The Battle of Hawthorn Town Hall

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Last night shortly after I started this the battery in my modem melted down. It just stopped working, and on inspection it felt as though the interior of the battery had turned to mush. So today I will be spending the day without internet access until I can collect a replacement, hopefully tomorrow. This is somewhat disappointing, as I had intended to publish this story today, as it is a significant anniversary. Twenty years ago, on the 19th of July 1998, an incident took place which has become quite famous, or infamous depending on your point of view, in Australian political history. Or possibly mythology.

 

Pauline Hanson, the neo-fascist Queensland politician, was prevented from addressing a public meeting in Melbourne at the old Hawthorn Town Hall by a counter demonstration and picket. Much has been said and much has been written about the events of that day, both at the time and in the years since, absolutely none of it accurate. Despite the fact that at least 2,000 people were there that day, with some estimates saying as many as 3,500, only around a hundred people, half of them demonstrators and half of them cops, know what really happened. I am one of them, and I think the time has come for the story to be told and the record corrected.

 

 

In researching this story I have read a number of accounts of the events of that Sunday afternoon, from both left and right, and of course numerous media reports at the time, none of them remotely reflecting the true story. Of course this is in part because many of those discussing it didn’t actually see it, and tend to have an axe to grind, the Hanson apologists wishing to portray it as left wing thuggery (poor, misunderstood little fascists), a dastardly plot by the ALP or the Greens or, even less plausibly Militant, who had a negligible presence in Australia at the time and the leaders of the organised left wishing to paint it as a great victory for their tactics and strategy. In fact it was neither. The first point I have to address is the violence that really did take place and the reason for it. As with the fact that Hanson was prevented from speaking, everyone has sought to impose their own interpretation of this violence. For the Hansonites it was an outrageous victimisation, for the left a heroic stand against oppression and for the police, well they painted themselves as the victims too. Again, they are all wrong, and the truth is far more mundane, and far less flattering to all concerned.

 

 

For those who remember the incident, have you ever wondered why, although there were a number of injuries that day, there were no arrests? There’s no great mystery about it in fact. The simple truth is no arrests were made because no offences were committed. Not by the demonstrators at any rate. Unfortunately I can’t say the same for the police. The violence was on their part, and was entirely the responsibility of the sergeant in charge of the contingent of mounted police attending. Without orders, acting on his own initiative, he led his unit through the crowd in front of the town hall, riding down demonstrators and causing all of the injuries. The incident commander, who was inside the building at the time, was heard to be furious when he was informed of what had happened. He demanded they be called off, but this was not done for, again, one simple reason – the police comms failed.

 

 

But I’m getting ahead of myself, that was later. I haven’t arrived yet. The meeting was scheduled for 4pm, and I got there shortly before that in the company of two friends, a couple in fact, who were relatively inexperienced with demos and who were somewhat apprehensive given the trouble that had attended earlier One Nation events in Geelong and Dandenong. I was 33, and a veteran of numerous demos in Glasgow and London, so I’d sort of taken them under my wing. When we arrived most of the demonstrators were already there, the vast majority at the front of the town hall on Burwood Road. I suggested we take a walk around the whole block before joining them. This was basically a scouting mission to identify all the access points to the area, to work out where we could go if things turned ugly.

 

 

Now the geography of the place is key to this story, and building work means it no longer looks the way it did, so in the absence of an accurate diagram I’ll have to describe it as best I can. The town hall complex was on a corner. The cross street was Glenferrie Road. Part of the complex is, or at least was in 1998, the Hawthorn Police Station, which was around the corner and behind the town hall. Between them was an open quadrangle in use as a car park, with a larger car park taking up the diagonally opposite corner of the city block. There was access to the rear of the complex from that car park, across a wide area, and also by two narrow passages on either side of a smallerbuilding (not sure what that was, gone now) which occupied the actual corner, one along the side of the town hall and one along the side of the police station. At the rear of the hall there was a passageway along the back side of the building, about 12′ – 15′ wide, contained by a wall around 4′ to 5′ high, which allowed access to a side door. This wall had a gap of around 15′ – 20′ right at the back. To access the hall you would enter the passageway there, turn left and walk around the corner to the side door.

 

 

Much has been made of this layout by the Hansonites. According to this document, which appears to have been online since shortly after the day, the police were either weak or in league with the protestors, because it should have been easy for them to bring Hanson in by that side entrance. And it might have been, because I believe that had been their intention all along, if it hadn’t been for my scouting mission. Yes folks, confession time, I was the one who thwarted that plan. You see, when I saw that layout it was immediately clear to me what they intended to do. There were hardly any demonstrators at the rear of the town hall at this point. Adjacent to the gap in the wall someone had parked a Nissan Civilian, directly facing the wall. A Civilian is a small bus, bigger than a minibus, smaller than a city bus or a coach, holds about 30. It was dusty, white and unmarked. A bit like this:

 

 

 

It occurred to me that it would be the simplest thing in the world to bring up another similarly-sized vehicle to take the corresponding position on the other side of the gap, creating an easily defensible area into which they could bring her by car. Of course they didn’t want the demonstrators to realise what they intended to do, so they had left just one young cop to keep an eye on it. There were no demonstrators near it. When I figured out their plan, I went to the first stewards I could find and asked for a couple of dozen people to go and block the passageway. People who heard this started volunteering and soon we had what I estimated to be an adequate number, so I led them round there. As soon as we got there the single cop on lookout duty got on the radio, which was still working at that point, and cops started arriving from everywhere!

 

 

We were able to get roughly half way along the rear of the building before they mustered sufficient numbers to link arms and block our progress. Now I didn’t do a careful head count, but I’d estimate there were roughly 50 of us, and a similar number of police, some of whom arrived behind us so we were hemmed in. That was fine, because we had successfully blocked the passageway, and the police presence was effectively helping us to do that. Indeed at first they were pushing us in both directions at once. At that point I stuck my head up and loudly pointed out that this was what they were doing, and suggested they make their minds up. “Which way are you trying to push us?” They didn’t know. I’d rumbled their Plan A, and they clearly didn’t have a Plan B. But they stopped trying to push us from behind. Because of the wall there was nowhere for us to go anyway.

 

 

In this article, written by someone involved in the organisation of the demo, they claim that demonstrators linked hands all the way around the town hall, and bravely held out in the face of mounted police charges. The earlier document indicates that the Hansonites believed that too. Didn’t happen. In fact there were effectively two separate actions that day. The first, and the one that everyone saw, including the TV cameras, was at the front of the hall. Over 2,000 people participated there. The ill-disciplined action by the mounted police unit took place there, and those who faced that charge were indeed courageous. I want to be absolutely clear about that. I didn’t see it personally, but I know they stood their ground, and that deserves acknowledgement and credit. The decisive action however, the reason the police incident commander advised Hanson they could not guarantee her safety if she attempted to enter the hall, was carried out by me and my brave 50 out the back.

 

 

Once we and the 50 or so police who responded to us settled into our allotted roles that afternoon, we began to communicate. This is very important. If you ever find yourself on the front line of a demo, this is what you do. You keep up a dialogue. Now it fairly quickly became apparent to me who the natural leader amongst the police was. He was being extremely vocal, and was yelling, “Blood rule! Blood rule!” when I first noticed him. Remember, this was in the days when people were still fairly paranoid about blood, fully effective treatments for HIV/AIDS were not yet available, and all sports were rigidly enforcing blood rules whereby the slightest sight of blood would immediately see the player sent to the sidelines to be patched up. The pre-eminent sport in Victoria was of course Australian Rules Football (AFL), hereinafter referred to as ‘footy.’ So I looked where this guy was pointing.

 

 

He was right. There was a young guy on our side who was bleeding from a head wound. It wasn’t a particularly serious-looking one, and he almost certainly got it before he joined our number, but the blood was clearly visible. I worked my way through the crowd to reach him and told him to go and get medical attention. There was a first aid tent in fact, not more than about 50 yards from our position at the near corner of the larger car park. St. John’s I believe. He didn’t want to go, so I spoke to him in the voice I inherited from my father (the one that allows me to do gigs without a mic or busk in busy streets), making sure everyone on both sides heard me. I told him he was injured, that he’d done his bit, and that now he needed to go and get medical attention. I got the rest of my 50 behind me, and by moral suasion we prevailed on him to go. I took care to let him do so without losing face, and we even gave him a few cheers and a round of applause as he went. I then turned my attention to the vocal cop.

 

 

His name (and this alone shows that it was a more innocent time, the fact that many of the cops were still wearing their name badges, you don’t see that any more) was Constable N. Smith. I’ll explain the reason I remember that like it was yesterday in a minute. Now for my non-Australian audience, I should explain that police ranks in Australia are a little different to those you’d find in Scotland or the UK. Constables are obviously the same, but you also get Senior Constables. That’s sort of equivalent to a Sergeant. They wear two stripes. An actual Sergeant is equivalent to a UK Inspector, and a Senior Sergeant is equivalent to a Chief Inspector. The group who faced us were mixed, Constables and Senior Constables. So although Constable Smith was not the senior officer present, nobody seemed to be formally in charge, and he emerged as the natural leader. So once our wounded soldier had departed I got his attention.

 

 

I can’t remember my exact words, but basically I communicated to him, in far fewer words than I’m about to use, that our enforcing of the blood rule, at his request, was a good faith gesture, and proposed that we agree to broaden the understanding and adopt footy rules more generally. That meant a bit of push and shove, a bit of the old hip and shoulder, was fair game but there was to be no striking, no kicking, no tripping, no eye-gouging, no hair pulling, etc. Once that understanding had been reached, Constable Smith and myself kept up a continuous dialogue, with a bit of friendly banter, for the rest of the afternoon to ensure its enforcement on both sides. I soon nicknamed him ‘Norm’ because of the medal. The Norm Smith Medal is awarded to the player adjudged best on ground in every AFL Grand Final. It’s named for some legend of the game from way back. I want to say 1920s. That’s why I’ve never forgotten his name. Anyway, the dialogue worked and where we were there were no injuries and no arrests that day.

 

 

They did try to bring a couple of people through. One made it, albeit looking as though he’d been dragged through a hedge backwards (which he had really, a human hedge), the other didn’t. Nobody struck them, but we were completely hemmed in, forming a solid phalanx. There simply wasn’t room for anyone to move. Not that we were trying. Our intention was to put our bodies in the way and to block access. In this we succeeded, at least insofar as having seen the results of their attempts to bring people through our cordon, the commander recommended to Pauline Hanson not to try it, and told her, I would imagine, that he couldn’t make any promises once she was in the middle of the crowd. Due to the extremely restricted space there was no chance for either side to reinforce our numbers once the block was established. Would she have been unharmed if they had tried it? I don’t know. That was certainly my intention, but she does tend to attract a lot of hostility. I do know that in the case of those two of her supporters they tried to get through, they were not harmed, however we carried out our stated intention of doing our best to block their path.

 

 

So given all the above circumstances I am quite prepared to take responsibility for preventing her from addressing the meeting. I’d do it again in a heartbeat, and I’ll tell you why. I do believe in freedom of speech, as a general principle, with one vital exception – no platform for fascism. No right can ever be absolute, not in the real world. The reason for this is that there are overlapping rights, some of them a priorirights. All such judgements are a balancing acts. So where does your right to freedom of speech end? That’s not a rhetorical question. It ends with hate speech, because that infringes on certain a priori rights of others. Even Americans, who have more legal protection for the absolute right to freedom of speech than pretty much anyone, ought to understand this. The first rights their fledgling nation ever asserted for its citizens were life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. In that order. And that is entirely right and proper, isn’t it. The most fundamental right of all must surely be the right not to be killed. Hate speech leads to killing, it’s as simple as that.

 

 

That is why in countries not quite so obsessed with free speech there are laws constraining what you can and cannot say. Incitement to racial hatred for instance has long been a criminal offence in the UK, and that is entirely appropriate too. The problem is, and this is certainly the case in Australia as well as the UK, that allowances do tend to be made for politicians that would perhaps not be made for the rest of us (think of Donald Trump – much of what he says would be illegal in the UK or Australia, some of it probably is even in America). Stephen Yaxley-Lennon* is, in my view, one such politician. He is in jail for contempt of court, for defying a judge, not for the disgusting things he says, although arguably he should be. Pauline Hanson, who as you may have heard has called for his release, is another. She is a racist, a proto-fascist, what she says (some of which she has got away with under parliamentary privilege) is hate speech, and although she is not physically attacking people herself, views like hers legitimise and enable such acts in the minds of others, of her followers. Once you set out down that road it’s only going to end one way – badly.

 

 

And it’s impossible to escape the reality that fascism is a problem for us, the working class left, to deal with. Nobody else will do it for one thing. Remember in the 1930s none of the Tories, apart from Churchill famously, wanted to oppose the Nazis. They wanted to reach an accommodation with them. In Spain only the International Brigades, working class, left wing volunteers, went to the defence of the Republic. It’s our clothes they’re trying to steal and our people they are trying to recruit for another thing. The reason these ideas are so insidiously seductive is because they marry some left wing-sounding economic populism, which they invariably fail to deliver on when given the opportunity by the way, with the deeply rooted human tendency to out group hostility, xenophobia and scapegoating. It’s the worst part of our nature, and we know where it can end up go in an era where technology has made us far more dangerous than we ever were in the days when being that way conferred, presumably, some sort of evolutionary advantage. The price of freedom, as they say, is eternal vigilance, and the only thing a tolerant society cannot tolerate is intolerance. For these reasons we must be eternally vigilant not to tolerate this poisonous ideology ever taking root or thriving again. It is not within the boundaries of legitimate political opinion. The ordinary protection of political speech does not apply to it. It understands only the language of force and as our grandparents knew, it must be opposed, unconditionally and at any cost. Never again!

 

*the fuckknuckle who goes by the alias of Tommy Robinson

By Derek Stewart Macpherson

 

You can read more Ungagged writing here, or listen to more left views from the collective on our podcast

The People Spoke

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Available FREE on iTunes and Podbean

On this episode of Ungagged, themed around “The People Spoke” and introduced by Victoria Pearson, we will hear from Flavia Trudoreanu from Scottish CND on 10 reasons not to have Trident, Jason Travis on the left and Brexit – and what he feels socialists should argue and organise for, Laura Lundahl on why the US government doesn’t represent the will of the people due to its many undemocratic practises, and Joe Solo on the rise and rise of the right.

Paul Sheridan reflects on Scotland’s angry voice and the impact we can have, Debra Torrance will be giving a more positive view of how the people can use their voices, and Graham Campbell will be on chatting with Neil Anderson about Graham’s recent trip to Jamaica, Donald Trump and Pride. Teresa Durran gives us a personal reflection of the London anti Trump march, which you can see loads of pictures of here.

It wouldn’t be Ungagged without the wee man, we will of course be hearing from Red Raiph and  from the inimitable (and original) clever commie Chuck Hamilton, who will be talking about why jails profit from prisoners, and why bisexuals need to step up. The two are unrelated.

With music from Steve McAuliffe & the Mighty Ur, The Wakes, Robb Johnson, Argonaut, The Cundeez, Gallo Rojo, The BlackHeart Orchestra, CascadiaCreatures of Habit, and Joe Solo.

Pulled together, kicking and screaming, by Neil Anderson. With cat herding support from Neil Scott.

Remember we love to hear from you so get yourself Ungagged on our Facebook page, or on Twitter, or check out the latest news, views and opinion right here on on our website.

 

 

Ungagged is a not for profit voluntary collective, and we rely on the generosity of our listeners to help fund our solidarity and grassroots charity campaigns, and meet hosting, equipment and advertising costs. If you love what we do and can spare some change, our collection tin is at PayPal.me/ungaggedleft

Creatures of Habit

Reading Time: 2 minutes
Creatures of Habit are a Alternative Rock/Americana band hailing from Glasgow, Scotland. Their style is as diverse as it is exciting.
Creatures of Habit began, as many good things do, with a drunken idea.
Lifelong friends Barry Fitzsimmons and Stuart McPhee had grown up together and learned guitar side by side in their early teens.
One evening, through a Guiness-invoked haze, the two pondered why they had never sat down and made a serious and prolonged attempt at making music with each other. Stuart had become adept at audio engineering and had recently completed a solo instrumental venture, Mournful Glory. Barry was playing in a covers band to earn some cash. The time finally seemed right to make it happen.
Creatures of Habit was born as a result in the early spring of 2014. Both Stuart and Barry had songs ready, and new ideas were quickly seized upon and expanded in a creative explosion. Years of friendship had clearly made for an excellent writing partnership which neither had experienced before.
With several evenings jamming the songs into a cohesive structure, recording took place in Barry’s front room over the course of four booze-fuelled days. Stuart would then spend countless agonising hours mixing the songs at home.
The result is the band’s first album ‘Free from the Cares of Man’. Drawing from a wealth of influences, the songs cover themes as diverse as homelessness, parenthood, love, loss and redemption.

Various recordings have since been made, with a second album in the works.

The songs ‘Dear Green Place’ and ‘Once in a Generation’ deal with the issues surrounding Scotland’s 2014 IndyRef, with the latter being used to promote a play at the Edinburgh Free Fringe by playwrite Julie Anne Calderwood. Then duo’s political songwriting can further be heard on tracks such as ‘Invisible’ about homelessness and ‘Caged Birds’ which was written in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

Songs are free to download and stream here
Find Creatures of Habit on Facebook here

Norsefire on the Horizon?

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Norsefire on the Horizon?

We live in an age where senior SNP politicians are openly expressing worry about the rise of a far-right figure in England.  Alyn Smith, MEP, said that the situation in England is so precarious that one wrong move, so to speak, could lead to the emergence of the far-right.  Smyth cites Tommy Robinson, and the associated campaign to free him after he was rightfully locked up for contempt, while attempting to exploit trials involving child abuse to smear Muslims.  Smith’s conjuring of Robinson of course hints at the way all these causes of the right intersect with Brexit. Many people, mostly Labourites and Unionists, might make the charge that Smith’s comments are some attempt by the SNP to fearmonger, but those people don’t know Alyn Smith. He doesn’t do hyperbole. He can just sense the political mood, as many of us who have seen the grand catastrophe of Brexit can.  

I often cast my mind back to those early debates I had with some Lexiteers, including one with Corbyn’s now economic advisor.  While they said Brexit would pave the way for a veritable anti-neoliberal utopia of the left, one of our warnings was that Brexit would radicalise everything to the right. Well, we were 100% right.  

UKIP have always been a party of racists, including literal Neo-Nazis (the fact the disintegration of the BNP accompanied UKIP’s rise is no coincidence in terms of activists, members and electoral forces), but they always maintained a kind of right-wing Tory leadership. Norman Tebbit-like people who would maintain decorum while tolerating loathsome extremes in private.  The mask of plausibility in an age of multiculturalism and anti-racism (derided by the right under that vague spectrum of ‘political correctness’) – well, in today’s England, Brexit England, there’s no longer a need for the mask.

Now UKIP have a leader who is openly supporting the fascist, Islamophobic pogromist Tommy Robinson. Everything is being dragged rightwards in England, while the conditions of a ‘no deal’ Brexit might very well put all of us across these islands in uncharted political territory – I’m thinking of Weimar Germany in October 1929, when the Great Depression hit Europe like a tonne of bricks, and overnight revamped the at that point rapidly disintegrating NSDAP (the overall radical right, the Volkisch right, as they were called, were still alive and kicking in Germany, but the NSDAP were like a dying fish, following the Beer Hall putsch of November 1923 until the Great Depression).  Brexit could have similar consequences, especially the consequences of a ‘no deal’ scenario, which would splinter the British economy and lead to a social and economic crisis on par with World War 2, with potential food shortages and the possibility of a return of rationing.  Progressive politics rarely ever do well out of crisis –societies facing crisis almost always turn inwards and towards the most bestial instincts of such societies. In England, we can now see the kind of beasts of the far-right who could potentially capitalise on a Brexit dystopia.  Such a dystopia would’ve been unthinkable even 5 years ago, but now government departments are planning for it.

I don’t foresee a fascist party emerging as a serious force in the UK any time soon. But if you look at the balance of political forces in England, it’s more bleak than I’ve ever see – more bleak than I could ever have imagined when I first became politically aware during the Major years, when we were told, so famously, by a certain Mr Blair, that things could only get better.  My own view on the ascendant alt-left, namely Corbyn’s Labour, is that it would be a huge catastrophe, given the relation of their kind of pro-Putin politics, dressed up in the phony languages and symbols of the ‘anti-war’ movement and superficial notions of ‘anti-imperialism’, to wider global happenings that have a direct effect, a boomerang effect, on domestic politics.

But the rise of the alt-right in a similar fashion would represent something altogether more immediately sinister.  It’s perfectly true that the only two political leaders to call for triggering Article 50 on the night of the Brexit victory were UKIP’s Nigel Farage and Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn.  It’s also true that Corbyn espouses a ‘left-wing’ anti-immigration message regarding freedom of movement – he dresses up the old far-right slogan of ‘British jobs for British workers’ and the idea that immigrants drive down the wages of ‘indigenous’ workers in the language of immigrants being exploited by EU bosses.  No matter the spin of Corbyn’s supporters, it’s simply a form of racism associated with the conservative left that simultaneously reflects their conservative core, as well as acting as a device of populism, appealing to the reservoir of racism that lies behind our entire current predicament. However, to reiterate, the alt-left represent one kind of threat, the alt-right have these things at their political core and they represent the tip of an iceberg of concrete fascism.  

Thus far the alt-right have been confined to the fringes.  However, the Tommy Robinson affair, and UKIP’s embracing of it, as well as its connivance with fascist conspiracists like Paul Joseph Watson (the leader of the English wing of Alex Jones’ fascistic pro-Trump conspiracy media outlet ‘Infowars), are symptomatic of the radicalisation of the right.  In fully mainstream terms, we see the rise of old school League of Empire Loyalist type Tories like Jacob Rees-Mogg, who has direct links with people like Steve Bannon and British fascists. Both of these elements of the spectrum of the emergent alt-right grimly demonstrate that there is the bones of a genuine threat from the right that could capitalise on their political ground zero, their political point d’honneur, Brexit.  

It’s not just an English phenomenon, or a peculiarity of British nationalism – these kind of politics, the politics of neo-fascism, are being revived across the world, with Europe sliding rightwards against the liberal democratic grain.  We’ve seen a host of European countries experience either the alt-right gaining political power, such as in Italy, Austria, Poland and, of course, Orban’s Hungary – minorities are increasingly unsafe, with Muslims and Roma most in jeopardy.  But the rightward slide of the UK also has a direct and astounding international component – If someone told me almost 10 years ago that the Islamophobic fascist football hooligan, Tommy Robinson, he who started the EDL, and who is an almost comical caricature of a typical English racist, would essentially have backing from people serving in the administration of the President of the United States, I’d have considered the person to be having some kind of nervous breakdown.

It’s not quite Darkness at Noon here yet , but I remember reading the astoundingly brave anti-Nazi writer Fritz Gerlich (murdered in Dachau, after being arrested during the Night of the Long Knives – all that remained of him was his broken glasses, callously sent to his grieving widow) writing about how Nazism had come upon Germany like ‘a smouldering fire that in the blink of an eye turned into a terrifying blaze’.

I can really understand it. I can now understand how quickly you find that ‘civilisation’ is like a thin layer of ice over a sea of barbarism. We can now see the cracks. I genuinely wonder not if but when it will fully shatter.

After the shock of the Leave victory in the Brexit vote, I used to joke that the next stop was ‘Norsefire’, referring to the fictitious fascist party that rules England in Alan Moore’s V for Vendetta.  It’s becoming less and less of a joke every day.  Do I see Norsefire on the horizon? No, but I see the kind of people who would make up Norsefire stepping out of the shadows.

 

by Sam Hamad

 

You can read more Ungagged writing here, or listen to more left views from the collective on our podcast

Margaret Hodge and the bitterness of the Blairites

Reading Time: 2 minutes

 

 

It’s very difficult to know yourself and your hidden darkness and your shadow.

 

The historical experience of persecution and genocide feeds this darkness . You become so concerned with this historical experience that you make sure it will never happen again by persecuting and projecting this darkness on to others. You place them in camps and you take their homeland. Anybody who criticises you in your actions is equated and labelled as being the same as your historical persecutors.

 

I think of Margaret Hodge calling loudly and in the earshot of journalists  

This is the shadow of the Holocaust and it’s effects.

 

It’s fed as well, by the sheer disbelief that Labour stands at last as a real socialist party. It’s triggered by the fact that New Labour is near extinction. It’s fed by a Labour lead in the polls and that the Kinnock and Blair mutation of Labour will be snuffed out as real Labour Party democracy is established and the membership gain control of policy and selection of candidates.

 

The Blairites respond unconsciously as they strike out at this news that Labour leads in the polls.

 

The trio of Hoey, Mann and Field strike out by saving the Conservative government. They don’t see what they do or if they do they practice Freudian denial and projection. But like others they call for national unity and prefer a right wing victory to a Socialist one. Their hatred is poured into the mass membership and the Left. They do not see the old political and psychological chestnut of the drama triangle. The persecuted become persecutors and then claim victimhood. Yet it was the electorate who were and are their victims. In the Blairite creation they became the midwives of austerity and of the bluekippers. Blair begat Farage and laid the foundations for Brexit by creating a distant elite.

It was not Margaret Hodge who broke the BNP – it was the activists and trade unionists.

 

Corbyn has written a new rule book and made possible a mass party. And the Blairites consciously or unconsciously prefer the political right to real socialism.

 

When we are young we have reason not to know our shadows and our projections .

 

When we are old we have no excuse are in the Jungian Analyst Guggenbuhl-Craig’s words we become “bitter old fools.”

 

This lack of knowing is the ‘creative” drive of the bluekippers. The only mature veteran of the left at the Speakers Chair was Jeremy Corbyn … the other an old bitter Blairite fool unaware and ignorant of the darkness and bitterness within. It’s time for mandatory re-selection and it can’t come quick enough. It’s time for the old fools to be consigned to the dustbin of history. We must free ourselves from their toxic legacy and bitterness. There is a world to win and it’s getting late… and it’s not antisemitic to criticise the government of Israel – there are many there who are Israeli citizens who would do the same.

 

I am of Jewish origin myself and experienced the bigotry and racism of the English Prep school. I struggle to know my shadow and am more old fart rather than old fool.. what about you, Margaret Hodge, Neil Kinnock and Tony Blair?

 

by Martyn Shrewsbury

Pride Glasgow 2018

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Pride Glasgow 2018

Saturday the 14th July Glasgow, there was a bright and colourful March in the west end today and it wasn’t an orange walk. Led by the First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, who accepted the grand Marshall position of the pride parade instead of meeting with a big orange balloon.
Over 12,000 people marched in Glasgow to celebrate the LGBTI+ rainbow culture and remember our black sisters and brothers in the Stonewall riots. Cos never forget, it was trans women of colour who started the first Pride. ✊🏾
Unfortunately, today, I wasn’t one of those people marching. I had fully intended to. I painted my nails, had rainbow toes and my niece was set with her kids, we were all gonna go to pride and have fun.
We started preparations last week, my friends were buying tickets and asked if I was coming, but due to my wheelchair I like to get accessible tickets. It means I don’t have to worry about access to loo’s and unexpected stairs as events tend to have fair access. However I couldn’t buy my ticket with my friends, my niece was in touch with the organisers about the kids and curfews so she enquired for me too. We were advised to go to the box office on the day.
When Saturday came we were prepared, I went round to my nieces house but it was already getting pretty warm. (Due to my MS I have issues regulating heat.) It wasn’t even 11am yet. My niece has two kids, one who is autistic. The thought of going to a march and then having to wait for tickets was really off-putting. We delayed going. My friends were going too so I thought I would hear from them when they got in and let me know how it was etc, if it was too busy or over crowded. We didn’t hear anything.
The time passed and the kids wanted to go to the park, so we abandoned our pride parade plans. As it turns out, perhaps for the better. The afternoon news headlines read “Chaos at Glasgow Pride”.
People who had already bought tickets and had wrist bands were being denied entry to Kelvingrove park, where all the good stuff was happening. There was reports of queues hours long, people fainting and being taken away in an ambulance. How could people who had already paid be denied access? To pride? Supposedly one of the most inclusive events in the world.
Well, to be honest, I’m not that surprised.
While there is no doubt that Pride is an amazing event, lets consider some finer details.
Numero uno, for the biggest, most popular events (that all your pals will be at) it costs quite a bit of cash.
And you will note there is no accessible option there. But there was an accessible platform, my friend sent me pictures so at least I still felt involved. To get an accessible ticket you had to have already been in touch, I presume weeks or maybe months in advance and provide them with proof of your disability. (This is pretty standard for any concert and event to be fair but there’s usually a membership system so you don’t have to do it all in advance all of the time.) Or as we were advised you could ty to purchase an accessible ticket at the box office.
There seemed to be a bit of a mix up at the box office.
All over my facebook and twitter timelines there was angry posts about waiting in queues to convert tickets into wristband, stewards telling people with tickets they couldn’t get wristbands and even stories of people with wristbands jumping the fence so they could get into the event they had paid for.
The event organisers posted on social media “the event has reached capacity and we are unable to let anyone else in.”
Later they posted this:
Which is a bit of a cheek considering they seem more concerned with breeches of the perimeter than you know, providing the services customers paid for.
But to me there is your crux of the problem. “Paid for” pride shouldn’t be a thing. For a long time one group of pubs had the monopoly on Glasgow’s Pride, a group that included an establishment I used to frequent regularly with my friends. A place where people in wheelchairs have been ejected from just for being disabled. A place where i have experienced first hand discrimination for being disabled.
When pride is supposed to be all inclusive, all accepting, why can’t a lesbian in a wheelchair manage to get a ticket to Pride at the same time as her pals? Why were people with pre-purchased tickets being denied entry to our community?
Questions I think Pride Glasgow 2018 should be answering, before starting their business endeavours for next years celebrations.

 

You can read more from Debra on her Ungagged Writing page and hear from her on our Podcast

May, You Live In Interesting Times

Reading Time: 5 minutes

May, You Live In Interesting Times

I was an enthusiastic participant in the original Pussy march in London on 21 January 2017, along with an estimated 5 million people worldwide – there were over 400 anti-Trump marches in cities across the world that day. It was unlike any other protest march I had previously joined, both in its organisation and its atmosphere; it had been entirely planned via social media which made it feel somehow ‘word of mouth’, organic and democratic. Although there was an organising committee and co-sponsors, it felt like a really populist (in the best sense of that word) occasion, and it is the first march I have ever been on which didn’t feature ubiquitous identikit SWP placards. All the banners and signs I saw that day were home-made, original and overwhelmingly witty; this felt like it was a march of mainly engaged, confident and articulate people. The atmosphere was positive, inclusive, good humoured and warm, despite the freezing winter weather. At that point, Trump’s election as president felt unreal and absurd, like part of the plot of a far-fetched dystopian sci fi film which had somehow bled off the screen and into real life, but there was also such an optimistic spirit in evidence that day that it also felt fixable.

 

My assumption at that point was that, once Trump was actually installed in the White House, the grown-ups would take charge. I’m just about old enough to remember Reagan, who was also something of an iconoclastic loose cannon on the campaign trail, but whose worst excesses seemed a little tamed once he took office. He was regressive, divisive and, quite frankly, dim, but there was always a sense that there were experienced advisors around him. The fear of nuclear war was very real during his presidency but I always assumed that there were cooler heads around the president and that their wiser counsel would eventually prevail.

However, as far as I can tell – and it is difficult to keep up with the rapid personnel changes around the president – Trump has fired all the grown-ups and either not replaced them at all, or replaced them with his own minions. First rate sycophants with fourth rate minds. He does not listen, he will not take advice which differs in any way from what he already thinks (although I use the word ‘thinks’ advisedly) and he takes capriciousness all the way to the point of perilousness and beyond. The Trump Blimp is absolutely spot on – here is a petulant baby, full of hot air and trapped in the day glo orange body of a dangerous and powerful world leader. On any given day, literally anything could happen in his world which could result in extreme danger to ours.

 

There were actually two marches in London today; one organised by Women’s March London, who were behind the January 2017 march and another hosted by Owen Jones and organised by Stop Trump. I was drawn to the first, which was titled Bring The Noise: as they explained:

 

Bring pots and pans; bring drums; bring musical instruments; bring your voices. We’re taking pots and pans from the domestic space of home into the public space of politics – their purpose transformed for participation, engagement and joyful noise as we bring Cacerolazo

 – ‘Casserole protest’ – to the heart of the city.

 

For someone who was born and bred in London, I am spectacularly bad at Londoning. I’m scared of the entire underground system, and I’m not great in crowds so it took me a while to walk across the city to find the march. By the time I did, it was well formed, joyous and noisy; there were plenty of home-made placards, plenty of wit, plenty of focused anger and plenty of pots and pans. Rather than join the front or middle, I stood at the side of the road to wait for the tail. It took 23 minutes for everyone to pass me, which gives some idea of just how many people there were (later estimates suggest that around 250 000 people were protesting in London today). I’m glad, in retrospect, that I had the chance to do this; in January 2017 I was in the middle of the group and so didn’t get the chance to appreciate the scale, or see all the banners. The march finished in Parliament Square, home of the glorious Trump Blimp and I am really glad that I will be able to tell my as yet unborn grandchildren that I witnessed it in all its orange magnificence. I listened to some moving speeches and poems (although I couldn’t see much, being a small woman at the back of a big gathering) before having to leave in search of shade and water.



The overall mood of the day seemed to me to be as positive, enabling and inclusive as last year, but this was an angrier march too, with a more focused, more determined undercurrent. There were representatives from many organisations (yes, I did see SWP placards this time); if nothing else, Trump has succeeded in uniting a lot of people. There was, of course, a heavy police presence – plenty of helicopters and blue lights  – but it was not heavy handed at all, as far as I could see. The officers were mainly observing passively, and giving directions to bewildered tourists, and seemed good natured and relaxed. I like to think that this is because they agree with the aims of the march, but of course I have nothing other than my sunny and/or feckless sense of optimism as evidence for this belief.

I know the PM has few people other than herself and her government to blame here, but I couldn’t help but have a pang of pity for her. We were on the streets, in the beautiful sunshine, venting our displeasure clearly, cleverly and with cacerolazo, while she has to be in the same room and breathing the same fetid air as this monstrous, maggoty excuse for a man. She has to witness his boorish buffoonery at close quarters, and remain civil and welcoming. I guess this proves that you reap what you sow. I guess this is karma for insulting your 27 closest allies and putting all your eggs in a tangerine, shit shaped basket. I guess this is how her future will look, presiding over the break-up and break down of the increasingly ironically named United Kingdom. Bowing, scraping  begging. Humiliating. 

 

There isn’t, apparently, an old Chinese curse which says ‘May you live in interesting times’ – there is no equivalent idiom in Chinese and the phrase was first recorded in the 1930s. It is a saying which has often puzzled me – I’m easily bored, why wouldn’t I want to live in interesting times? – but these last few years have helped me understand more profoundly the meaning; I would now quite like to have a few calm years with no alarms and no surprises. Please.

As Martin Luther King said, light always drives out darkness, and this current darkness will end, but there may be a lot of pain for a lot of people before dawn comes. Meanwhile, I hope Theresa May is extremely unhappy in living through interesting times, though. I hope Trump’s life is nothing but extremely interesting for the rest of his days. I hope they, and the other right-wing enablers who have unleashed the current darkness, intolerance, hatred and fear across the world never have a peaceful day again.

by Teresa Durran

 

You can read more from the Ungagged collective on our writing page, or listen to left views on our podcast

 

And you can download free anti-Trump posters and placards here – it’s not too late!