On Wednesday 30 November, the RCG were among the two dozen social housing activists who responded to the call by Class War to protest outside Zaha Hadid Architects practice in Clerkenwell against their anti-working class, neoliberal principal, Patrik Schumacher. In a recent presentation at the World Architecture Festival in Berlin Schumacher claimed that council house tenants in central London are ‘free-riding’ and should be shooed along to make way for his staff members or those that supposedly generate wealth. This is just one of the many poisonous ideas that seem to spew out of Schumacher’s mouth; he recently lavished praise on those who have second homes in London: ‘Even if they’re here only for a few weeks and throw some key parties, these are amazing multiplying events.’ It seems astonishing that one of the leading voices in contemporary architecture can be saying that someone staying for only a few weeks is more entitled to a second home than one of the thousands of Londoners that don’t even have a roof over their heads in the first place.
On Saturday 8 October supporters of London RCG were among the 400 people who turned out in Brixton, southwest London, to support the first ‘Stand Up to Lambeth’ march. Despite attempts by some to deflect the blame from the local Labour council, the real anger against them for their attacks on public services and the social cleansing of working class people out of London’s most unequal borough could not be silenced. The council is demolishing housing estates and playgrounds, making people homeless, and destroying the lives of thousands across the borough. The march demanded the resignation of Lambeth Council leader Lib Peck and her cabinet colleagues, who were represented on the day by a four-headed effigy created by an RCG artist, which was ceremoniously covered with pink glitter outside the old Town Hall.
The march was supported by representatives from six housing estates facing 'regeneration' (demolition) across Lambeth, including Save Central Hill Community, Save Cressingham Gardens and West Bury, as well as the Defend the Ten campaign against library closures, and the Save Brixton Arches campaign against the closures and evictions of small independent businesses in the heart of Brixton. It also received the solidarity of many junior doctors who are struggling against the government’s attacks on their contracts. Many political parties such as the CPGB-ML, Green Party and Socialist Party were joined on the day by anti-racist groups such as Black Activists Rising Against the Cuts and UpRise, but also significantly by many unaffiliated south Londoners angry with the cuts and looking for new political solutions.
RCG comrades ran an open mic on the march with many people from Lambeth speaking out in public for the first time about their experiences of poverty, homelessness and racism in the borough and their desire to organise together to force the council to address these issues – to resist or resign. It was this uncompromising demand which sections of the left and the Labour movement scrambled to disown in the aftermath of the demonstration, proving once again that they will stand with the racist, imperialist Labour Party, against the local communities who are bearing the brunt of the cuts executed by the local Labour council.
Lambeth Momentum, the local section of a movement which seeks to support the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn and push the Labour Party towards a left programme, supported the march, and attended with a stall and Momentum banners. Their stall at the beginning, plastered with Labour logos, ignored the key issues the march was campaigning on, and instead offered a petition against new grammar schools – a useful way of turning the focus away from the Labour council, where their Party could make a real difference, and onto the Conservative central government. Following the march, Labour figures began attacking Momentum on social media for supporting a march which was protesting against a Labour council. Ed Balls, the former Shadow Chancellor, tweeted a link to the march flyer adding: ‘This is truly shocking - what on earth do Lambeth Momentum and Unite think they're doing campaigning to oust a Labour council?’ Other Labour figures joined in in an outraged chorus, attempting to deepen already deep splits in the Labour Party between Corbyn’s supporters and the majority of the Parliamentary Labour Party.
Subsequently, both Lambeth Momentum and Unite claimed that they did not support the march, and that they had never agreed for their logos to be used on the publicity. Unite claimed that it was ‘angered’ that its logo had been used on a leaflet calling for the resignation of the local council cabinet, and Lambeth Momentum stated that they did not support a main demand of the march – the resignation of the council leaders. The demands of the march were agreed in weekly, public, democratic organising meetings at which Momentum representatives were present. Lambeth Momentum subsequently deleted past tweets in which they had offered their support for the march, and came out unequivocally on the side of the local council, stating in a tweet: ‘we want to fight with @LambethLabour against Tory cuts’.
This spineless sentiment would not have resonated with the community campaigns on the march, who recognised that the Labour council is the enemy they fight day to day. As the march approached the final destination of Clapham Common, a section sat down in the road, blocking traffic for more than 30 minutes to ensure that the anger of people in Lambeth against the council was clearly demonstrated. Momentum, and other social democratic sections of march were nowhere to be seen. Momentum presents itself as a radical force, willing to fight for real change. However, as this march made clear, when it comes down to it, they will retreat into the arms of even the most savage Labour councils. The march ended with a rally in Clapham Common, where marchers agreed that what was most important now was to continue to organise, to reach out into the sections of our communities being hit by the cuts and to bring people together to build an inclusive and effective movement against the cuts and racism. That this movement can only be built outside the Labour Party is becoming ever clearer to many people in Lambeth.
We hope to see you at the next ‘Stand Up to Lambeth’ public organising meeting on Friday 14 October at 7pm in the Rotunda on Cressingham Gardens
The Revolutionary Communist Group in London has been supporting the striking Deliveroo workers, who staged pickets and protests between 10-16 August to highlight the company’s attempts to attack their wages and conditions. At present Deliveroo bikers and riders are paid £7 an hour, plus a £1 extra for each delivery; however the company is attempting to switch them onto a scheme whereby they are paid £3.75 per delivery. The sustained action against this attack has focussed media attention onto the so-called ‘gig economy’ and garnered a lot of much-needed support for the strikers. The drivers and their union, the IWGB, along with other supporters have been organising daily pickets of the Deliveroo head office, strikes, and 'ride-arounds' to put pressure on restaurants using Deliveroo. In the face of the sustained strike action and boycott, Deliveroo have now withdrawn the requirement for workers to sign a new contract, and over a one month 'trial' of the new system workers wages will be guaranteed. There is now a need to strengthen the organisation of the drivers ready for the end of the trial when renewed attacks on pay and conditions may be launched.
On Sunday 10 July, comrades from the Revolutionary Communist Group from all over London joined Focus E15 campaign on an exciting action to expose Newham's Labour council's housing situation.
Congratulations to the Balcony 4 who successfully dropped banners from the disused, sold off and boarded-up police station in East Ham, London E6, opposite the town hall.
This action took place on the second day of the Mayor’s Newham Show 2016, to let people know what is really happening in the Labour borough of Newham with Mayor Robin Wales at the helm. As the Mayor's Newham Show took place, this action unfolded.
The banners fluttering from the building read – 'Hundreds of empty homes'; 'Room for everyone, No room for Racism'; 'Stop social cleansing, keep us in London'. This was timed to coincide with the busiest time of coming and going to the park for the mayor’s show, many cars hooted and passers-by joined in the protest, took leaflets. These points needed to be made on a day when Robin Wales and his entourage are having a party in the park, when the reality for thousands of people in the borough is no fun at all, with rising rents, loss of council homes, empty buildings, and a borough with more people in overcrowded appalling-condition temporary accommodation and more people facing eviction out of the borough than any other borough in London. 35% of Newham residents earn below the London Living Wage, yet the mayor has a salary of £80,000 and last year the same again was spent on his expenses.
Robin Wales has not been happy with being exposed at the Newham Show in the past. In 2014 he reacted badly to young mothers talking about rights to housing and after a complaint was lodged, he faced the Newham Standards Committee and was found guilty of a breach of the code of conduct (watch from 1.45:
In 2015, Robin Wales’ got his private security to stop campaigners handing out leaflets and had them ejected from the park
The previous day, Robin Wales was at the Labour Party's Progress Group conference, entitled, 'Governing for Britain: local answers to national questions'. He opened the conference, speaking in the session: 'Learning lessons: what can local government teach the Labour Party?'. Comrades from the Revolutionary Communist Group and Focus E15 campaign joined other local campaigners outside that conference to protest at the cuts being implemented by Labour councils.
The Balcony 4 came down at end of the protest to cheers from the campaigners on the ground. Speakers gave facts about Newham and housing, about the LOBO loans scandal and increased debt, about austerity and the £50m cuts to public services and against the Housing Act and Immigration Act, that will increase the racist discrimination in housing. The protest extended our support and solidarity to the Black Lives Matter protests going on in Britain and the US.
Alongside the RCG, were supporters and speakers from Feminist Library, Boleyn Dev 100, Newham Green Party, Tower Hamlets Renters and East End Sisters Uncut – who have just started an occupation in Hackney to highlight the cuts to services for domestic violence and the closure of refuges.
Another successful day challenging Newham Labour Council.
Repopulate the Carpenters Estate! No social cleansing! Open up the empty buildings!