Free Tony Taylor

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! joined London Supporters of Tony Taylor in a picket of Theresa Villiers MP surgery on Saturday 2 July. As Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Villiers is responsible for the revoking of Tony Taylor’s license from an earlier conviction.

Taylor, a Republican activist from Derry was seized while out shopping with his family and sent to Maghaberry Prison without questioning, charge or trial, having been denied legal representation. Following his release from Maghaberry in 2014, Tony Taylor was active in community and prison welfare issues and involved in rebuilding the Republican Network for Unity party in the Derry area.

His internment is clearly an abuse of power by the British state and an affront to human rights. Theresa Villiers refused to accept a letter from the picket on the grounds that she was not there as Secretary of State. This is not good enough and is clearly a piece of the political dodging and weaving we have been exposed to in recent months.

The Campaign for Tony Taylor will return. The use of internment as a weapon against the people must end.

Fight for social housing! RCG takes to the streets and estates

Over the weekend of 18/19 June, the RCG and its supporters in London were active on numerous events in defence of social housing. In many ways what we experienced reflected the rift that is opening up in the housing movement between those stuck in a path of parliamentary pressure and safeguarding a relationship with the Labour Party, on the one hand, and new forces involved in struggle, many on working class housing estates across London whose immediate enemy is… that same Labour Party.

The march called by the Axe the Housing Act movement was a straightforward and sterile affair, consisting of a few hundred activists who gathered at Hyde Park corner in Central London. Some people within the movement had called for the march to go to Savills estate agents, whose headquarters is is located near the start of the march. Savills is currently involved in the sell-off and valuation of thousands of council homes, and the estate agent of choice for Labour councils such as Lambeth and Southwark. Savills works with Labour mayor Sadiq Khan, Housing Minister Brandon Lewis and others involved in drawing up housing policy for London. But in the event the route of the march took it through empty streets to an equally empty Parliament Square. The RCG marched with a noisy, militant contingent from the Focus E15 campaign, which heckled the speaker from Southwark Labour council over its sell-off of nearly 8,000 council homes. Comrades from Focus E15 and the RCG spoke on the platform, exposing the role of Newham Labour council – and called on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to take a principled stance opposing austerity rather than writing to Labour councils instructing them not to set no-cuts budgets.

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Challenging two of London’s worst councils at the Municipal Journal awards

On 16 June, representatives from London’s Labour boroughs of Southwark and Newham were met by angry protesters as they rolled up at the Municipal Journal Awards Ceremony, a self-congratulatory spectacle hosted at the Hilton.

In the context of mass austerity, budget cuts and social cleansing the money was found to wine and dine hundreds of council lackeys as they patted each other on the back for their so- called ‘public service’. Of particular note in this celebration of self-delusion were Southwark and Newham Labour councils, who were up for ‘best local council’ and ‘best trading standards and environmental health’. What an insult to the thousands of families living in squalid conditions in Newham and those who have been evicted and their homes destroyed in Southwark.

As the taxis pulled up to the Hilton and the guests stepped out in their over-priced evening wear, they were greeted by jeers, boos, whistles and chants by a contingent of the Revolutionary Communist Group, Architects for Social Housing, the Focus E15 campaign and Class War who reminded these people of their crimes. Over the RCG sound system, speaker after speaker spoke of the long list of assaults these councillors had spearheaded against the working class; demolishing social housing, evicting the most venerable and allowing slum conditions to worsen on their watch.

These councillors need to be targeted and held accountable for their actions. They should not simply be allowed to destroy lives and communities by simply signing a document written for the interests of estate agents and fat-cat property developers. The RCG will continue to protest against all those involved in the privatisation and demolition of social housing and attacks on the working class. We will work in solidarity with any group who wishes to join us on the street. There will be no victory without struggle. These are our homes, our lives and we do not have to take this any more.

Defend the rights of Travellers! Fight the Housing and Planning Act!

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On Saturday 21 May the Revolutionary Communist Group joined a protest, entitled ‘Dosta, Grinta, Enough!’ It was called to challenge the new housing and planning laws that both redefine Gypsy, Roma and Traveller identity and seek to deny the community a culturally appropriate home.

A demonstration took place in Parliament Square, where protesters took over the roads, marching loudly with horses and wagons, banners and placards claiming the streets of Whitehall! ‘Travellers have human rights!’ was the message shouted at Westminster! Representatives from Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities across Britain and Ireland then held a rally opposite the Houses of Parliament.

The message was clear- the new Housing and Planning Act is a direct attack on their communities.

Alongside the fact that it will put an end to secure lifetime council tenancies, bring in market rates and push people in to private rented accommodation - it is also a massive attack on Gypsies’ and Travellers’ rights. Sites won't be built and the Accommodation Needs Assessments will no longer be statutory. Speakers highlighted the daily racism against their community - which will only be exacerbated by the new laws.

Romany Gypsies and Irish Travellers have ethnic status, yet they are marginalised and have to constantly fight to maintain their cultural way of life. There is a dire shortage of appropriate accommodation for travelling families, and this is going to be made even worse with new Act.

The new laws will limit the development of new Gypsy and Traveller sites and potentially threaten those living on existing public or private legal Traveller sites. Much of the community will be forced back onto the road either because they will be made homeless, or because they will be required to ‘prove’ their status and heritage to retain their homes.

The rally was called as a people’s march welcoming all who support the Gypsy and Travellers cause, and a democratic open mic meant many different supporters were able to speak. The Revolutionary Communist Group speaker highlighted the need for all progressive forces to organise against this vicious legislation that will be used to accelerate the social cleansing of whole communities, and to unite with all those facing the racist policies of the British state.

Travellers’ right are human rights! More sites now!

Social housing NOT social cleansing!

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