Topple the Toffs!

March 23, 2011

As we have the dubious honour of having posh twat Ed Miliband as our MP we’ve teamed up with the AMP to work on a new ‘TOPPLE THE TOFFS‘ campaign.

The working class are now under constant attack and the poorest sections of society are paying for the mistakes of the rich. And yet we’re expected to believe that a bunch of over-privileged Oxbridge elites are going to deliver a fairer, just society.

Everything that is currently in jeopardy, the NHS, education, libraries, etc – i.e. the welfare state – was created as a concession to a powerful and militant working class who were well organised and prepared to fight for their beliefs. Unfortunately those days are long gone. Three decades of neo-liberal policies from Tory and Labour alike have dis-empowered the working class and nowadays most political parties don’t even bother to pretend that they’re on our side (the BNP allege that they’re pro-working class to try and get votes, but they’re led by a money grabbing toff and their policies are as anti working class as you can get) – apparently, as Lord Prescott once said ‘we’re all middle class now’; try telling that to the pensioner who can’t afford to put the heating on.

We can afford £500 billion to bail out the banks and we can spend billions more on oil-wars, but we can’t afford to take care of the most vulnerable people in our society? Posh Dave reckons we need to take care of each other voluntarily in a nice ‘big society’, but if that’s the case why to we need government? What use is the state? The answer is same as it has always been, NO USE AT ALL!

The simple truth is that ‘representative democracy’ is sooo last millennium. We no longer want or need a layer of corrupt politicians to look after our interests. We have the ability and the technology to take control of our own lives. We just need to find the kind of strength, solidarity and willingness that our grandparents had and fight for what we believe…

And the first thing we need to do is TOPPLE THE TOFFS! 😉

Click here to download the TOFF ALERT poster.

Click here to download the MILIBAND ALERT poster.

The trouble with the cuts is that the worst hit, those of us who are among the lowest income bracket who have seen no real-term wage increase for nearly a decade and/or those with young families, etc, find it increasingly hard to get to the big, London-based demos. The situation can be very frustrating, but as Ian Bone says in this blog post there are many blocs involved in the March 26th UPRISING Ok, ‘March’, but there’s nowt wrong with a bit of optimism now and then 😉 – including the Armchair Army!

Modern technology means that even if you can’t afford – or find it hard… – to travel to London, are stuck at work, or are just not a fan of big protests, then you can still take an active role in opposing the cuts on the 26th.

Take a tip from UK Uncut and make sure the Banks (who caused the problem in the first place) and Tax Dodgers (who are still making record profits in this time of ‘austerity’) get the message on this important day of action.

Until very recently we weren’t big fans of Twitter (and we still hate the cyber-fascism which is encouraged by Facebook), but – as we said here social networking is rapidly becoming one of the most important weapons in the fight for social justice. A Twitter account not only allows you to keep up with unfolding news without the usual media bias, it means anyone can help disseminate that news to the right people, while also allowing them to send a direct message to the corporations who are causing such damage and distress.

So go on, grab some beers and snacks, switch on Sky News or Beeb 24, turn the volume down, fire up Twitter and join the most important protest of the year so far!

*If you’re new to Twitter just remember to mark tweets for the 26th with #Mar26, #March26th and/or #UKUncut hashtags.

But why leave your local banks and tax-dodgers out? Keep an eye on local UK Uncut actions here, and if there’s no active group in your area then you can always go solo – the internet is full of anti-cuts posters to download and share 😉

**Our Twitter address is @barnsbrigade if you fancy following, but we’re a bit rubbish at tweeting.

The students have shown the rest of us – workers, claimants, parents, carers, academics, idlers, anarchists, etc., etc., etc. – what we should ALL be doing. We feel that the above image, from the 10/11 London demo – says everything we need to know. We need to unite, and we need to act! If not, then we will get the future we fucking deserve!

In South Yorkshire, Sheffield Hallam University has been occupied by students. Find out more here…

…and send messages of support to…

At present there are 20 or so other occupations in the UK – full details here – and it’s growing all the time; show them your support! There will be further actions next Tuesday and if you’re able to organise any form of solidarity protest in your area, no matter how small, do it!

CORDON have arranged an organising meeting for tomorrow night…

Join the Resistance in Doncaster. Come to the Womens Centre, Cleveland Street, 7.30pm to plan what we do next to oppose the cuts.

It would be good for any anarchists in the vicinity to drop by. We need to put aside our differences and show a united front if we are going to fight the cuts in Doncaster.

With the National Walk Out on the 24th and the stand against Tax-Evading Companies on December 6th, the next few weeks will mark a turning point for the anti-cuts campaign if we can organise effectively.

CORDON have organised an anti-cuts demo in Doncaster. In their own words…

The Con-Dem cuts will hit Doncaster hard. Thousands of jobs are at stake, including many in the NHS, Post and Council, and services we rely on will be devastated.With the scrapping of EMA and the withdrawal of the cap on tuition fees, working class kids will be excluded from higher education, effectively  cutting off the route out of poverty for our children.

We need to make [this demo] the biggest Doncaster has ever seen. Make your voice heard, be there on the 13th November. Defend Jobs, Defend Services from the Con-Dems and their supporters within Doncaster Council. Click here to download leaflets for the demo.

Saturday 13th November
Assemble at Mansion House 12.00pm

Everyone should go along and send a message to the government…

It’s Time To F**KING Act!

September 28, 2010

What follows is a very sobering article from the ever-vigilant Media Lens. Things are about to get very, very tough for a great many people, and as usual it will be the most vulnerable who are hit fastest and hardest. We can either face this in the same way we have been doing for far too long – i.e. whine and do nothing – or we can fight. If you can get down to Brum this Sunday (October 3rd) for the Tory Party conference then that would be a good start. If, like us, you’re not able to make it, then you need to look at what you can be doing – right now, in your own community – to protect ourselves from the abuses of government and big business. We need to get organised; partly to resist the cuts, but more importantly to build local resistance to the ravages of capitalism and to create a resilient local infrastructure which will be essential for survival in a very different future.  The time for talking is over, it’s time to fucking act!



In a despairing article in the Guardian last week, George Monbiot described the true extent of the failure to respond to the threat of climate change. Beyond all the bluster and rhetoric, Monbiot wrote, “there is not a single effective instrument for containing man-made global warming anywhere on earth.” It is, quite simply, “the greatest political failure the world has ever seen”.

Monbiot explained:

“Greens are a puny force by comparison to industrial lobby groups, the cowardice of governments and the natural human tendency to deny what we don’t want to see.” (George Monbiot, ‘Climate change enlightenment was fun while it lasted. But now it’s dead’, Comment is Free, 20 September, 2010;

The lobby groups are indeed powerful. But the notion of government “cowardice” is a classic liberal herring – the problem has always been the government +alliance+ with corporate power, not its “cowardice”.

Likewise, the primary problem is not the natural human tendency to denial; it is the natural corporate +media+ tendency to promote a corporate view of the world. What does it tell us when Greens are competing with an endless stream of ultra-high tech, ultra-slick adverts cleverly persuading us that the latest Renault, Audi and Ford are wonderful complements to our modern lifestyles? What does it tell us when the media is the corporate arm of the corporate system selling, not just these products, but this lifestyle, this way of looking at the world?

This problem has never been front and centre of Monbiot’s analysis as it surely would have been were he not an employee of that corporate media arm. In a discussion that is basically a battle of ideas, it is outrageous that Greens have almost nothing to say about the corporate nature of the media hosting the discussion.

But Monbiot is right when he comments:

“To compensate for our weakness, we indulged a fantasy of benign paternalistic power – acting, though the political mechanisms were inscrutable, in the wider interests of humankind. We allowed ourselves to believe that, with a little prompting and protest, somewhere, in a distant institutional sphere, compromised but decent people would take care of us. They won’t. They weren’t ever going to do so. So what do we do now?”

If “compromised but decent people” were never going to ensure even their own survival by standing up to state-corporate greed, what price action to save the billions of people who are impoverished and starving?

At the recently ended United Nations “poverty summit”, global leaders once again solemnly declared their commitment to the Millennium Development Goals for 2015, just as they did at a previous UN summit ten years ago; just as they did, with different verbiage, at innumerable climate change talking shops.

The first goal, to “eradicate extreme poverty and hunger,” is now more distant than ever. Ten years ago, 830 million people were on the brink of starvation. This rose to over 1 billion during the world food price crisis of 2007-2008 and today remains at 915 million.

Another goal for 2015 is to cut infant mortality by two-thirds from the 1990 annual rate, when it stood at 12.5 million deaths. The current rate is a scandalous 10.5 million, and it is very unlikely that the 2015 target will be achieved.

These figures and failures offer a mere glimpse of the shocking reality of the destructiveness and instability of global capitalism. As ever, it is the poorest in “the Third World” who suffer most. But the First World is not immune. In the relatively affluent West, not just the poor but the middle classes are being hit hard. Here in the UK, the Tory – Liberal Democrat coalition government looks set to impose harsh cuts in the public sector of up to 40 per cent.

Writing in Red Pepper, former Financial Times employment editor Robert Taylor describes the “ultimate purpose” of the coalition: “to bury the British welfare state as we have known it over the past 60 years – based on a progressive and responsible state, redistributive taxation and social justice.” We will see the “wholesale demolition” of “the much-maligned public sector” with likely up to one million people losing their jobs. Many “victims of the government’s vicious attacks are going to be nurses, teachers, social workers and any others whose work is designed to help and protect the most vulnerable in our society.” (Robert Taylor, ‘Welfare to worklessness’, Red Pepper, 24 August, 2010;

Taylor warns that in the near future we will be hearing “terrible stories of how handicapped and sick people and those suffering from mental illness are being driven into destitution in what will look increasingly like a return to the coercive world of 19th-century Britain with its workhouses, soup kitchens and pawnshops.”

In light of the global failings to act rationally and compassionately, how seriously can we take government assurances that it is seeking to ameliorate the impact of cuts on the poorest and weakest in society? How seriously can we take the discussion offered by the corporate media?

The Spectre Of “Militant” Action To Oppose The Cuts

On 19 September, the Sunday Times ran a major interview with Brendan Barber, general secretary of the Trades Union Congress (Andrew Davidson, ‘King of compromise alone on a tightrope’, Sunday Times, business section, 19 September, 2010; online article is hidden behind a pay wall). The bias was clear even from the text immediately following the headline:

“Brendan Barber, head of the TUC, is not asking us to copy Greek workers in their fight against cuts. Yet plenty of his members want to do just that.”

The paper was thus quick to raise the spectre of British workers out on the streets, demonstrating against cuts in public expenditure.

As for Barber, although he may not be urging workers to “copy Greek workers”, it seems he cannot be relied upon to deliver a straightforward message. At the TUC annual conference in Manchester the previous week, Barber’s “mastery of the mixed message came to the fore again” as he stood at the lectern, “stern and menacing.”

Sunday Times interviewer Andrew Davidson interpreted this “mixed message”, noting that many of the 6.1 million TUC members want Barber “to stand and fight the coalition government – hence his tough talking. But his instinct is to find a compromise. That may not be good enough for some.”

Davidson continued:

“They will be drawn to the threats made by union militants – Bob Crow, leader of the Rail, Maritime and Transport workers (RMT), for one. Last week Crow called for a national campaign of civil disobedience, and backed joint union industrial action. Are we heading for a general strike? Barber shakes his head. ‘No, I don’t see that as being on the cards at all.’”

Davidson then puts the loaded question before his readers: “So can he [Barber] control militants like Crow?” The threat of uncontrolled “militant” workers is left hanging in the air.

The repeated use of the word “militants” throughout the piece is standard for the business-friendly press. So too is the use of scare words and phrases that are traditional warning signals of the presence of rabid unionists and other undesirables: “threats”, which are sometimes “veiled”, the prospect of “industrial chaos” and, perhaps the worst example in the interview, the fear that “TUC’s plan for organised protest” could “play into the hands of those who hijack legitimate demonstrations for their own violent ends”.

An Exchange With The Sunday Times Interviewer

On 21 September, we wrote to Andrew Davidson, author of the Sunday Times article:

Dear Andrew Davidson,

I was pleased to see your interview with Brendan Barber, head of the TUC [1]; it raised a number of important points. I hope you’ll respond to the following, please.

You write:

“Yet where is the public support for the TUC’s position? For every opponent of cuts, there are just as many who argue that the deficit must be reduced as soon as possible…”

Is it really a 50:50 split? Where is your evidence to back this assertion?

You seem to be unaware of the recent YouGov opinion poll finding that 74% of the population would support a proposed one-off tax on the richest six million people. [2]

As Greg Philo of Glasgow University notes, the proposal “offers a real alternative, to move debt off the government’s books, using money that is largely trapped in the housing market, from people who will not miss it.” [3]

Will you be addressing this in any future pieces?

Finally, your interview is peppered with pejorative phrases about “militants”, “threats” (sometimes “veiled”), Barber’s “careful delivery masking a degree of calculation”, and the prospect of “industrial chaos”. The most egregious example is when you scaremonger that the TUC’s “plan for organized protest” could “play into the hands of those who hijack legitimate demonstrations for their own violent ends”.

How do you justify this as responsible, fair and balanced journalism?

David Cromwell


[1] Andrew Davidson, ‘King of compromise alone on a tightrope’, interview with Brendan Barber, head of the TUC, Sunday Times, business section, 19 September, 2010.


[3] Greg Philo, ‘Deficit crisis: let’s really be in it together. A one-off tax of the rich has strong public support and would solve the UK’s economic crisis at a stroke’,, Sunday 15 August 2010 19.59 BST;

In his reply, Davidson first explained that he does not have a Sunday Times email address because he works on contract (our email to him was actually forwarded to his personal email address after we’d contacted the Sunday Times business editor, Dominic O’Connell). He then told us:

First up, editing. Dom [the business editor] was on holiday last week and the section was edited by his deputy Iain Dey, so best not to blame Dom for that.

Secondly, the piece was published as filed, so probably best not to blame Iain for any ‘slant’. I didn’t intentionally put any slant on it, I simply presented readers with my opinions on what it was like to meet the interviewee and what I thought of the problems and opportunities facing him.

On the public support for cuts, that was simply my opinion from assessing the political and media response to the cuts so far. At present, there are just as many who argue the cuts should happen. I suspect the arguments will swing to and fro as the effects of the cuts begin to be felt. I hadn’t seen the poll you mention. I need to know more about it before I’d admit I should have seen it!

As to the rest, I know you didn’t read it this way but I thought I had presented a balanced case, and pointed out that his arguments would win over many, unless they thought it was backed by veiled threats of militant action. Such action is usually unpopular. I think that is a fair point to make after the statements made by Crow and others backing strike action and civil disobedience last week. (Andrew Davidson, email, 20 September, 2010)

We wrote back the following day:

Hello Andrew,

Many thanks for writing back – I appreciate it. It’s a pleasure to get such a friendly and reasoned response; I’ve had a lot worse from your colleagues in the media industry.

In your reply you use the phrase “veiled threats of militant action”. Why is it “militant” for citizens to stand up for their rights, even as those rights have been steadily and cynically taken away by successive governments? There is a long and honourable history of people being “militant” in standing up to their rulers, all the way back to Wat Tyler in 1381 and, no doubt, before even that! And you must surely be aware of the more recent history of the word “militant” as in “Militant tendency”. These are scare words – just like “Commie” and “Reds” from previous eras – that are designed to elicit fear and ridicule, with the aim of discrediting and undermining any opposition to elite power. I know you are not likely to be doing this deliberately or even consciously; but the fact that you see no problem in falling into this use of words would be no surprise to Orwell.

What would happen if you submitted a piece to the Sunday Times that labelled UK political leaders as “militant”, which you should given the extreme and unnecessary policies hanging over all our heads? Would you report the “threat” of state “violence” to public services and people’s livelihoods and well-being, with the savage cuts falling disproportionately on the poor? Would your journalism remain publishable?

I realise you’re utterly sincere in what you write, and that you delivered what you honestly feel to be a balanced piece. But if you thought any differently, and wrote from a different perspective, you would soon find that you would no longer be welcomed with open arms by the Sunday Times. All journalists feel that they are free to write what they want. But it’s true only up to a point. If you were to [breach] the acceptable bounds of reporting, you’d find your pieces being spiked and your suggestions for commissions falling on deaf ears. Just one example: look up the case of the US reporter Gary Webb.

Webb described his experience of mainstream journalism:

“In seventeen years of doing this, nothing bad had happened to me. I was never fired or threatened with dismissal if I kept looking under rocks. I didn’t get any death threats that worried me. I was winning awards, getting raises, lecturing college classes, appearing on TV shows, and judging journalism contests. So how could I possibly agree with people like Noam Chomsky and Ben Bagdikian, who were claiming the system didn’t work, that it was steered by powerful special interests and corporations, and existed to protect the power elite? Hell, the system worked just fine, as I could tell. It +encouraged+ enterprise. It +rewarded+ muckraking.

“And then I wrote some stories that made me realise how sadly misplaced my bliss had been. The reason I’d enjoyed such smooth sailing for so long hadn’t been, as I’d assumed, because I was careful and diligent and good at my job. It turned out to have nothing to do with it. The truth was that, in all those years, I hadn’t written anything important enough to suppress.” (Webb, ‘The Mighty Wurlitzer Plays On’, in Kristina Borjesson, ed., ‘Into The Buzzsaw – Leading Journalists Expose the Myth of a Free Press’, Prometheus, 2002, pp.296-7)

You write that your opinion comes “from assessing the political and media response to the cuts so far”. The fundamental problem is that what is called “mainstream” politics and media necessarily reflect strongly a pro-establishment consensus. And what passes for consensus is, in fact, a rather narrow range of views which has shifted noticeably to the right since the 1970s: to the extent that state policies, and the major political party manifestos, are noticeably to the right of public opinion on major issues like the tax system, public ownership, foreign policy, the environment and so on. This has all been documented. I’ve just finished reading a review copy of Dan Hind’s ‘The Return of the Public’ where he makes some vital points along similar lines – I’d strongly recommend getting hold of a copy. (David Cromwell, 22 September, 2010)

The Sunday Times business editor, Dominic O’Connell, offered to publish a slightly condensed version of our initial email to Andrew Davidson. We then sent him this email:

To O’Connell’s credit, he published this letter on 26 September. But to date, Davidson has not responded further.

The Sunday Times interview is but one example of today’s business-friendly propaganda masquerading as journalism. The corporate media is providing a cover for the government’s assault on the public, with the most vulnerable lined up to be the biggest victims.

Justice 4 Jarvis Workers and the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) have organised an event in support of the 1200 Jarvis workers who lost their jobs when the company collapsed. The protest will take place in Doncaster this Friday, 9th April.

Jarvis workers and their families will be marching from the Jarvis depots in Bentley Road and Marchfield and then assembling outside the Mansion House on Doncaster High Street at 11am.

The protest has become urgent as it has been leaked that three companies – Babcock, Amey-Colas and Balfour Beatty. – are already vying to take over the work that the Jarvis employees were supposed to do.

The RMT will be holding a meeting of the workers at 12 noon in Doncaster Trades and Labour Club.

RMT President Alex Gordon will be speaking at the protest which has the full support of both RMT and TSSA.

The Winds Of Change

March 14, 2010

Sticking with the theme of truly inspirational people we feel we’ve got to plug this book which has just been released in paperback. “The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind” is the true story of William Kamkwamba, a boy from a Malawi village where hunger and drought were a daily reality. Faced with crippling adversity and unable to afford the tuition to pursue his passion for science at school, William took things into his own hands.

Armed with a few books, a library card, an old bike, wood and various scrap materials, William, at just 14, built his own crude wind turbine. An act that would eventually bring electricity and water to William’s village, changing his life and the lives of everyone around him.

We’ve been following William’s story since we first heard about him via the truly bloody brilliant AfriGadget blog, a site which celebrates human ingenuity and shows the true potential of free, open and accessible technology and know-how.

Both William’s story and that of Tony Quan show what is possible when we openly share information. Anyone who truly wants to see change in the world would do well to arm themselves with the knowledge needed to bring about that change without relying on so called ‘experts’ or ‘professionals’. Ideas of freedom are not enough. As Richard Stallman, founder of the Free Software Foundation, the GNU project and the GNU General Purpose License (GPL), says:

If you want to accomplish something in the world, idealism is not enough – you need to choose a method that works to achieve the goal.

Anarchists need to heed these words. There are plenty of projects that anyone, regardless of their present knowledge or talents, can get involved with today. Whether it’s subversive technology, propa-propaganda, environmental projects, underground art, sharing vital knowledge, rabble rousing, etc., etc., etc., there’s something each and every one of us CAN do to make a difference. Whatever it is YOU choose to do the message is the same, if you want a better world you’d better start building it – in other words if you want something doing properly, DO IT YOURSELF 🙂

You can keep up with William’s story by following his blog.

Pub Revolution Hots Up

December 29, 2009

I know we said we’re on a break, but we just had to spread the word about this…


from the Morning Star

Thousands of “tied tenants” in pubs across Britain will vote in the new year on whether to take industrial action to try to reduce the amount of money they pay to pubcos for beer.

The GMB union said that it was campaigning to secure cuts of £12,000 in payments to the pubcos, which lease thousands of pubs to landlords.

Pubcos are a group of pubs owned by a single company, such as Wetherspoons, Walkabout, All Bar One and the Eerie Pub Company.

There are an estimated 25,000 tied tenants of seven large property companies and the union claimed they were being charged up to double the wholesale price of beer.

The union said that landlords had to buy beer at a premium rate, claiming many were being forced to give up their job or were going bust.

GMB national officer for tied tenants Paul Maloney said: “In furtherance of the trade dispute in tied pubs, GMB will organise a nationwide official ballot in the new year to seek a mandate for official industrial action by tied tenant members in the industry.

“If members vote for action, pubs will lower prices to customers during the dispute.

“The aim of the action by the tied tenants is to secure negotiation with pubcos to achieve very substantial cuts in wholesale prices and a resolution to a wide range of grievances experienced by the tied tenants at the hands of the pubcos, middle managers and their agents.”

The GMB said that an Office of Fair Trading (OFT) report estimated that running a tied pub costs £12,000 more than a free house and pubcos were making millions of pounds in profits so could afford to charge lower wholesale prices.

Mr Maloney added that tied tenants had been badly let down by the competition authorities.

“GMB assessed the recent OFT report concluded that the average tied lessee is being overcharged by pubcos by around £12,000 per annum. The OFT position is that this is a trade dispute not a consumer matter,” he said.

“Tied tenants need to look to their own strength to force a solution which, for 25,000 tied pubs, would cost £300 million per annum.

“In 2008, the top five pubcos made profits before interest and tax of £1,456m, so they can well afford to lower wholesale prices to stop the overcharging.”

The pub remains central to many communities, just look at the three main soap operas (Queen Vic, Rovers Return, Woolpack), the pub is central to each soap and acts as the heartbeat (oops, that’s another soap) of the community.

Support the Pub Revolution today!!!

Last week 900 workers were sacked at the Lindsey Oil Refinery. The men were dismissed by the French oil giant, Total, because they were taking action to protest against the loss of 51 jobs. The sacked workers were told that they should re-apply for their jobs by today.

This morning, in an act of defiance, the sacked workers burnt their dismissal papers in a car park outside the refinery. Phil Whitehurst, of the GMB union, told the crowd…

“Let them show us how many want to go back in there crawling on their bellies for their jobs. We go out together, we go back together.”

Total have said that they’re “encouraged by the initial feedback our contract companies have received from their former workforces.”, but there’s good reason to believe that this is bullshit. The GMB is planning to stage a huge protest outside the refinery tomorrow and there is little sign that the deadlocked row will be broken. Sacked worker, Kenny Ward, told the meeting that the response around the UK now involved 19 different sites and 13,000 workers – hardly ‘encouraging’ news for Total.

Kenny went on to say…

“Would Total do the same in France? Absolutely not, because there wouldn’t be a tanker on its four wheels. They’d all be turned over on their sides, blockading every road to this refinery, because the French wouldn’t put up with it – all the French government, all the German government, all the Spanish, the Italians and every other government in the European Union. But our Government will!

Our Government will be subservient to companies like this. But we won’t.”

So far today there are sympathy strikes at the neighbouring Humber Refinery and at a gas terminal in Milford Haven, Wales. This is likely to spread. If you can get to a picket, go. If not, send messages of support via email – eminis[at] or text 07706 7 10041. If you’re able to organise a boycott or protest at your local Total garage then let Total know what you’re doing…

  • TOTAL UK Limited Head Office, Watford: 00 44 (0)1923 694000
  • TOTAL UK Service Stations Customer Services: 00 44 (0) 8457 346 222
  • TOTAL UK Service Station Property Services: 00 44 (0) 1923 694000
  • TOTAL UK Press Office: 00 44 (0) 870 241 4337