Cameron remains in Downing Street, now with a majority (having successfully cannibalized his former LibDem partners). A lot of people are understandably depressed by this, and now to top it all off Farage hasn’t even resigned. FFS politics, give us a break. We don’t have much say in what policies they try and force upon us – after all we had ‘Vote Tory for capitalism and austerity’ and ‘Vote Labour for the same, only a bit less and our heart isn’t really in it’. What we DO have a say in, is how we react to them.
Reaction One: Voter Apathy
Non voters are often accused of apathy, but if after going to the ballot on the 7th you are planning to sit back and do nothing for five years than you are being truly apathetic. Of course the same is true if ‘not voting’ is the sum total of your protest against the system. Maybe to kill time before the next general election you can try to change Labour from the inside, or help the Greens get half a dozen MPs early next decade. If you’re really inspired maybe you could put your energy into reforming how we vote for our ‘representatives’. Although many countries use other systems and they still aren’t socialist utopias yet either. Lets get one thing clear though, would Ed Milliband be screwing us over aswell? Hell yes.
Reaction Two: Fight for What We Have, Fight for What We Need
We are often presented a doctored version of history. One where the oppressed asked the government nicely for reforms, where they appealed to their ruler’s reason and conscience, or simply voted in nicer leaders.
A closer inspection reveals a very different narrative, where everything we have was fought for tooth and nail. Where workers faced down the army for the right to have the evening off rather than work 14 hour days, where women bombed pavilions and learnt martial arts before they were recognised as capable of decisions, where people faced down battalions of police who were trying to force a fascist march through the east end of London. It is the latter telling of history that should inform how we react today.
Everything we have we fought for, and everything we fought for they want back. As soon as we stop fighting – in our work places, in our communities, in the streets and in the fields – we will lose everything. The good news? If you want to take action there are plenty ways to do it. Here are just a few based on some Tory policies.
1. The Tories will ruin the lives of disabled people Not without a fight from the likes of DPAC! In Bristol, we at AFed were key in organising demonstrations and protests against ATOS, right up until they dropped the contacts for ‘work capability assessments’ and ran. We have also helped individuals through the interview process to ensure they keep the support they need. Nationwide those fighting against the DWP and Maximus (the replacement for ATOS), will need to redouble their efforts for the next five years, and need all the support and solidarity we can muster.
2. The Tories will repeal the Hunting Act The sad truth is the hunting act didn’t stop the hunters anyway. Whilst I’m sure they would celebrate were hunting to be made legal, they’ve been out trying to kill foxes, hares, mink and deer the whole time. Where the law failed, Hunt saboteurs succeed. Every week throughout the hunting season they save lives. You can join them in the field, donate to them, or support their work, and there are groups all over the country.
3. The Tories will force the poor from their homes People have the power to make evictions unworkable. Bristol SolNet has already helped families who were threatened with being kicked out onto the street – Direct Action, Protest and Solidarity gets real results. It also builds up our confidence in what we can do ourselves – and dents the confidence of the state, big business and their agents! Another great strength is the power of organising collectively on housing, London leads the way here with both individual campaigns and growing sucess in linking them together.
4. The Tories will cull badgers They will certainly try. Last year they barely completed one of their two trials due to the resistance of a few hundred individuals over two months. Imagine how far they’d get if they were being blocked by a few thousand or the hundred thousand people who signed petitions against the cull! Navigators, Drivers, Planners, Fundraisers, Hi-Vis Wounded Badger Patrols, Black Clad Cull saboteurs, Back Office Communicators, Pixies, Press liaisons, Cooks and First Aiders… there really is a way for everyone to contribute.
5. The Tories will force the young and the unemployed onto Workfare Anyone who has been following our exploits will know how much we have achieved on this one! Enough for the Department for Work and Pensions to list us as a threat to the whole workfare scheme along with, of course, Boycott Workfare. Protest and Direct Action has been forcing companies off of the workfare scheme one by one – from Holland & Barett and Wilkos to Homebase and Superdrug! There is also an upcoming Welfare Action Gathering in London on the 30th May.
6. The Tories will curtail our rights at work The good news is these rights never really came from parliament, they came from the struggles of the organised working class. In recent years work places lack organisation, and a lot of mainstream unions lack bite. That’s not true of these two though, if you want to teach the Tories and your boss a lesson, find your nearest SolFed or IWW branch!
7. The Tories will criminalise dissent A strategy of all governments facing resistance. There aren’t protesters, there are ‘trouble makers’. There isn’t a meeting of people, there is a ‘cell of domestic extremists’. Often the state resorts to acting outside its own rules in an effort to put us trouble makers behind bars. That is where groups such as Bristol Defendant Solidarity come into play, supporting those facing arrest or court. The best legal defence in the world won’t stop some of our comrades from ending up inside though, but the Anarchist Black Cross ensures they continue to be supported.
8. The Tories will read our emails and track our movements! The revelations of Edward Snowden confirmed what many had already suspected. Our ‘democratic governments’ spy on their citizens on a massive scale, snooping not just on people they deem criminals but anyone who wants to change the status quo. You don’t have to let them get away with it though! Tech Tools for Activism will guide you through securing yourself online, and in June Hacktion Lab will be hosting Barn Camp. Think of it as a festival with hackers, tinkerers, and geeks instead of music. Also theres often some music too.
9. The Tories will scapegoat and target migrants A strategy as old as the idea of borders, with resistance that goes back nearly as far. The working class in Bristol has often seen through the false divisions our ‘leaders’ place between ‘natives’ and ‘immigrants’. From the movement to abolish slavery, to the bus boycotts and in more recent years Bristol Refugee Rights and Dignity for Asylum Seekers. The struggles continue to be hard, but with nationwide movements against Detention and Dawn Raids there are countless opportunities to stand together against our racist government.
10. The Tories will Frack up the countryside Companies only want to Frack for one reason, profit, and anti-fracking protesters can make the whole process very very costly. There is a network of groups across the UK confronting Fracking and other forms of extreme energy, including in Bristol. There is also a weekend action camp – Reclaim the Power – at the end of the month.
All of this and more Destroying the NHS, scrapping the Human Rights Act, selling off our public spaces, forcing millions into food banks… The array of attacks can seem overwhelming. However every single one of those attacks relies on us, relies on our compliance, relies on a decision to let the government have a quiet easy life. That’s not a decision that we’re going to take!
We must make ourselves ungovernable, that is a strategy accessable to all. It can be carried out everywhere. From our homes, our workplaces, our neighbourhoods, our communities to their places of business, their halls of power, their wealthy avenues, we are already everywhere.
Already people are linking up and fighting back, creating opportunities for different movements to show their strength, to grow and to act in solidarity with each other (and hopefully avoid the pitfulls of condemnations of ‘bad protesters’ from ‘good protesters’)!
Here are some dates for your diary if you want to join us on the streets:
Wednesday 13th of May (Bristol) – No To Austerity Demo
Wednesday 27th of May (London) – March on the State Opening of Parliament (NCAFC & Class War)
Saturday 30th of May (UK Wide / London) – UK Uncut Day of Action
Saturday 20th of June (London) – End Austerity Now (Peoples Assembly)
If any of this has inspired you to take action, get in touch with us!