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Monday, 7 June 2010

EDL Run Out of Town

The English Defence League “Double Demo” turned out to be a double failure today. Their boasts about having enough support in Wales to hold two demonstrations, in both Cardiff and Swansea, dissolved into two small protests of just a handful in Swansea and around 200 in Cardiff – only a tenth of what they were threatening to bring.

The antiracist campaign outnumbered the EDL by at least five to one, with around 1000 on the demonstration from Cardiff Bay and more waiting outside City Hall, a short distance away from the EDL protest, where “Welsh” Defence League supporters waved St George’s flags and chanted E-E-EDL.

Police led the march into a street blocked by a high steel fence and initially prevented anyone from leaving. But, despite mobilising across 7 forces, police had to abandon the “soft kettle” to redirect resources when Cardiff City fans clashed with EDL supporters as they emerged from coaches.

The antiracist movement had gathered enough forces on the day to have been able to cut off the city centre from the EDL but unfortunately this force was not organised as effectively as it could have been and the day was marred by reports of groups of EDL chanting in the centre of town unchallenged. Those protesters who were determined to oppose the EDL were left without a means of effectively coordinating their activity when the UAF stewarding team, from which other antiracist organisations were excluded, was stood down before the EDL protest got under way.

Nevertheless, it was obvious the EDL were sweating as they were marched to their coaches, pursued by hundreds of local people, Cardiff City fans and Asian youth. Shoppers shouted opposition to them as they went past, some followed them to the station as they were escorted by hundreds of police through the city. £250,000 was spent by the police on guaranteeing the racists’ right to hurl abuse, while local Cardiff residents were cleared off the streets.

Cardiff Communities Against Racism was set up as an ad-hoc attempt to co-ordinate the different antiracist organisations planning to oppose the EDL protest. It organised open and democratic meetings every week, bringing around 170 different people into discussions about how to develop an effective strategy for defeating racism and the far right. Activists are aware that although the EDL were defeated in Wales again today, scapegoating for the social problems cause by capitalism will continue while public services and jobs are being attacked by big business and the politicians who represent them. Supporters of CCAR are planning to discuss how best to develop their campaign in the period ahead, when the BNP are threatening to stand in the Assembly elections.

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Unfortunately, CCAR had to waste time on the eve of the protest defending itself against smear attacks from another antiracist organisation. An email circulated by the local leaders of Unite Against Fascism who split the protest against the EDL in Newport last year (see The Socialist issue 601) made an untrue accusation against CCAR of attempting to split this year’s Cardiff demonstration. CCAR responded by demanding that UAF send out an apology and a correction to prevent potentially dangerous confusion amongst activists on the day but this was ignored.


Tuesday, 11 May 2010

An Expected Betrayal

Apparently, on election night Jenny Willott, getting her words mixed, hit the nail on the head. "Tonight," she declared, "we witness a triumph of politics over democracy."

Never has a truer word been spoken. Cameron, the leader of a party that a majority of people voted against, has been made prime minister with the help of Nick Clegg, leading a party that even more people voted against, by the assent of a monarch that nobody voted for.

The Liberal Democrat MPs who couldn't resist joining the tories in government have shattered any illusions their supporters have had in them that they offer an alternative to the main parties and the big business interests that they represent. They did it for the country, they said - for stability and the national interest, so that massive cuts to public services and jobs could be made and the markets reassured. If this was the issue which had such veto-power over all others why not just urge their supporters to vote Tory in the first place?

The yellow ministers have won nothing but an increase in their salaries. Liberal Democrats will be whipped to abstain in votes even on those issues they made manifesto commitments, giving the Tories a majority they did not win at the ballot box. Already, Chris Huhne, Lib DEM MP and energy sec, has admitted that new nuclear power stations could be constructed.

And only is electoral reform of any kind in all likelihood off the agenda (because the Tories' massive campaign chest will be used in a referendum to finance opposition) but the legislation the Libservative government is proposing will technically rule out a vote of no confidence in the government within a five year term. This paper commitment, however, will not live up to the stress and strain of reality - in seeking to make the government stronger they've only made it rigid, and more brittle, and the movement that will develop to fight the cuts in the period ahead will smash it to pieces.

As the Independent joked, Clegg and Cameron are married, "till debt us do part."

Friday, 7 May 2010

We won OUR election campaign


Thanks to everyone who's played a role in our campaign. We didn't win the seat, but we stood out and will be remembered as the organisation preparing to fight the cutbacks being planned by all the main parties. We won't represent Cardiff in parliament but, in the period ahead, we will be the ones to defend its jobs, schools and hospitals.

It's clear that there is a desperate hunger to break the big business consensus. The vote for parties other than the main four increased by a third in Cardiff Central, but not all of that is being steered towards a real alternative for ordinary working-class people. Racist organisations like the WDL are poised to try and hijack the anger at corrupt mainstream politicians.

Thanks to everyone who leafletted, canvassed, put posters up, told their friends and voted for us. Come to the meeting to plan the antiracist protest next Thursday (13th May) at 7pm in the Sandringham Hotel on St Mary's St in Cardiff and get in touch if you want to join us.

Ross Saunders

http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=111287415560801&v=app_2344061033#!/event.php?eid=118585388163528&index=1

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Eddie Izzard - Wrong about Bananas, Wrong about New Labour



I slipped on a banana today. Here's the picture of it. Proof that Izzard is wrong that nobody ever slips on a banana skin, and that it's an invention of cartoonists.




His biggest mistake, however, is backing the Labour Party at this election. Not funny Eddie, not funny at all.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Who should PCS members support in tomorrow's general election?


PCS took an important step recently when it voted to begin discussions amongst its members about helping to develop a political voice for the union. This was my response to the Make Your Vote Count campaign questions.

Check out the report of the PCS-organised election debate in Cardiff here.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Save the Vulcan


I sent this statement as an open letter today:

"I am disturbed to hear that the Vulcan, which the hard work of local campaigners saved less than a year ago, is once again under threat.

Throughout its long history the Vulcan has been a meeting place for the workers and students of Adamsdown, and SA Brain's unwillingness to guarantee its continued existence, just days after announcing the company's profits have risen by £2.7 million, represents a disdain not just for the local community now but for all the generations which have passed through the pub's doors. Big business, with the blessing of the Liberal Democrat-run council, has been allowed to run amok through the heart of Cardiff, consuming the local culture of the city and leaving a spoor of car parks and chain stores in its wake.

I campaigned to keep Cardiff Royal Infirmary open when the big parties wouldn't, and I will campaign to keep the Vulcan open. As both a lover of the city of Cardiff and a signatory to CAMRA's Beer Drinkers and Pub Goers Charter, I pledge on behalf of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition and the Socialist Party of Cardiff that we will work to Save The Vulcan."

There is a demonstration planned in support of the pub on Saturday 15th May at 12pm at the Vulcan, Adam St.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Cut bankers' bonuses and MPs' pay, not hospitals and schools.


Where a political party decides to launch its manifesto says a lot.

The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition launched theirs last weekend on the streets of Cardiff, amongst ordinary working-class people from all over Wales. We "cleaned up politics" by putting an MP in the bin with his inflated pay and bogus expenses, and invited passers-by to sign a petition in support of our demands.

The Lib Dems, however, launched theirs in the City of London, surrounded on all sides by those profiteering pirates whose greed brought the recession down on our heads.

In the Guardian today, the Tories are described as "the party of choice for rich bankers" said Nick Clegg, Westminster-educated leader of the Lib Dems and himself son of a rich banker. Labour's credibility has been used up and big business is warming up its other team to push through its agenda. But you can't help but detect in the criticism a certain amount of jealousy. The Lib Dems would love to regain their place as capitalism's second eleven and they might not be too far from their goal: according to a poll in the Guardian today, Labour and the Lib Dems are in joint second place. The Labour Party - lost to working people for over a decade now - could be destroyed even as a useful vehicle for the ruling capitalist class is a possibility. That's the legacy of Blair, Brown and New Labour.

But the Lib Dems won't change the situation for us. They've said they'll participate in savage cuts and, like all the other main parties, they plan to hand back the banks to the same irresponsible gamblers that brought about the recession. At most they'll insist their boardroom meetings aare smaller by dividing up the biggest banks. If we want change we'll have to change things ourselves: and more an more people are deciding to do that. The percentage of people intending to vote for parties other than the main three has risen from a very low figure, steady at 1 or 2% for decades, to 12% according to the Guardian/ICM polls. And that figure would rise as a new confidence in a new political organisation for ordinary working class people grew.