Glasgow, Scotland: Solidarity with the Hares Boys! Free Palestine! (15 March 2015)

‘Say it loud, make some noise – free, free the Hares Boys!’

This was the chant echoing across Glasgow city centre as supporters of the organisation Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! (FRFI) took to the streets to demand the release of the Hares Boys and an end to British complicity with Israeli war crimes. Supporters gathered outside of BDS-target Marks and Spencer to mark the second anniversary of the kidnapping and imprisonment of the boys. With painted placards, leaflets, petitions, a megaphone and Palestine flags we were able to get the attention and support of the public, who stopped to learn about the campaign and express their outrage.

Our 'G4S - Go 2 Hell' placard was well placed for a passing G4S van, highlighting the global nature of this repressive British company. G4S provides the guards to staff the Israeli prisons where thousands of Palestinians, including the Hares boys, are jailed and tortured. 17 April marks Palestine prisoner’s day when we will again take to the streets of Glasgow to join world-wide protests for justice.

After our protest we gathered on the Buchanan Street steps to oppose Glasgow Labour council's decision to demolish them and to introduce Israeli developed CCTV in an effort to prevent and criminalise protests in Glasgow city centre.

Barclays bank – blood bank

The previous day, supporters of FRFI took part in a protest organised by the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign aimed at ending British complicity in Israel’s war machine. Targeting the main branch of Barclays bank – which has millions of pounds of investments in the Israeli drone company Elbit Systems – the activists peacefully occupied the branch and successfully closed it down for the day. There’ll be no business as usual for any companies profiting from the oppression of Palestine!

Defend the right to defend Palestine

Not only is the British state intent on providing political and military support for Zionism, but it is increasingly criminalising those who express support for the Palestinian people. On Wednesday 18 March, members of Glasgow Palestine Action will appear at Glasgow Sheriff Court following their peaceful occupation of Thales UK, another British company supporting Elbit Systems. The same day, another FRFI supporter will appear in court for the ‘crime’ of using a megaphone to protest against cuts to welfare. The struggle in defence of Palestine and our own democratic rights is one and the same!

Free The Hares Boys!

Free Palestine!

Save the steps!


Who are the Hares Boys?

The Hares Boys are five Palestinian children who were abducted by Israeli soldiers, then tortured and framed for an event that never happened. They are now facing 20 years in prison for each stone they are claimed to have thrown at the passing car of an illegal settler. No evidence of stone throwing on the day has been presented never mind evidence that the five youths imprisoned were involved. The case is a reflection of the racist arrogance and inhumanity of Apartheid Israel and the unwillingness of imperialist powers such as Britain and the US to take action against them.

For up to date news and more background to this case facebook 'Free The Hares Boys' and see https://haresboys.wordpress.com/

Glasgow Labour council pass austerity budget for 2015/16

 

‘People make Glasgow’- aye right!

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! supporters joined the crowds gathered outside Glasgow city chambers on 19 February to protest against the £29.5m budget cuts being passed by the Labour led council.

Once again the cuts are aimed at the poor and vulnerable. They are the ones being made to pay for the capitalist crisis. £2m will be cut in education services for children in hospital and those with psychological or additional support needs. £1m will come from mental health services, including the controversial cut to third sector body the Glasgow Association for Mental Health (40% of GAMH's funding). A £1.5m cut from Glasgow Life will affect community and library services. A total of £2m will be cut from grants to voluntary organisations, while the closure of two of the remaining four day centres for learning disability will see the loss of 40 jobs.

Beyond rhetoric the leaderships of the two biggest trade unions in Britain Unison and Unite offer no resistance. They have proved in the last five years that they are content to stand by and watch as Glasgow’s Labour Party council – which they financially and politically support – hammers those in and out of work. According to Unison Glasgow branch secretary Brian Smith future cuts are "on top of over £200mn in cuts in the last five years and 4,000 job losses" (The National, 17 February, p4). They will not risk their millions of pounds of assets to defend workers by breaking the anti-trade union laws. New forces will have to re-emerge.

In the shadow of George square, which witnessed thousands mobilise for a yes vote in last year’s referendum in a clear rejection of austerity, the Labour Party council continue to turn the screw on Glasgow’s working class. The Yes to independence, No to austerity movement is sorely missed and must be rebuilt now. The only alternative to cuts is an independent socialist Scotland. Socialist Cuba has demonstrated to the world’s poor and oppressed that another way is possible but only when the class system is thrown into the dust bin of history!

Interesting fact -

In 1991 with the fall of the Soviet Union Cuba lost its chief trade partner and overnight was thrown into economic chaos in what was called ‘The Special Period’. Despite this the Cuban revolution did not close down a single school, maternity ward, hospital or sports facility; quite the opposite.  As one Cuban we spoke to on the 2009 rock around the blockade solidarity brigade to Cuba stated ‘At all times the economy was to be subordinated to social objectives’. Read more at http://www.ratb.org.uk/

Dundee campaign against SNP school closure – Save Menzieshill High!

'THIS FEELS LIKE A POLITICAL EARTHQUAKE …'

SNP FACES WORKING CLASS CHALLENGE

'WE DID NOT VOTE YES FOR THE SNP TO CLOSE SCHOOLS!’

Deputy Leader of the Scottish National Party Stewart Hosie wrote a column in 'The National' on Tuesday 3 February. He was cheerily noting the recent polls portending a wipe-out for the Labour Party in Scotland at the General Election. Hosie's headline was 'This feels like a political earthquake...'. As MP for Dundee East he is certainly close enough to know that there is indeed a political earthquake going on in the city but it is against the SNP! At a 100 strong meeting to oppose the closure of secondary school Menzieshill High there was a clear cry for militant opposition. An SNP councillor present was roasted by his own party members and Yes voters: 'We did not vote Yes for the SNP to close schools!'

RCG member Michael MacGregor spoke from the Save Menzieshill High platform and recalled the battle of Community Against School Closure 18 years ago to save another secondary school closed then by the Labour council. He urged the meeting to fight in every possible way to stop the closure and that they should not be held back by an SNP which thinks it cannot be criticised and opposed because of its association with the YES vote. He told the SNP councillor Jimmie Black that he had better get on the phone 'moy pronto'- awfy fest- and let Nicola Sturgeon know that the is an eruption taking place in Menzieshill and that the closure should stop right now!

Dundee is the only full majority SNP council in Scotland and have lined up cuts worth £7 million this year. 19 SNP councillors recently voted to approve consideration of school closures. There is a protest rally in Dundee City Square next 2pm Thursday 12 February when the council votes to approve its budget. The opposition in Menzieshill from parents, pupils, school workers, the churches and local community centre has been joined by RCG/ FRFI, Scottish Socialist Party and Socialist Party, Scotland and other activists. We are all determined that the SNP are forced to halt the closure and the cuts or stand exposed as no different from parties like the Tories and the Labour Party.

SAVE MENZIESHILL HIGH!

NO TO SNP CUTS!

Michael MacGregor

Police Hands Off Protest! Welfare activists challenge Abroath arrest

On Thursday 5 February 40 protestors converged on Arbroath's Job Centre to challenge the arrest of Scottish Unemployed Workers Network activist Tony Cox. Tony had been supporting a vulnerable client in the Job Centre who was having difficulty in using computers to meet her Job Search target. Official Department of Work and Pensions guidelines state that reasonable support must be given to claimants in this position and reasonable adjustments made to Job Search targets.

Tony accompanied the claimant to say that Job Centre staff had not followed these guidelines and tried to advocate for a review of the case. It was feared that a welfare sanction might result from any perceived failure to meet arbitrary targets. Staff terminated the interview claiming intimidation and a new appointment was scheduled. Leaving the building Tony was approached by the police  investigating alleged 'threatening behaviour'. He refused to give his name and address and was suddenly cuffed and arrested. Bail conditions forbid him to enter the Job Centre  in Arbroath.

Defying this outrageous criminalisation of welfare advocates and activists, a protest was publicly announced for the following Thursday and an SUWN defence formed at a meeting. Tony explained at the meeting that he had been visited at home by police to warn him that he risked arrest for any breach of bail. He was determined to attend the protest and publicly announced this step which was taken up by local media.

40 people from Dundee, Edinburgh, Arbroath, Forfar and Kirriemuir stood united in solidarity outside Arbroath Job Centre and through placards, banners, speeches and chants the arrest was condemned and the right to support vulnerable claimants proclaimed. The abusive use of welfare sanctions was highlighted and speakers expressed defiance at any attempt to limit and criminalise protest. See footage of the lively march here.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CU_JLQUpV1A#t=41

The protest was supported by Scottish Unemployed Workers Network campaigners, Dundee Against Welfare Sanctions, Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty, Class War and many other activists. Tony Cox spoke and Michael MacGregor of the Revolutionary Communist Group/ Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! chaired the lively street event. Such was the confident mood of the protest that it was decided we should march into the town centre. The three cops were then made to earn their wages by assisting in crossing roads as we marched up Arbroath High Street for a militant and popular street rally in the main shopping area. 

We are determined to resist criminalisation of protest and demand the immediate dropping of all charges.

POLICE HANDS OFF PROTEST!

END WELFARE SANCTIONS NOW!      

Dundee Against Welfare Sanctions Fights On!

 

Cover Welfare Sanctions Now!

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism!/ Revolutionary Communist Group is a founder organisation of Dundee Against Welfare Sanctions (DAWS). Along with local campaigners against Atos, DAWS was launched on 1 April 2014. Basing itself on regular weekly work and monthly protests at the Dundee burroo - old Scottish parlance for the Employment Bureaux of the 1930's - it has collected thousands of signatures from those going in to sign on at the Wellgate Job Centre. Dundee's holds the record in Scotland for the highest number of sanctions issued there. There were 5,551 JSA sanctions over the period from 2012 to 2014. Those sanctions which can reduce an individual's income to £30 a week, have driven the massive uptake in foodbank usage. It is not an exaggeration therefore to say that bankers are taking the food out of hungry children's mouths - that is the reality. The popular movements against unemployment of the 1920's and 30's called the governments of the day 'baby starvers'.

DAWS stood with Scottish independence campaigners outside the burroo in the summer heading up to the referendum. Alex Salmond was shamed by our intervention into joining the protest for a photo there and pledged to end the sanctions. He remarked on radio that he had noted the queues forming in Dundee at DAWS stalls to register to vote. Dundee's working class gained due recognition as the force behind the highest Yes vote amongst Scottish cities at 57.35%. After the failed vote the Scottish National Party tested the acceptability of its Home Rule position at a national demo in Dundee under the demands 'No to Austerity. Yes to Home Rule'. DAWS campaigners at an organising committee meeting objected to this position, describing Home Rule as a retreat. Some SNP members agreed that it was but accepted it as a necessary retreat. DAWS formally withdrew its support for the demonstration. On the demo itself Home Rule slogans were noticeably absent with the loud and lively chants of 'What do we want? Independence!' and 'End Welfare Sanctions' pre-dominating.

At its first monthly protest of the New Year DAWS launched a new petition targeted at the SNP government in Edinburgh. Just as Salmond had said he was going to hold Westminster's feet to the fire over promised powers for Scotland, DAWS aims to hold the SNP's feet to the fire also. DAWS demands that the Scottish government cover all sanctions losses in the same way as it covered money lost through the Bedroom Tax. The SNP's newly professed commitment to social justice - new leader Nicola Sturgeon has declared it her mission to eradicate poverty - must be acted upon immediately.  As James Connolly - who joined the socialist movement in Dundee - recognised, this is the real politics of the stomach. Hungry bairns cannot wait!

Contact DAWS

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Facebook.Dundee Against Welfare Sanctions

 

By Michael MacGregor

 

DAWS Statement January 2015

On Friday 9 January campaigners against welfare sanctions gathered outside Dundee's Wellgate Job Centre. Our first monthly protest of the year saw Dundee Against Welfare Sanctions launch a new petition calling on the SNP government to cover the financial losses of those sanctioned, just as those who suffered losses from the Bedroom Tax were supported by the Discretionary Housing Payment fund.


The new petition was well received by the crowds of folk who came over to sign and who shared their continuing direct experience of sanctions. The battle is on!

Campaigners later sat down to plan future work, arrangements and structure:


1) Dundee Against Welfare Sanctions is open, active and democratic. The monthly meetings are open to all who contribute £1 per month to the campaigning work and who contribute to the regular work against sanctions. This active membership will determine and guide our work. Join Us!


2) Dundee Against Welfare Sanctions will also support campaigning work in Perth, Arbroath, Blairgowrie and elsewhere and will co- operate with other campaigning groups like Scottish Unemployed Workers Network, Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty and others, to take forward the fight against sanctions, workfare and other attacks on welfare. Join Us!'

 

Obituaries

JEN SPARK

'I have been asked to write something about our comrade Jen Spark who passed away this Xmas. She was dedicated to standing up for those who had the least in society. From being part of the Bin the Bedroom Tax Campaign, then the campaigns against Atos and the Work Capability Assessments, she went on to set up Perth Against Welfare Sanctions- PAWS. She done all this despite having to struggle with her own mental health issues which sadly ended her life. We will never forget our Jen as she played such a big part in our lives. RIP Jen.'  

By Ronnie Swinton.

 

ALBERT MITCHELL

Albert joined us on the regular pickets organised by Dundee Against Atos at the medical examination centre at the Greenmarket. His cheery face can still be seen on the DAA facebook page. He was pleased at the beginnings of protest against the attacks on the poor and disabled and was always urging unity of all campaigners and campaigns. He recognised the obstacles too as he shouted lustily at the supremacist orange walk which was holding up our coach after we tried to leave Glasgow after a march against the Bedroom Tax. We will miss his irreverence and bad jokes and will miss a working class man who stood up with others against injustice.

Glasgow Events

Contact us

Get in touch with your local Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! group:

Glasgow: glasgowfrfi@gmail.com

Tel: 078 2620 3476

How to deal with police harassment - Glasgow Defence Campaign

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