bnp humiliated in dalkeith

30 07 2012

Our comrade in the Republican Communist Network saw the BNP fail to infiltrate an anti-rapist demonstration in Midlothian

Nick Griffin and 5 others i.e. his driver and minders turned up outside Dalkeith Country Park after cancelling their planned rally in Glasgow earlier that day. Their stated aim was to support an intended rally against the presence of, convicted rapist, Robert Greens in our community. It was good that there was little spontaneous support for the BNP despite a lot of media coverage e.g. in The Sun newspaper. There was little visible presence from BNP supporters, one demonstrator counted 17, I thought there were less, but it was hard to tell, all were driven in by car. The BNP website promised 50 Nationalists would turn up and they urged other British nationalists to join them.

The BNP presence was opposed by the majority of the anti-rapist protesters plus about 30-40 local anti-fascists who had been alerted via Midlothian Trades Council. There were groups from Palestinian Solidarity, Unite Against Fascism, current and ex SSP members, trade unionists representing, Unison, EIS, UCATT, and UCU, the local FE college, independent socialists, two members of Socialist Appeal and at least one other Labour Party member. There was no identifiable SNP presence but, we did receive a message from local SNP MSP Colin Beattie supporting Midlothian Trades Council stance, saying there was no place for BNP in Midlothian and that he would have liked to have been there to show his support but had a previous appointment. In the event no councillors, MSPs or our MP were present. Read the rest of this entry »





why the phony war?

6 06 2012

London based college worker Siobhan Breathnach writes about the top down nature of the UK public sector pensions dispute

We got notice of the 10th of May strike on a Friday afternoon ten days before, in the middle of an emergency meeting about redundancies. The first response was “They have got to be fucking kidding.” There was a general expression of dismay and disbelief. So what is the problem? Why weren’t we pleased about being called out? Read the rest of this entry »





travellers, the state and the meaning of solidarity

5 11 2011

Richard B. argues that traveller support must now become a part of our movement

Only those leftists unable to think anything beyond ‘anti-cuts’ could have missed what has happened in Essex these past couple of months. The few select days of continuous media coverage were of the kind usually reserved for foreign wars and natural disasters.

Despite these momentary manifestations of traveller resistance which flashed across our screens, it is worth noting that the small-scale siege which set alight the largest traveller site in the country is not a new occurrence: a site at Hovefields, just up the road from Crays Hill, was evicted only in February; the residents of Dale Farm itself have been resisting the legislative lunges of Basildon council for six years; settled communities have been defending travellers from eviction since at least the 1970s, and indeed it is arguable that the majority of contemporary traveller culture is a response to the ideologies and developing technologies of governmental attack. Read the rest of this entry »





a weekend camping at dale farm

5 10 2011

Daniel Harvey writes on the travellers’ fight against eviction. A reply to the piece appears here.

Two of us made our way for a brief stay at the traveller encampment at Dale Farm.  This is the ‘illegal’ settlement of more than 80 families of travellers on a disused scrapyard supposed to belong to the greenbelt.

The travellers bought the land ten years ago, but could not get planning permission from Basildon council.  The council has refused to provide any alternative plot, making it clear that they want them out of their area permanently and are willing to spend the millions of pounds necessary on making this happen.  Read the rest of this entry »





why is there class in the classroom?

8 09 2011

Dave Spencer explores the reasons for working-class under-achievement in the British education system.

There is an iron law in the sociology of education which states that the working class in Britain do badly in the education system. A recent study by the Sutton Trust should therefore come as no surprise. It found that over 2007-9 five elite private schools sent 946 students to Oxbridge whereas 2,000 comprehensives sent 927  between them. No surprise too at the recent UCU survey of educational attainment in various parliamentary constituencies. They found that  12.1% of people have no qualifications and 29% have degree level or above.  But this varied considerably from area to area with some working-class areas having over 30% with no qualifications.

prison warder: for many a classist education system is a trial

The basic question of course is – why do the working class do so badly?  At one time there was a straightforward argument between Nature and Nurture, genetics or environment.  It is difficult to argue these days, as some psychologists did in the 1960s, that the reason women and blacks did badly in the education system and society in general is because they are less intelligent. But many people still assume that the reason working class children do badly in the education system is because genetically they do not have the ability. Elitism or the idea that the people at the top of our class hierarchy are there because they are more intelligent is still alive and well. Just look at the smug buggers on the Coalition front bench! Read the rest of this entry »





no state bans

3 09 2011

From the editorial of this month’s The Commune

As The Commune went to press we heard news of the government banning protests in five east London boroughs for the entire of September. The ban came in response to calls for a ban on the 3rd September Tower Hamlets demo by the racist English Defence League (EDL).

Anti-fascists who called for this ban were playing with fire. Calls on the state to determine what is acceptable political expression are disastrous: socialists are meant to be the state’s worst enemy! Socialist Worker is officially against state bans, but republished a statement welcoming the ban on the EDL march while attacking the general ban. Yet the two measures clearly went hand-in-hand. Read the rest of this entry »





management by abandonment

6 08 2011

Nic Beuret writes on the economic and political pressures behind border controls and the EU’s ‘Fortress Europe’ anti-migrant measures.

Each year thousands of migrants die trying to make the perilous sea crossing from North Africa to the southern shores of the EU

Countries in the EU’s Schengen open border zone will be able to reimpose restrictions to prevent an influx of migrants, EU leaders have agreed. The measure is a response to pressure from France and Italy, who have been wrangling over thousands of illegal migrants from strife-torn North Africa. The EU will now create a new mechanism for the 25-nation Schengen zone, to allow for temporary border controls.

BBC, 24th June 2011

The last few years seem to have conjured forth a rush of changes to migration control in Europe. From the return of so-called ‘temporary’ border checks to harsher frontier policing, more money and greater powers for Frontex (the European border control agency), greater border surveillance as well as tougher ID checks, new entry requirements and greater limits on total non-EU numbers. It all speaks to the fact that borders are always in constant flux. They are less city walls and more Google-like algorithms, mutating to match changes in migratory movements and capital flows. Read the rest of this entry »





‘something out of the ordinary’

30 07 2011

College worker Siobhan Evans reflects on a hard-fought struggle against redundancies in her workplace.

A few months ago management in our college announced that 88 teaching and learning support staff (about 20% of the total) were “at risk of redundancy”. Now, after months of struggle and direct action, the redundancies have been withdrawn.

The dispute overlapped with the June 30th strike day

The college, in a poor area of London, has been badly affected by funding cuts. To give a concrete example, there are massive cuts in English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL). Until recently ESOL was free. The department had about a thousand students. They were mostly people out of work or on low incomes, often with health problems and housing problems. Fees were introduced about four years ago for any students who were not recieving benefits, and since then the number of students has halved. Now even worse restrictions have been introduced which mean that the only students able to get free classes are those on jobseekers and other active benefits, so again more students, mostly women, will be excluded. The Save ESOL campaign calculate that 99,000 people, more than half of all ESOL students, will lose their free classes. To make matters worse the jobcentre harrass the students who are eligible and often force them off our courses because they are studying too many hours. Read the rest of this entry »





grayling’s atrocity: what it means and what we’re going to do about it.

16 06 2011

Daniel Harvey looks at New College of the Humanities, AC Grayling’s private ‘university’

I remember a time, not very long ago, despite seeming it, when a young student stood up to give a speech at a debate on the necessity of the New Atheism at his college. The speech ranged through all the usual canards thrown at the religious, the cruelty of nature, the unnecessary suffering in the world, the emptiness of the universe.  Of course, this student devotee of Richard Dawkins, Grayling, PZ Myers, Christopher Hitchens (shoot me now), was myself, and in that vain, naïve enthusiasm even, remained until the day I discovered that this was about as intellectually fulfilling as squashing ants.

grayling: wipe the smile off his face

But this feature of the atheist calling has always been fascinating – why so much time and effort spent on continually stomping on the face of the religious phenomenon, when it is so easy to do? Of course, you ask any followers of Richard Dawkins who attended his ‘talk’ which I happily raided with some comrades the other day, and what will come back is a stream words about the threat of ‘accomodationism’, about the fact religion is so powerful, growing, spreading its tentacles into education, and practically undermining the entire Enlightenment.  But for one of the original founders of this movement H. L. Mencken, the great liberal journalist and commentator on the Scopes Trial, religion was more than this, it was the possession of the ‘immortal scum’ of human history, a whole layer of society that always threatened to overwhelm the elite, intelligent minority. In intellectual circles he said, all that “survives under the name of Christianity, above the stratum of that mob, is no more than a sort of Humanism, with a little more supernaturalism in it than you will find in mathematics or political economy.” Read the rest of this entry »





italy reading group: fascism, anti-fascism and stalinism, 16th may

7 05 2011

The next of the London Commune’s reading group meetings on the class struggle in Italy takes place on Monday 16th May. We will be discussing the rise of fascism, resistance to it and different ideas of ‘anti-fascism’, and the lessons for today.

The meeting takes place from 7pm at Freedom Bookshop, Angel Alley, near Aldgate East station.

We have prepared a reading pack (click here to see as one Word file). This includes an article on the Arditi del Popolo armed anti-fascist movement; short sections of two pieces by Italian Left Communist Amadeo Bordiga questioning the idea of anti-fascism and its interconnection with capitalism; and an article by David Broder briefly explaining the twists and turns of Stalinist policy. The aforementioned reading pack is much less reading than the whole text of the articles linked to above. Read the rest of this entry »





diverse, colourful, joyful, but angry!

30 04 2011

Alice Robson writes on her experience teaching, and campaigning in defence of, English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)


In December last year, I left my job as an ESOL teacher at a South London further education college. I had been at risk of redundancy for almost half of the year I had worked there. I was swapping this uncertainty for a permanent contract in an organisation where ESOL was expanding, and where the vast majority of courses had free childcare to enable women with young children to study- both very welcome differences from the situation at most Further Education (FE) colleges.

A few weeks before I started, the government published Skills for Sustainable Growth, which they described as ‘a radical reform of the skills system to support growth’. Though this document left open many questions, for example limiting ESOL provision to those from ‘settled communities’ (a category that was not then nor since defined) it was clear that the document represented a major attack on ESOL. Read the rest of this entry »





reading group ‘the ignorant schoolmaster’ starts 28th february

24 02 2011

The Commune has organised two reading group meetings, studying Jacques Ranciere’s book on radical education, The Ignorant Schoolmaster.


The meetings are on each of the next two Mondays, (28th Feb; 7th March) at the Really Free School @ The Black Horse, 6 Rathbone Place, London. The text is not over-long and is available online (see below), and should be an interesting read. Read the rest of this entry »





“where are the st thomas’ disappeared? where are our workmates?”

14 02 2011

Last month 72 workers disappeared from Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospitals. They were part of the hospitals’ ancillary staff. They are migrants. Where did they disappear to? The economic crisis means their cheap labour is not as useful anymore – at least for the moment. So the UK Border Agency was called in to get rid of them. The NHS trust complied. The workers were either arrested or deported.

The workers who clean the hospital and feed the patients earn around the minimum wage. And due to the UKBA the workers are not even always paid for their hard work. Isn’t this slavery?

As hospital users, as workers, as trade unionists, as migrants’ rights activists we cannot stay silent in the face of this brutality. Exactly when cuts and privatisation are threatening our public health service the exploitation of migrant labour increases. This is an attack on all workers.

We call for solidarity with the disappeared, with all migrants, with all workers, on Friday 18th February 5pm to 7pm outside St Thomas main entrance (Westminster Bridge Road London SE1 7EH). Called by the Cleaners Defence Committee, No One Is Illegal, Hands off my Workmate, Latin American Workers’ Association.

E-mail cdclondon@gmail.com or call 07971 719797 for details






“we want to inspire other people to take a stand”: interview with a college student activist

23 01 2011

Joe Thorne spoke to a student at Leeds City College who has been involved in the protests around education cuts and in the new Really Open Student Union.  The interview is followed by statements from a number of other young people, some of which are featured in this bulletin which you can print off and distribute to support students walking out on Wednesday.


How are the cuts going to affect you?

I’m worrying about my future.  I don’t know if I can stay in college.  This has cancelled out my hope of going to uni.  I’m living with my parents.  They’re both disabled and we’re living off disability allowance.  I don’t know how we’re going to get through the next few years, and bills are going up, especially electricity and gas. Read the rest of this entry »








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