Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Liverpool Rise for Palestine Respond to Mayor Joe Anderson

Liverpool Rise for Palestine have released a statement in response to the Liverpool Echo's sensationalist coverage of their protest outside Mayor Joe Anderson's Old Swan home. The Echo published much of it, but here is the original:

Mayor Anderson is indignant at the protest outside his house on Friday 12 September, and accuses us of ‘intimidation and thuggery’ (your report 13 September). Liverpool City Council has prevaricated over the use of G4S as a security contractor, and Liverpool Rise for Palestine organised the protest to demand real action. We see it as a simple matter: just sever those G4S contracts as a gesture of support for the people of Palestine. G4S provides services and equipment to Israeli prisons, checkpoints, the Apartheid Wall and the Israeli police. Liverpool Rise for Palestine pays no heed to G4S declarations that a review has cleared it of breaching human rights in Palestine: the whole of the Israeli occupation of Palestine, its detention of over 7,000 Palestinian prisoners at any one time, is a breach of the human rights of the Palestinian people. G4S is part of an apparatus of ruthless repression of the Palestinian people – but as a bloated parasite it does not care where or how it makes its money.

Liverpool Rise for Palestine was presented with a hard choice: should we escalate the protest over the City Council’s use of G4S, or let matters lie? Mayor Anderson will shortly be full of ‘hard choices’: it will be his cop-out when he demands massive cuts in services and jobs across the city for the fifth year running. These are the real acts of ‘intimidation and thuggery’: they destroy people’s lives and break up families. He will cry and wring his hands and say how terrible his position is, but he will do whatever the government requires. ‘Hard choices’ has become his, and the political class’s, euphemism for savaging the conditions of the working class on the one hand, while keeping hold of its own privileged position on the other.

Liverpool Rise for Palestine will continue to make ‘hard choices’, but they will be ‘hard choices’ on behalf of the people of Palestine rather than on behalf of a discredited privileged elite. We demand: end the contracts with G4S!

My Personal Manifesto for the 2015 General Election (Work in Progress)

Back in May I announced that I'd be standing in next year's general election, as Class War candidate for Liverpool Riverside. Last week I shared my answers to questions asked by the Candidate Hub website. Today I'm sharing my current list of policies (Class War in general have their own here).

The policies are the result of brainstorming with my 'closest advisers'. They range from the fundamental and serious to the fun, and my plan is to collect new ones on the doorstep, but feel free to suggest new ones!

So, in no particular order, here they are:
  • Hunger Games, just with politicians
  • A pet owl for everyone who wants one
  • Bring back lollypop people
  • Royalty to clean public toilets
  • No student fees/re-instate grants
  • Abolition of parliamentary elections
  • All cuts immediately reversed
  • More, free of charge, trains and buses
  • Confiscate wealth of banks and bankers
  • More trees and flowers and shit in concrete-dominated areas
  • More cats, less rats
  • Legalise shooting fascists like in the war
  • Ban private landlords
  • All working class personal debts written off
  • Install anti-rich spikes in mansions and palaces
  • Close Yarl's Wood and all 13 migrant detention centres
  • Free fruit and veg for all
  • Wages for housework
  • Collectivised childcare
  • Swimming pool on every street
  • Paulo Freire schools
  • Wages for carers
  • Free solar panels for every roof
  • Tony Blair tried for war crimes
  • UK troops out of every nation, put to useful work at home

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Pro-Palestine Campaigners Visit Home of Liverpool Mayor

The view from inside (pic: @JoeforLiverpool)
Campaigners from the Liverpool Rise for Palestine group protested outside the home of Mayor Joe Anderson yesterday evening, angered by his Labour council's links with G4S. The notorious security company stand accused of atrocities within the Israeli prison system.

From information provided by Anderson himself on his Twitter account, it seems that around twenty protesters gathered outside his home for around an hour last night.

At around 7:47 pm, the mayor tweeted:

"Friends of Palestine [sic] demonstrating at my house for last 30 mins shouting abuse bullying and scaring my 84 year old Mother in law. " 

Not surprisingly, Rise for Palestine themselves had a very different take on the event. Their Facebook page posted:
"Joe Anderson took this photograph from his window tonight of our protest at his house for being the chair of the cabinet that gave G4S the contracts with Liverpool City Council. He and the council has known about G4S for years. He calls us abusive and intimidatory but doesn't have a problem with giving contracts to companies that literally provide equipment that locks thousands of Palestinian prisoners in jails. As if the Israeli soldiers don't kidnap Palestinians from their homes, at check points, in the street. As if the soldiers don't break and smash Palestinian homes in raids. As if Palestinians every day aren't going through the brutal processes of interrogation and torture in detention centres and prisons. As if Palestinians are being detained without charge or trial. As if sham military courts don't postpone and postpone court dates. This is what Anderson and Liverpool City Council supports. The brutal and racist policies of Israel's colonial prisons. What we are demanding is that the contract is broken today. Not weeks, months or years from now. TODAY."
As Israel rained death and destruction on Gaza this summer, Anderson struck a neutral pose, despite the massively lopsided balance of forces  At the end of July, he called a "peace vigil" at St George's Plateau. In announcing the event he stated:

"Whatever the issues, whoever started it and whichever side people see themselves on, surely we can agree that children should not, and must not, be victims of war? It cannot be right that children are at risk of their lives, frightened or being made homeless. Our diverse communities coming together in recognition of this will be a simple act of humanity. We are seeing daily images broadcast on the news, social media and the newspapers of children crying, frightened, injured and dead. They are too difficult to watch without doing something or saying something." [emphasis added]

Of course, when 2, 143 Palestinians were killed, as opposed to a mere 6 civilians in Israel, this neutrality is a cover for siding with the oppressor. Liverpool's Labour group has a particularly strong link with Israel's Zionist agenda. MPs Louise Ellman (Riverside), Luciana Berger (Wavertree) and Stephen Twigg (West Derby) have all held high positions within Labour Friends of Israel. Labour's Police Commissioner Jane Kennedy formerly chaired the group.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

My General Election Profile for Candidate Hub

Support The Class War Party from Lil Onorth on Vimeo.

A few weeks back, Candidate Hub asked me a bunch of questions about my election campaign next year. The answers will go up on their website when they've got more answers, but this is what I told them.

1. Obviously our goal is to strengthen the relationship between voters and candidates, but what do you plan to do in order to make sure you remain ‘in touch’ with the electorate?
I'm not going to win the election. My Labour opponent will. If by some miracle I did win, I'd take a wage equal to the average income in the constituency (donating the rest to working class solidarity causes), and refuse to take any expenses, and continue to live in the constituency. Perhaps more importantly, I'd continue to take part in local working class activism.

2. What makes you the best candidate for this constituency?  
I'm probably not the best candidate for this constituency. There are possibly hundreds or thousands of people living here who might do better. But I'm certainly the best candidate who will be on the ballot paper. Why? Because I've not ever had an easy life, and it's getting harder and harder during this unrelenting class war of the rich. Because I therefore believe that working class people need to fight back, in their workplaces and in their streets. Because I would never vote for a single cut to working class living standards, and I would use the Westminster soapbox to promote the one solution - revolution.

3a. What has the current Member achieved that you believe has been successful? (The incumbent will be asked: "What would you have liked to have done differently during your time in Parliament?")
I see from Louise Ellman's profile on theyworkforyou.com that she has voted strongly for equal marriage and a hunting ban. I certainly don't oppose those things. That's about it though.

4. In your opinion, is austerity working? What should we take from the state of the economy during this Government’s tenure?
What the media and politicians call 'austerity' is the legalised, government-organised robbery of working class people on behalf of the rich scum who triggered the big recession of several years ago in the first place. The richest 1,000 people had their wealth increased by 15% in 2013, as our living standards continue to plunge, and our futures are sold off. So yes, what people call 'austerity' is certainly working for the richest people - who all the parties represent in one way or another. It is utter ruin for the rest of us.

5. Does (legal) immigration need more limitations or is it vital for the UK?
There should be no limitations on migration from anywhere to anywhere. Many migrants come to the UK as a direct result of wars waged by our government, or because of economic policies which benefit the UK rich. But even if that weren't the case, it makes no more sense restricting migration from say Afghanistan to the UK than it does from England to Wales. Borders are completely artificial, and people should be able to move wherever they think they will be the most happy. Basically, the problem is the rich and their system, not the even-poorer-than-you.

6. Many people are concerned with the cost of living in the UK, with wages having failed to rise in line with the price of food, energy and rent in recent years. How can this be corrected?
Nothing that the other parties propose could correct this, even if they wanted to...and they don't. Wages failing to rise in line with prices means bigger profits for the rich, and much more desparation and deprivation for the rest of us. This is capitalism working well for those at the top. The solution to this is working class people uniting in workplaces, and struggling together to win a better living standard for us all. Eventually, we should reorganise things so that we cut out the capitalists entirely, and live our lives in our own interests.

7. How would you like to see the NHS change in the future in order to become more successful?
The best way of improving the NHS would be removing the profit motive from it entirely, giving it massively more funding, hugely increasing the pay of those who work in it, and let them make their own decisions about how it is run.

8. What measures do you think need to be taken to decrease unemployment, particularly youth unemployment and those who have never been employed?
Unemployment should be abolished. It exists entirely because the rich want to squeeze as much profit as they can out of everyone. And the JSA sanctions regime worsened by successive governments exists to frighten and discipline those in paid work. If the wealth of the super-rich scum was confiscated, everyone who is able to work could be given well-paying, fulfilling work. Eventually, 'work' as we know it today could easily be abolished, with all the nasty jobs done by robots and computers!

9. Does the lack of diversity in Parliament equate to a lack of representation?
The short answer is yes! Women don't even account for a quarter of MPs, and people of colour are less than one in twenty in the Commons, compared to more than one in ten of the population. There are extremely few out lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer MPs. This represents how these demographics are underrepresented in this country's ruling class.

I can't find what the average worth of an MP is, but once the high wage and the expenses are added to an almost always wealthy background, we can see that the average MP is white, male, straight and filthy rich. Can the 'average person' ever be represented by these people, or will they run things in their own interests? Everyone knows the answer to that question.

10. If an EU Referendum were to take place, how would you encourage your constituents to vote and why?
The EU is a club run by and for the richest Europeans. In recent years especially, the bankers have used it to devastate working class lives across the continent. Having said that, the UKIP/Tory eurosceptic rich want to leave because it does - at least in theory - give working class people some protections, and places some tiny restrictions on the City of London. I don't think it's possible to have a decent society under this capitalist European Union, but things won't change for the better unless we replace it with a European Soviet Union!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Noisy Pro-Palestine 'Day of Rage' Shakes Liverpool's Busiest Streets

Photo: Palatino Linotype
With Liverpool Friends of Palestine taking part in the Stop the War Coalition's London demonstration, Liverpool Rise For Palestine continued to build on their excellent local momentum yesterday. Around one hundred and fifty people toured Israel-supporting shops, and loudly held them accountable for their supporting role in the ongoing Gaza slaughter, as part of the global Day of Rage for Gaza.

As the Rise For Palestine Facebook page reported:

"We had the energy and life that we need to have to fight for justice and to play our part to ensure the BDS movement continues to grow in this city (and country). We marched and chanted outside 2 different Tescos, Marks and Spencer, H&M, occupied Schuh for a short while, Starbucks, Sainsbury's and Barclays who already had police outside because we had occupied it the previous week. We had people join our demonstration after seeing or hearing us in the street."

With plans already being drawn up for next weekend's activities, this upstart group looks set to continue putting down roots in the Toxteth area in particular, and the city generally.

Click here for many more photos of the protest.

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Liverpool Pro-Palestine Demonstration Occupies Barclays Bank

Trade at M&S was severely disrupted twice
Today Liverpool saw its sixth major demonstration in support of Palestinians since Israel's genocidal 'Operation Protective Edge' began three and a half weeks ago. Hundreds rallied outside BBC Radio Merseyside, before a sizeable splinter group went off around town, targeting Israel-supporting corporations, including Barclays, which they briefly occupied.

The new Liverpool Rise For Palestine group - which is primarily growing out of the multi-ethnic Toxteth area of the city - met up at the bombed-out St Luke's church, where children had their faces painted with fake blood, and placards were exchanged. They marched down Bold Street and onto Hanover Street, where the local BBC studios spread pro-Israel distortions. There, the Rise For Palestine group met up with the demo called by Liverpool Friends of Palestine. Over the course of an hour and a half, the crowd of around two hundred listened to speeches in the pouring rain.

Eventually, Liverpool Rise For Palestine decided to spread their anti-Israel, pro-BDS message around the main shopping areas. The first stop was Schuh, which stocks Caterpillar footwear, and then it was on to Marks & Spencer. Since the store occupation of 24th July, M&S have been quick to lock all but one entrance at the first sight of a Palestinian flag, and this was no exception. The Securitas guard who assaulted an eleven year old girl ten days ago was at the door, and she courageously confronted him over the megaphone, calling on him to come out and apologise. Needless to say, he wasn't brave enough to do this, and retreated into the store.

The group then moved on to Barclays on Lord Street. This space was occupied for around five minutes, in protest against the bank's profitable links with the murderous Zionist regime. Shouts of 'shame' rang out against the company, as a speaker detailed how they make a killing from the deaths of Palestinians.

From this point on, the roaming protest had police company (presumably summoned by Barclays security staff). This "facilitation" continued throughout a large part of the Liverpool One shopping complex, and back out onto Lord Street. The final stop was another go at M&S.

Until there's a lasting ceasefire, large protests will no doubt continue in Liverpool. But Rise For Palestine seems like it is putting down roots in a community, which could survive until Palestine is free "from the river to the sea".

Friday, July 25, 2014

Liverpool Demonstration Calls for Solidarity with Palestinians

Demonstrators making their way to Marks & Spencer (photo: Palatino Linotype)
A noisy and spirited group of around one hundred and fifty demonstrators gathered in Liverpool city centre last night, to express solidarity with Gazans facing Israel's military onslaught (more photos here). This was the fourth anti-Israel/pro-Palestine demo in the city in two weeks, with another planned for this Saturday.

The protest began at 6pm outside BBC Radio Merseyside's studios. This location was chosen due to the Corporation's blatant pro-Israel stance, which echoes that of British imperialism. A few speakers made speeches over a megaphone, and many chants were taken up, often led by the children in attendance. The presence of so many young people was all the poignant given the huge amount of children slaughtered by the Israel regime, particularly during the current offensive. One woman tried to read out the names and ages of those taken over the last couple of weeks, but could only get so far as she trembled with rage and fought back tears.

This Securitas employee assaulted a child, amongst others
The demonstration then went on the move into the main shopping streets, stopping outside Schuh and TK Maxx, both of which were called out for stocking items manufactured by Caterpillar - a corporation strongly linked to the Israeli occupation. Pro-BDS chants filled the air, before the crowd moved on to Marks and Spencer, another business with deep and historic ties to Zionism.

Here, the protest surged en masse into the store itself, with shouts of 'While you're shopping, bombs are dropping' amongst many others. The security guard ludicrously attempted to hold back the human tide entering the premises, and when he failed to do so, began lashing out wildly at first large men, and then anyone, including one eleven year old child, whose shoulder was injured.

After a few minutes, the crowd flowed out as quickly as it had come in, and after a moment of gathering ourselves, we moved on, going almost full circle back to the Friends' Meeting House, where another pro-Palestine meeting was due to take place. As the noise bounced off the surrounding buildings, some passers-by briefly joined the march with fists raised, clearly delighted to see that such a demo was happening.

With talk of a Third Intifada beginning in Palestine overnight, and no let-up in Israel's genocidal campaign, many protesters are set to return to town tomorrow afternoon.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

A Needle Walks Into A Hay Stack

Judith Hopf's underwhelming Flock of Sheep
Curated by Mai Abu ElDahab and Anthony Huberman
Old Trade Union, Community and Resource Centre, Hardman Street (5th July - 26th October 2014)

A Needle Walks Into a Hay Stack is the flagship show of this year's Liverpool Biennial. The publicity promises it is "about effecting larger questions facing contemporary life and art, from an intimate and tangible scale that’s within everyday reach", yet for the most part it falls far, far short of such a worthy claim. With a few notable exceptions, what's on display is the worst kind of ivory tower nonsense.

The sheer amount of art in this exhibition - situated as it is in a vast, sprawling building - makes the task of finding something worth viewing very much like the task of finding an elusive needle in the proverbial pile of animal fodder. Expect this to take at least two hours. There is far too much for anyone to reasonably describe, and to be honest, a very small proportion is worth the effort.

If I knew this stuff was produced by budding artists in their early teens, it would be one thing. It would show decent technical potential in many cases, though let down by a distinct lack of imagination. Even then, many of the pieces would look half-arsed, like a rushed piece of homework. But it wasn't produced by early teens. It was produced by adults who somehow manage to get taken seriously when they call themselves artists. To put it mildly, this exhibition seems unlikely to be a major word-of-mouth success.

It is no coincidence that the most impressive works on display were the most socially engaged. They were the pieces which genuinely did attempt to pose "larger questions facing contemporary life and art, from an intimate and tangible scale that’s within everyday reach". I particularly enjoyed Peter Wächtler's animated rat. We only saw the creature crawling out of bed each morning, and back into its bed at night. At the end of every day, it trips on a rug, causing a bowling ball to fall off a table and clunk it on the head. As this happens, Wächtler's narration intones many melancholy episodes from his life, punctuated by outbursts of anger at the crimes of the rich and powerful. Of course, Wächtler is the rat, and this is an insight into his own, very solitary, day-to-day struggles.

In very different way, Rana Hamadeh takes on a subject close to her heart - the ongoing Syrian civil war, and its links to Shia Muslim cultural heritage. This cacophonous work is deeply unsettling, but this is surely deliberate, as Hamadeh's play - Can You Pull in an Actor With a Fishhook or Tie Down His Tongue With a Rope? - is enacted over extremely loud speakers. The stage directions are also narrated, giving the whole thing an extremely artificial and mechanical feel. This reinforces her claim that religion is a "dramaturgical framework that underlies the entire politics of oppression" in the region.

A detail from Mick Jones' mural celebrating the 1981 People's March For Jobs
And for those who know the building - and even those who don't - Mick Jones' mural dedicated to the 1981 People's March For Jobs still dominates, from its lofty position in the inner dome. I can do no better than quote Angie Sammons of Liverpool Confidential, who wrote:
"Devon-born Jones's work still has all the resonance of 10,000 marching feet. The word resistance is painted nowhere, yet the mural fiercely punches it out. How fitting, then, that it has resolutely defied 28 years of neglect, its colours still far more vivid than New Labour's could ever be."
The same goes for the whole space. In its current dilapidated state, it is a living representation of the devastation Thatcher wrought on the working class of the city, and how trade unionism itself has decayed in the decades since then. Yet if new approaches were taken, there is so much potential here.

Friday, July 04, 2014

The Shameful Truth About Liverpool's FACT

FACT's carefully-cultivated 'lefty' image masks a brutal internal hierarchy
This article was written for Liverpool's 'Nerve' magazine.

When the Liverpool Echo revealed that the FACT - the heart of the city's 'Ropewalks' cultural quarter - had axed paid staff and replaced them with volunteers, it provoked a wave of revulsion at the charity's decidedly corporate-style practices. Social networking accounts associated with FACT were bombarded with critical comments, and three protests have even been held outside. But the story of FACT's mistreatment of workers goes far deeper than that. Since opening eleven years ago, it has gone from being an organisation which paid all workers, to one which is now entirely dependent on exploiting the desperation of a revolving door army of volunteers, whose free labour helps maintain the living standards of the paid staff almost entirely based on the top floor.

The eleven redundancies were made at a series of meetings with executive director Iona Horsburgh. Called in one by one, the front of house staff were presented with a two page document headed "Proposed model" - clearly intended for internal discussion amongst the higher ups. But at this stage it was not a proposal; it had been decided. It was non-negotiable. In the euphemistic words of the document: "The job title of Gallery Assistants would be discontinued".

The "proposed model" went on to specify that the volunteers will be recruited "on a show-by-show basis", meaning they will stay for only three months for what is described as "training and mentorship". On top of this, newly redundant workers were invited to apply for the 'events team'. According to an insider, FACT 'events' typically mean a few hours' pay at £7 an hour for a few individuals, maybe once a month. There is far from a guarantee that former paid staff will get preferential treatment, but likely there was an intention that this would soften the parting blow. It should also be noted that at least two of the volunteers quit as soon as they discovered they were replacing paid staff. Imitating the best traditions of strike-breaking employers, FACT had failed to inform them that they were being used to attack working conditions.

Following the Echo article, Nerve published a statement, announcing that "unless FACT reconsider their position with regards to these changes in working conditions, we can no longer work with them". FACT's press officer Jen Chapman then emailed Nerve to tell us that our statement was "fundamentally coming from the wrong place", but when pressed, only 'corrected' it by saying that "Our gallery assistants have always been on zero hours contracts and this is not new" (Nerve had not claimed otherwise).

After two weeks of being pressed by Nerve and other concerned parties, FACT finally released a promised "FACT Employment Factsheet" (pun presumably intended). But far from the unvarnished truth, the release merely contains waffle, and attempts to obscure the truth. Below much talk about being "committed to providing life-enhancing and enriching cultural experiences to a broad spectrum of people", it gets down to some figures. Yet there is distortion even here.

First, these numbers details the "previous FoH [front of house] structure", which FACT claim included 9 casual staff, 3 part time staff, 1 full time staff, and 1 volunteer". According to our source, the 9 casual staff were indeed made redundant, with those who had served less than two years receiving no payment. The 3 "part time staff" were under the impression that they were full time, and the listed full time staff member took voluntary redundancy.

Following this section, the "factsheet" goes on to describe the "current FoH structure". The first thing to be noticed is the drastically increased number of "volunteers" - an extra 70! There are 3 listed as "full time", but this includes "2 previously part-time members of staff". Considering those staff believed they were full time anyway, this does not account for many 'extra' full time hours. Two of these paid full time staff are now 'mediators' - essentially the immediate bosses of the volunteers.

The biggest deception comes when it refers to "5 casual staff who are continuing to work casual hours at FACT". Our insider reveals that these five are those signed up to the special events list, getting a few quid here and there. Whereas previously they were directly employed by FACT, they are now officially 'self-employed', and even less able to take care of their living costs than they were before. It goes on to list that "2 casual staff have been redeployed into other paid roles", glossing over the reality that one of these was only employed in this post til the end of April. Finally, it admits that "2 previous members of casual staff have chosen not to take any more hours", but even this puts the blame on the redundant staff, rather than the people upstairs who have "chosen" to offer far fewer paid hours, so that they can save money. At the time of this article, one more formerly employed worker had decided to stop working the events due to travel and lunch expenses making it not worth their time and effort. Furthermore, it was interfering with their Jobseeker's Allowance claim.

To summarise then, FACT's "test model" - as they described it in the Echo article - is now vastly more reliant on unpaid labour. There are currently 125 people working in the building, and 76 of them are not being paid for it - 60% of the total. For those who are being paid, 19 are working less than full time hours, and so will be unlikely to make ends meet on their FACT money alone. Those being paid are now overwhelmingly based on the top floor. Those on the bottom floor have little contact with these individuals, and even less idea what they actually get up to. One worker who had been at FACT declared it a "mystery". Clearly, at least some of these paid workers must be making decisions about firing paid workers and replacing them with 'volunteers' whose desperation for work experience can be exploited for 100% of the value of their labour.

I asked FACT's listed funders for a comment on the restructuring. All except two were unavailable for comment. This includes Nick Small, the Labour council's cabinet member for employment, who had spoken out against zero hour contracts in the Echo. Julian Pye of the British Council Film Team simply responded with a terse "Sorry, no we don't" [want to comment].

However, Allison Millar of Arts Council England struck a more concerned tone in her measured reply:  
"One of the goals within our mission of great art and culture for everyone is to ensure the leadership and workforce in the arts, museums and libraries are diverse and appropriately skilled. This is through a range of opportunities including the Creative Employment Programme which supports new apprenticeships, pre-apprenticeships and paid internships across the sector with over 1,500 created so far. We recognise that volunteering - and the opportunities that come with it - is an important part [emphasis added] of the arts and cultural ecology and we are in discussions with FACT about their particular situation and new volunteering scheme."
Clearly, when FACT relies on 60% of its workforce turning up unpaid every day in order to open, volunteering is far more than "an important part" of the FACT's "ecology". Volunteering is now as important to FACT as oxygen is to a human body - it simply could not function without it. 

But that statement was at the end of May. This week, the Arts Council announced that they would give FACT £3 million over three years, which is roughly equivalent to what they received in the previous spending round. This coincided with the building's facade getting a makeover. The "discussions" about the new volunteering scheme now appear to be over, and this intense exploitation has the Arts Council's seal of approval.

It is hard to see this charity as being anything more than just another business. It is not 'for profit', in the sense that it doesn't buy and sell commodities. Its only income is drawn from bodies such as the Arts Council, the local council, and other funders. But the power lies with those on the top floor, who run the institution in their own interests, and line their own pockets.

In this society, there is a problem with a certain lack of resources. But it isn't that there's not enough to go around, it's that it's in the wrong hands - those of the richest, who are parasitical on the rest of us. Their resources should be confiscated, and used for the benefit of all. Such a huge change would have to be organised on a large scale. But until that glorious day, what can be done in the here and now? 

Since publishing our first statement on this, Nerve have been asked 'What is the alternative?' Well, as a co-operative which started at about the same time that FACT opened, we are in a good position to answer. We've never had enough funding to run things as we'd like, but we've got by. None of us are paid these days, but that was a collective decision, and not one imposed by some remote, well-off boss. We are true volunteers - we give our time because we believe in what we are achieving together. Decisions about what happens in any given workplace should be democratically decided by all those who work there.

Public shame has not forced a rethink, so those making pretty big money at FACT clearly intend to preserve their place in the sun on the top deck. As ever and everywhere, the potential for real change comes from those toiling below.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Why I'm Standing for Class War

I hate general election campaigns. And yet, I've decided to stand in one, as the Class War candidate for Liverpool Riverside. There are several reasons for this:
  1. Otherwise 2015 will be the worst election ever: You think 2010 was bad? Unless you're filthy rich, all the parties now in Parliament will be saying that your life needs to be made much, much worse. And why? Because the filthy rich aren't filthy rich enough! The only thing they will argue about is which of them will be best at making you suffer.
  2. UKIP: The rich know how much you hate the blues, yellows and 'reds' making your life worse, so they'll be using their media to boost UKIP as an 'alternative'. UKIP are run by a bunch of rich scum who'll try to convince you that some of the most shat-on people are to blame for the problems in your life. They're not. Our enemy is the rich. The rich. We've got to get rid of the rich. I'm gonna say that loud and proud.
  3. Louise Ellman: I once accidentally bumped into current Riverside MP Louise Ellman at Central station. She sort of fell, and I caught her like I would anyone. But then I saw it was her and felt gross. She's a big supporter of the Liverpool Labour lot closing down libraries, community centres and homeless shelters, with the added nasty extra of being really into the Israeli government killing Palestinians.
  4. Representing working class of Liverpool Riverside: Like most of the city, there's a lot of disgusting poverty in Riverside, and all the parties who stood here in 2010 would all make that worse. But working class people fight back here and there, and will need to do that more and more in the times to come. So for the five weeks of the campaign I'll be a 'representative' of those fights, and do my bit to make sure their struggles become national news.
  5. Promoting communism: Yes, I believe that communism is the way forward for the working class of Liverpool, this country, and the world. It's the only alternative to the rich getting richer, us getting poorer, and the planet getting wrecked. You can't get it through parliament because the working class have to make it for themselves. But I'll promote it on the campaign trail.
  6. Fun: I think it will be fun.
  7. Faces: I can't wait to see their faces.
  8. Hands: I won't dirty mine by shaking theirs at the count.

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