Save Salford nurseries!

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On Friday 9 February, Salford City Labour council announced that it was planning a consultation exercise over the closure of all five of its council-funded ‘outstanding’ Ofsted-rated nurseries in the city. The council is citing a £1.7m shortfall in funding, outside a further £11.2m austerity cuts elsewhere in the city. These nurseries are located in some of Salford's most deprived areas; Salford overall is in the top 10% of deprived cities in England. Just over a week later, at a packed public meeting of over 200 people called by Salford Unison, residents voted overwhelmingly to set up a campaign against the closures.

The meeting rejected a call by Salford's Mayor Paul Dennett, a Corbyn supporter, to participate in a joint campaign with the council against the governments cuts. As Unison representative Ameen Hadi put it, this would be a conflict of interests: there could be no joint campaign as long as the Council proceeded with its so-called consultation exercise on the closure of the nurseries. Over 100 jobs will be lost by such a decision, quite apart from its long-term impact on the children and their families that attend them.  327 children, 87 of them with special needs, attend the five nurseries.

 

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RCG public statement regarding ACORN

In a completely sectarian action, Manchester branch of the ACORN tenant union has said it is banning members of the Revolutionary Communist Group (RCG) from attending its meetings and events. It follows an incident where Manchester ACORN members, led by supporters of Plan C, a self-styled autonomous revolutionary organisation, stopped a member of the RCG, a social tenant, from selling Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! outside an ACORN meeting after it had ended, and told him he was banned. When another RCG comrade and local tenant tried to attend a subsequent public ACORN training session on tenants’ rights, he was told that there had been a ‘democratic decision’ to ban the RCG from attending ACORN meetings. The ACORN organiser told the comrade that ‘ACORN had experienced trouble nationally with the RCG and that there was a blanket ban on RCG members attending ACORN meetings’. The organiser further commented that this was a democratic decision by the union and no member of RCG would be allowed to any of their meetings or events.

The organiser lied. There has been no national ACORN decision to ban the RCG, let alone any ‘blanket ban’. There had been no national consultation or vote to ban us. The RCG has worked with ACORN in both Bristol and Newcastle; there has been no ‘trouble’ with our comrades. There has been no ACORN meeting in Manchester to decide on such a ban: the branch was only set up three weeks ago. The ‘decision’ has been made by an unelected clique involving Plan C, Jonny Butcher, Sheffield’s full-time ACORN organiser and a few others. Plan C wishes to lead Manchester ACORN into a close working relationship with the Labour Party. It wants to make sure it does not face any challenge to this political strategy. It cannot do this through open democratic debate, but only behind closed doors. Plan C and this clique therefore want to vet tenants on their political affiliations before admitting them to Manchester ACORN, to ensure that communists are excluded. Lying to ACORN members about the relationship between the RCG and ACORN is essential to justify such a ban. A subsequent suggestion by Butcher that the ban was only ‘temporary’ as a sort of compromise is nonsense: there are no grounds for such a ban regardless of duration.

The RCG both locally and nationally campaigns on housing, helping to organise in campaigns like Focus E15, and in solidarity with Grenfell. Locally, it has been involved in a ‘Yes to DSS’ campaign, Save The Grange in Salford, and supported others such as Manchester Activist Network and their struggle for decent housing for homeless people. RCG tenants have also participated and helped to organise with ACORN in other parts of the country. RCG comrades who are tenants will not allow themselves to be excluded from a tenants’ union because they happen to be communists. The RCG fights for democratic and open campaigning and rejects any attempt to censor socialist and working class voices.

 

Smash the Balfour Declaration! Manchester students lead the way

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A racist celebration of the Balfour declaration organised by the Israeli embassy and Zionist Federation as part of the ‘Balfour 100’ programme ended up being kicked off campus by University of Manchester students and their supporters. The event had been due to take place at the university – an insult to all those campaigning in solidarity with the Palestinians – but was moved at the last minute to the Hilton hotel, where fascist Israeli ambassador Mark Regev was forced to enter via a side-entrance. Nathan WIlliams reports.

Traffic on Oxford Road was brought to a standstill. Campaigners against the ‘celebrations’ took over the street and defied police as they marched from the university to the new location on Deansgate. Manchester-based Palestinian solidarity and anti-imperialist activists were joined by activists from Sheffield, Scotland and across the country. The event was organised by students from the BDS Society and Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! Society, along with Manchester Palestine Action and Palestine Solidarity Campaign, and attracted the support of many from the Palestinian community to picket the Zionist celebration of apartheid and ethnic-cleansing. Notably absent was the Labour Party. In fact, neither activists nor the party itself had supported the campaign against the Balfour ‘celebrations’ – demonstrating how Labour’s desire to remain a viable candidate for leading imperialist, racist Britain overrules even the weakest support for anti-imperialist politics. Its Shadow Foreign Minister Emily Thornberry is due to stand in for Jeremy Corbyn at the Zionists' London celebration.

The University of Manchester has over the past year engaged in repeated attacks on pro-Palestinian activities – cancelling meetings hosted by societies, restricting events during Israeli Apartheid Week and censoring event titles and speakers. Proving itself an ally of Zionism the university planned to host the Balfour celebration on its campus. It would have been a symbolic venue for the Israel embassy and the Zionist Federation as Chaim Weizmann, the first president of Israel, was a lecturer in Chemistry at the university while he met with Arthur Balfour to draft the declaration. Middle East Monitor uncovered collaboration between the university and Israeli embassy this year, around Israeli apartheid week, which resulted in the university clamping down on opponents of Israel. The University of Manchester was more concerned with collaborating with the representatives of an apartheid state than the concerns of its own student body.

BDS and FRFI societies campaigned to force the organisers to run away to another venue in fear of a protest. The university, however, did not at any point intervene. Despite nine student societies signing a letter addressed to Vice Chancellor Nancy Rothwell and Palestinian students expressing their fears and disgust towards the event no action was taken; except, of course, to defend the event. It was fear of the students’ opposition that convinced the Zionists to move their meeting – the new venue was only publicly confirmed at the last minute in an attempt to avoid protests.

Unfortunately for the Zionists, it didn’t work. Their change of venue represents a defeat, however much they will try and dress it up. Regev's presence had not been publicly confirmed, but once inside he gave a speech attempting to smear the protesters outside as ‘anti-Semitic’ – a common and inaccurate portrayal, the last resort of desperate Zionists. The speech was evidence of the disruption and damage pro-Palestinian campaigners caused to the Zionists and their attempted propaganda campaign.

Police and university security personnel attempted to ‘manage’ the protest. First, they tried to prevent the march; protesters refused to co-operate with their attempts at control. Then, as the march began police officers on foot and in cars attempted to divert and block our path. But they were fighting a losing battle. Three hundred people marched into the city centre, occupying the streets and blocking traffic. The march continued, with police officers on the sides still attempting to restrain it. At the Hilton Hotel a lively and spirited picket was formed as Zionists made their way into the meeting. Greater Manchester Police stood side-by-side with the hired security guards of the Israeli embassy to block the hotel’s entrance and allow people into the meeting inside. Police and security officers attempted to convince demonstrators to leave before the end of the event. But the picket stayed in place until 10pm, meaning those leaving the event were forced to confront the chants of the demonstrators.

This year, 100 years since the Balfour declaration, Zionists and British imperialists will attempt to strengthen the link between apartheid Israel and Britain. They will use events like the one on Tuesday 31 October as propaganda, to paint the occupation and ethnic-cleansing of Palestine as a positive. But this protest, the largest mobilisation in support of Palestine in Manchester since 2014's FRFI-led occupations of Barclays and M&S, has shown that Zionist lies will not go unchallenged, even in Britain, the staunchest and most historic ally of Israel.

Smash Balfour!

Zionism off campus!

Victory to the Palestinian people!

We call for further action to break Britain’s imperialist links to Zionism and Israel. Join the Boycott Israel Group in Manchester on 11 November, meeting at 12pm in Piccadilly Gardens, as we take to the streets with a rolling picket of the banks, shops and businesses that support the apartheid state of Israel.

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Fight for Palestine! Smash Zionism! - Statement by University of Manchester Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! society

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! condemns the University of Manchester’s (UoM) attempt to shut down our filmshow and discussion of ‘Leila Khaled: Hijacker’ for Palestinian Land day. Martin Conway, the Deputy Secretary of the university, contacted the Catholic Chaplaincy directly to force the cancellation of our booking. No attempt to contact Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! was made and no reason for this attack has been given publicly.

UoM has joined a growing list of British institutions protecting its connections to apartheid Israel. It is also caving in to Zionist pressure groups like the Northwest Friends of Israel (NWFoI), which engaged in racist attacks on Palestine supporters at a recent BDS meeting and is exerting pressure on the university itself behind the scenes. What has become clear is that UoM leaders take more notice of the fascist agenda of Zionist thugs than the political expression of its own students. Attempts by Conway and other university bureaucrats to cancel Israeli Apartheid Week events and to sanction two students for a pro-Palestine banner drop are political acts, backing up the ruling class attack on political opposition under the guise of the anti-Muslim Prevent strategy. By attempting to shutting down pro-Palestinian campaigns UoM is actively supporting the status quo of apartheid in occupied Palestine.

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! students will be supporting the BDS society’s demonstration at UoM on 29 March to demand an end to these attacks. We encourage all anti-racists and Palestine supporters to join us and take action:

Wednesday 29 March

Defend students' right to support Palestine, protest against UoM management sanctions on BDS campaigners

12 noon, Samuel Alexander building, Oxford Road

 

North West Events coming up..

Every Saturday unless otherwise specified - Information/campaign stalls, Manchester City Centre and environs

For details call 07519 427 093 or e-mail: frfi.manchester@gmail.com

 

Regular actions in Liverpool, for details contact FRFI.Liverpool@gmail.com

Contact North West FRFI

075 1942 7093
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FRFI Statement on Justice for Grainger protest

Who shot and killed Anthony Grainger?

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