Category: Opinion

Bristol named worst place to live due to yet another best place to live award

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How to turn violent rebellion into a marketing tactic in just six short years

Across the city today Bristolians woke up to the latest barrage of ‘journalism’ about how great their city was.   Any initial pride that was felt back in say, 2013, has been replaced by resigned groans and the question: best place to live for who exactly?. We’re not exactly sure who picks where to live due to articles in The Times, but it probably rhymes with ‘annoying prats’.

‘I guess there are lots of those exciting redevelopments‘ said one local woman ‘like how they replaced our local with a bunch of trendy but cramped and expensive flats, and opened up a food bank down the road’.  ‘I thought it meant all those new restaurants, that are supposed to be quirky and original but are just samey and over priced’ interrupted her friend, before rethinking it and adding ‘but that would make all these articles just self congratulating circle jerks on behalf of the rich, and I’m sure that can’t be the case’.

 

It’s certainly not a celebration of the interesting areas of Bristol grown over the decades by marginalised members of the city’s working class and migrant communities. Those were all here long before the national press decided our city was ‘cool and creative’. Most of the changes we’ve seen lately are related to the ever increasing costs of living and renting. We’re not against nice things for Bristol – but they shouldn’t come at the expense of having to kick out the people that made the place so interesting to begin with.

“It’d be easy just to blame all the people moving here from that London” said one astute Bristolian before continuing “but I guess they’re only here because this is exactly what happened to all the working class areas over there”.

You can read more about the Fight for the City from our friends in the capital, it’s a struggle that is happening across the country, and beyond. The lessons being learned there are invaluable for anyone who wants to fight hard and smart for Bristol.

Fight for the City Part 1: Social Cleansing, Social Warfare

Fight for the City Part 2: No Place to Run

Fight for the City Part 3: The City is Ours!

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Who’s Stealing From Who?

sfw_bBBC Points West tonight ran with a story tonight on the growing number of cases of shoplifting in the south west. They tried to paint a scare story by revealing ‘shocking’ figures about the rise of shoplifting in the region. Footage of several young boys, one as young as eight, being threatened by the Police and security staff were shown to try and display the ‘moral depravity’ of stealing from businesses.

But who does shoplifting hurt? According to the BBC over the last three years there were 1,800 reported cases in Bristol; 647 in Bath; 900 in Gloucestor; and 660 in Swindon. The worst hit in each city were Primark, Boots, Debenhams and Tesco respectively. They would like us to believe that shoplifting hurts workers by reducing companies’ profits and thus forcing them to cut wages and even jobs. Continue reading

The Rich Sip Champagne While We’re Left To Starve!

toast the richThe Huffington Post reported yesterday that the Houses of Parliament have spent increasingly large amounts of money on champagne under the current Coalition government. That should come as no surprise considering that there are eight bars serving alcohol to an extremely exclusive clientèle. But the fact that MPs are spending more and more money of bubbly while millions of people rely on food banks for survival, is sickening if not outright disgusting.

A Freedom of Information request revealed that staff at Westminster spent £275,221 buying in more than 25,000 bottles of champagne since the coalition took over in May 2010. The House of Commons currently has 582 bottles of champagne in stock, at a total worth of £6,513. What’s even worse is that the many bars frequented by these toffs are subsidised by tax payer money, meaning we have to pay so they can enjoy a cut-price pint!

Meanwhile the Trussell Trust, the leading charity behind the country’s almost 300 food banks (with three new ones opening every week), said they fed at least 346,992 in 2012-13 and the price of alcohol keeps on rising. Pints now cost 20 times more than they did 40 years ago, but of course that doesn’t bother somebody who lives off a tidy £66,396 of taxpayers money a year (and they have the audacity to claim about “benefit cheats”!).

While the rich sip champagne the poor are left to starve. The only solution is to supersede the state and start organising to meet our own needs. No party will ever give us what we need, because they are first and foremost a party of the rich, and the interests of the rich and powerful will always be against the needs of the working class. Voting won’t change anything, only direct action will!

In the words of Emma Goldman:

“Ask for work. If they don’t give you work, ask for bread. If they do not give you work or bread, then take bread.”

I say let us toast the rich this year, with our choice of cocktails!

Thatcher is still dead, but Thatcherism lives on

Margaret Thatcher's death divides opinion across the UKExactly one year ago today the working classes of Britain woke up to some of the best news of the year. The Iron Lady has finally bitten the dust! Margaret Thatcher was dead! Jubilant scenes were witnessed across the country as the people celebrated the passing of one of the most despised Prime Ministers in living memory. People literally danced in the streets with joy and despite the right-wing media’s attempts to demonise the revelers nobody with half an ounce of decency could fault them.

In Bristol a street party on Chelsea Road in Easton attracted hundreds of people and lasted until the wee hours of the morning. The celebrations were cut short however when the Avon & Somerset Police decided to turn up in riot gear without warning and beat the party-goers down the street, sparking a mini-riot that lasted for several hours.

Those involved in the riot claimed that this was: “one more battle in the ongoing class war that Thatcher escalated. It won’t be the last,” according to the Bristol Post who spoke to two of them anonymous in an article published a couple of days after the event.

class-war-thatcherAnd heeding the decade old call from Class War for a “Party in Trafalgar Square, Saturday after Margaret Thatcher Dies” thousands more descended on the square, the scene of the Poll Tax Riots in 1990, to celebrate despite the rain.

article-2310307-195853AD000005DC-794_634x657Probably the most impressive display was in Goldthorpe, South Yorkshire. A former mining town, devastated by pit closures, the hatred for Maggie was strong. An effigy of Thatcher was paraded through the town in a coffin before being burned on a bonfire. Former miners turned out National Coal Board clothing and celebrated the death of the person responsible for the demise of the mining industry in Britain, and with it the livelihoods of thousands of people.

We cannot let the death of Thatcher be confused with the death of Thatcherism though. Several of her policies are still alive and well today and we still suffer the consequences of her neo-liberal regime. Maggie may be long gone but she lives on through her spiritual successors like Cameron and Osborne who are more than happy to carry the torch for their lost hero.

The working class communities decimated by Thatcherism are still under attack through austerity and the cuts; workfare and benefit sanctions; privitisation of the NHS and Royal Mail; rising living costs and stagnant wages; increased policing and the gradual eroding of our rights. And with UKIP’s recent success in the polls pushing the political discourse to the right, we are likely to see a string of policies so bad they’d make the Milk Snatcher herself blush.

What is the solution? Get organised! Only through the collective action of the working class can we hope to make life better for ourselves and each other. Life under capitalism will only get worse unless we stand up and say otherwise. But don’t just ask for reforms, don’t settle for a slice of the pie, demand the whole damn bakery!

By working together we can bring down this whole corrupt system and finally put Thatcherism where it belongs: in the ground with the rest of the neo-liberal ideologies. Its time to build a new world, a better world, built on the foundations of community, mutual aid and solidarity. We’re already working towards that world every day, why don’t you join us?

Rust In Pieces Maggie Thatcher
13th October 1925 – 8th April 2013

Just remember, only the good die young!

“Full Employment”? Tory Party’s Hilarious Early April Fool’s Prank

aprilfoolsGeorge Osborne today promised us “full employment” during a speech in Essex. Has Osborne had a turn of cheek and abandoned his Thatcherite politics in favour of the long march to socialism? You’d think so, if it wasn’t for the fact that he refused to define what exactly he meant by “full employment”. One thing is for certain though, “full employment” in this case, does not mean jobs for everybody. Nor does it mean the government is going to create jobs for people.

What he has actually promised us is his commitment to securing the “fullest” possible levels of employment by cutting taxes for businesses. Surprise, surprise! The Tories grand scheme to make our lives better is actually a way to make life easier for the capitalists. Hands up if you didn’t see that coming? Didn’t think so.

He must have made a mistake and put his clocks forward a whole day instead of one hour because April Fool’s Day isn’t until tomorrow! Nobody cared to tell George that when he let slip his hilarious joke. “Full employment”? “Caring about working people”? Tell me another one!

Osborne’s carefully chosen words were obviously an attempt to muscle in on traditionally Labour territory. Though what is important to remember is that no party can promise us full employment, not under a capitalist system. Capitalism relies on a surplus of unemployed workers to keep wages and conditions down. The constant threat of unemployment is used to keep workers under control and to prevent us for fighting for better conditions. We’re constantly reminded that there are an army of people out there waiting for the chance to steal our jobs, so we better stop complaining and get back to work!

What does full employment mean though, in its most literal context? Jobs for everybody? More like wage slavery for everybody (but the rich). We are forced into work to pay for the things we need to survive yet it is we who create everything in the first place. Just think, when you go to do your shopping, who do you think picks the vegetables, stacks the shelves or sits at the check outs everyday? It isn’t the bosses, that’s for certain. It’s working people like you and me, and its working people who receive the smallest cut of the economy.

Full employment is a scam, dreamed up by politicians to try to lull us into a sense of better days to come. When in fact full employment wouldn’t result in any meaningful increase to our living conditions. Only a new society, based on mutual aid, where people are free to consume and produce what they want. Where we don’t need bosses to tell us what to do. Where we receive the full fruit of our labour and don’t need money to survive. That world is called anarchist communism, and it’s what we are fighting for.

“Creating A New World In The Shell Of The Old” – Report Back from Sheffield Anarchist Bookfair 2013

sheffieldbookfairThe 4th annual Sheffield Anarchist Bookfair took place last Saturday 11th May at the Showroom Workstation. A member of Bristol AFed went to the Bookfair as part of the Kebele Social Centre/Infoshop Collective. This is their personal account of the day:

After a slow start to the day – waking up at 4am and being stuck on the side of the motorway until 9am – we finally arrived at the Sheffield Anarchist Bookfair at around midday. We set up our stall next to Bristol Against Arms Trade (BAAT) and were happy to find ourselves nestled between comrades from Collective Action and The Commune with The Cowley Club Social Centre (from Brighton) and Sheffield IWW opposite us.

Once we’d finished setting up I took some time to look around the other stalls. There were at least 28 stalls at this year’s Anarchist Bookfair. Despite this the Bookfair gave off the impression of a bustling and active movement with lots of people walking between stalls and talking to eachother. This really felt like a local Bookfair and I loved it.

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