- Created: Tuesday, 12 March 2019 12:43
- Written by London FRFI
Thousands of youths – school pupils and students – along with their teachers, parents and activists, took to the streets of London on 15 February in a spontaneous outpouring of rage, optimism and political energy. Their target was Westminster and they demanded radical change to urgently save the planet and end climate change which is senselessly destroying their futures. The RCG attended this in solidarity with striking students and to highlight the need for socialism to save the environment. The Labour movement and its hangers-on were taken by surprise, and had almost no presence on the streets, while thousands of youths blocked roads, climbed onto monuments and demanded drivers turn off their engines. There were no organised speeches or A to B marches. The youth, without illusions or investments in the present corrupt system, reminded older generations how to disobey.
On 2 February 2019, as a US-backed coup was underway against the democratically elected president of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, the Revolutionary Communist Group with Hands Off Venezuela and other supportive comrades and groups joined together to protest outside BBC Broadcasting House in London. This British media institution, like other so-called 'liberal' outlets has been instrumental in softening up public opinion to support the imperialist attack on Venezuela.
Comrades and activists from the Venezuelan and wider Latin American community spoke on the platform to denounce the BBC coverage which has cast the coup leader Juan Guaido as a force for democracy and a freedom fighter, when in fact he has been nurtured by Washington's regime change apparatus. This is another example of the US empire's constant interference and terror in Latin America which seeks to undermine any attempt at building socialism and independence. Once again US imperialism can count on the voice of British imperialism, the BBC, to spread lies and misinformation which assist the imperialist plans.
Imperialist hands off Venezuela! BBC, no more lies!
On 21 January 2019, members and supporters of the Revolutionary Communist Group held a demonstration and presented a formal petition to a full meeting of Camden council. We demanded:
In an unusual display of cross-party unity, Camden’s Tory, Liberal and Labour councillors lined up to defend IHRA and the cover-up over the use of Prevent officers to monitor political meetings.
The Revolutionary Communist Group held a midday picket outside the offices of the Guardian and Observer newspapers on 21 December 2018. This was a protest against the blatantly hostile coverage of Venezuela, Nicaragua and, as always, Cuba, that these papers have carried out over the years. The prejudiced and ill-informed journalism that distinguishes these publications is a political attack on those nations which are attempting to oppose US, European and British imperialism. Moreover, the reports carried are bad journalism and completely fail to examine where the opposition to socialist governments is coming from, how they are funded and what the policies and agendas are for reaction in Latin America. They fail to explain why the IMF and World Bank structural adjustment programs were so devastating for millions and why there is now an attempt to reimpose them.
On Saturday 1 December 2018, comrades from the RCG’s East London branch took part in an action organised by the Focus E15 campaign to reclaim a play park for the children of those forced into inadequate temporary accommodation at Brimstone House.
On Wednesday 21 November members of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) and other allied groups demonstrated once again their complete bankruptcy in the fight to build a real movement in solidarity with Palestine. At a protest outside Tower Hamlets Town Hall against the Labour council’s adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism, which labels criticism of Israel as a racist state anti-Semitic, members of Tower Hamlets PSC, Unison, the Socialist Workers Party (SWP), Free Speech on Israel (!), the Tower Hamlets Jenin Friendship Association (THJFA) and Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL) colluded to deny the RCG the right to speak. When the discussion in the council chamber on IHRA was ended with no action from the council, RCG supporters heckled the council and spoke about the use of the IHRA definition to shut down free speech and Labour’s craven acceptance of this. Not only did the organisations of the opportunist left not support us, but they asked the council speaker to read a statement publicly dissociating themselves from the interruption. Spineless cowards like these, desperate to maintain respectability and their links with the Labour Party, will never put up a real fight for Palestine, free speech or anything else, and must be exposed.
On Saturday 17 November, comrades of the RCG supported the Extinction Rebellion event. This was an event called to indict the British state's criminal inaction in combating climate change and to demand immediate climate justice.
On 17 November London RCG comrades joined the march billed as a ‘National Unity Demonstration Against Racism and Fascism’. It was organised by Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) with the endorsement of leading Labour Party figures and sponsorship of the Trades Union Congress. SUTR and the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) have been building for this event for months; the stated purpose was to show that the British left and labour movement are united in the face of attempts by the far right to rebuild in Britain and internationally, especially the several large rallies in support of far-right idol Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (‘Tommy Robinson’) that were held in London over the summer. SUTR stressed that it was absolutely paramount for all anti-racist and left organisations to come together in the style of the SWP-led Anti-Nazi League (ANL) that formed in the 1970s and re-formed in the 1990s, and defy a rising racist threat.
Tower Hamlets Labour council has called on the police to intervene against a planned demonstration outside the town hall on 21 November, which is being mobilised for by the Revolutionary Communist Group, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Tower Hamlets Jenin Friendship Association in support of Palestine and against the council’s recent adoption of the full IHRA definition of anti-Semitism, which restricts criticism of Israel on the grounds of anti-Semitism.
RCG comrades joined the weekend events called by the United Families and Friends Campaign (UFFC) on 26 and 27 October in London. These consisted of a Conference entitled Interrogating State Violence: Custodial Deaths, Justice and Resistance, sponsored by Birkbeck Law department, 4WardEver, Migrant Media and Centre for Research on Race and Law, and the annual march to remember all those who have died in custody.
On Saturday 6 October members and supporters of London Revolutionary Communist Group picketed Marks & Spencer on Oxford Street, the flagship store of a key British sponsor of Israeli apartheid. An informative picket was maintained on the door of M&S to urge shoppers to boycott the chain which is a historic financer of Israeli development and retailer of Israeli produce, including produce grown on illegally settled land. Israeli barbarism would not be possible without the support of businesses such as M&S.
On 21 September, London RCG held a successful public meeting entitled ‘Labour, Corbyn and anti-Semitism: why is solidarity with Palestine under attack?’. This followed a victorious campaign against Zionist attempts to get the meeting banned with baseless smears that it would be anti-Semitic. The meeting was vindication of our refusal to back down in the face of Zionist attempts at intimidation following the shameful passing of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism by the Labour Party NEC. The attempt to ban the meeting was led by ex-Labour councillor and Director of Public Affairs of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Phillip Rosenberg. Sections of Camden’s Labour Council participated in the attempt to associate Palestine solidarity with anti-Semitism, with the Camden Counter-Extremism team even sending along two council officers to monitor the meeting. It is clear that sections of the Labour Party are now on the offensive to use the IHRA definition to shut down free speech on Palestine. This meeting was a significant victory against this, and an assertion of the right of Palestine campaigners to characterise Israel as a racist state.
Thanks to a large number of supporters who phoned or emailed the Kings Cross and Brunswick Neighbourhood Association, the organisation has agreed that we can hold our meeting on Palestine scheduled for Friday 21 September at its centre. On 19 September, we received the following email from Nasim Ali:
On Saturday 25 August, members of the West London branch of the Revolutionary Communist Group along with supporters held an informal picnic at Holland Park to share food and discuss our Palestinian solidarity work in the area. After we set up, a group of Zionists arrived and sat down about ten metres away. They then began to tear around the park chanting anti-Palestinian slogans, dancing and waving the Israeli flag while taking pictures and filming our picnic.
Following the horrific massacre of more than 60 Palestinians in Gaza by the racist Israeli state on Monday 14 May, supporters of the RCG and Victory to the Intifada in London came together with other supporters of Palestine to call for an end to all British support for Israel. The lively rolling picket targeted shops with links to the Zionist state, speaking out, petitioning, and spreading information about supporters of Israeli occupation and violence on Britain's high streets.
The protest met at Barclays bank on Tottenham Court Road, highlighting the British bank's longstanding support for the state of Israel, and its continuing support for the arms trade. Barclays quickly closed its doors, and many customers expressed their outrage having discovered the bank's role in the oppression of the Palestinians. The protest then moved off down Oxford Street, highlighting other businesses which have trade, financial or ideological links with Israel. Other targets included Carphone Warehouse - which stocks Motorola phones -, Boots, the clothes shops Zara and H&M, HSBC, and finally Marks & Spencer's - one of Britain's biggest corporate sponsors of Israel which the RCG and Victory to the Intifada have picketed consistently since the outbreak of the intifada. (See below for information on these shops links to Israel).
On Monday 12 March, students at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) in east London began an occupation of the prestigious Octagon building – a Grade II listed building used by the university for holding major events. The occupation is in protest against huge cuts to bursaries for students from low-income families, and in solidarity with the long-running UCU strike over cuts to pensions. Students, including supporters of the RCG, have been in occupation since then, organising to put pressure on the university management over these issues. The occupation is one of 13 current student occupations all over the country, including the University of Sheffield, Kings College London, Cambridge, Bath, Exeter, Reading, Dundee, Aberdeen and York.
Robin Wales, head of Newham Labour Council since 1995 and Labour Mayor of Newham since 2002 is facing the end of his reign. Rokhsana Fiaz is standing against him for the Labour mayoral candidacy and the results will be announced on Friday 16 March after local Labour members have voted. This situation came about after a trigger democracy process which has forced Wales to accept a challenger for the first time. All Newham wards voted for someone to stand against him. Wales is running scared and after decades of vicious treatment of working class people in the borough, he now proclaims himself a socialist leading a radical council. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Focus E15 Campaign has been working with Sara, a mother of two young children in Newham. Her story is outlined on the Focus E15 website here. Since she refused to be moved to Birmingham, Newham Council says she has made herself ‘intentionally homeless’ and has discharged their duty to house her.
Fortress democracy: all residents are searched on the way into council meetings
Report on RBKC council meeting, 24 Jan 2018
24 Jan 2018 - West London RCG and supporters attended the latest full council meeting at Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) town hall, where the Council was due to give an update on its response to the Grenfell fire. Over previous months RCG members have collected 1,500 signatures from the people of Kensington, demanding for survivors to be re-housed immediately, for criminal charges to immediately be brought against those responsible, and for a People’s Inquiry led by the local community. We came to the council meeting to submit the petition on behalf of the many who signed it.
Maintaining and building protest at these meetings remains crucial. According to the North Kensington Law Centre, more than seven months after the fire, only 54 households made homeless now have permanent accommodation, and 98 households are still in emergency accommodation. This is despite the famous pledge by Prime Minister Theresa May that they would be rehoused within three weeks.
- at Notting Hill Methodist Church W11 4AH
Thursday 14 December marked six months since the tragic fire in Grenfell Tower. During the day there was a memorial service at St Paul's Cathedral, which was followed in the evening by the monthly Silent Walk.
Members of the RCG attended the Silent Walk. Up to 2,000 people attended – survivors, families of the bereaved, community members and supporters, some holding green candles, others photos of the victims, giant green hearts and placards with various slogans. Outside Ladbroke Grove station fire fighters from Red Watch, North Kensington fire station lined the streets and were thanked by the crowd.
Since the Grenfell Tower fire six months ago the Revolutionary Communist Group has maintained a regular presence on the streets of north Kensington in solidarity with the demands of survivors and local residents. Without real pressure built on the streets, Kensington and Chelsea Council will continue to get away with murder. We have held an open mic on our weekend stalls outside Ladbroke Grove and Shepherd’s Bush stations, and protests outside the monthly meetings of the criminal Kensington and Chelsea Council. We have held demonstrations outside not only KCTMO – the management company that oversaw the lethal and cut-price refurbishment of the block – but the homes of individual councillors who have consistently failed the survivors of the disaster. Through these actions we have stood in solidarity with those who have lost everything and who continue to demand decent, local rehousing, criminal charges against those responsible and accountability for the systematic destruction and neglect of council housing in the borough.
Local residents confront Cllr David Lindsay - Photo: Peter Marshall, MyLondonDiary
On Monday 27 November RCG comrades organised with local residents of North Kensington and allies from Focus E15 and the campaign against the Notting Hill Housing/Genesis merger to conduct a mobile protest of the homes of several councillors of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC). Around 50 people participated, bringing with them banners, placards, pots, pans, fairy lights and an open microphone to mount a loud street action demanding criminal charges for those responsible for the Grenfell Tower fire and the immediate rehousing of survivors, the majority of who remain in inadequate temporary and emergency accommodation almost six months on. The protest was organised at a meeting with local residents the week before.
On 22 November, the Revolutionary Communist group held its third public meeting since the devastating fire at Grenfell Tower in June this year. The meeting was held at the Maxilla Social Club in north Kensington. This venue has opened its doors to every kind of gathering for the last six months and we like to thank Joe Walsh for his kindness and support.
Of course, this is not the only meeting place. Notting Hill Methodist Church is a centre of support for the neighbourhood. So also, is a large area under the railway bridge and Westway overpass, opposite the burnt-out Grenfell Tower. This has been cleaned and furnished as a permanent social space. It was established by local people as an area of remembrance and for candle-lit vigils. It has a huge Wall of Truth with statements from the community, a Garden of Remembrance, refreshments, seating, warm clothes, pianos and a library as well as an altar and several large and beautifully painted murals.
On Wednesday 25 October, comrades from the Revolutionary Communist Group (RCG) joined members of Class War and opponents of the proposed merger of Notting Hill Housing and Genesis to protest outside the meeting of Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) council at the Town Hall in Kensington. Despite the gravity of the situation, the meeting had a low attendance, as did the demonstrations outside. The continued neglect and contempt for the needs of survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire by the council demands strong opposition, which makes the lack of political organisation by left-wing groups and activists particularly striking.
On Saturday 14 October an educational event organised by the Revolutionary Communist Group and Rock Around the Blockade (RAtB) took place at Student Central, near Russell Square.
The event was held to commemorate the immense revolutionary achievements of the past 100 years and to help support ongoing efforts around the world, with five speakers and rounds of discussion and debate.
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.
✪ Days that Shook the World: 100 years since the October revolution and the fight for socialism today ✪
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.
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.
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.