report on oil refinery strikes meeting

by David Broder

On the evening of 13th February the Socialist Party and Respect Renewal held a joint meeting in London on the recent wildcat strikes by construction workers across Britain. Apparently the only significant meeting on the strikes taking place in the capital, the meeting was led off by Lindsey Oil Refinery strike committee member Keith Gibson (SP) and the left candidate for general secretary of the Amicus section of Unite, Jerry Hicks (RR). The meeting was a mix of interesting and informed commentary and sectarian jibes.

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Speaking to a sixty-strong audience, Keith Gibson gave an interesting talk on the background to the dispute and how workers had argued that the strike was not a national or race issue, but one of class. The employer had sought to divide the workforce by keeping the Italian migrant workers on barges away from their local counterparts, and the media had played up the significance of nationalist elements, but he had been able to appeal to internationalist sentiment. When some people went to intimidate the Italian workers in the barges, strikers had broken up their demonstrations, while the BNP were chased off picket lines upon their arrival. Continue reading “report on oil refinery strikes meeting”

photo-report of ‘dancing on the grave of capitalism’ demo

by David Broder

Three weeks to the day after the SWP’s March on the City demonstration in the City of London, tonight saw the “Dancing on the grave of capitalism” action timed to coincide with Halloween and thus featuring lots of dressing up. This, the latest in a series of anti-capitalist demos organised in response to the financial crisis, took place in Canary Wharf.

The protest was apparently the brainchild of members of the Radical Anthropology Group and people formerly involved in campaigns such as Reclaim the Streets, but in fact the 200-strong crowd was largely composed of Socialist Workers’ Party students (‘SWSS’, banner depicted below). A sprinkling from the Socialist Party, Workers’ Power, Anarchist Federation and Class War were present, as well as some people holding a poppy-decked banner for an Army veterans’ union. The demonstrators stood outside Canary Wharf tube station shouting abstract anti-capitalist slogans as City types looked on, bemused.

The slogan “anti-anti-anti-capitalista” made another appearance, as did “one solution – revolution” although another slogan had been toned down somewhat since the October 10th March on the City demo: “they say bankers, we say wankers” had bizarrely morphed into “they say bankers, we say jobs”. Perhaps they were wary of swearing in the wake of the recent Russell Brand/Andrew Sachs affair.

The demo, which had no demands and no real politics to speak of, merely served as part of the SWP’s ongoing “activist” turn after the abandonment of its electoral fronts.

photo-report of ‘march on the city’ demo

by David Broder

Friday 10th saw a demonstration in the City of London called ‘march on the City’. The organisers of the 200-strong protest were the Socialist Workers’ Party, but a number of anarchists participated (no organisations or papers though) as well as two of us and a friend, a few from Workers’ Power and one person from the Socialist Party. The large majority of those in attendance were students.

The protest reprised some of the slogans of the “anti-capitalist movement” which existed around ten years ago, and there was plenty of militancy and activist energy on show. Of course, the real aim of the protest was not to put pressure on the government or banks (to do what?) but rather to give the SWP students “something to do” as part of the organisation’s current turn from East-End electoral work towards anti-fascist and anti-capitalist “activism”.

A rather more worthwhile protest will be the Schroders cleaners’ demonstration at 5pm on Friday 17th (details in Jake’s comment here). The National Shop Stewards Network has organised a further protest on Monday 13th at noon.

Below are some photos and a video. A couple of them are ripped off other websites. Continue reading “photo-report of ‘march on the city’ demo”

‘march on the city’

by Jack Staunton

A demonstration has been called for 4pm on Friday 10th October at the Bank of England (Threadneedle St, London EC2, Bank tube) with the slogan “We won’t bail out the bankers”.

Chris Bambery writes in Socialist Worker that “we need to take to the streets to demand, “No bail out for the bankers – we will not pay for their crisis!” From small acts of resistance we can craft a political force that can knock back those running this destructive system.”

Of course, working-class action amidst the financial crisis should not be some instrument for building a party, but rather action which actually helps us weather the storm of the economic situation. While demonstrations mocking bankers like Friday’s may seem attractive, the most pressing matter is not to make shallow propaganda arguing ‘look: capitalism is crumbling’ as if power is about to fall into our lap, but rather for the workers’ movement to organise to defend ourselves from the worst concrete effects of the current economic climate (which is not limited to side-effects of the financial slump). Unemployment and underemployment, casual work with no stability (as experienced by many of the UK’s 750,000 call centre workers) and huge increases in utilities bills are all set to become even more aggravated.

We have produced a leaflet ‘the cost of living: it’s time to act’ about reshaping the workers’ movement for modern realities – the text is below. Continue reading “‘march on the city’”

rees and german resign from “left alternative” leadership

today’s ‘left alternative’ members’ bulletin announces the resignation of socialist workers’ party leaders john rees and lindsey german from the national committee of  the swp’s post-respect electoral front. no political explanation has been given for this move, although it is clearly part of the swp’s attempt to shift direction after their electoral debacle in may. Continue reading “rees and german resign from “left alternative” leadership”

report on student stop the war rally

by David Broder

There were two self-proclaimed “socialists” on the platform at the Student Stop the War rally in London today – Tony Benn and Lindsey German – and most of the one hundred people in the audience were from the Socialist Workers’ Party and other “socialist” groups. But working-class politics was not on the agenda. Not only did they fail to cite the workers’ movement as the agency to fight imperialism, there was almost no talk of solidarity with Marxists and trade unionists in conflict zones like the Middle East and the Caucasus.

Continue reading “report on student stop the war rally”