Archive for the ‘protest’ Category

All around the Clocktower (apologies to Bob Dylan)

July 8, 2018

“There must be some kind of a way outta here”, said Sir Soulsby to the thief.
“There’s way too much crosstown traffic, I’ve got to build me a relief
road through Aylestone Meadows. JCBs dig my earth.
None of our fifty Labour councillors, have any idea what its worth”.

“No reason to get excited”. The thief, he kindly spoke.
“There are many here among us, who think you are but a joke.
But you and I, we know the score, and this is not our fate.
Here is a shiny £1 coin, payment for Braunstone Gate.”

All around the Clocktower – the homeless slept right through
buskers endlessly busking, and street preachers too.
Outside, by cold Welford Road, the Tigers they did roar.
Two riders were approaching, Leicester rain began to pour.

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Why #SPYCOPS matters

June 27, 2018

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The Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance (COPS) has been in the news a lot in the past few weeks, as a result of the high street cosmetic chain Lush’s highlighting of this issue. The Lush window display originally featured a montage of half a uniformed police officer and half the same person in plain clothes, with the headline “PAID TO LIE”, underneath which some fake police tape said “POLICE HAVE CROSSED A LINE”. It encouraged people to tweet support for victims of #SPYCOPS, innocent people who were “SPIED ON FOR TAKING A STAND”.

This display was later changed, as a result of a backlash from the UK cop humour site, with Lush staff being threatened and harassed. The Lush facebook group (which previously had an 80% approval rating) was targeted, with a slew of negative reviews and threats to boycott the company. Ironically, takings at Lush were actually up 13% during the campaign – brandwatch has done an interesting analysis, explaining that Lush’s customer base and the visitors to the police website were completely different, and Lush’s customers overhelmingly approved of the campaign.

The police units concerned operated since 1968 until at least 2010 and may well still be operating under a different guise today. The tactics which were employed included using the names of dead people as cover identities, without knowledge of the families concerned; having non-consensual sex with victims and in some cases even having children with their targets.

The full extent of the police operation is unknown, but at least 1,000 groups were infiltrated in this way. The only thing all of them have in common is that they are all left wing! Environmental campaigners, trade unionists, socialists, the Stephen Lawrence family, animal rights campaigners all found themselves targeted by the state, including members of the Socialist Party, of which I am a member.

Under pressure, Theresa May began a public enquiry in 2015, but this is not expected to give any answers until 2023, officers have been granted anonymity, and the enquiry does not cover Scotland. There is a petition for full details to be released and for a fair and transparent enquiry, with justice for the victims – https://www.change.org/p/sajid-javid-support-victims-of-spycops-get-access-to-justice

#SPYCOPS matters because we are supposed to live in a democratic country, with freedom of speech, where we have the right to join a trade union and the right to criticise the government. It matters because we need to stand up for the environment, because we need democratic, fighting trade unions to improve our working conditions and to fight against privatisation and casualisation of jobs. It matters because there are victims up and down the country, mostly women, who were left bereft as the men they thought of as their partners led double lives. It matters because the police’s record on investigations is abysmal – e.g. Orgreave, Hillsborough, Jean Charles De Menezes, Stephen Lawrence . . . It matters because police resources were wasted in deceiving innocent protestors rather than targeting criminals.

To read more about the campaign visit campaignopposingpolicesurveillance.com/

Bathbombing

June 4, 2018

DSCN1141

 

Soap suds wash away our cares,
bombs in our bath allay our fears.
Cannot cleanse minds of those
damaged by abuse. Plain clothes
masked their true intent.

Under covers, undercover cops lie.
Working with victims, Lush bravely try
to expose police brutality,
the real casualty is democracy;
bruised and battered and bent.

Listen to those who were spied on,
who were raped, lied to. The baton
raised against those who dared
raise a dissenting voice, who aired
concerns for the environment.

Ordinary folk, who put up a fight,
for basic justice, human rights,
to freely express their legitimate view
without fear of the boys in blue.
Relax, pause; breathe in the scent.

Time to reflect on hidden oppression,
fifty years of state’s secret obsession
still lingers on. The racist Prevent agenda,
unsubtle government propaganda.
Burst blue bubble, smug and complacent.

 

This poem is dedicated to those campaigners whose lives were ruined by police oppression. There has been a brave and timely campaign by Lush to expose 50 years of secret police interference with the lives of protestors, environmental campaigners, trade unionists, socialists. Many victims were deceived into relationships with those they thought they could trust.

More information – https://tombfowler.wixsite.com/spycops

Please sign the petition – https://www.change.org/p/sajid-javid-support-victims-of-police-spying-get-access-to-justice

 

Opposing hatred and bigotry in Leicester

May 29, 2016

Leicester has been in the news a lot recently, because of the unprecedented success of its football team. However, we have seen the far-right attempt to jump on this bandwagon, oblivious to the multicultural nature of both Leicester and its footballing heroes. This was the scene last weekend:

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photo – Leicester Socialist Party – see more details

For two weekends in a row, the people of Leicester have successfully defended the city centre from Britain First, a far-right splinter-group which crawled out of the wreckage of Nick Griffin’s BNP. They claimed to be campaigning for the EU referendum, but their literature is full of lies and hatred, targeted at Muslims in particular. The Another Angry Voice blog has posted a useful guide to their brand of hatred.

Leicester is one of the most diverse cities in Britain and has a proud record of standing up against racism. Dividing people in terms of their race is a convenient smokescreen for the ruling class. If working-class people are made to view each other as the enemy, then they are not blaming the real causes of their problems. These include attacks on services and jobs which the Conservatives are carrying through nationally, but unfortunately the local Labour council are passing these on to the people of Leicester and the shortage of council housing due to a lack of investment in public housing over decades.

People are at the mercy of private landlords, on zero-hour contracts, in insecure employment or are unable to get a job. It is not surprising if the ruling class try to divert their anger on to scapegoats, such as “terrorists” or “immigrants”, rather than admit that the situation we find ourselves in is because of the system of capitalism. This results in an increase in racial attacks and discrimination against minorities.

The Socialist Party in Leicester have a long tradition of holding street stalls in the city centre, every Saturday. When confronted with the bullying tactics of the far-right, we refused to go away. Instead, we called on the public to oppose and surround their stall. We reminded people of the nature of Britain First, and why they do not stand for modern Britain. We pointed out that we need to unite as a community in order to defeat the Tories’ attacks and it is still vitally important to oppose the far-right, just as the people of Leicester saw off the National Front in 1979 and opposed the EDL when they marched through the city in 2012.

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A similar unwelcome reception for Britain First this weekend – picture Midlands Antifascist Network

If they are left unopposed, racist thugs can get away with attacks on Muslims. Britain First has invaded mosques, and its leader Paul Golding has been convicted of harassment. He was arrested again this weekend, after breaking bail conditions by failing to show up to a scheduled appointment in a probation office in Luton, as he was 50 miles north of that city, in Leicester.

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Golding being escorted by members of the local constabulary – picture East Midlands Anti Fascist Network

The far-right have form in this city. In 2010, the EDL broke out of police lines and attacked Big Johns, a local fast-food restaurant, because it was selling Halal produce. In 2013, I wrote about a Leicester pub, “The Globe”, which was attacked on a neo-Nazi website for allegedly refusing to serve members of the armed forces, in case this offended Muslims. As a result, staff of the pub received threats, although the report was clearly completely fake. Britain First share the racist views of the EDL and BNP and have no place in a modern, democratic society.

The principle of freedom of speech extends only to those who will allow freedom of speech to others. In destroying a stall table and megaphone of socialist groups, Britain First showed themselves to be no respecters of the right of free speech. They brought a loud sound system, blaring out patriotic music, in an attempt to drown out the public’s opposition.

Fortunately, they were again sent packing, behind police lines and carrying armfuls of their racist publicity, which they were unable to give out due to being surrounded and outnumbered. The public of Leicester will need to be watchful and ready to mobilise to counter their threat.

The Socialist Party stands for unity of the working class and against any attempts to divide us. We stand against racism, bigotry and intolerance. We are a democratic party and are happy to debate with our political opponents, but we will organise against far-right bullies, who resort to abuse, threats and violence.

The Socialist Party campaigns for a LEAVE vote in the forthcoming EU referendum, but not on the basis of racism and xenophobia. We are for a united, socialist Europe, not the bosses’ undemocratic EU, whose treaties have imposed privatisation and austerity across the continent.

 

 

Write on.

January 13, 2015

Carbon-powered, a pocket-sized tree.

To inspire, educate, agitate, satirise.

Pricks pompous, powerful politicians.

Graphite forges words, coal-black and

As hard as diamond, but glides softly.

We need to fight to defend this wonder.

No to scapegoating, violence, or racism.

For free expression, protect human rights.

As censors rub out our freedom of speech.

And cartoon characters laugh at violence,

An indestructible force of human nature.

Powerful weapons, in the right hands

Can begin to change the world.

Shattered, broken they lie.

Pencils write, develop

our consciousness.

Spirit lives on.

Fight back.

Unity to

Win.

little red little green

If you have enjoyed my poetry on this blog, my new collection, “Little Green Poetry” is now available from Lulu – – £4+P&P (paperback) or £2.50 (for e-book readers)

You can still order copies of my first collection, “Little Red Poetry” from http://www.leftbooks.co.uk or http://www.lulu.com – again for £4 (pb) or £2.50 (as a pdf for e-readers).

I hope you enjoy reading my poems, and, as always, all proceeds will go to help build the fightback against corporate political parties, to build a voice for the millions, not the millionaires.

To find out more about my politics, visit the website of the Committee For A Workers’ International, which is engaged in struggle in around 50 countries worldwide.

New Year’s Eve, St George Square

December 8, 2014

Haud yer wheesht a wee minute, I canny hear mysel’ speak.

 

[Spoken by a slightly drunk woman, as she clambers unsteadily onto the statue,

Wellington motionless behind her, crowned by traffic cone.

Sporadic volleys of fireworks cascade into the sky.

On the distant Clyde, the last heavy crane, now museum-piece, stands alone.

The flicker of a silhouette against neon-orange.

The noise of revellers dies slowly away.]

 

2014 – here’s to ye. Now that wiz a year an’ a hauf.

 

The optimism, the Saltires, so nearly defeated

Cameron, Milliband and that other yellow wotsisname.

Too close tae call, the papers said.

An they a’ came streamin’ North. ‘Better Together’.

 

But the last laugh was oors. Devo Max.

Dae the ba’-heids think that’ll shut us up?

Nae chance. We have got tae fight on.

 

Away wi’ yer cuts and austerity,

Away wi’ yer tripe aboot a’ in this taegether.

Now Sheridan, he’s no numpty.

He’s one of us, knows how tae fight.

 

He wiz on aboot revolt –

Red Clydeside, tanks in the square.

A long time ago mebbe, but we’ll get there again.

Solidarity.

 

We defeated poll tax, prison, Murdoch, the lot.

The likes of Cameron, dolled up tae the nines,

Bedroom tax for us, while they swap their hooses.

 

They’re never goin’ tae get us doon.

Here’s tae 2015, an’ a new dawn.

Brazil 2014

June 16, 2014
Brazilian street artist Paulo Ito has created the World Cup's first viral image. Photo courtesy: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pauloito
Brazilian street artist Paulo Ito. Photo courtesy: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pauloito

It is all kicking off.

Riot police go in hard, storm the favelas

To sweep away the poor,

And money is passed

To FIFA – look at that corruption!

Surely a yellow card there?

But no – the referee waves play on.

Demonstrators gather in defence

Link up with strikes and protests

Face a hail of rubber bullets, clouds of gas,

Inequality to bring tears to the eyes.

And those who can afford a ticket

Enjoy the carnival.

£13bn for stadia but nada for the people.

Movers and shakers are in the royal box.

But where are the slums, the homeless?

Nowhere to be seen in sanitised coverage.

From satellite to satellite, the signal is passed,

And the police take up an attacking formation –

Clash with the millions occupying the squares.

As money-men do backroom deals,

Wads of cash change hands

And stones pelt the commentary box,

A boy holds up a banner in protest

To win indigenous land,

But we didn’t see that.

We are not in control of the footage.

Just feast on the football,

The samba, the passion, the silky skills.

Forget about grinding poverty.

Football and beer numb the pain of life.

And a scything run by Death

Into the penalty area, the grass fed with the blood

Of workers who built this magnificent spectacle,

And as the ball passes to Qatar

In a move worthy of Sepp Blatter,

There is a world still to play for.

The revolution is far from over,

We still have a chance to equalise.


You can read some more of my poetry in ‘Little Red Poetry’ (£4 pbk, £2.50 pdf e-book).

All proceeds go to build a new party for ordinary people, against cuts and privatisation. Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

Copies are also available from Left Books

10,600 and counting . . . the hardest hit.

December 10, 2013

In the UK, the Freedom of Information Act allows people to ask questions of public bodies. One such question put to the government by anti-disability discrimination campaigners, asked between January and November 2011, how many people have died after being assessed by ATOS as being ‘fit for work’ in a six week period since their assessment?

In 2010, there were just 310 deaths of people on health-related benefits. The answer supplied by the DWP to the FOI request was 10,600 deaths. This graphically illustrates the stress and financial impact that disabled people are suffering from as a result of government outsourcing and a target-driven culture that does not meet people’s needs, but only seeks to cut costs, in this case even at the cost of human life.

Northamptonshire Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) highlighted this fact on a banner on a protest this week at Leicester Clocktower. Leicester Socialist Party members joined the protest, along with campaigners from Leicester Occupy movement, and faith groups. We heard of some of the tragic details of those who had died, including a disabled couple who had committed suicide, as they were destitute. They were found together in their home with no electricity, food or heating. See more here – http://andreaurbanfox.wordpress.com/2012/12/30/victims-of-dwp-and-atos/

We call for an end to ATOS assessments. We call for democratic decision making and the involvement of disabled people themselves. We call for decent benefits to allow disabled people to lead as independent a life as possible. All outsourced services should be brought back under the remit of a democratically-controlled, publicly- funded NHS. The ideal of universal healthcare is rapidly being demolished under the present Government’s Health and Social Care Act, while New Labour introduced the ‘reforms’ – Foundation Trusts, PFI and outsourcing, which made these attacks on our healthcare system possible in the first place.

We are campaigning for Leicester Council to refuse to implement the discriminatory and unfair bedroom tax, which affects disabled people disproportionately – around two thirds of the tenants affected by this tax are disabled – they often need a spare room due for a carer or for equipment due to their disability.

“You can judge a society by how it treats its most vulnerable citizens”.

“From each according to their means, to each according to their needs”.

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You can read some of my poetry in my book ‘Little Red Poetry’. All proceeds go to build a new party for ordinary people, against cuts and privatisation. Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

Now Maggie’s Dead

September 18, 2013

Is this the extent of our democracy?
Infiltrating the pop charts, with a protest jingle
A snippet of a single on the radio?
While the Munchkins were censored,
And the shipyards of the Clyde lie silent,
Wyatt still sings Shipbuilding,
With a will to instill
Decency. Diving for pearls,
Not dear life.

It’s nothing personal, you understand,
I was as eager as anyone
To pull on a Maggie’s Dead T-shirt
Put together a CD of anti-Thatcher tunes
And celebrate the big day.
I just hate Tories and all their ilk,
‘Cos she stole our kids’ milk.
And as she lay in state in the Ritz
Pensioners are dying in their homes, when they lived through the Blitz.
Victims of fuel poverty, privatised energy.

But in New, Blue Labour, Thatcherism’s still going strong
Is there really all that much to rejoice? Once the song
Ends, and you’ve drank one too many, gloating Ding Dong The Witch
Is Dead. Then the hangover begins: tax cuts for the rich,
Lost jobs, empty factories, homeless on the streets.

I was seven when she came to power in 1979.
My great aunt, with old memories of the general strike
Said the unions wouldn’t stand for it.
I’m still waiting.

___________________________________________________________________________

I will be performing some of my poems at the Donkey pub, on Welford Road, Leicester on the 3rd October, 8pm – saying ‘Goodbye to Thatcher’. The excellent KGB Jazz and The Splitters are also playing, and Bali Rai will also be reading. Tickets available here – http://www.ents24.com/leicester-events/the-donkey/kgb/3486723. All proceeds go to City of Sanctuary.

You can help build an alternative to Thatcherism and support the Socialist Party by buying a short book of my poems, ‘Little Red Poetry’: Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

On the day the statue of Thatcher was unveiled

September 16, 2013

The news spread fast – by squawk, coo and twitter.
From far-flung forests, fields, farms we flew
Synchronised starlings swept across the sky.
Geese arrowed in a gigantic V sign,
Militant seagulls cried out in anger.
Pigeons propelled by powerful pinions,
Herring gulls, guillemots, gannets, goshawks,
Gathered in Grantham to give up their guano.
On the day the statue of Thatcher was unveiled.

We circled high until the ribbon was cut.
Joyously drenched the assembled dignitaries,
Perched on her handbag, shoulders and hairdo,
Covered her from head to foot in our ordure.
The acid will eat into the bronze
Dissolve decades of double-dealing and deceit,
Will break down her memory,
Just as she broke our communities.

___________________________________________________________________________

I will be performing some of my poems at the Donkey pub, on Welford Road, Leicester on the 3rd October, 8pm – saying ‘Goodbye to Thatcher’. The excellent KGB Jazz and The Splitters are also playing. Tickets available here for £3 – http://www.ents24.com/leicester-events/the-donkey/kgb/3486723. All proceeds go to City of Sanctuary.

You can help build an alternative to Thatcherism and support the Socialist Party by buying a short book of my poems, ‘Little Red Poetry’: Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.