Monday, March 18, 2013

Liverpool Labour Bedroom Tax Organiser Makes False Claims of Online Personal Threats

This afternoon I learned I was the subject of extremely serious allegations made by Claire Chapple, the named organiser of the 'Liverpool Against the Bedroom Tax' rally this weekend. According to one eyewitness:
"as she walked off the platform (as she announced the protest was at an end) you were already up on the wall with megaphone.... several of us surrounded her and started arguing with her.... She was really nasty about the grassroots campaign and our behaviour online. She said "and him with the long hair is the worst" -pointing at you. She added, "he has been sending me personal messages on facebook, threatening me".... so I asked her what threats, she declined to answer and tried to divert the subject...I talked over her and asked her 5 or 6 six times, until she backed down and said, "alright then, he was rude and insulting"... she then made a quick exit"
"when she said it, there was people tutting and shaking their heads, as if they beleived her, so good she backed down..."
If Claire Chapple found my megaphone intervention at the demonstration and my keyboard intervention on its Facebook event page extremely annoying, I am glad. That's not for any personal reason. It's because of her role at the demo, and the elite interests she - perhaps unknowingly - served (for more on this, see my article Bedroom Tax: Labour Tries To Police Tenants' Revolt). She consistently denied it was a Labour Party demo, yet as Anarchamoose described in her report of the day:
"Becoming irritated by repeated shouts and chants, the compare / co-organiser declared “it’s a people’s demo not a political demo” where only Labour opportunists and careerists were given platforms. The compare then said “I can shout a lot louder than you lot can” down her microphone which just happened to be attached to a few big fucking speakers. She proceeded to invite Labour councillor Paul Brant, Louise Baldock, Barry Kushner and Maria Eagle Labour MP to the stage. She also thanked the “quiet people” while she demonised the angry groups of Combat Bedroom Tax campaigners as “disrespectful” for opposing the blatant attempt to hijack the existing Liverpool Combat the Bedroom Tax campaign. So, in brief, people who have decided to protest against the bedroom tax over the past few weeks with a blatant Labour incentive (who, according to Helen Goodman MP, aren’t even against the tax) have decided that people who have been challenging the bedroom tax over the past year are the “disrespectful” ones. I think fucking not."
When I heard about these allegations, I tweeted Claire Chapple to ask her about them, but got no response. I then tweeted:
"While I was scaling a high wall to find platform Labour had denied me on Sat, was lying that I'd personally threatened her. While I obviously have massive political differences with her, I wouldn't be stupid enough on any level to do what she was accusing. And it's kind of ironic since the stewards on her and 's demo had protected fascists - who really do pose a physical threat. I was physically threatened by one of those fascists, pushed by one Labour supporter, and hit on the head with a placard by another. In short, Labour are scum, and community-based direct action for the win!"
But organisational politics aside, threats need to be taken seriously, especially in a patriarchal society where (*trigger warning for link*) male violence against women is pandemic. It could be considered that Chapple felt intimidated by the group of my comrades surrounding her, and retracted her allegation for that reason. In that case, since the offending message would still be in her Facebook inbox, and she would therefore have a way of proving it, I would ask her to do so. Otherwise, the only thing I said to her online was - in the context of politely pointing out Labour's hypocrisy - "See you on Saturday". This - along with all the comments mentioning Labour in any kind of negative light - was removed by administrators of the event page.

At the time of writing, Claire Chapple's Twitter page is listed as "Sorry, that page doesn't exist!"
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