command since Barcelona in 1936.” A kaleidoscope of groups, many of recent invention, is planning street theatre, effigies and spectaculars for the big day.

In one occupied art college I visited, a gigantic Trojan horse - inevitably a carthorse! - was being constructed by students as an ‘alternative TUC’; this will head an early morning feeder procession from Camberwell to join the march.

While sectarian divisions remain, most recognise that the best remedy is joint action. In addition to the various Trotskyist fronts, horizontal networks of all kinds are contributing to a rich tapestry of national and local anti-cuts coalitions. The big idea is that, whenever a town hall is occupied, it becomes a ‘people’s assembly’. A still bigger idea is to recycle schools, libraries, workplaces and housing estates as we approach March 26, perhaps even barricading whole neighbourhoods to host people’s assemblies and establish Tory-free zones.

Among other prominent bodies preparing direct action on March 26 is the London Student Assembly, initially led and inspired by students, but now open to everyone. A series of anti-EMA abolition and other anti-cuts demonstrations are being planned by this assembly as stepping stones toward the big day.

Direct action endorsements from trades union and Labour Party branches are yet to come, but I detect a dwindling appetite everywhere for the TUC’s determination to restrict us to their speechifying after marching from A to B. Too many of us remember the two million-strong anti-war demonstration of 2003, when we all behaved peacefully and were totally ignored. The RMT won’t be the only union to encourage some kind of direct action on March 26.

So what exactly is the plan? One idea, dubbed ‘Battle of Britain’, is to distribute 30 or so direct action blocs all along the march - for example, an RMT contingent, a Lewisham Against the Cuts bloc, a Newcastle Student Assembly contingent, and so forth. Then, say, at 2.02 pm precisely, the ‘Battle of Britain’ begins. We hear a World War II air raid siren accompanied by smoke flares all along the route. At that point, in each bloc, everyone sits in a circle to convene a people’s assembly.

If all goes to plan, each bloc will have prepared by bringing its own megaphone, pair of stepladders, contingent of counter-stewards, hip hop sound system, tea-making equipment, etc. So there would be 30 different people’s assemblies along the route.

The idea is to demonstrate quite simply that we are ungovernable. We do this for an hour, before agreeing to move on. Among other things, the hour is a rehearsal for ‘Earth Hour’ later that same evening (‘Earth Hour’ is the World Wildlife Fund’s annual synchronised ‘switch off the lights’ action from 8.30 to 9.30 pm, aimed at cutting light pollution and combating climate change). Brendan Barber (or anyone else from the TUC) could be invited to explain to us why we should follow him to Hyde Park and go quietly home. Then those who wish can proceed in that direction. The rest of us may have other ideas arising from decisions made during the assemblies.

The cuts proposed by this Con-Dem government are savage. Should they succeed, everything we’ve built since 1948 will be destroyed. Yet there is much good news. School kids are now in the lead, with the rest of the country behind them. This is a weak government, riddled with divisions and lacking a shred of legitimacy. Together we can bring it down. Direct action on the streets - as shown during the poll tax riot of 1990 - is the only language these people understand.

Further information is available on the web at

http://www.earthhour.org

http://networkxuk.wordpress.com

http://meltdown.uk.net.

Chris Knight
chris.knight@live.com

Liberate London - (and perhaps Ireland)!
Liberate London - (and perhaps Ireland)!

author by Donal - FEEpublication date Mon Feb 07, 2011 00:24author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"While stewards are being recruited in liaison with police to stop any repeat of what happened to Millbank": This so called "direct action" demonstration is shaping up to be another ICTU/USI/Gary Redmond safety valve mockery.?

author by Contributorpublication date Tue Feb 08, 2011 21:53author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I was talking to a comrade in London recently - probably known to many who post on here - who is of the opinion that the TUC stewards will not make a serious effort to interfere with those interested in such "Peoples Assemblies". They're not quite that stupid.

The question that really needs to be asked is 'Why is the same not happening in a neighbouring country to Britain where the IMF controls the economy' ?

I can only hope that a Fine Gael led Government in Ireland results in the same level of opposition from the mass of working people that the Tories have caused in Britain.

author by Chris Knightpublication date Thu Mar 03, 2011 14:32author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Indymedia readers may be interested to know of some exciting direct-action plans for the TUC demonstration on March 26. The ideas below were arrived at during a representative gathering last weekend, but are subject to endorsement or amendment at a much larger meeting to be held at the University of London Union on March 12-13.

1. Hyde Park and the Pentacle plan: ‘Hyde Park Stay for One Day’ was agreed as the best ‘soft’ option, which will unify the most people, so it had plenty of support, even though some people thought it was not a sufficiently political target. Plenty of activists may wish to skip the march and go straight to Hyde Park to set things up, and make things comfortable. There was also strong support for the idea of re-occupying Parliament Square. In addition, we heard that the Student Activist Network may aim to camp overnight in Trafalgar Square.

The overall conclusion was that we should publish the Pentacle of five points - including Parliament Square and Trafalgar Square to be occupied at early stages of the march, plus (later on) Buckingham Palace, Piccadilly and Hyde Park/Hilton Hotel. We know that we can pull off Hyde Park. This will be the launch pad and should help us achieve the other more political occupations. The Pentacle allows for many different possibilities: people can choose their own styles of music and protest. The Pentacle is designed to keep people partying till Earth Hour at 8.30pm, when we should really ‘cast a spell’ by blacking out London.

2. Synchronised signal at 2.11pm: To improve our chances to go into occupation of both Parliament Square and Trafalgar Square, we agreed that striking simultaneously with a synchronised signal would stretch the police more, making it harder to kettle different groups at the same time. We calculate that the maximum number of people should be along the length of Whitehall around 2pm, with plenty more marchers still to pass parliament. Therefore we decided on 02.11 (easy to remember because of 2011) as the moment to strike!

At that point, all hell breaks loose - signals, flares, foghorns, air raid sirens, beetroot juice, red wine flowing in Trafalgar Square fountains, and general mayhem, out of which people can do whatever diversions they feel appropriate to prove ourselves ungovernable!

Indymedia readers may have noted that the Con-Dem government plans to sack one in 10 members of the armed forces, many just back from Afghanistan. Perhaps we should be asking: What is Her Majesty doing about that? Why spend millions on a royal wedding at such an inappropriate time? Everyone else seems to have human rights: aren’t soldiers human too? Between March 26 and May Day we’ll be preparing leaflets to welcome our comrades in uniform and extend them full trade union rights.

With support pouring in from all sides, I think we can expect regime change sooner than might have been imagined this time last year.

For more information, see: http://www.battleofbritainmarch26.org.

Chris Knight

author by pat cpublication date Thu Mar 03, 2011 14:56author address author phone Report this post to the editors

In yesterdays Guardian it emerged that the TUC will have 2,800 stewards on the Demo. These stewards are cooperating with the Metropolitan Police and these traitors even have an office in the Met HQ. They have been trained by the Met to deal with protesters who sit down! It is obvious that these TUC Stewards are in effect Special Constables.

While ICTU stewards haven't had the nerve to mix it with the Left on demos, on the 29 November demo several independent journalists were assaulted by ICTU stewards. We may have problems with ICTU stewards in the future.

It should be possible to organise an event in solidarity with those who are carrying out direct action on this demo.

author by D_Dpublication date Sun Mar 06, 2011 20:32author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Why can't Network X organise their own event if they so strongly disagree with the TUC march? I know the TUC are not democratic but, as its says here, 300,000 are expected to respond to its call on March 26. Many of these will want stronger action from the TUC but how many of these agree with the "other ideas" for the day? How is it decided that "300,000" want to "achieve" these alternative plans?

author by pat cpublication date Mon Mar 07, 2011 13:36author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Was the demo on 29 November ICTUs demo? Should the left have kept away from it? Were we wrong to organise seperately and hold a meeting at the end of it?

The Demo on the 26 March is a demo against the cutbacks. It is not owned by the gutless TUC who are sabotaging any real fightback. The TUC has effectively made its stewards into special constables. The Met training TUC stewards to deal with protesters who sit down? What is the trade union movement coming to?

If the TUC special constables attack genuine protesters on the demo then they shouldn't be surprised if people defend themselves..

author by D_Dpublication date Wed Mar 09, 2011 14:49author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"Was the demo on 29 November ICTUs demo?"

The ICTU called and organised it. The Irish left (most of it) want the ICTU to call more of them, and on working days too.

"Should the left have kept away from it?"

Certainly not.

"Were we wrong to organise seperately and hold a meeting at the end of it?"

There is a danger that such seperate meetings are seen as sideshows, piggybacking or even divisive. It worked on 29 November I think. It depends on whether you judge an audience of c. 300/400 already-converted at the O'Connell Monument as productive. In any case the left meeting on 29 November was held after the main march and did not seek to channel the march itself in directions not planned by the organisers or anticipated by the marchers.

The TUC should steward the march and not be engaged in crowd control.

author by pat cpublication date Thu Mar 10, 2011 14:16author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Were you at the O'Connell Statue meeting? There were about 2,000 people at it. I have discussed this with members of the WSM & SP & independents who are not prone to exaggeration and they would agree with this figure.

I'm not supporting mindless rioting at any demo and I believe that protesters should not take offensive action. But if protesters are attacked by either police or "Trade Union" stewards then they have the right to defend themselves.

It is truly mind-boggling that the TUC would allow stewards to be trained by the Met to deal with people who hold sit down protests. The TUC are determined to stamp down on any effective protest.

Given the way ICTU stewards attacked independent journalists on 29 November I wonder if ICTU stewards are being trained by the Garda to put down protests. All part of Social Partnership.

author by pat cpublication date Thu Mar 10, 2011 14:28author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"There is a danger that such seperate meetings are seen as sideshows, piggybacking or even divisive."

So you are effectively saying that the Left do not have the right to organise separately on a workers demo. The Left also built for this demo. Of course we are divisive! We want to seperate the workers from the ICTU misleaders.

The PBPA originally wanted us to split away from the march and go to the IFSC. It didn't happen on this occasion. But in a situation where ICTU are deliberately demobilising protests it ight be an option next time.

author by Tahrir > Trafalgar Squarepublication date Wed Mar 23, 2011 09:12author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Anti-cuts campaigners plan to turn Trafalgar Square into Tahrir Square
Student activists draw inspiration from Egypt protests and call for 24-hour occupation of London landmark
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/mar/22/anti-cuts-c...ahrir

Campaigners against public service cuts are calling for a 24-hour occupation of Trafalgar Square – drawing inspiration from revolts in the Middle East – to coincide with Saturday's trade union protest in London.

Student activists who organised last year's demonstrations say there will be a rolling programme of sit-ins and protests on the day and have called on people to occupy the central London square turning "Trafalgar into Tahrir" – a reference to the gathering point in Cairo that was at the heart of the revolution in Egypt earlier this year.

"We want Trafalgar Square to become a focal point for the ongoing occupations, marches and sit-ins that will carry on throughout the weekend," said Michael Chessum from the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts. "There are a lot of smaller scale demonstrations and actions planned and, just as we have seen in recent protests in the Middle East and north Africa, we want to create an ongoing organising hub."...

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