The Walney Report - an attack on all our rights

Just Stop Oil protesters march on a road

On 21 May the Walney Report, ‘Protecting our Democracy from Coercion’, was published, having been gleefully leaked by the right-wing press for weeks. The author, Lord Walney, formerly known as plain John Woodcock is a former Labour MP for Barrow and Furness. The report, which was commissioned by Boris Johnson in 2021, is a pernicious attack on democratic rights and the right to protest. It gives further ammunition to the ruling class as it gears up for the growing turmoil and protests that are inevitably coming as the crisis of capitalism intensifies. The prime targets of this blueprint for repression are environmental and Palestine solidarity activists and groups.

 

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The miners’ strike 40 years on: people versus state

The year-long miners’ strike that began in March 1984 represented the last major battle of the industrial working class in Britain as miners, led by Arthur Scargill, fought the attempt by the Thatcher government to close collieries across the country and break the power of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM). Despite its eventual defeat, the strike transformed the political landscape, as through bitter struggle against the British state and faced with the treachery of the Labour Party and TUC, a relatively privileged section of the working class was forced to make common cause with those fighting racism and imperialism on the streets of Britain and in the occupied North of Ireland. The potential of such a movement was never realised, paving the way for the virtual obliteration of the industrial working class over the next decade. But as this extract from the introduction to our 1985 book Miners Strike 1984-1985: People versus State shows, those lessons remain relevant today.*

 

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Stand up and fight for your rights!

Police Forward Intelligence Team (photo: fotdmike/Flickr))

On 1 March 2024, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak spoke to the nation outside Downing Street, complaining of ‘forces’ tearing British society apart and taking aim specifically at people who challenge the legitimacy of Israel and call for Palestinian freedom. Sunak’s somewhat incoherent speech was followed on 14 March, by Cabinet Minister, Michael Gove, who set out new measures to tackle ‘extremism’. KOTSAI SIGAUKE reports on the full-scale attack on dissent which is underway.

 

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Support the Elbit 8! Solidarity with Palestine!

Elbit Eight activists

As all over Europe, pro-Zionist governments clamp down on support for the Palestinian struggle for liberation, FRFI is republishing a timely call for solidarity with the Elbit Eight – Palestine Action activists are due to go on trial in east London for their solidarity with Palestine who took on the Israeli arms company Elbit Systems.

 

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Stand up against repressive laws

On 15 June 2023 the government altered the definition of ‘serious disruption’ in the 1986 Public Order Act (POA) to bring it in line with the one in the new 2023 POA. The 1986 Act is the main legislation used to regulate protest marches and static demonstrations in Britain. The aim is to criminalise particular groups such as Just Stop Oil (JSO), as well as to scare the rest of us who undertake any form of street activism into thinking twice or only mounting the most ineffective protest. It is not the case that all protest is now banned or illegal, and we must stand up strongly against such scaremongering; however these changes, together with others that have come in or are in the pipeline, constitute a massive attack on our democratic rights. NICKI JAMESON reports.

 

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Remembering Eric Levy

Eric Levy (left) at a protest in solidarity with socialist Cuba

Eric Levy died on 20 July, aged 94. The RCG had known him for the entire duration of our organisation’s existence. We salute Eric’s contribution to the struggle.

 

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Charges dropped against Newcastle anti-racist!

A well-known Newcastle anti-racist activist was due to appear in court on 30 June 2021 on the charge of being an organiser of a public assembly on 27 June 2020, who knowingly failed to comply with section 14 of the Public Order Act. In a significant victory, the charges were dropped the day before the trial. Why? Because of an unrelenting, public and political defence campaign which drew in support from around the country; a solid legal team who restlessly fought our corner; principled journalists who were unafraid to speak truth to power; and because the corruption, lies and racism of Northumbria Police could not be kept hidden in a public trial.

 

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Defend the right to protest

Collage of protests against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill

On Saturday 13 March a vigil held at Clapham Common in London in remembrance of Sarah Everard, a woman kidnapped and murdered allegedly by a serving police officer, was violently attacked by Met police. The brutal police response sparked a protest movement that exploded on the streets, focused on opposing both violence against women and the proposed Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.

 

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Trans and non-binary rights Trussed up

Trans pride march, London 12 September 2020 (photo: Max Curtis)

On 22 September Equalities Minister Liz Truss laid bare the government’s contempt for trans and non-binary people in a written statement that was a slap in the face to all those who have campaigned for reforms to the 2004 Gender Recognition Act (GRA). These reforms included then Prime Minister Theresa May’s pledge to ‘de-medicalise’ gender transition and were promised in 2018 following a government survey responded to by 108,000 predominantly LGBT people.

 

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Gender Recognition Act: trans rights abandoned

Transgender people have once again been betrayed by the British government’s apparent reversal of promises made two years ago by then-Prime Minister Theresa May to reform the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) 2004, in a way that would allow trans people to self-identify and to obtain a birth certificate to demonstrate their correct gender.

In leaked documents detailing the government’s long overdue response to a public consultation begun in 2018 on a reform of the GRA, Boris Johnson’s government has seemingly decided to scrap plans to reform the act in any way that might make social or medical transition for trans people easier. As it currently stands, the GRA dictates that in order to obtain a change in gender on their birth certificate, transgender people must engage in a lengthy and exhausting process of medical assessment, including psychiatric therapy and diagnosis, as well verification that they intend to undergo gender affirmative surgeries.

 

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Bristol Uprising 1831

Bristol uprising 1831

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! no.6 , September/ October 1980

The St Paul's uprising on 2 April 1980 shook from the ruling class an admission of its greatest fear.

'These are things that we have regarded with horror when they happen in Ulster. We never dreamed that in the England of 1980 we could have 'no-go' areas like those of Londonderry. It must never, never happen again.' (Sun 5/4/80)

 

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Big Tech and contact tracing

Contact tracing apps could be used for mass surveillance (photo: Pixabay)

On 2 April 2020, about 100 human rights and civil liberties organisations, including Amnesty International, issued a joint statement calling for responsible use of digital surveillance to fight the Covid-19 pandemic and warning that ‘states’ efforts to contain the virus must not be used as a cover to usher in a new era of greatly expanded systems of invasive digital surveillance.’ The involvement of the Big Tech monopolies and shadowy surveillance companies in the development of Britain’s new contact tracing app (‘NHS COVID-19 App’) tells us clearly that the British state is indifferent to Amnesty’s call. Adam Turing and Anthony Rupert report.

 

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Morning Star censorship

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! No. 2, January/February 1980

On 16 November the ANC Treason Trial Defence Committee called a picket on South Africa House to protest against the death sentence passed on James Daniel Mange and to call for the release of the ANC 12.

 

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Anti-Nazi League Beats Cowardly Retreat

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! No. 1, November/December 1979

The announcement of a joint Provisional Sinn Fein/Bristol RCG meeting on 16 October to mobilise support for Sinn Fein’s 20 October demonstration was greeted by a hysterical outburst in the local press, aimed to whip up the right wing. ‘Storm erupts in city over IRA show’ screamed a headline in The Bristol Journal of 12 October.

 

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Farewell Mehmet Aksoy

funeral

The Revolutionary Communist Group attended the service and procession for Mehmet Aksoy in London on 10 November 2017. Mehmet had gone to Raqqa with the People’s Protection Units (YPG) to film the battle against IS and was killed there on 26 September. The RCG knew Mehmet and had been on protests and in meetings with him. Mehmet was well known and much loved by the Kurdish people in Britain. Five thousand or more people gathered at the Kurdish Community Centre in Haringey North London and then proceeded on foot through mainly working class areas to Highgate cemetery where Mehmet was buried. They chanted slogans of the Kurdish revolutionary struggle and made calls for international solidarity as they went. On reaching the cemetery a minute's silence was held for the martyrs of the struggle in front of Karl Marx’s tomb and the flag of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) was laid on Mehmet’s grave. The RCG gave the following message of support:

 

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Brixton uprising

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! no. 10 – May/June 1981

It was the profit motive that built the tenement house and the city project. Profit and loss prevents repairs and maintenance. Free enterprise brought the monopolistic chainstore into the neighbourhood. The concept of private ownership of facilities that the people need to exist brought the legions of hip-shooting, brainless pigs down upon our heads, our homes, our streets. They're there to protect the entrepreneur! His chainstore, his property that you are renting, his bank.

  • George Jackson

On the weekend of 10-13 April the black people of Brixton, joined by some of the white working class people who also live there, rose up against police tyranny and racism. They fought with all the anger that long years of oppression have stored in their hearts. They fought with complete understanding of the British state and its police which long years of suffering at its hands have developed. They fought with the courage which only those who have nothing to lose can display. And the people of Brixton fought this battle with the weapons used by working class insurrectionists the world over, from South Africa to Belfast – the brick, the barricade and the petrol bomb.

 

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Solidarity action: Organising non-stop against apartheid - book review

bwd  Set 1/2  fwd

Youth Activism and Solidarity: The Non-Stop Picket Against Apartheid

Gavin Brown and Helen Yaffe

Routledge Spaces of Childhood and Youth Series, 2017,

ISBN 978-1-138-82886-5, 244pp, £105

This publication is timely and important for those who want to struggle against political and economic power today. The bulk of the book is made up of contributions from participants of the Non-Stop Picket of the South African (SA) Embassy in London in the 1980s and is a record of the picket through interviews with 90 of the individuals involved, including regular supporters, solicitors, members of parliament and retired police officers. The authors also had access to the privately held archives of City AA and thank Carol Brickley and her comrades who helped look after the papers over the last two decades and the Revolutionary Communist Group for providing access to them.

The four-year Non-Stop Picket of the SA Embassy in London’s Trafalgar Square was an unsurpassed event in British politics. From April 1986 until February 1990, the City of London Anti-Apartheid Group (City AA) pledged to sustain a continuous protest until Nelson Mandela was freed from prison. This they did.

 

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Defence Campaigns – Fighting criminalisation

Defence campaign protest

Defence Campaigns – Fighting criminalisation

Defence campaigns have been set up in Glasgow and Newcastle for FRFI supporters arrested on protests against the cuts. Both the Glasgow Defence Campaign and the HSBC 3 Defence Campaign stand in solidarity with all those being criminalised for taking part in actions against the cuts and against police harassment. The fight against the criminalisation of protest is central to building a new movement to fight back against attacks on the working class and oppressed in Britain. We offer unconditional solidarity to all those facing the sharp end of British justice for organising against cuts, racism, capitalism and imperialism, and call for maximum unity in the face of such attacks.

 

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Obituary: Ken Bodden

Ken

Ken Bodden

8 April 1950 – 20 October 2013

Ken Bodden’s sudden death at the age of 63 was a shock to those who knew him as a resilient fighter against racism and injustice and as a force of life, music and fun. Ken was an outstanding practitioner at the highest level of song-writing and performance. He was an international competitor at the winter Paralympics, a piano tuner and sports masseur. He was also a member and supporter of the Revolutionary Communist Group for 30 years.

 

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Defend the right to protest! Defend the Gaza Demonstrators!

gazaThe British state has moved to marginalise those who want to resist imperialism in this country, and especially to criminalise those who take a militant stance against Zionism. In the course of 2009, 119 mostly young and predominantly Muslim people were arrested in connection with the demonstrations outside the London Israeli embassy in December 2008- January 2009 against Israel's murderous attack on the people of Gaza. 78 of them were charged; so far around 30 have received prison sentences and court cases continue. FRFI is participating in the campaign to defend and support all those facing the racist vengeance of the British state and joined the demonstration outside Isleworth Crown Court on 26 March, when the latest sentences were passed.

 

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The legacy of the Occupy movement

Just after midnight on 28 February, police and bailiffs finally moved in to evict the Occupy LSX protest, which had been camped outside St Paul’s Cathedral in London for nearly five months. The legal battle to keep the camp going had been exhausted six days earlier, when the protesters’ appeal against attempts by the City of London Corporation to remove them was rejected by the Court of Appeal.

 

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Timeline of the riots

Thursday 4 August

• Mark Duggan is shot dead by police in Tottenham Hale. Police claim that that there was an exchange of gunfire and one police officer was injured.

Saturday 6 August

• Mark Duggan’s family and friends hold a peaceful demonstration at Tottenham police station where senior police refuse to meet them and police assault a 16-year-old girl. Rioting follows. Police cars are attacked, a bus is set alight and shops are looted. Looting spreads to Tottenham Hale retail park and Wood Green shopping centre.

 

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Occupy LSX: resistance sets up camp in the heart of British imperialism – Oct 2011

occupation_at_st_paul

The occupation at St Paul’s, in the heart of the City of London, and the wave of similar protests across the UK and Europe, are a sign of the inevitable resistance that is to come, as more and more sections of the working class see their living standards being sacrificed to pay for the capitalist crisis.

Inspired by the ongoing occupation of Wall Street in the US, thousands of protestors, including many of those involved in last year’s student protests and university occupations, descended on the City on Saturday 15 October with the aim of occupying the London Stock Exchange headquarters, symbol of Britain’s parasitic capitalism.

 

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The turn of the screw

No matter how much Britain’s ruling elite wants to convince itself and us that the rioting in English cities and towns in August 2011 was an outbreak of ‘criminality pure and simple’, as Prime Minister David Cameron put it, the fact is that riots have always been a feature of capitalist society in crisis. The August riots expressed the depth of the crisis that now faces British imperialism. The ruling class has systematically shifted the burden of solving this crisis onto the backs of the working class and the poor while claiming that ‘we are all in this together’. In reality there is no such thing as ‘we’: the ruling class is willing to abandon every figment of democracy, every notion of ‘human progress’ or ‘equality’, every remnant of civilisation, in order to restore profits. The August riots are the writing on the wall. As the ruling class turns the screw, it is time to fight back.

 

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Editorial Comment / FRFI 157 Oct / Nov 2000

A growing rebellion against capitalism
 
After the victory in Seattle, the anti-capitalist movement began to take off, attracting a new generation of political activists opposed to the brutality of global capitalism and the sham of parliamentary politics. At the Prague IMF/ World Bank Conference in September, a lot was at stake. The movement was determined to consolidate. The imperialists were determined to halt its progress. 

$30m was spent preparing for the conference on top of the $90m spent on refurbishing the conference centre. Massive security was put in place. The FBI and 600 other foreign specialists, including many from the British police, spent six months training their Czech counterparts in surveillance and riot control. 11,000 police were drafted in from all over the Czech Republic, backed by 5,000 soldiers, armoured vehicles, water cannon and a motley collection of Group 4 security guards. Police helicopters buzzed ceaselessly back and forth across the city. There were three or four police armed with pistols, batons and stun guns on every corner, riot police down alleyways alongside every McDonalds and clumsily disguised undercover cops everywhere. For weeks, the mainly foreign-owned media ran scare stories in an attempt to whip up hysteria and turn the Czech people against the demonstrators. Schools were closed for the week and pensioners urged to leave the city. 

 

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The riots: waging class war - 26 Aug 2011

real-lcriminals-copy

It has been a measure of the crisis faced by the British state that the events in Tottenham on 6 August, following the police killing of Mark Duggan, were swiftly followed by inner city riots across many other London boroughs and in the West Midlands, Manchester, Merseyside, Nottingham, Avon and Somerset, West Yorkshire, Leicester, Cambridge and Gloucester on 7, 8 and 9 August. The ruling class quickly made it clear that they would exact revenge on any working class youth involved.

 

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Tottenham - community unites against repression and inequality - 13 Aug 2011

On 13 August FRFI comrades in London were among 3,000 people who marched from Dalston to Tottenham, calling for community unity and ‘a future for our children’. The event was organised following the police killing of Mark Duggan in Tottenham and the subsequent revolt across the city, by the North London Assembly, an ad hoc umbrella organisation of local groups. The leaflet for the event stated:

 

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Eyewitness report of the Manchester uprising, 9 August 2011

‘They’re making money off us – now we’re takin’ it back!’ – a young man in Manchester

Manchester Riots

My comrades and I arrived in town at half past eight. Confrontation with the police had been going on for quite some time already. We heard that Marks & Spencer on Market Street had been trashed, Miss Selfridge (owned by billionaire tax dodger Philip Green) had been burned, and that there were massive scenes of unrest at Salford Precinct. There was no traffic in or out of Manchester city centre and everything was closed.

 

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