On Tuesday night i attended the local TUSC(Trades Unionist and Socialist Coalition)meeting to publicly launch our campaign to identify,find,encourage local people/activists to stand in the next local elections in London in May 2014.
The meeting brought together a significant number of people together.Not only is it healthy that i neither knew nor recognised some of them,but it seems to have brought several “circles”and networks into closer contact with each other,including activists from each of the constituent parts of TUSC and beyond.
As well as a senior officer of the RMT/Rail Marine Transport union,there were somewhat unusually in my experience shop stewards and activists on the panel,and plenty of opportunity for discussion,in which i think nearly everyone took part.I am sure i will return to write more about this particular meeting and certainly the campaign as it opens up and develops,bt in the meantime i will restrict myself to some limited points.
Firstly that Izzie Sanchez,a leader of the Counihan-Sanchez Housing Campaign both spoke,as always movingly about her own direct experience facing the consequences of Austerity policies,which includes the key role of the local Labour Council administration in implementing them. I also intend to stand,and spoke of my concerns for the class to which i belong and rage at local and central government as they attack us more brutally than at any time since the 1930s,and the inevitable casual inhumanity of these attacks.Steve Hedley,of RMT,gave a particularly powerful contribution in both his description of the situation we are in and the need to fightback but also again reminded us of the realities of the Labour Party,whose claims most of us believe are not and rarely if ever have been made real in our communities,and that even where this may have been the case,the current state of Labour affairs is that they are a pale shadow of their former selves and have not shifted to the left at all.This unfortunately leaves many well intentioned labour Party members/activists and their organisations providing left,reformist cover and excuses for the Labour Party.
i for one may well remain campaigning alongside some of these people in local campaigns where we can fight for similar objectives but i do not share their strategy or agenda and will not share a unity on any terms or of”the grave”.
Active,though i very much try to be and to remain,i have slowed down since my early,medical retirement-frankly otherwise i would not have obtained that retirement.It does not help that i am also of that generation for whom recent technological developments like mobile phones and indeed mobile computers do not”come naturally”,like they seem to for younger people,so i am neither so fluent nor so fast.It does not help when apparently”connectivity”is affected by the climate/weather-so heavy and constant rain or high temperatures can apparently have such an impact although i’m not actually sure i accept this.If it is true,it makes thee technologies as quirky and imperfect as any other.The intense heat and bright light certainly affected me.
On Wednesday i attended London SWAN/Social Work Action Network meeting which included a moving presentation by a young woman talking about her own experience at the hands of social services/social care and the lost of her 3 children to adoption and fostering,which opened a wider discussion of this experience for too many women/mothers for a variety of reasons for well over most of the last century and beyond in both directions in time.There was a second major discussion around the future of Social Work Education, ad the related reviews which seem to reflect an increasing determination by the regime to restrict access to working class students,and impose an increasingly elitist and managerialist system which will exclude an understanding of the underlying,”sociological”causes of problems,and rip any remaining humanitarian heart out of our practice and profession.SWAN as always will seek to resist,to build alliances with others and not simply to be defensive but to actively promote our humanitarian,socialist,feminist values.
Cheekily, I sought and obtained an invitation for myself and my friend and comrade Sandra to speak at the next meeting as prospective TUSC candidates.
Earlier that afternoon,as i have written already on Facebook,i came across an incident in the street which i felt unable to ignore.I went out to do some local chores,and had the uncomfortable experience of passing a neighbour in his garden,and a black family group observing the arrest of a young black man.As i passed i felt uncomfortable at what i was watching but did not know what to do.I decided to back track and talk to the observers.It might have been a legitimate arrest but it looked to all of us as if it was primarilly motivated by racism>piecing the incident together,the police had overtaken the young mans car and at leats forced him to stop>they may have crashed his car-as the drivers door looked dented to me.They then took him from the vehicle placed him face down on the tarmack,both restraining and handcuffing him behind his back.Alone,and with 6-7 officers in at leats 4 cars,he was never in aposition to resist.It seems he is know to the famiy i talked with and had been a student with one of the “children”at the local senior svhool until a couple of years ago.he is known as a decent young man,as indeed most black people are,as i believe we should assume.
It seems that the”filth”were aware of our presence>the black family had made sharp observations of the arrest,including the “illegal”way in which the man arrested was placed,the possible compromising of evidence as not all the officers used gloves and some gloves seemed torn or damaged,and not least that they left the car with its windows open and illegally parked,all of which is likely to blow back on the young man in due course.It seems to me that the police”enjoy”their show of power,knowing or at leats thinking there is little we can do,although i and the other observers will try to do what we can.
When not hiding from the heat,i spend much of the rest of the notionally”working week”at home doing the background work that supports any activists activity in public and on the streets.That too is when,even when working at my best,i feel i never meet my own self-expectations of how much there is to be done.
The question is not only”What is to be done?”,but by who and when-and indeed,how fast?