In Glasgow around 330 ‘failed’ asylum seekers are once again facing eviction and street homelessness at the hands of the Home Office housing contractor SERCO backed up by Scottish courts and police. Glasgow Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! joined and supported mobilisations and protests against the ‘SERCO evictions’ when they were first announced last July (see here) and is supporting the ongoing protests and mobilisations.
In April the Court Of Session, which is Scotland’s supreme civil court, ruled in favour of SERCO, COMPASS (former sub-contractor for SERCO known as Orchard & Shipman (Glasgow) Ltd)’ and the Home office against two women, one Kurdish Iranian and one Kurdish Iraqi, who have been threatened by these ‘lock change’ evictions (Rashidi and Ali v Serco Limited, Compass SNI Ltd, and the Secretary of State for the Home Department). The court ruling, concluded by Lord Tyre, argued that these lock change evictions did not breach human rights and that they could go ahead without court orders as ‘failed’ asylum seekers would be able to appeal against these evictions to the First Tier Immigration Tribunal. This is the conclusion of a racist court defending a racist immigration system which is designed to force out those who are not welcome inside imperialist Britain.
On Tuesday 4 June the SWP led Stand Up To Racism campaign in Glasgow held a protest on Buchanan Street steps against US President Trump’s visit to the UK.
Disgracefully one of the speakers given a platform by the SWP / SUTR was Labour councillor for Cardonald Matt Kerr who spoke as a ‘Communication Workers Union’ representative. This is the same Matt Kerr who in 2011 supported, oversaw and defended the closure of the popular Accord day care centre in Dalmarnock, as Glasgow City Council's executive member for social care. When an FRFI supporter heckled Kerr last night about his role in the closure of the Accord centre he was told to be quiet by police and was very aggressively approached by one of Kerr’s supporters (artist Sharon Thomas pictured above left) who was eventually led away by police.
The Accord centre provided specialist support and care for more than 120 adults with severe learning difficulties and was eventually closed and demolished in order to build a car park for the 2014 Commonwealth Games. The Labour councils promise to replace the centre was reneged on and service users were relocated to cramped and unsuitable rooms in the Bambury community centre. Kerr publicly defended this decision in the Evening Times (see here) and was reported by carers, protesting to save the centre, to have been aggressive and confrontational towards them. From a Glasgow Games Monitor article at the time which quoted Accord carers after a meeting with the council;
“Some carers attended the Working party, day service reform for LD meeting in Glasgow City Chambers. Cllr Phil Greene and Cllr Margo resigned from the committee. At the end of the meeting Cllr Matt Kerr became aggressive and confrontational towards a young carer regarding the Accord Centre. He screamed: ‘YOUR NOT GETTING A CENTRE.”
“Cllr Matt Kerr was bang out of order today with the way he treated carers and continues to treat carers and for today to stand and shout and point in the face of a carer who knows more about the situation than he did was a disgrace.” (See full article here).
It is a disgrace that the SWP, which formally supported the Save the Accord campaign, is prepared to forgive and forget the history of such individuals in order to maintain their alliance with the anti-working class, racist, imperialist Labour Party. The Save the Accord campaign, led by carers and service users, fought a brave and inspiring campaign to save the centre and we will not forget them or those suffering the consequences of the Accord’s closure today. See one of FRFI’s 2011 reports of the campaign here.
The Palestine solidarity movement took a great step forward by organising a loud, militant and sustained challenge to Stand Up To Racism’s (SUTR) demonstration on Saturday 16 March in Glasgow. The Zionism is Racism (ZIR) coalition continually barracked and drowned out SUTR’s speakers. Chants in support of Palestine and against the SUTR’s open capitulation to Zionism echoed through George Square and Glasgow City Centre.
The ZIR protest was in fact the real anti-racist demo which united principled Palestinian solidarity groups and activists from across Scotland: Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! , West Dunbartonshire Supports the People of Palestine, Glasgow Palestine Human Rights Campaign, Class War, anti- fascists from Glasgow Red Resistance and Glasgow Anti-Fascist Alliance, Celtic Fans for Palestine, Kids not suits, Unite the Community Tayside branch, Dundee Against Austerity and International Solidarity Movement - Scotland. Several individual campaigners and Solidarity Scotland gave support. The ZIR counter protest was heavily policed by riot trained cops, horses, vans and video surveillance in a failed attempt to intimidate and provoke supporters.
The first victory to be claimed was to stand in principled unity in the face of appalling Scottish winter weather to challenge SUTR’s sell out to Zionism and abject sell out of the Palestinian people.
A second victory was to democratically reject a suggestion from the police liaison officers that we move to another area of the square, where later as the protest ended, one hundred tooled up riot cops protected two lone fascists who were appropriately standing by a great pile of horse shit. These fascists, including ex BNP organiser Max Dunbar who is now involved with Britannica, have been openly associating with Glasgow Friends of Israel in recent weeks and any reading of GFI’s facebook comments will demonstrate the most appalling and violent racism expressed there. Zionism is moving towards an alliance with fascism.
Shouting: ‘Zionists Out! Join Us Now!’, the ZIR protest welcomed those who came out from the discredited SUTR event to stand with the supporters of Palestine. Among them was the banner of the Fire Brigades Union in Scotland. It was the FBU that last year hosted a group of Palestinian firefighters in Glasgow. These brave people, who have seen so much misery and destruction in their homeland were shocked to learn that the flag of racist Israel was to be flying on SUTR’s Glasgow march last year. Other folks who did come over to the anti – Zionist demo proudly carried the flag of Palestine, but it was disturbingly absent from SUTR’s sorry parade.
A public facebook exchange between SUTR / SWP’s Henry Maitles and Glasgow Friends of Israel’s Sammy Stein and CoFIS on 23 and 24 February discussed the idea of excluding national flags from the SUTR march in the ‘spirit of unity’. It appears that this suggestion was followed up as neither SUTR / SWP nor Friends of Israel flew the Palestinian or Israeli flag on this year’s march. This would fit perfectly into the SWP’s position of leaving ‘the politics of the Middle East’ out of the anti-racist movement in Britain. The racist Friends of Israel organisations, who numbered about 20/30 people, carried placards such as ‘Anti Zionism is anti-Semitism is a crime’. This year they were escorted onto the back of the march by dozens of police and with the support of SUTR / SWP march stewards.
For a second year running, the ‘official’ Palestine solidarity movement led by the Palestine Alliance (representing groupings such as the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Scotland Against Criminalising Communities) refused to join and exhibited hostility to any active opposition to Friends of Israel participation in the SUTR march. SPSC leader Mick Napier called for a boycott of the SUTR event and under pressure said that SPSC would ‘decorate’ the route of the SUTR march with pro Palestine placards but would not join the ZIR coalition protest. To confront the Zionists would risk confrontation with its Labour left allies. This shows very clearly that a new grassroots solidarity movement must be built with the interests of the people of Palestine coming before any concerns over ‘winning’ support from the British Labour left and trade unions.
Victory to the Palestinian People!
Zionism is Racism!
In Glasgow we will join the international day of action on 30th March in solidarity with Palestinian Land Day and the first anniversary of the Great March of Return. Exist, Resist, Return!
Join the rally
Saturday 30th March, 12-2pm Royal Concert Halls Steps, Buchanan Street
On the 10 February ‘SWP Scotland’ issued a statement on their Facebook page, titled ‘Building the anti-racist movement in Scotland’. The statement is an attempt to address the concerns of those who cannot square the Socialist Workers Party’s formal support for Palestine with their practical capitulation to Zionism in Glasgow. Last year grassroots forces, including the RCG united to prevent the Zionists taking part in the SUTR march, despite the hostility of Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) and the police presence. See our report here and footage here.
FRFI supporters have been busy in Glasgow challenging the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism which deliberately conflates anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism.
On 13 December FRFI supporters raised the issue of Glasgow City Council’s (GCC’s) support for IHRA from the public gallery of the full council meeting. This intervention was made in response to the failure of local SNP and Labour councillors to answer basic questions over the process of GCC’s adoption of IHRA. Council security staff violently ejected FRFI supporters from the gallery and a formal complaint to the council is being pursued. See footage of the intervention here. The SNP, Labour and Conservative council groups have all committed to the full adoption of IHRA. The question of how the people of Glasgow are to be given a say remains unanswered
On 19 December Glasgow FRFI supporters helped mobilise for and support an all-day rally in defence of the suspended GMB union shop steward Peter Gregson, who was attending a GMB union disciplinary hearing, for calling Israel a racist endeavour – in contravention of the IHRA definition. Peter has a letter in the current issue of FRFI. The GMB moved the location of this hearing at short notice from their offices to the Millennium hotel in George Square as they claimed to fear for the safety of their staff against protests. This slander against those standing with Peter is just like the accusation of anti-Semitism made against him – nonsense! Aaron Cohen, the most senior rabbi of the Neturie Karta in the UK, an orthodox Jewish sect, travelled from Manchester to speak in defence of Peter at the hearing. In a display of cowardliness and contempt for democracy the GMB representatives refused to hear from the rabbi and scurried off for the exits saying that the meeting had run out of time, just before the rabbi arrived, and that Peter would be sent a letter with the decision of the hearing. It is likely he will be thrown out the GMB. In the end the rabbi read his statement out from the steps of the hotel.
The adoption of the full IHRA definition by Britain’s leading political parties (Labour, the SNP, Tories) and trade unions (Unite, GMB, Unison, Usdaw…) has only made clearer the real capitulation of official pro-Palestine elements in this country. Despite mainstream media publicity over Peter Gregson’s case and a callout for solidarity neither the Glasgow left nor the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC), who have an office in Glasgow city centre, came out to support him. Supporters of the FRFI and the Glasgow Palestine Human Rights Campaign (GPHRC) were the only organisations present at the rally and a small group of principled individuals also came out. Earlier this year FRFI and other grassroots Palestine supporters led opposition to a decision by Stand Up to Racism and the Socialist Workers Party to allow Glasgow Friends of Israel (GFI) onto their anti-racist march (see here) and subsequently led protest against GFI’s weekly stall in Glasgow against the wishes of the official Palestine solidarity movement (see here). FRFI supporters and allies subsequently forced the cancellation of an internal SNP members’ debate, scheduled for 25 November, after Sarah Glynn, of Scottish Jews against Zionism, agreed to share a platform with the arch-Zionist racist chairman of GFI Sammy Stein.
The need to build a new Palestine solidarity movement has never been more apparent. This movement must be based on grassroots democracy, unity and action in defence of the people of Palestine and against its imperialist backers with no concessions to Zionism.
Zionism is racism!
Israel is a racist endeavour!
Resist IHRA everywhere!
Free Palestine! Boycott Israel!
Sign and share Peter Gregson’s online petition here
On Saturday 18th August Glasgow FRFI / RCG supporters held a successful rolling picket of British banks and companies in Glasgow city centre which are complicit in Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people. The rolling picket finished with another lively counter protest against the weekly Glasgow Friends of Israel stall on Buchanan Street. The picket was supported by individual supporters of Palestine.
Starting at Marks & Spencer, a key British trader with Israel which has always promoted support for Zionism, the picket then moved to Barclays and HSBC banks to expose their investments in arms companies profiting from the occupation and oppression of Palestine.
The private multinational provider of public services SERCO has announced plans to evict up to three hundred ‘failed’ asylum seekers in Glasgow from the week beginning 30 July. They are currently contracted by the Home Office to provide housing for around 5,000 asylum seekers in Glasgow. SERCO’s eviction plans were announced to a range of charities on Friday 27 July and publicly exposed on 30 July prompting two subsequent days of protest attended by hundreds of people outraged at the issuing of these ‘lock change’ notices. The RCG supported both the protests on Buchanan Street on 31 July, called by an individual Facebook user, and provided chants and a megaphone for the protests, called by Living Rent and the Unity Centre, the following day outside the SERCO Building and the Home Office’s Border and immigration centre on Brand Street. So far around six lock change notices are known to have been issued.
The RCG in Scotland took to the streets on Nakba day (15 May) to protest against the brutal Israeli massacre of 62 Palestinians in Gaza. RCG comrades supported a protest called by the Palestine Alliance in Edinburgh, and another by Stop the War campaign (StW) in Glasgow that evening. Despite the widespread anger against Israel, and the clear urgency of taking a strong message in support of Palestine to the streets, at the Glasgow protest comrades were faced with sectarianism, threats and insults from the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) who had previously allowed Zionists from the Confederation of the Friends of Israel Scotland (CoFIS) to march on the Stand Up to Racism (SUTR) march on 17 March (see: SWP defends Zionists).
The Revolutionary Communist Group was proud to stand with others in Glasgow on 17 March to successfully prevent the Zionist Confederation of Friends of Israel Scotland (CoFIS) from participating in the annual Stand Up to Racism (SUTR) march. This was despite the earlier decision of SUTR and the Socialist Workers Party (SWP), which runs the SUTR campaign, to allow these racists to join their annual demonstration (see our report of lobbying SUTR).
The Revolutionary Communist Group joined the ‘Stand for Ahed Tamimi’ protest organised by Strathclyde Students for Palestine and Glasgow University Palestine Society on 17 February in Glasgow. We stood with people all around the world raising their voices and fists for the four Tamimi family members (which includes 17 year old Ahed, her mother Nariman, and her two cousins Mohammad and Osama) who are currently being held by Israel and facing charges – including assaulting Israeli soldiers - which will lead to long prison sentences unless enough global pressure can be brought to bear on the racist colonial-settler state. The Tamimi family and the village to which they belong Nabi Saleh, in the occupied West Bank, is well known for its defiance and resistance. Through her committed activism and bravery Ahed has come to symbolise a spirit of defiance to injustice which inspires not only those in Palestine but people all around the world.
On 26 November the Revolutionary Communist Group (Glasgow) joined the annual march, organised by the Scottish Republican Socialist Movement (SRSM), to mark the 94th anniversary of the death of revolutionary John MacLean. After graveside orations marchers, led by the Coatbridge United Irishmen Flute band, made their way from Eastwood cemetery to the John MacLean Cairn at the Square at Shawbridge Shopping Centre.
Despite the significance of this year, the centenary of the Russian Revolution, and MacLean’s own appointment as British consul for Bolshevik Russia in 1918, there was to be no talk of revolution on this march at least not if it meant criticising the Scottish National Party (SNP).
Before being given the mic at the end of the march the RCG speaker was asked by SRSM chair Donald Anderson ‘not to slag the SNP’. This craven attempt at censorship, which we caught on camera (see footage below), was unsuccessful as the speaker went on to layout the facts of the SNP’s warmongering and their defence of the racist immigration system in Britain.
Earlier on in the day career opportunist Tommy Sheridan of Solidarity was invited to give a graveside oration about the significance of MacLean and his politics. Before the last General Election Sheridan had openly called for people to vote for the ‘progressive SNP’ in Scotland and Labour in England (Quoted on March for Independence, 3 May 2017). To be clear Sheridan was calling on the working class and poor to vote for parties cutting living standards, enforcing racist immigration controls and waging war on working class and oppressed peoples across the world.
This support for the SNP and Labour is the very opposite of what MacLean stood for and he would be turning in his grave if he knew this crap was being sold in his name. Just as MacLean fought and exposed the opportunism of the socialist and labour movements of his day now the task falls to us. Long live MacLean! Long live his revolution!
To chants of ‘Boycott Bacardi – boycott terrorism!’ supporters of the RCG and the Rock Around The Blockade campaign picketed the Revolucion de Cuba bar in Glasgow city centre on 27 January 2017. Under a Cuban flag the bar was hosting a night with the enemies of the Cuban revolution;
“To celebrate our very last Friday of January we are teaming up with Bacardi to throw the BIGGEST fiesta Glasgow has ever seen!” Fiesta Tropicana ft. Mr Wilson's Second Liners
Since 1960, Bacardi has backed illegal and violent attacks against the Cuban Revolution, including funding the Cuban-American National Foundation, a right-wing Miami-based exile organisation involved in terrorism against Cuba. During this time, more than 3,400 Cubans have been killed by terrorism and sabotage. Many of these actions funded by this corporation.
Supporters of the Cuban Revolution leafleted those going into the bar and stuck placards and flags against the window for all those inside the bar to see. As curious customers of the bar exited to find out what was happening bar management followed. Attempts to bribe the protest with paella and drinks failed and in response to questions and calls for the bar to end their involvement with Bacardi, management claimed they were just a ‘chain’ and threatened to phone police.
We are calling on all supporters of the Cuban Revolution to keep the pressure up by contacting the bar to tell them to end their promotion and sale of Bacardi. We hope to build our own ‘chain’ (of protest!) against Revolucion de Cuba bars across Britain who promote and sell Bacardi so contact us if you are taking action locally. They have bars in Aberdeen, Cardiff, Derby, Glasgow, Harrogate, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Milton Keynes, Norwich, Nottingham, Reading, Sheffield.
Recent days, weeks and months have seen an escalation in racist street attacks. Edinburgh Central Mosque firebombed, fascist stickers across Leith, a Polish family attacked in Wester Hailes with Police Scotland failing to respond to calls for help, an asylum seeker violently attacked on Thursday, as well as ‘white only’ soup kitchens and a community ‘hub’ run by fascists in Glasgow. The deaths of overwhelmingly black people (such as Sheku Bayoh) in police custody and the cover up that follows to deny the families justice.
On Wednesday 21 September the weekly stall by Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! on Nicolson Street, Edinburgh, was threatened and attacked by racists including a Scottish Defence League (SDL) thug. In response to this, and the increasing attacks, we exposed the SDL fascist responsible and called for a solidarity demonstration at our weekly stall against ‘Racism, War and Austerity’ at Hunter Square, Edinburgh, on Saturday 24 September. Defend anti-racist spaces and fascists off our streets!
As well as gaining lots of support from the passing public our stall got support throughout the day from Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty, Migrant Solidarity Network supporters, Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC), Young Communist League, a Socialist Workers Party supporter and other socialists, anarchists and anti-fascists. We also received supportive messages from the International Marxist Tendency and anti-racists from around the country.
On Wednesday 21 September the weekly stall by Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! on Nicolson Street, Edinburgh, was attacked by a Scottish Defence League thug.
Displaying our ‘justice for immigrants’ banner and black lives matter placards we were approached on three separate occasions by different fascists. The first, after calling black people ‘monkeys’ and physically threatening the stall, was moved on by a policeman who happened to be patrolling the area. The second stood growling at the stall and a third, who we can name as Andrew R Jenkinson (pictured), verbally abused a South African woman on the stall before physically attacking one of the stall helpers with chants of ‘SDL’. Jenkinson also stated ‘we are hunting people like you down’, called us ‘anti-white racists’ and that ‘we love Islamists’.
He asked the stall helper ‘to come around the corner’, moved to head-butt him and then after refusing to move on repeatedly punched the helper, almost throwing him in front of a bus, before he was physically taken down and restrained by the helper in self-defence. A concerned member of the public witnessed the racial abuse and assault and called the police. The incident is now being investigated by police as an ‘Assault (Racial)’.
Recent days, weeks and months have seen Edinburgh Central Mosque firebombed, fascist stickers across Leith, prompting the ‘United colours of Leith’ walk, and ‘white only’ soup kitchens in Glasgow in an attempt to exploit the homelessness crisis. Byron Burger immigrant workers were raided and deported by the racist UK Border Agency. With state racism being ramped up to deny immigrants, asylum seekers and refugees a chance of peace and dignity and to divide and rule any opposition to worsening austerity the presence of organised racists on our streets is becoming a lot more common. The vote for Britain to leave the EU on a wave of anti-immigrant sentiment has only added fuel to the flames. We call on all democrats, progressives, socialists, anarchists, communists to stand together against these attacks.
Join us for our weekly stall against racism, war and austerity at Hunter Square, 1-3pm, this Saturday to defend the anti-racist space on our streets. An open megaphone will be available for all speakers, bring banners, newspapers, leaflets etc.
Defend Anti-Racist Space! Fascists off our streets!
On 5 August Edinburgh Revolutionary Communist Group joined the picket of Byron Burgers on North Bridge by the Royal Mile. The protest had been called by the Edinburgh Migrants Solidarity Network and followed actions against Byron Burgers all over Britain. Protestors walked into the store leafleting staff and customers about the collaboration of Byron bosses with the racist immigration controls of the UK Home Office and UK Borders Agency.
On 4 July fifty migrant workers from Byron restaurants across London were called by their bosses to attend a bogus training session. When they arrived thirty five workers arrested by the UKBA immigration police waiting for them. Some of the workers had been working at the store for four years - sixty or seventy hours a week in some cases, contributing to Byron’s record profit and growth in the last year. At the time of writing thirty five workers from Albania, Brazil, Nepal and Egypt - have been deported.
Despite the aggression of the store management and the presence of police, the picket held its ground for over two hours, blocking the entrance to the store. RCG comrades led an open megaphone with chants and speeches against Byron Burger bosses, immigration controls and deportations, highlighting the racist, imperialist nature of the British state. Crowds of over a hundred people gathered to listen and give their support. To defend the rights of migrant workers is to defend the rights of all workers, to stand with refugees is to stand against racism, austerity and war orchestrated by the British ruling class at home and abroad. We reject the notion that one worker is ‘legal’ and another ‘illegal’ whilst migrants and refugees are driven from their lands by war, systematic under-development and exploitation and then refused the right to work and welfare when they arrive. We demand papers for all or no papers at all!
Protests have been taking place across Britain to punish Byron Burgers for collaborating with the racist immigration act and stabbing their workers in the back. The next Migrant Solidarity protest against Byron Burgers in Edinburgh will be Saturday 13 August, meeting at 1pm outside Usher Hall, Lothian Road. Join us!
On Saturday 7th May, FRFI supporters from around Scotland joined the ‘Shut down Dungavel immigration prison’ protest called by ‘We will rise’ an activist group led by former immigration detainees in Glasgow. The event formed part of a transnational day of action against immigration detention and joined 20 protests at immigration prisons across Britain, France and Greece.
Dungavel holds 249 prisoners and is run on behalf of the Home Office by private US firm GEO Group, expanding their network of profit making prisons across the globe. Suicide attempts, protests and hunger strikes are common, with many detainees being held indefinitely in cramped conditions with little access to healthcare or legal advice. After a noise protest of drumming and banging on the towering perimeter fences, activists managed to make contact with immigration detainees who had assembled in the small exercise yard to join the demonstration. From a hill directly behind the prison we were able to make phone calls to detainees and broadcast their message to the rest of the protest ‘one message, one slogan, end all immigration detention’
The Revolutionary Communist Group demands the closure of all immigration prisons and stands in solidarity with all migrants. In an imperialist nation like Britain, which wages war and exploits oppressed peoples around the world, all forms of immigration control are, by their very nature, racist and imposed in the interests of capital, irrespective of whether they target refugees and asylum seekers, ‘economic migrants’, students or any other type of migrant. Nor can anyone who comes to Britain or any other wealthy nation from a country ravaged by imperialist plunder be dismissed as an ‘economic migrant’, rather than a ‘real refugee’. Imperialist oppression is both political and economic and fleeing it always has a political dimension. We campaign against all British immigration controls and opposes all detentions and deportations.
On 19 March, Revolutionary Communist Group members and supporters from Glasgow, Dundee, Edinburgh and Falkirk participated in the Stand Up to Racism march at George Square, organised in coordination with the UN day against Racism. Our anti-imperialist contingent joined the thousands of people who took to the streets.
With our banners and open microphone, we called attention to the fact that racism and fascism cannot be fought without fighting immigration laws, imperialism and capitalism. Many young people around us joined our chants, raising a wide range of issues: the murder of Sheku Bayoh and Police Scotland's racism, the role of the SNP and Scottish Labour in enforcing racism and austerity, immigration laws which murder thousands of refugees in the Mediterranean and subject migrants in Britain to terrible conditions, and British imperialism in the Middle East and North Africa, which underlines all these issues. We say the movement of people is not the problem, imperialist intervention and racist border controls are responsible for the refugee crisis – No more blood for oil! Safe passage now!
We made sure to keep our microphone open, in contrast to the “official” microphone for MPs and campaign leaders used at the rally, where all the speakers were determined beforehand. We say that if you want to build a genuine movement against racism and against imperialism, your movement must be democratic, and this means having an open microphone to allow anyone against racism to speak.
Join us at our regular speak outs against Racism war and austerity across Scotland – open microphone, all anti-racists welcome.
Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! Supporters from Edinburgh and Dundee responded to the call out from the Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty to defend welfare advocacy rights. 50 folks from diverse organisations: Dundee Against Austerity, Castlemilk Against Austerity, Class War, Scottish Unemployed Workers Network, Stand Up to Racism and Fascism, Drums of Resistance and anarchists stood together outside High Riggs Job Centre in Edinburgh to proclaim loudly that ‘An Injury to One is an Injury to All’ and ‘Advocacy is not a Crime!’
We were responding in numbers and noise to the physical exclusion of supporters of welfare claimants from the Job Centre. The security guards from G4S had prevented a claimant from bringing in their volunteer advocate to an interview a fortnight previously. This time around, with the protest going on as they went in, the claimant entered with the advocate without problem and received an apology from DWP staff for the illegal treatment. Victory!
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On 27 February, Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! supporters helped organise protests on the streets of Glasgow, Edinburgh and Newcastle as part of a day of action which in 138 cities across Europeto demand safe passage for migrants fleeing war and oppression internationally. Europe has the deadliest borders in the world. Over 4000 lives were lost in 2015, avoidable, tragic deaths caused only due to the lack of safe legal migration routes.
In Glasgow around 60 people gathered in the heart of the city centre to stand in solidarity with those attempting the deadly journey across Europe’s militarised borders. The slogans of the protests – ‘conflict is the crisis’ / ‘movement of people is not the problem’ – sought to highlight the hidden truth of the so-called refugee crisis: that it is imperialist war and the racist response of European states to migration which is the real crisis, not the free movement of people. As one placard on the protest read: ‘Imperialism created refugees: Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya: Stop wars not people!’ One Syrian refugee spoke on the open sound system about his experiences facing soldiers, police and prison cells in the course of crossing ten borders to safety. As he told FRFI: ‘All I can say is the truth. But sometimes the truth hurts, and people don’t want to hear it.’
The protest was significant in being organised by independent activists, mainly from the Glasgow School of Art. The 27F protest was only the first action in what aims to become a growing group of people in Glasgow capable of furthering migrant solidarity and activity. Tear down the walls!
'This idea that the SNP are going to put an end to austerity is just nonsense.' Independent councillor for Montrose, David May. Angus Courier 18 December 2015.
After the SNP's Finance Minister, John Swinney, announced the Scottish budget settlement in mid December 2015, the SNP led Angus Council cut $6.5 million from its budget. Despite the SNP's false claims that it would protect the vulnerable in Scotland from 'Tory' austerity they have gone on to propose cuts that target the vulnerable directly.
However the older generations and their families of the small Angus towns have organised and fought back. From Edzell, Montrose, Fettercairn, Kirriemuir, Forfar and Brechin they have confronted SNP councillors who wanted to cut back the Tenant Support Officers that help older folks in their homes and Sheltered Housing. Laundry charges, critical for dealing with issues of continence, were to be raised and the frequency of the service reduced.
On 23 January RCG supporters from Glasgow, Dundee, Edinburgh and Newcastle gathered in Argyll street for a speak out against racism, war and austerity. The open mic saw activists from across the region condemn Britain’s current bombing campaign in Syria and racist immigration laws that are directly responsible for the deaths of refugees at the border. It has been estimated thatImperialist-led wars in the Middle East have been responsible for killing up to four million people in the last 25 years. This means that British imperialism has been involved in the deaths of 438 people every day – 18 every hour – for a quarter of a century! Meanwhile the continued onslaught of benefit sanctions, welfare cuts and rent hikes is pushing more people into poverty within Britain. The number of homeless households is now at its highest level since the beginning of the 2008 financial crisis. Between July and September 2015 over 68,500 families were housed in emergency temporary accommodation, with a further 14,600 new applications for statutory homelessness. Whilst there is always money to bail out the banks and drop bombs in the Middle East and north Africa, the rotten system of British imperialism is determined to push the working class in Britain into ever worsening conditions, forcing people to accept low paid, zero hours contracts, maximising the profits.
The banks got bailed out! We got sold out! No more blood for oil! Hands off Syria!
Join us for our next speak out – open mic for all who stand against racism, war and austerity!
27th February 2016 Kirkgate, Leith, Edinburgh 12-2pm
On 16 January, Revolutionary Communist Group supporters in Edinburgh demonstrated alongside Scottish Solidarity with Kurdistan protesters, demanding the end to British support for Turkey, the lifting of the ban on the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party which has been proscribed since 1993), and for freedom for Kurdish political prisoners.
An open microphone was held, and we spoke about on the long history of British involvement in the region, beginning with the treaties of Sèvres and Lausanne in 1920 and 1923 and continuing to this day with the war in Syria. Britain is paying Turkey £275 million to prevent the passage of refugees into Europe. Turkey is using this as a bargaining chip to get EU membership. No more blood money to Turkey!
British companies BAE systems and Land Rover sell arms to Turkey whilst it attacks Kurdish villages and executes Kurdish citizens. In 2015 the British government identified Turkey as a 'priority market' for arms deals. British government – Blood on your hands!
Protesters were urged to sign cards for Silan Ozcelik, a young Kurdish woman and political prisoner of the British state, who is currently being held in prison for 21 months in London for attempting to travel to Kurdistan to fight with the PKK. Two RCG members were interviewed by NRT, a Kurdish news channel, on why communists in Scotland should support the Kurdish struggle.
RCG supporters also joined a protest called by Friends of Al-Aqsa and the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign outside the Co-operative Bank, in George street, Edinburgh. The Co-operative Bank has joined other British banks in politically targeting supporters of Palestine. In 2008 Lloyds refused to provide clearing services for Interpal, the Palestinian Relief and Development Fund, In 2014 HSBC closed down accounts of the Ummah welfare trust which donates towards aid projects in Palestine. Now the Co-operative bank, which prides itself on being an 'ethical bank' has joined this political witch hunt and suspended the accounts of 20 different Palestine solidarity organisations. We stand with the campaign and demand that the accounts are reinstated and encourage people to boycott the Co-operative Bank and all British support for Israel!
End British support for Turkey and Israel! Freedom for Kurdistan, Freedom for Palestine!
On Saturday 19th December Dundee Revolutionary Communist Group held an open mic street rally in the Murraygate, Dundee. The event urged all organisations and individuals to stand together in active, democratic opposition on the streets.
Comrades from Edinburgh and Glasgow RCG, Dundee Against Austerity, Class War and the Scottish Unemployed Workers Network united and the mic was open for anyone to speak out against racism, war and austerity. We set up at the monument commemorating the extraordinary life of Mary Brooksbanks, a Scottish jute mill worker and communist who was centrally involved in organising workers and the unemployed in Dundee during the 1920s and 1930s. She had famously publicly repeated the words of Scottish revolutionary John MacLean in 1921 when he urged the workless not to allow themselves or their children to starve. MacLean served a year in jail for this sound advice. Brooksbanks had boldly dared the authorities to also arrest her, refusing to abandon the demands of the hungry poor in the face of repression.
Taking up the call of 'The banks got bailed out! We got sold out!', speakers agitated against the disgraceful benefit sanctions and workfare schemes imposed by the Job Centres, forcing claimants to choose between heating or eating this winter. Dundee held the record for the highest rate of sanctions in Scotland in 2014, a grim situation which massively contributed to the record working class vote there to ditch the imperialist United Kingdom at the independence referendum of that year.
We called for ‘Imperialist hands off Syria’, detailing the hypocrisy of Britain's military interventions in Syria and Iraq, highlighting the booming arms and oil trade Britain enjoys with Saudi Arabia, key funders of ISIS. Speakers detailed the racist media manipulation against migrants and refugees, demanding that we stand together and oppose all immigration controls. In imperialist Britain, all attempts to control immigration are thoroughly racist and based on the needs of profit; from the first immigration controls imposed in 1905 against Jews fleeing pogroms to the new immigration bill currently in parliament which seeks to turn whole sections of society into immigration police.
We spoke out for Sheku Bayoh a young man from Sierra Leone who violently died at the hands of Police Scotland in Kirkcaldy this year. We openly challenged the road of racism, austerity and imperialist war which is all the ruling classes can offer the working class and oppressed of the world. We pointed out another road of struggle, solidarity and socialism. We stood in solidarity with Socialist Cuba and the fight for socialism in Venezuela, beacons of hope and progressive struggle that show a better world is possible! We are committed to creating a democratic political space on the streets, to provide a powerful and popular response to the racist, capitalist, warmongering media of the millionaires- join us at our next speak out event:
Dundee Against Austerity, Dundee Revolutionary Communist Group, members of the Scottish Unemployed Workers Network and Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty united in direct action against the notorious Learn Direct outfit which is financially rewarded by the Department of Work and Pensions for forcing welfare claimants to take up dubious work experience placements to keep their meagre benefits.
On 15 December 2015 Learn Direct's main office in the city was occupied by activists who have regularly campaigned at the Job Centres and picketed workfare companies, standing against a miserable system which uses the labour of the unemployed to run wealthy charities or boost the profits of multinational retailers like Tesco and Asda.
Despite denials from Learn Direct staff, evidence was easily provided by campaigners of the central involvement of the company in lining up claimants for shameless exploitation. Compulsory Work Placements are touted by Learn Direct and other contractors to be the means by which the unemployed can gain work experience to prepare for a return to employment. The reality is entirely different: hours repetitively spent pulling nails out of wooden pallets or steam ironing second hand clothes with little chance of employment at the end of the placement.
Towns and cities across Scotland, England and Wales are full of shops and companies where that compulsory labour is taking place. People in such dead end placements are not provided with information about their rights by the DWP or the firms involved: personal accident insurance, Health and Safety standards, union rights and proper support for vulnerable people are frequently lacking. Campaigners are determined to continue to expose and challenge this bullying exploitation supervised by this ruthless Tory government. The slogan is 'No to Workfare! Exploit Us and We'll Shut You Down!'
Dundee Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! and Dundee Against Austerity activists turned out for the recent court appearances of Tony Cox. A member of the Scottish Unemployed Workers Network, Tony has faced a number of charges over the year for his welfare advocacy work. In early 2015 he was arrested at the Job Centre in Arbroath as he tried to accompany a vulnerable person into an interview. Statistics and campaigning experience have shown that welfare sanctions - where a person's entitlement to Job Seekers Allowance or Employment Support Allowance can be ended or reduced to 40% - are disproportionately imposed on people with mental health or learning difficulties.
On Saturday 21st November Edinburgh Revolutionary Communist Group held an open mic street rally on Princes Street. Comrades from Dundee and Glasgow RCG, Spanish workers in Edinburgh, the Women in Black, Edinburgh in Protest, joined us on the streets and the mic was open for anyone to speak out against racism, war and austerity. Activists raised the issue of Sheku Bayoh, a young Sierra Leoneon man killed by Police Scotland in Fife earlier this year, talked of the newly announced £70 million of cuts by Edinburgh Council that threaten school music lessons, lollipop crossing guides, tenement lighting and libraries alike, spoke out against the racist Prevent strategy being rolled out across Edinburgh university targeting Muslim students and the racist immigration bill currently in parliament that is set to drive refugees and migrant workers into more misery and oppression. Spanish comrades spoke out against Operation Pandora in Spain which is currently arresting anti capitalist activists en-mass, seeking to politically gag anyone who opposes Spain's policies of racism and austerity. Comrades detailed the hypocrisy of Britain's military interventions in Syria and Iraq, highlighting the booming arms and oil trade Britain enjoys with Saudi Arabia, main funders of ISIS and stood in solidarity with Socialist Cuba and movements for socialism across Latin America, beacons of hope that show a better world is possible! We are committed to creating a democratic political space on the streets, to provide a counterbalance to the racist, capitalist, warmongering media forced down our throats.
Join us at our next Speak out events
Dundee: Saturday 19 December, 12-2pm Mary Brooksbank monument, Murraygate
Glasgow: Saturday 23 January 12-2pm in front of Primark, Argyll Street.
We reproduce below a letter sent to Glasgow Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! from long term prisoner John Bowden. John has been regular writer for FRFI and organiser for prisoners’ rights over the last 30 years. The backlash against him by the prison authorities continues. We ask you to join us in mobilising for the following dates at Greenock Sheriff Court where he is being put on a show trial for defending himself and others against Scottish prison service brutality.
Thank you so much for your very welcome letter that raised my spirits considerably, especially at a time when the constant transfers around the prison system and overtly more repressive treatment have increased the feeling of extreme isolation; your support and solidarity at such a time is deeply appreciated.
FRFI supporters from across Scotland joined hundreds marching through Kirkcaldy on Sunday 6 September to demand justice for Sheku Bayoh, a 31 year old father of two who was killed in police custody on Sunday 3 May. Sheku moved to Britain from Sierra Leone when he was 11 and had lived in Fife since he was 17.
Right from the start there was a cover-up. Sheku’s family were given five different accounts from Police Scotland about the circumstances surrounding his death, including allegations that Sheku was carrying a knife, and that he was found dead by a member of the public. Sheku was unarmed and died in police custody. Whilst Police Scotland has refused to release CCTV footage, what is known is that police forced Sheku to the ground less than two minutes after confronting him, using CS spray, pepper spray and batons. Handcuffs, leg and ankle restraints were applied while he was face down. Still in handcuffs, Sheku was pronounced dead at Victoria Hospital within two hours of the start of the incident,.
Throughout May to July, Revolutionary Communist Group supporters mobilised in support of striking Dundee hospital porters and Glasgow homelessness service caseworkers. Both were taking all-out strike action against low pay and to defend services.
After a 13-week strike, the 117 Dundee porters from Ninewells and Royal Victoria hospitals, members of Unite the Union, won an inspiring victory over their NHS Tayside bosses and the SNP Scottish Government. They won a re-grading, immediate pay rises, an increase in the number of full time, permanent portering jobs and a cash payment for every striker of £1,800.
Sheku Bayoh died in police custody on Sunday 3 May. This young man was not laid to rest until Sunday 7 June. Hundreds turned out from Sheku's local community in Kirkcaldy, Fife and hundreds' from all over: South London, Reading, Northampton. Diplomatic figures from Sheku's home country of Sierra Leone, marched alongside working class folks from Sheku's gym in the Templehall Community Centre.
The march formed up opposite Gallaghers pub' where Sheku was restrained by up to 9 police officers a month ago. Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! joined the procession and stood with it as it stopped outside the local police station to repeat the family's and campaign's demands for answers as to the circumstances of Sheku's death.
From the mosque people gathered at Dysart Cemetery to say hushed farewells and prayers for this popular local laddie who at 31 years of age leaves behind a partner Colette and two young children. At the press conference which followed his burial we heard shocking details of how doctors and nurses at Victoria Hospital had insisted police remove handcuffs and leg restraints from the dying Sheku as staff vainly tried to revive him.
DAWS was amongst the many speakers at the Black Triangle Disabilty Rights demo in George Square, Glasgow the day. We stress 'many speakers' because we and others such as the Scottish Unemployed Workers Network are not going to get that chance next week at the now Scottish Trade Union Congress controlled anti- austerity demo in Glasgow. The 'official' trade union platform will have the SNP and the Labour party speaking, all sewn up to exclude the real grassroots campaigners. The SNP's feeble 56 strategy was articulated by ex- Labour party, now SNP, MP Tommy Shephard who spoke incredibly of 'guilt tripping' 50 or 60 Tory MP's into supporting anti- austerity! Incredible! What a hopeless, predominantly parliamentary dead end that will lead the real anti- austerity struggle nowhere. As we predicted, the SNP presence today was negligible- some young SNP supporters were justifying the £74,000 MP's salary while within talking distance of the disabled and poor justifiably fearing the outcome of Osborne's Emergency Budget on 8 July. The SNP will lead this movement nowhere! DAWS was not the only speaker to have a go at the SNP, disabled activist Susan properly complained about platforms, trade union platforms that excluded the disabled. DAWS stands by and upholds the vital principle of real democracy in the movement. Join the Action Against Austerity contingent next Saturday- our voices will be heard!
The All-Scotland Day of Protest Against Benefit Cuts, organised by the Black Triangle Campaign for Disability Rights, took place on Sunday 14 June and was a useful indication of the struggles ahead for those committed to smashing austerity. Organised independently of any ‘official’ movement, a small number of grassroots campaigners and supporters took to George Square to raise the voices of those currently at the brutal, bloody edge of the class struggle – the poor, the sick and disabled and the unemployed. The hundred-or so gathered, including the Revolutionary Communist Group and Dundee Against Welfare Sanctions, were left to do so without any mobilisation of the trade unions, the SNP or the various independence campaigns: the ‘political awakening’ of Scotland and the wave of anti-austerity which brought ‘the 56’ to the gilded seats of Westminster desperately needs to assume a more concrete and visible presence than articles in The National!