Two Mayors and a Protest

Submitted by Janine on Fri, 11/10/2006 - 16:12

Mayors Livingstone and Pipe will be slapping each others' backs at the official opening of a space in Dalston today. Tempted though we are to congratulate them for finding a space and not building posh flats on it, Hackney community activists will be there to rain on their parade.

Can't make it myself, but I thought I'd share with you the text of the leaflet that will be handed out ... (and also register a slight, probably pedantic, dissent from the suggestion that 'creativity' is a luxury that working-class people do not want/need - which I'm sure is not what the leaflet's authors meant anyway.)

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Hackney Council’s anti-social behaviour is pushing out the poor: council flats sold off and community facilities shut down to make way for more yuppie flats and bars.

Livingstone and Pipe are showing breathtaking arrogance in coming here and telling us to be grateful for a new square on a site that was already public space (the Colin Roach Centre, a vital local resource, stood on Gillett Street). Hackney people know very well that the council and LDA are presiding over a wholesale onslaught on the area:

• Rocketing rents and rates threaten residents and local businesses with eviction: this will only get worse with the Olympics and the tube.

• Epidemic homelessness in a borough full of bricked-up flats. The council leaves housing to rot in an attempt to blackmail tenants to accept stock transfer; no chance of council housing for the next generation. New Labour’s ‘rent convergence’ policy means high market rents for social or so-called ‘affordable’ housing.

• Corrupt council sell-off of Broadway Market and Dalston Lane to offshore developers. Under the new owners Dalston Lane shops suffer ‘mysterious’ fires in preparation for the LDA Olympic transport interchange, while the Four Aces/Dalston Theatre faces demolition after eviction of a community social centre. (Along with the All Nations Club the Four Aces is another black cultural venue destroyed to make way for the new Hackney).

• State schools are shut down while organisations like Swiss Bank UBS build City Academies; swimming pools and leisure centres stay shut or re-open at inflated prices; doctor’s surgeries, playing fields, nurseries sold off and local services cut.

• Regeneration agencies promise new buildings and ‘arts’ for the community but ‘culture-led regeneration’ leads to rising local property prices, pushing out local people to make way for yuppies. This has already happened in Stoke Newington, Hoxton, Broadway Market and Hackney Central – WATCH OUT DALSTON!

Livingstone and Pipe expect us to put up with this quietly or even play along with them.

But many examples of local resistance show that we won’t: the ongoing campaign in Broadway Market; the occupation of the Four Aces/Dalston Theatre; repeated votes against council housing stock transfer (until the council imposed the ALMO unilaterally – with ‘consultation’ of course).

We need our homes and livelihoods not council-sponsored ‘creativity’.

We’ll have something to celebrate when we’ve forced Jules Pipe to give back what was taken away and stop the class cleansing of Hackney.

Comments

Submitted by Janine on Mon, 04/16/2007 - 20:29

One of the lessons from the troubles in the branch is that throwing the label 'fascist' around is unhelpful and out of order. The branch leadership may be many things, but they are not fascists.

I'm afraid your comments are a little contradictory. On the one hand, the goings-on are "regular working people reacting to bully boy tactics", on the other hand a "pathetic feud" which should be "amicably put aside".

Following recent events, with the branch leadership boycotting and disingenuously 'cancelling' their own branch meeting, we do indeed have a case of regular working people standing up against anti-democratic tactics. We held the meeting despite the attempt to scupper it, and it was a great example of membership democracy in action.

Submitted by Janine on Sat, 11/11/2006 - 19:34

Well, that's not on the subject of this discussion, but hey ...

I haven't joined any faction within the branch, but I will stand up for what I believe in, and speak out against undemocratic abuses.

What I see is a branch leadership which has hardly any support amongst the rank and file members in its area, and which is using any methods it can think of to cling onto power in the branch, including undemocratic ones. That's not 'left wing' in my book!

On this occasion, they tried to prevent members raising an issue at the branch, and I argued against that and in favour of the discussion taking place. Had the discussion been allowed to take place, I do not know which 'side' I would have ended up supporting. So I'm not lining up with any group of people, only with democracy.

It seems to me that the branch leadership has decided to label people as 'right wing' and 'wreckers' just because they have the temerity to stand against them in elections or criticise them.

By the way, I don't remember a lot of voting taking place at the branch, especially when the chair refused to take proposals from members present, including myself. But do enlighten me as to the issues on which I "voted with scabs".

And you really do need to learn the difference between "disagreeing" and "witch-hunting". I think the kind of language and labels you are throwing about in your comment is far more akin to witch-hunting than anything that I have said!

Submitted by Janine on Sun, 11/12/2006 - 12:37

I didn't vote for Dave Phillips. Neither did I oppose the branch voting for Ross Marshall. I'm not surprised he's raging if you told him that I did, but I didn't. Your 'case' against me crumbles when you pay so little attention to the facts. For goodness sake, I didn't even go to the toilet during the meeting. And I wasn't sitting at the back. Are you sure you haven't mistaken me for someone else?

I repeat: I have not joined any faction. Keep repeating that I have and you'll find the credibility of your argument collapsing yet further. Given that the people you are referring to did vote for Dave Phillips and I didn't - and given that they voted to remove the chair and I didn't - that kind of gives the lie to your idea that people were following the way I voted. And even if they did - how is that my responsibility?!

Why didn't I vote for Unjum Mirza? For the same reason I didn't vote for him (and spoke against his candidature) last year when I was a member of Finsbury Park branch before I transferred to Stratford branch! So how can that be anything to do with allegedly joining a faction in Stratford branch?!

One person's 'flooding' is another person's 'increasing attendance'. Most committed trade unionists welcome seeing members come to branch meetings. In what sense is it 'undemocratic' to bring members to a branch meeting?! Unless, of course, it's because you don't like how they vote? Why can't your preferred faction get enough people to branch meetings to outvote the people they disagree with?

Winning votes at a meeting is - by definition - democratic. So is voting for or against the candidates I choose to vote for or against. Voting against a candidate that you support is not 'witch-hunting'.

So we are left with one allegation against me: where I sat! Well, having only just joined the branch, I didn't even know the majority of people in the room. When I came in at the beginning of the meeting, I sat next to a particular person because she wanted to talk to me about what we could do to stop her group's management being so harsh on Flexible Working cases. Other people came in and sat down afterwards.

I had heard that JL had scabbed on the SWW strike. And obviously, I think that is utterly contemptible. But I didn't know who he was until after the meeting, so I don't see how I can be condemned for sitting in his vicinity.

You seem to have worked yourself up into a hysteria about this which has led you to hallucinate or fantasise about what I did or didn't do in Thursday's branch meeting. Please consider the facts more rationally, and respect the fact that people can disagree about issues without deserving to be condemned as "right wing", "wreckers" or "lining up with scabs".

Submitted by Janine on Mon, 11/13/2006 - 09:58

I've been thinking about how you could get the facts so very wrong on this. There are probably two reasons.

Firstly, you seem unable to distinguish between supporting someone's right to be heard and agreeing with what they say. For example, I actually voted *for* Ross Marshall. I also pointed out to the chair that several people were saying "no" and that therefore he should have a vote. The vote went against Ross (even though, I repeat, I voted for him). It seems that because I stood up for the right of people to cast their vote against Ross, you assumed that I did too. Even though I didn't.

I believe that trade unions need to practise certain democratic standards, such as resolving disagreements by voting - even if I don't agree with the outcome of the vote.

Secondly, since there is quite a bitter division in the branch at the moment, you seem determined that everyone in the branch is in one or other faction. So when someone (eg. me) criticises one faction, you assume they have joined the other. Or if a person does one thing that a particular faction supports or agrees with, you assume they have joined it.

Why can you not accept that people can be in neither faction but make their own mind up?! (The irony is, of course, that I'm actually in a completely different faction from either one battling it out in Stratford branch!) Will you assume that whoever I vote for in the branch elections - I have joined their faction? Or can you accept that I will vote for who I think is the best candidate without necessarily having joined their gang?!

I'll tell you what - I'll do you a deal. You be more careful about getting your facts right, and considering that not everyone fits into your you're-either-with-us-or-against-us view of the world. And I'll be more careful about where I sit.

Submitted by Janine on Tue, 11/14/2006 - 15:48

I did *not* vote against Ross Marshall. I'm afraid your eyes *are* deceiving you: the same way they were deceiving you when you reported that I had voted for Dave Phillips - a statement that you are apparently now not repeating, thankfully.

Your reference to George Galloway and Cuba is a little weird. Read through the rest of my blog and you will find that I'm no fan of Galloway's, to say the least. And I had a letter published in RMT News earlier this year criticising the positive coverage it was giving to Cuba's regime. Again, this seems to show that you are not really paying attention to what I actually say or do - just to what you assume that I say and do.

PLEASE stop assuming that just because I say one thing (eg. that the chair should take a vote) then I must automatically have done something else (eg. voted in a particular way).

I think you are seeing lash-ups where they don't exist. Just because someone votes the same way as a group of people on something, it does not mean they have formed or joined a faction. Mind you, if you think that two people responding to your comments constitutes "ganging up", then perhaps it is not surprising that you are seeing things.