'It's us and them' - Report from the KCTMO Annual General Meeting

The Revolutionary Communist Group has been active in the streets of North Kensington ever since the Grenfell Tower fire occurred in June. We have been talking to local residents, relatives and survivors of the disaster, protesting against the Borough Council's shameful inaction and urging people to join their voices with ours in demanding real solutions for the survivors and justice for the dead. On 17 October we protested at the Annual General Meeting of the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO) to call out this organisation for its role in the great act of social murder that occurred in the property they managed.

At this meeting resident-members of the TMO were to vote on a number of resolutions to decide the future of the organisation. Understandably, KCTMO's tenants have lost all confidence in the TMO. In a joint statement on 10 October the Borough Council and TMO had urged resident-members to vote in favour of terminating the TMO's contract to manage its properties, and to hand total control of the organisation to the Council by making it the sole voter in the TMO, insisting that this was necessary for an 'orderly transition'. But concerned residents believed this could have given the Council the power to hand its housing stock over to private housing associations with little or no consultation. There were also doubts over whether the TMO could be properly held to account in the public inquiry should its contract be terminated.

At a time when they most need certainty over the future of their 10,000 homes, residents of KCTMO-managed properties were instead being asked to make a crucial decision at short notice even as the council withheld key information from them, such as the nature of its Modular Management Agreement with the TMO. A Freedom Of Information request by tenants to get this key document released was ignored. RBKC's contempt for the people of its own borough is obvious. A week after their initial recommendation, on the day of the AGM, the TMO and the council changed their mind and issued another statement recommending that residents vote to adjourn.

In the event, 87% of 276 resident-members who attended - many of whom had expressed confusion about the nature of the resolutions - voted for adjournment until they could properly deliberate and understand the consequences of a vote to terminate the TMO's contract and make the council the sole voter in the organisation. Melvyn Akins of Kensington Residents Alliance, interviewed by Grenfell Speaks after the meeting, urged: 'Keep adjourning until we're ready to vote.' Akins and another KCTMO resident, Samia Badani, suggested that a model of resident-led management must be adopted.

Emerging from the meeting, many were furious from learning that Robert Black, former CEO of KCTMO, was still on full salary in an advisory role. They took up the chant, 'Still paying the murderer!' There was consternation, as well, at the revelation that only a small number of board members of the TMO were actually residents in managed properties - three out of fifteen board members tentatively raised their hands when asked if they lived in KCTMO homes. Later in the meeting the chair claimed the number was actually eight out of fifteen - but why didn't board members admit this to begin with? Equally outrageous was that, just as with previous public meetings, local residents were subject to searches by security guards at the door to the town hall. As Akins described it, the atmosphere of distrust was similar to other public meetings since Grenfell - 'It's us and them'.

A number of news reporters were present, from the Daily Mail and Channel 4, and protestors from the Save Wornington College campaign made their voices heard, shouting 'Rotten borough out!' It is vital that vocal and visible protests continue outside TMO and council meetings, to show the world that we will not let those responsible off the hook. We believe firmly that only direct and radical action can move those in power to address the urgent needs of the working class, for safe, affordable and decent housing, instead of chasing profits until their greed has deadly consequences. Hold the guilty to account! No more Grenfells! End social cleansing now!

The next Kensington and Chelsea council meeting discussing the response to Grenfell is scheduled for Wednesday 25 October, 6.30pm. West London supporters of RCG will be there to protest and show the council that the world is watching.

Days that Shook the World: 100 years since October 1917

100 years since October

✪ Days that Shook the World: 100 years since the October revolution and the fight for socialism today ✪

Saturday 14 October at 11:00–17:30

Student Central (Formerly ULU)
WC1E 7HY, London

A day of discussion and debate on October 1917 in the former Russian empire and its impact on working class struggle around the world, as Cuba and Venezuela stand on the front line of revolutionary change in a world of capitalist crisis and war.

Speakers include:

- Teresita Vicente Sotolongo - Cuban Ambasssador to the UK
- Helen Yaffe - author of Che Guevara, the Economics of Revolution
- Trevor Rayne - editorial board, Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism!
- Sam McGill - writer on Venezuela and activist with Rock around the Blockade
- Lucy roberts -


On the day:

11:00 - Registration

11:30 - The Revolution of 1917 and its relevance today / Women and Revolution

14:00-15:00 - Lunch with Soviet Art

15:00 - 17:30 - Revolution Today: Socialist Cuba and the struggle for socialism in Venezuela

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£6.00/£10.00

Tickets available at: skiddle.com/e/13019438

www.revolutionarycommunist.org

Exposing Labour's corruption in east London

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On 18 May, the East London branch of the RCG joined the Focus E15 campaign at the Annual Council Meeting in east London to expose the corruption of Mayor Robin Wales and the Labour Council in Newham.

As he congratulated two councillors for their 25 years of service, Robin Wales spoke of the beautiful entity that is Newham after 25 years of his reign as head of the council and then mayor, lifting it up from being an 'incompetent backwater' to a shining example for other councils. The reality is that there are more registered homeless people in Newham than anywhere else in the country, that 25% of people are living in overcrowded conditions and that Newham is one of the top boroughs in terms of forcing people to move out of the borough and out of London. The council is proud of increased satisfaction rates in council surveys, Robin Wales told the 300 people in attendence, claiming that it really is putting 'power into the hands of residents'.

No mention of course was made of the Lobo loan scandal, £563m of debt from risky long-term loans, with debt repayment taking precedence over frontline services. No mention of the 46 Labour councillors in Newham who own or control almost 100 properties in the borough – including one who has 19 properties that bring in monthly rent of over £20,000.

Read more ...

Exposing the Guardian's lies about Venezuela - 20/5/17

On Saturday 20 May, a protest called by the RCG and Rock Around the Blockade (RATB) was held outside The Guardian’s offices in London to oppose The Guardian's media war against Venezuela and the Bolivarian revolutions. 

While positing itself as a 'voice for the left', The Guardian has actively fought against socialism for decades, perhaps nowhere more unashamedly than in Venezuela, consistently supporting US-backed attempts at destabilising the region, including the 2002 coup that attempted to depose President Chavez, forcing power out of the hands of the people and back to the ruling class. In the current wave of violent protests against the government by the reactionary, imperialist-backed opposition, the newspaper has consistently taken the side of the right-wing anti-government protests, and reported their lies and distortions. It recently called for the country’s democratically-elected socialist president Nicolas Maduro to be given ‘pariah status’. The Guardian has not interviewed any member of the Venezuelan government or its supporters, while deliberately failing to address or condemn any of the violent actions of its right-wing opponents, including attacks on hospitals, schools, and bakeries that serve the people, and which have led to a rising number of deaths - a majority of the victims being government supporters. The Guardian's role in the conflict is to provide an ideological framework for another right-wing takeover. 

Present at the protest were comrades from Bolivia, Cuba, Colombia, Ireland and Palestine, among others, reflecting that the fight against imperialism and capitalism is a global struggle and as such requires international solidarity. We recognise that many of the tactics and attacks against building socialism we can see in Venezuela have been seen before in countries such as Cuba and Chile, and so we must be ready to fight back to ensure success against reactionary forces. The protest achieved powerful international coverage, with Venezuelan President Maduro tweeting about it, along with progressive Latin American news network Telesur. 

We were opposed by a very small group of counter-protestors from the right-wing, wealthier classes of Venezuela, holding signs declaring Maduro to be a dictator and killer, and calling for 'Elections Now'. They were unable to distract us from the task of exposing the media's lies, condemning the violent anti-socialist protests, and showing our solidarity and support for the Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela.  

Given the power and wealth of the media in Britain, and its willingness to attack working class movements both domestically and internationally, our efforts to repel their lies and propaganda must be strong and unwavering. As long as The Guardian and media outlets like it continue to support imperialism and violence against the oppressed peoples of the world, we will continue to expose them.

For more detail on the current protests in Venezuela, and the media lies, see: evolutionarycommunist.org/americas/venezuela/4787-vb280417 

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