Marching Is Not Enough – Boycott Workfare and DPAC Show the Way

Militant actions by Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) and Boycott Workfare were the high points at yesterday’s TUC march which otherwise was depressingly reminiscent of the ever decreasing returns which demolished the antiwar movement at the start of the century.

Union leaders have repeatedly threatened campaigns of direct action or civil disobedience aimed at austerity which have never materialised.  Yesterday hundreds of people decided to ignore their speeches in Hyde Park and take part in the mass shut down of workfare exploiters on Oxford Street or  join DPAC in blockading Park Lane.

The Radical Workers bloc, called by Solidarity Federation, which joined the unofficial feeder march from South London, was well attended and spirited.  Determined and disciplined fitwatching along the route of the march ensured that police intelligence gathering was kept to a minimum.

On arrival at Trafalgar Square a large portion of the march outwitted the heavy police presence and broke away from the route.  For a short period it seemed as if the glories of last year on March 26th, when every bank and The Ritz was given a taste of working class rage, might be repeated.  Sadly this was not to be.

Whilst the mob stormed through the back streets of the West End, hundreds of people were already gathering at Oxford Circus for the Boycott Workfare actions.  As the crowd swelled a samba band and impressively loud soundsystem led the crowd to the Carnaby branch of the workfare exploiting Hilton Hotel chain.  After a brief occupation of the hotel, the fast moving protest moved on to target Primark, McDonalds, Marks & Spencers and the Salvation Army who are all involved in using unpaid labour.

Tax dodgers Starbucks, Boots and Vodafone were also targeted and many stores rushed to close as the protest approached.  Despite some scuffles, and a strong response to any sign of aggresive policing, the day remained peaceful, with just a couple of arrests reported by legal monitors.

Meanwhile the news came through that Disabled People Against Cuts had blocked the busy Park Lane with wheelchair users chaining themselves together to stop traffic.  Whilst some people left Oxford Street to join them, others played a cat and mouse game with police around the West End.  Police attempts to kettle or contain people were thwarted by the speed of protesters, but ultimately it all got a bit messy and confused.  The large crowd repeatedly become separated and groups at times found themselves running in different directions.  Eventually the splintered protest diminished and there are lessons to be learnt.

Whilst the march overall was well attended, the numbers were much reduced from last year’s TUC demo on March 26th.  Marches, whilst great for meeting people, are ultimately ineffective and at worst merely serve to give the impression of consent.  If just 10% of the people who marched passively against the Iraq war had instead blockaded air bases or taken militant direct action against high value targets then the mass slaughter that followed in the Middle East may never have taken place.  We cannot make the same mistake now that the UK, along with the rest of Europe, is being plunged into a neo-liberal capitalist hell whilst the rich co-ordinate the destruction of any last form of meaningful resistance to their greed.

It’s of little surprise that it’s benefit claimants and disabled people who are fighting hardest against the vicious and needless austerity drive.  The so called squeezed middle, who seem to be the only people that matter – other than the rich – to all three political parties, are indeed facing job insecurity or cut backs to their living standards.  For the low waged, disabled or unemployed people, the situation is far more acute as the poorest are scapegoated and blamed for all of capitalism’s problems.

We are fighting for our homes, our health, our kids and in all too many cases our lives.  The death toll from austerity is real and grows every day.  No amount of marching to Hyde Park and listening to Ed Milliband promising more of the same will change that.

Strikes, occupations, blockades, sabotage and direct confrontation are all we have left.  If the trade unions genuinely want a future that works then co-ordinated surrenders, as happened over public pensions, are a betrayal of working class people.  This really isn’t a dress rehearsal, they want to take away everything we’ve won.  The question is do we have what it takes to stop them?

Above pic from:  http://www.facebook.com/boycottworkfare

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39 responses to “Marching Is Not Enough – Boycott Workfare and DPAC Show the Way

  1. hiya excellent blog as always johnny! i was on a different bloc to you which was equally confused & chaotic. we should take heart from the manner in which the movt is growing though, the fact that 2-3 different groups were running around oxford st shows it’s going viral. we need to stick at it, keep going, keep calling pickets, and – crucially – shore up our organisation & make better use of our resources.

    one small correction: the radical workers’ bloc on the south london feeder wasn’t supported by the iWW, who had their own bloc meeting in trafalgar square instead.

  2. You mean Ed not David as well.

  3. Excellent report and agree there was a sort of ‘resigned to thier lot’ from those who stayed with the march. I had no choice but I did do the whole march proudly carrying Pat’s Petition banner. It is so hard getting people to understand what is happening. They just don’t get it.
    Long way down from Edinburgh and back but I had to do it in the only way I Don’t knock all of us who are trying so hard.could.
    Pat x

    • Good on you Pat. Everyone should sign that petition. I certainly have.

      Sadly I feel the tenor of this article is about right. Although Ed was booed (not that it stopped him from delivering his preprogrammed script in apparent ignorance of how the crowd were reacting).

      I didn’t attend the march; I don’t live anywhere near london and can’t afford to get there on JSA. I also can’t cope with crowds. I say solidarity nontheless.

      Time will tell on the result of general strike action. If that isn’t supported then something really has gone wrong.

  4. Pingback: ‘Strikes, occupations, blockades and sabotage are all we have left’ ~ Johnny Void | Black Triangle Campaign

  5. “SNP conference 2012: Pledge to help English police after independence”

    “”Mutual aid will continue to be given by Scottish police as with supporting the Olympic Games or tackling rioting in English cities.”

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-20022531

  6. Pingback: Marching Is Not Enough – Boycott Workfare and DPAC Show the Way | Disability Issues | Scoop.it

  7. “Obamneycare Converts Health Care Into Profits”

    http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2012/10/19/obamneycare-converts-health-care-into-profits/

    Anyone think the US/UK are working as one in all this!.

  8. I’m about 180 odd miles from London and can not walk far-still u all are repersenting far more people and are all doing it!

  9. Pingback: Marching Is Not Enough – Boycott Workfare and DPAC Show the Way | Mental Health, Politics and LGBT issues | Scoop.it

  10. Reblogged this on Jolande's Controversial Stuff and commented:
    And this is how it’s done :)

  11. I’m sick of hearing how the middle class are being squeezed supposedly, my sons girlfriend is a full time social worker on £23,000 per year, receives £200 in tax credits and child benefit for one child and lives in social housing house since her marriage failed and she could not afford the big mortgage – as far as I can see the middle class are just turncoat working class, happy to take the increase in salaries that used to be on offer whilst working class salaries stagnated, happy to take tax credits denied to those working part-time, pardon me if I don;t share the concern for the middle class that have taken over the working class labour party for their own ends.

    • Stuffed Aubergine

      The sharp-elbowed middle-classes have a history of taking over working-class movements for their own ends; and just as soon as they win a compromise, they’re ooorf! and to hell with their their erstwhile “friends” the “plebs”. Pardon me for not giving a flying fuck about the middle-classes.

      • Sun-Dried Tomato Ciabatta

        The fucking middle-classes better think again if they believe for one minute that the proles wiil be out doing battle on the streets to protect middle-class jobs and middle-class standards of living. Don’t come screaming that “we are all in this together”. Ha-ha, fucking ha you middle-class treacherous cunts! Like like fucking teachers. And the fucking cops too – ha-ha!

  12. Pingback: Labour’s future isn’t working: notes from October 20th | Cautiously pessimistic

  13. Pingback: Roundup from 20th Oct TUC march. « Wessex Solidarity

  14. Johnny Void

    I have had a thought, I believe that health insurance companies ask on their forms about family medical history, they do this to estimate risk and set someones premium accordingly, this assessment is to find out what hereditary diseases/illnesses there are in your family. Failure to disclose accurate information on your health insurance forms will null and void your health insurance when you come to make a claim!. What guarantee is there that using a private company such as Atos, to gathering information about people won’t be used to deny any future claim by a member of their family ?. After finding out about the medical history of millions of people going through the WCA it could be used as a giant database that could be sold onto health insurance companies, such a database would I think be worth billions to them.

    I think there is more going on here then meets the eye!!!.

    • You mean that ATOSser’s victim’s probably sign some sort of Data Protection Act waiver enabling ATOSser to share their personal data with “third parties”.

  15. ICO

    Did you give the DWP permission to share details about your health with a private company called Atos in the first place ?. How can they do that ?.

  16. That video has been blocked. Is that right? Pat x

    • Strange!. Go to You Tube and type in search… Edward Bernays : on Propaganda and Public Relations … and see if that comes up with anything ?.

  17. Pingback: Roundup from 20th Oct TUC march. | Hastings Anarchists

  18. The problem with unions is they have become essentially ‘white collar’ and in the pockets of the employer; they want comprimise, not confrontation; no employer ever gave a worker anything; it has to be taken (Arthur Scargill’s words). And the same goes for govt. Unless we force their hand, they’ll give nothing. Miliband is only too aware that his policies don’t matter. No matter what, he is banking (‘scuse the pun!) on this govt. being so disastrously wrong and out of touch, the electorate will elect him by default. Let’s not do it. Let’s vote for anybody but the big three, and if you feel you can’t, spoil the ballot paper- BUT LET’S ORGANISE AND SPOIL IT THE SAME WAY, SO THAT IT CANNOT BE DISMISSED! I have advocated you go and put a question mark against every candidate.

    • I always put, No, No, No, against everyone of the three names on the voting paper I get, ALL three are ALL in the same party, sad, I see no others on my voting paper!!!. We live in a one party state, same as the USA, come to think about it, they have the same one party as we in the UK.

  19. Pingback: 2012: A Year of Lies and Blunders at the DWP Part 2 | the void

  20. Pingback: Once More With Feeling – some thoughts on why it’s all kicking off on campus | Cautiously pessimistic

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