Wednesday, 10 November 2010


The Mass Movement Against the Poll Tax is the Model

Not-A-Dinner-Party exclusive to Sons of Malcolm
Weds 10th Nov, 2010

Six months in to the ConDem government and their open declaration of
war on the poor, the disabled, the working class and indeed everyone
who isn't responsible for the crisis of finance capitalism (ie
imperialism) and the first major protest in London ends up exactly
where it should, with thousands of students laying siege to the Tory
Party HQ. The best possible start to what has to be a sustained
campaign of militant resistance to what in reality is a very weak and
divided government, but one with the arrogance of being formed
directly and unapologetically from the most privileged and callous
section of the ruling-class, people who believe it is their birth
right to rule and their ancestral right to privilege at the expense
of all else.

Escalate the struggle, Catch the Greek and French Fever

Today's action is a lesson in the direction the anti-cuts movement
has to take if it is to be successful. While the Tories are hell-bent
on taking us back to the 80s excesses of Thatcherism, we cannot
afford to repeat the mistakes that the Left and the Labour Movement
made then. Waiting for Labour is of course out of the question. The
ConDem regime is after all continuing a program that was initiated
and laid out by the last government. Labour's only concern is not
that the Tories are going too far, but that they are doing it too
fast. So far there has barely been a peep out of the Labour Party and
nor will there be. But you can bet they will be falling over
themselves to denounce any and all effective militant resistance to
the cuts.

And nor can we follow the same lefty routine of marching from A-B in
town centres, demonstrations and rallies that do nothing but annoy
weekend shoppers and are completely ignored by both the media and of
course by the government - safety valves for an ineffectual and
impotent "Left".

Lessons of the EDL, Countryside Alliance a Fuel Protests

This struggle needs to take on board the example of the protests that
have rocked Greece and France. And it needs to learn from our
enemies. Over the last year the fascist English Defence League has
built a mass street movement that can mobilise thousands - and done
so largely through utilising social-media specifically Facebook.
Using such sources the far-right have been able to very successfully
spread their message, organise at short notice and make contacts and
develop new networks amongst tens of thousands - and that influence
extends well beyond those singed up on their Facebook pages - the
rumours and claims they put out spread like a virus and are picked up
and repeated by millions. There is no reason at all why militant
progressives cannot utilise similar methods.

In the early months and years of the Blair New Labour administration,
another section of the Right, this time essentially the
extra-parliamentary wing of the Tory party, mobilised tens of
thousands through the Countryside Alliance, not just in
demonstrations and protests but also in motorway blockades. Likewise
the rightist Fuel Tax Protests effectively shut down the country's
fuel distribution network with illegal blockades of fuel refineries,
storage facilities and motorways, and maintained huge public support
even while petrol stations ran dry, shop shelves emptied and schools
and hospitals were threatened with closure.

These actions were most often illegal. 18 years of the Thatcher
offensive against the organised working class left the trade union
movement crippled by laws that effectively outlawed any effective
industrial struggle or shows of solidarity. Not only did New Labour
not rescind these laws, they added to them with the most draconian
"anti-terror" legislation that has essentially given the state the
legal means to criminalise and shut down any form of protest. But
this has not deterred the Right. It did not deter the Countryside
Alliance, the anti-Fuel Tax protesters and it certainly hasn't
hindered the EDL. But you will be hard pressed to find any Union
leader (with one or two possible exceptions) who would for a second
ever contemplate risking sequestration, crippling fines and
imprisonment for calling for and leading any effective fight back.

So it is a given that really any form of protest, no matter how
seemingly innocent or mundane, is "illegal" now. And it is also a
given that the old methods of protest have failed. They didn't stop
Thatcher in the 1980s - the only "traditional" force that came close
was the Miners - and the price of their defeat was their complete
destruction, as a Union, as an industry and as a community. And if
two million marching through London couldn't influence a Labour
government to think twice about engaging in an illegal war, then what
makes anyone believe any number marching, whistling, dancing, wearing
costumes, banging drums and shrieking the same old tired slogans,
will have any influence on a Tory government that regards such people
as the scum of the earth anyway?

Mass Movement Against the Poll Tax is the Model

The one victory we did have was over the Poll Tax, it was an attack
on ordinary people every bit as callous and cynical as what we are
seeing now. And the protest succeeded because it went outside and
beyond the usual forms. It involved ordinary people who organised
themselves and based their action on what they felt was possible and
effective in the area they were and with the numbers they had. While
most people know of the legendary Battle Of Trafalgar Square of 1990,
something that will most likely be eclipsed in the coming struggle,
what most people who weren't around at the time don't know of is the
hundreds of protests that took place outside scores of town halls
often involving thousands of people, and very often ending with
council chambers being stormed. Bailiffs offices were trashed,
Conservative Clubs attacked and for the first time in years, there
was a sense of panic amongst the politicians and a real sense that we
could win amongst the people. Millions refused to pay, the Poll Tax
was dropped and Thatcher forced from office.

But this government, for all of its Thatcherite arrogance and
contempt, is actually very weak and very divided. It can be beaten.
But the struggle needs to get "personal". Would one thousand people
marching through a town centre make any impact? How about a thousand
people marching on the constituency office of the local Tory or
Liberal Party? A thousand marching on the surgery of a MP? A thousand
marching on the home of a MP? A thousand taking over the council
chamber when they announce their cuts.


There is no doubt that the anger and militancy of today's protest has
sent a ripple of shock and anxiety through many amongst the enemy
tonight. After only 6 months in power, and the first major protest in
London against their policies, they have already witnessed a minor
taste of the real, deep and growing anger that is ready to explode.

And by taking their anger directly to the HQ of the enemy they will
have achieved more than a hundred town centre marches from park A to
park B to listen to Union and Labour hypocrites proclaim platitudes
and promises they have no means or intention to fulfil.

If this government inflicts pain and fear - then those responsible,
those who enforce it from top to bottom, must be made to understand
what pain and fear really means.


Anonymous said...

Great support for violence. I mean, it's not like democracy should rule in this country. If you don't like it, just burn your placards explaining your point of view, then use the poles as javelins against the police.

And when you do, you can guarantee there will be plenty of people who give themselves the unbelievably arrogant moniker of "Sons of Malcolm", and read about the life of Ernesto Guevara, who will do their utmost to pass off the events of today as justifiable anger.

You have no idea what Malcolm experienced, nor the likes of revolutionaries like Che. This is not racism, and this is not 1950's South America. This is England in 2010, and people like you are nothing special. You are not revolutionaries; you are not oppressed; you are not speaking for the people.

Grow up, get rid of the ridiculous romanticism you have over civil wars, and grasp the fact that complaining about tuition fees which must only be paid back when earning a reasonable salary - and tapered towards earnings - are not the issues Malcolm and Che stood for.

They're not even close to the importance of what those men stood for. How out of touch with reality do you have to be to compare yourself to those men, on these issues?

James O Gaskell said...

Anonymous, you are missing the point. It isn't just about tuition fees. What about the abolition of the EMA, the only reason many less well off will be able to even make it university in the first place? If it goes through, a new two tier system will be created - the haves and the have nots effectively, the haves being the ones that can afford public school etc, thus being guaranteed a university place. Thus the vast gulf between rich and poor grows and grows while you bang a drum in protest.

Did peaceful protest work against the Iraq war? No. So we became complicit in thousands of innocent deaths, not to mention the deaths of hundreds of our own in the conflict, a conflict we were dragged into like a sheep by America.

Why did we get dragged in? Because this country has been hypnotised (through clever use of figures such as the Dalai Lama and Ghandi, who by the way did very little in the liberation of India - it was actually armed uprising that kicked Britain out in the end) into the apathetic belief that peaceful protest is the only method of protest.

You are wrong - as Europe has shown us. Have you seen the brutality the police use first hand when they defend militant racists such as the EDL? Undoubtedly not, or you would understand why so many people were pleased with yesterdays results, because for once, there actually were some.

Sukant Chandan said...


how about addressing the points in the article?

Anonymous said...

As a disabled person with a progressive disease (MS) I'm feeling a rise of oppression. Propaganda is painting the disabled as able and lazy - with a suggestion that the 'most' disabled will be protected but with an overall cut in benefits and NHS support. People who are unable to work are being reassessed as able to work solely to reduce the benefit burden to the country.

The lack of support for Che in Bolivia was because the will of the people wasn't behind him, likewise the perceived success of the 'Poll Tax Riots' was because of the feeling in the country at the time.

In the coming years unity is going to be crucial. All different groups with different aims must unite against the current government when their rights are affected,and if that takes direct action then that's fine. To say 'hey, it's 2010' spits in the face of everyone who's tried to make difference in the name of minority rights.