Category Archives: Protest

Not In My Name 10 years on

Yesterday it was 10 years since the Anti-War demonstrations against the Iraq war. A decade on We Are Many are seeking to create a feature length documentary funded it seems though crowd sourcing. It’s a similar format to the one being used for Greenbelt at 40.

Sitting down chatting to Karl last night it was strange thinking back and realising it was all a decade ago.

I remember the run up to the day, sitting talking about it in the staff room at work. There were people who couldn’t go telling me that they were glad I was able to go because I’d be marching for them as well. That was the first inkling I got this was different. Normally there’d be a bit of an embarrassed silence if you mentioned at work you were going on a demo – but not this time.

Third Party was 8 years old with a bright pink Afghan style coat we’d got from Woolies. I was a scruffy git in a biker jacket, jumper and jeans.

As we got to London the size of the demo was something which we did and didn’t get at the time. As I remember it we got ourselves reasonably near the front of the march and slotted in without really grasping the size. What did grab me at the time though was the multi-racial nature of the event. It was the first time I really remember marching alongside Muslim activists. There were also more kids about than usual. The atmosphere was kind of like a carnival.

I remember seeing an off duty Corrie star just in front of us ever so kindly telling a media type who approached her that she was one a day off, just out with some friends. Nobody hassled her, nobody cared who anybody else was – we were all in this together.

I managed to meet up with my dad at Hyde Park and then I took Third Party to Hard Rock Cafe as a treat. We sat by the window and I was struck by how many people were still streaming into Hyde Park.

There was a sense of hope in the air that day which I saw again in 2005 with Make Poverty History and again about 18 months ago at the beginning of Occupy. In all these cases there was a sense that if enough people came together something might be achieved. They were, initially at least, empowering events.

With the possible exception of Make Poverty History, which was a different kind of campaign, the hope was soon replaced by feelings of disappointment and hopelessness. I think for many the cynicism towards politics which has characterised so much of this century really set in then.

Blair had come to power in 1997 on a wave of optimism – it was in the aftermath of this 2003 demonstration that I think the sense of betrayal by New Labour cut deepest.

Do I regret going on the demo? Do I think it achieved more harm than good in some ways?

Answer to the first question is no. My reply to the second is possibly, but I think that has more to do with Blair’s response than the demonstration itself. If I were given a choice between passive acceptance or doing the same thing again there would be no question I’d march again.

Think, Speak, Act Conference Review

The cynical might have described Think, Speak, Act as a Christian Guardianista day out to whinge about Coalition. The cynical would have been wrong about this conference organised by the Joint Public Issues Team (JPIT).

True the first key note speaker was Giles Fraser, a Christian contributor to the Guardian and there was literature and comment about the immorality of the forthcoming benefit changes, especially in relation to housing and the bedroom tax floating around but it was about far more than that.

Giles Fraser, who it had to be said looked a little like the accused prior to the event – sitting on the side seats with loosened tie making notes and looking uncomfortable in the shirt and tie he had on with his jeans, was talking on ‘Theology in Action: St Paul’s and Occupy’.

This title led to the best comment I heard all day. The lady behind me was looking at the programme before the kick off and turned to her husband and asked in all innocence, “where is St. Paul’s and Occupy? I’ve not heard of that church.”

Anyway back to Giles Fraser. It was primarily an intelligent and thoughtful critique on the philosophy of perpetual economic growth. It was linked to this recent Guardian article he has written.

Within his talk Fraser explained the Church has something distinctive to offer to the debate on this issue. The distinctive messages we have to offer are (i) the idea that what we have is a gift entrusted to us and (ii) there is such a thing as having enough. He used the picture of the manna given to the Israelites in the desert during the exodus.

He also argued the church has generally had a bad theology  of economics, despite it being the main moral issue addressed in the bible.

Two striking sound bites within his talk were “money is the sacrament of seriousness” and “the best way to tell our attitude to money is to look at our bank statement.”

The film shown during the plenary session with a variety of delegates saying what was most memorable illustrated the impact these two soundbites had had on many of those present.

In terms of the whole Occupy thing relatively little was actually said. What Fraser did say was often framed within a “us” and “them” language, as was some of the comment made on where we go from here. This was something I picked him up on within the q&a which followed his presentation. His response recognised something of the real complexity of the situation, but I still felt he was too focused on emphasising the institutional nature of the church.

If, as I’ve said, Fraser looked a bit like the accused sitting there uncomfortable in his shirt and tie then Martyn Atkins looked like he might be the solicitor representing him. The differences in appearance reflected something of the differences between the talks.

Where Fraser had been the streetwise vicar reflecting on what he’d heard and experienced Atkins approach was much more academic and book based.

Using scripture from Jeremiah and John he reflected on a range of images and motifs of what being a Christian is like. These ideas were taken from books by Margaret Myers(didn’t catch title)  and Donald Messer  (A Conspiracy of Goodness).

For me the first two motifs of Myers he used were the most striking. The first was ‘resident alien’ and the second was ‘the pilgrim’.

In regards to the ‘resident alien’ he made the point we need to work out what justice is in a complex world.

When unpacking what it means to be a pilgrim he focused on how pilgrims don’t travel alone, they are partnered. He said we need to be partnered ecumenically and with others outside of churches who are ahead of us in reflecting God’s values. Within this part of his talk he emphasised the need to learn from and partner with those who can show us how to embrace inclusion through their equality and diversity practices. He also said we need to partner locally, not seeking superiority because our buildings or staff may be involved.

He finished his talk, which was the last of the afternoon, by reflecting on how in the past evangelicalism and social action were seen as separate but now they’re not. He explained the importance of taking a holistic approach.

The keynote speech was interesting and I agreed with what was being said but I did wonder how this would all work out in practice, particularly the partnering and speaking out. Methodism is to some extent constrained by what Conference have and haven’t said and done. The inability of the denomination to respond to the parts of the same sex marriage consultation which related to gender identity because there was no mention of the subject in the CPD illustrates the constraints the denomination faces.

Beyond the keynote speakers were workshops which we’d previously booked into. There was lots of group work involved in the workshops which sometimes worked well and at other times not so well in the sessions I was in.

The morning workshop I went to was on ‘what does my local area really need’. It was an ok seminar, but within a few minutes I realised that it was wrong for me as it was about things with which I was somewhat familiar.

The afternoon session on preaching and praying for justice was fantastic though. It was focused and Janet Morely facilitated us very professionally as we identified the key aspects of good and bad practice in preaching for justice and praying for justice and fed back. This was workshop that I would recommend for any conference aimed at preachers or worship leaders. (If Connected Worship were being repeated I would highly recommend considering booking Janet).

All in all a good conference but one I felt could have been improved by having an activist session led by the JPIT themselves. I think it would have been useful to discuss how we campaign alongside them on global and national issues as well as locally in our contexts. Groups like this have a key role in connecting the hyper local with the wider networks and national/international campaigns they feed into. This is something I think would have been good to explore further.

That last bit said it was good and the JPIT had worked hard putting it together, as they do on everything – it is no suprise this conference was a sell out.

They are an important resource to the Baptists, URC and Methodists who they represent and this needs recognising more widely than I think it sometimes is. Hurrah for the JPIT.

Left Wing Radicals and Real Life

Reading Alexei Sayle’s Stalin Ate My Homework was an interesting experience for me. Reading it was fun but a little unsettling in places, finishing left me with a bit of an OMG have I been an awful parent moment.

To put this in context I better start by summarising the book which outlines Sayle’s childhood. Alexei’s parents were members of the Communist Party of Great Britain and left wing political activists in Liverpool. There were various things which Sayle was and wasn’t allowed as a result of his parents ideological beliefs. He went on exotic family holidays to Eastern Bloc countries and lived a bohemian lifestyle in working class Anfield.

There is a strange analysis of the politics and the reality of his own erratic behaviour, as well as his mothers but within it is a clear love and respect for his parents.

He describes how as he grew up and got involved in revolutionary politics within the late 1960’s there came a point where he had to deal with the feelings of dissonance which were emerging. Those were the most unsettling bits for me. In the book he says, “My only real problem with being a Marxist-Leninist was that I didn’t believe a word of it, or rather I totally believed it and totally didn’t believe in it, all at the same time. The trouble with any kind of fundamentalist organisation is that it cannot be big on subtlety or nuance…..Unfortunately your mind will not allow you to get away with the kind of split-brain thinking I tried to stick to. Psychological tensions rise to the surface and tend to find outlet in erratic behaviour.” (P232)

I would remove the word fundamentalist and perhaps replace it with ideological and then say this sums up exactly why many of us have had a problem with church over the years and sometimes/often still do.

As I say my own reaction to the book was also to smile in places. I wasn’t bought up in a communist household, but my father was, what Sayle describes in his left wing classification system, ‘a fellow revolutionary’. So I understood something of what he was talking about on a level which was slightly more than just this is well written and funny. It also gave me some good memories.

My dad didn’t ban things like Sayle’s parents did, mine being an anarchist who believed that we should be allowed to choose but he did give us political lectures to help us make good choices. For example because my friends were I took the 11+ and got offered an assisted place at the local private Girls School. My dad took me off and gave me a talk on how it was entirely up to me and if I insisted on going they would somehow make it work but I did have to take into account my class history and the fight for free education in this country, realising that I would be betraying my class if I did go. It was enough to put me off going to a school which would have been wrong for me for a range of reasons.

Then there was the time when my mum was in hospital with my younger brother, who was having an operation to correct his cleft lip and palate, and so unable to physically stop us. I was interested in CND and so against my mums wishes dad took me and my friend off to Molesworth to protest against the stationing of nuclear weapons there one Easter. When I went back to school our Geography teacher asked us to write about something we’d done in the holidays. We then looked at how much of the class had done what – there was only one of us in the category of ‘political demonstration’.

Then there was the “OMG have I been an awful parent?” moment. Reading through I was aware that whilst I am not a communist and did not go on exotic holidays as a left-wing Christian I did subject Third Party to a “different” childhood. I knew and have always acknowledged it wasn’t average but have always looked on it as having taken her on a series of adventures she wouldn’t have had otherwise.

On the political side there were the various demonstrations she was taken on. There was time we dressed up as dinosaurs and stood outside the council offices to protest at cuts to the museum service, then there were the anti-fees actions she went on as a toddler (I remember vividly the day after one national demo when she marched out of church and into Sunday School singing education is a right not a privilege). Peace wise there were the anti-war demo’s, (not sure what her school friend I was looking after the evening war broke out made of being dragged on the local action in Canterbury). Then there was this trip to Aldermaston which I guess a teenage Third Party saw very differently to me. And so I could go on.

Perhaps two of the maddest adventures of all involved Surfing as well as myself around the time of Make Poverty History. There was our London all nighter at Wake Up to Trade Justice  which didn’t go quite to plan when we didn’t get into Methodist Central Hall because it was full and ended up spending the night with another friend and three kids on the green outside (see this post). Then was the big demo in Edinburgh when we did the night coach up and back, going on the demo and listening to Gordon Brown at a Christian Aid rally in between (one post on it all here). Photo at the bottom, which I notice also has next years vice-president of the Methodist Conference smiling away in the background, was taken that day, when I thought it was a great idea to rush over with Third Party and get her photo taken with the chancellor (as he was then) – just as a bit of a memento of the day.

To be fair I did often try and make national demo’s a bit more fun for her by taking a detour into Hamley’s or Hard Rock Cafe or some such other capitalist enclave to try and turn it into a bit of a treat.

The discussions on what and didn’t come into our house and what she was/wasn’t allowed to do normally just involved ethical shopping and buying fair trade. However, there was I remember a big thing when she was about 13 because her friends were all getting playboy merchandise and I said no, probably giving her a feminist lecture in the process.

Then there were the holidays she went on with me. Apart from the time I got a tax rebate and took her to Disneyland Paris, these were trips to Christian conferences or music festivals (or in the case of Greenbelt a hybrid of the two). There were also for a few years our annual trips to the Isle of Wight for the Wib/Ship meet.

To put this in context for those not familiar. Spring Harvest, (which was what we did when she was really little), involved a trip to a Butlins in Skeggie or Minehead (or in one case somewhere in Wales) where she was taken off for children’s activities for part of the day. As with Detling which she went to through her junior school years there were ‘family celebrations’ which would involve lots of action songs in the early evening. Then she would be left in the chalet/ tent area with somebody, (most of the time not me), in the evening whilst the main adult celebration was taking place. The thing was we always went in assorted groups and so the adults would take turns in doing the childcare.

As she got older and we went on the wib/ship meets and to Greenbelt she would invariably end up camping / staying on a boat with mums friends off the internet.

The music festivals were different, that’s when she got to spend time with grandad and her uncles too. This always had the aspect of being ‘grandad’s work’ though.

As I say until I read Sayle’s book I don’t think I realised how different the childhood I had given Third Party might be. I knew that the other people, with money, took their families on other ‘normal’ holidays as well as off to these festivals and conferences but we didn’t have the resources, and to be fair I’m not sure what I would have done as a single mum on one of these ‘normal’ holidays where things to do weren’t included and set out for you. Reading Stalin Ate My Homework enabled me to see it all was different, not wrong….but different.

Me and Third Party with Gordon Brown

A Year…..

Sunday morning service,

Sunday lunchtime train,

Sunday afternoon discussion

Sunday evening statement.

And my awkward explanation of why.

This was the beginning of Occupy.


Heading North to the Monument

Another prayer tent at another occupation

And a visit to the Turner Prize

Hope being expressed across the globe.

Another awkward yet hopeful post or two

near the beginning of Occupy.


A time for sober reconsideration

And a hit of reality

Middle class, single mother

Returns to “her real life”

And types another awkward post

as she stops camping with Occupy.


Camp she’s left gets attacked

By the right wing thugs

And discussions occur

About whether to carry on.

Her response another awkward post or two

about the continuation of Occupy.


Theology in a public space

Was one lens of interpretation

About the camp back in London

And faith engagement around the world.

Cue another awkward blog post  and then onetwo more

about this thing called Occupy.


In December Time Magazine

Named “The Protester” person of the year.

Analysis starts to get darker

But still too shiny and full of hope?

In this very awkward post

about the protests of Occupy.


A New Year

And The Monument is cleared

The voice of disillusionment chimes

With respect for E and RR, etc

In this post about the end

of the camp in Newcastle linked to Occupy.


January moves into February

And Occupy LSX

Is cleared from outside St. Pauls

By court order.

I sort of blog with a post of back links

about Occupy.


Almost 8 months on from that post

And they are in London again

Remembering and Celebrating

Keeping alive the Spirit.

And this is another crap post

full of back links about Occupy.


Time to stop….think…..reflect

Would I do it again?

Were they right?

Was it worth it?

What does this writer,

just another average blogger,

think about Occupy?



The country and the world are arguably getting even more f***ed by the day. Karl wrote an excellent blog post yesterday discussing some of what’s happening and why the ideas being pursued are wrong. Institutional politics might be argued to still be failing us but is engaging with that more the only real way to change anything? I don’t know anymore….

The church (in both institutional and wider sense) are still focusing on dealing with the impacts rather than questioning how we change the systems of power and the structural inequality they create. On an institutional level there are spotlights being targeted, as this Church Times article  on the Occupy anniversary explains, but we’re still too busy arguing about things like gay marriage to give a damn about changing what really needs to be altered….in part one thinks because it would pose difficult questions for the institutions themselves as investors, landlords and the like and us as individuals who like our lives as they are.

Occupy was good for starting conversation but did it ultimately just raise expectations and then leave them screwed up on the ground like pieces of discarded cardboard? Is it we the Occupiers who are to blame? Should many of us been willing to sacrifice more? But could we have sacrificed more? I had to work, I had to bring up Third Party…..personal excuses which echo the many realities of life people faced.

Is an alternative actually possible?

Honest answer is one year on I’m not sure. That said I refuse to give up….if I do what faith do I really have? Why do I go to church and profess faith in a risen Christ if I can’t hold onto hope of a better, more just future? Why do I pray “your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven” if I’m not prepared to hope and work for change?

I don’t think that it means a neo-Marxist or anarchist vision of the future, but I do believe many of those involved in such groups have a glimpse of what might/ should be in terms of seeing the possibility of a world where social justice is a reality. They perhaps have more of an idea of what it means to try and live that line in the Lords prayer than many who would hold on to it and profess it regularly. That’s one reason why however little good I think it will do I’m intending to go on the TUC’s  A Future That Works demonstration next weekend.

So where do I/we go from here? Not sure…..not at all sure. Continue to try and pray and work it out one day/ one week at a time I guess. And probably alot more awkward blog posts along the way. If nothing else having something to look back on after Occupy – reminding me what happened when, and what I had to say about it at the time, has been useful for me.

Made in Dagenham – Exploding the Myth

TOH and I went to see Made in Dagenham over the weekend and I don’t think I am exaggerating if I say it had a huge effect upon us which we weren’t expecting. We both ended up sobbing in the cinema because we were so moved.

It tells the story of a group of working class women who worked as machinists at the Ford Motors factory in Dagenham in 1968 and went on strike when their jobs were reclassified as unskilled. As this Sunday Times piece explains, this strike was in many ways the starting point of the road which led to the equal pay act, and a debate which still persists.

The film is important because it explodes an awful lot of myths which the writers of history would have us believe. It also highlights to the generations who were born after all this they owe to those women who were their mothers and grandmothers….a debt not often spoken of. On a personal level I think it helped me understand my mother a little more; catching a glimpse of the world of her youth. A world which I cannot really get my head around, being one of the beneficiaries of the changes in education and working practices which emerged as a result of these and similar actions.

The scene which hit us both most was the middle class woman at the working class strikers door. She was saying how she had a first from Cambridge but that actually meant little in the male dominated world. She was telling the leader of the strikers why it was so important they carry on and win.

Now I teach Feminist theory, I teach radical and liberal Feminism and Womanism (black feminism). Womanism largely seeks to disassociate itself from the “middle class” Feminist theory that the “second wave” of feminism gave us and I now totally understand why. People such have myself have been teaching one, rather distorted view of the truth which has been handed down to us in lectures and text books. This film explodes the lie we have been perpetuating in our lectures!!!!

The truth is that whilst the Women’s Lib movement and the middle class intellectuals may have had a role in the changes which occurred in the 60’s and 70’s and equally so did middle class commentators and politicians of a less radical persuasion the biggest moves forward came about as a result of “ordinary working women” seeking to get what was fair for themselves. These women were the ones really putting themselves on the line through actions which in the short term atleast caused real hardship to themselves and their families.

My mum was in no “intellectual” sense of the world a feminist, infact she would have balked at the suggestion, but I now see the spirit of fairness she had was exactly what the real changes which have occurred were based upon. The text books are written by and support the view of those who wish to take credit and play politics….real change occurred because of the women who just got off their arses and refused to play the game by the rules the men had written. They learnt the men’s rule books and then worked out how to stamp all over them, using the very systems the men (and patriarchal unions) had set up.

Another myth the film explodes is the idea that those who effected change were particularly liberated by “the sexual revolution”. Many of these women were ordinary, decent women seeking to keep homes and families going as they also earnt money and fought the battles that needed fighting.

Finally, another myth that the film explodes is that the women were having to seperate from men and were not encouraged by them. The film shows the gender issues that did arise, but also how it was extremely encouraging men who got the women to take up their own leadership and make change happen.

This filmfor the first time tells many of us, too young to know anything other than the “official history” of second wave feminism given in text books and BBC 4 documentaries, the truth. We owe our  greatest debt not to the intellectuals who were making placards and grand statements about sexism generally but to the ordinary women up and down the country -many working class – who actually  stood up against the injustices they were facing through things like the deskilling of their labour.


TAZ and Other Cartoons

Sometime last year we  got, momentarily, into the “Pirate Debate”. The words flowing back and forth across cyberspace eminated from a Greenbelt session and subsequent set of posts from Kester Brewin. Well now it’s contextualised into his latest book “Other: Loving Self, God and Neighbour in a World of Fractures.

I picked the book up at Buckfast Abbey’s bookshop last weekend and started getting over excited as I flicked through. This was a theologian engaging with TAZ theory. Now before I go any further it appears events in the blogesphere have over taken me and Jonny B and Kester have been debating this stuff. For reasons which will become clear later in this post I am going to enter that debate but not until next week.

On one hand the book over all is a bit of a let down. Parts one and two read way too much like either a undergrad lit review or a Guardianista justifying themselves through what they’d read elsewhere. However, part three onwards got far more engaging. Mind you TAZ theory is like that, you either get excited by it or think it’s pretentious bollocks. Me I remember exactly where I was when I first came across it. It was Spring 2000 and I was sitting in some comfy chairs in a classroom in Barking, coming towards the end of my course in Political Activism and Social Movements, when we got the handout. Anyway cutting the reminicing and getting back to Brewin, in the book he was relating this every so often to Greenbelt and so bringing GB together with TAZ I was hooked on the second half of the book.

Right I will basically explain TAZ theory here. It is the idea that spaces can temporarily be taken over and changed as acts of resistance. Think Guerilla Gardening or Reclaim the Streets as examples. Well in this book Brewin seeks to argue that it might be a useful concept to engage in when we are looking at church and/ or worship. Me I think he’s sort of right and sort of wrong. As I indicated for anybody who is interested in this I will be doing a sensible critique of Brewin’s conclusions on this next week, possibly over a couple of posts because I think it is too complex to do justice to in this post.

If you think you’re interested in what Brewin is saying and want some complementary secular easy read books to help you develop your own thinking on this type of area further I would recommend the following. They go beyond TAZ but all fit into the whole DIY culture, social movement theory bracket.

DIY: the rise of lo-fi culture by Amy Spencer 

The Hacker Ethic and the Spirit of the Information Age by Pekka Himanen

The Pirate’s Dilemma by Matt Mason

Practically anything by George McKay, but particularly DIY Culture: party and protest in nineties Britain

Uniting Against Facism in prayer

Today I’ve been off to Newcastle protesting in Unite Against Facism’s counter demo to the EDL’s decision to take to the streets. Now, there is debate whether EDL is actually a far right group or not in the traditional sense, but it appears to be.

The day was interesting and disturbing in many ways. Firstly, I believe it is interesting – if not even significant – that the English Defence League chose to arrive in Newcastle on the same day as the apprentice boys march. Apparently the marching season takes place early in England.

Secondly, I had not realised that the EDL has developed links strongly with the football firms. Hope Not Hate has a bit about this in their description of the group. The strength of these links became apparent on the way home.

Thirdly, these football firms and far right groups are effectively grooming young people, not to be exploited in a sexual way, but rather to be abused through taking their innocence. I was shocked on the train on the way home seeing, and hearing a bunch of kids, and they were kids, sitting together on the seats behind us. They were all of about 13, (if that), and were dressed in proper casual clothes, (Fred Perry and so forth). They were mini me’s, looking like miniture versions of men in their twenties or thirties. One of the scarily bright ones, who sounded as if he had been picked up on and was being trained in leadership, was describing how firms worked and the importance of the retro casual look to his friends. They were also discussing the importance of getting to away games early to avoid being taken straight to the ground by the police and so forth. They reminded me of the kid in “This is England” who was too young to be dressed as a mini-adult and got seduced into right wing politics not realising the consequences of this organisation until it was too late and he had been emotionally scarred.

Final thing was I realised how on this type of demonstration being a Christian leads to facing an issue which can be positively and negatively dealt with. The issue is the way the views of the racist get confused with the people themselves. The EDL protesters become “scum” and “sewer rats” to be dealt with. Now I think their views are abhorant but part as a Christian I need to be careful not to confuse the person made in the image of God with the evil views they hold (their sin). 

Now, how did I deal with this? Firstly, I tried only to join in with chants that didn’t demonise the person. Secondly, I took advantage of knowing how SWP organised and or stewarded events work and getting access to the microphone to pray during the speeches as we stood with several police lines and a “no mans land” between us and the other demo. I was not representing any group, apart from “Christians generally” and am not a SWP member, (because I think their are elements of their ideology which cannot easily be reconciled with Christianity), but used the opportunity to thank God for our multi cultural  country, the unity of the different racial and religious groups represented and for those willing to stand up against injustice. I then prayed against the evil of the EDL. Note here I was not praying against the people but rather when I said “we pray against the EDL” I meant the organisation and the evil it represented through it’s fear and misinformation etc. 

This is not the first time I have prayed at a regional SWP stewarded event. When the Stop the War demo invaded Canterbury Cathedral’s grounds I reminded the assembled crowd we were on holy ground and prayed for peace. The beauty of the SWP is they want to build bridges and show respect for minorities so they actually quiten down anybody who is about to heckel, etc. If anybody else has the opportunity I would encourage them to take the opportunity to engage in this type of public prayer. I have only done this at smaller local or regional events, but maybe recognised church leaders being prepared to stand up and pray like this at national demos may be something that could be done in the future.

It’s Our Flag Too and We Want it Back (from the far right)

Unite Against Facism are organising a demo in Newcastle on Saturday. This is acting as a counter demonstration to the English Defence League who are planning to infect the city with their racist lies and s**t stirring on Saturday.

On past form this is not likely to be a family friendly affair, the EDL “supporters” have been known to engage in violent behaviour when they have gathered in the past and UAF have been known to have the odd spikey class war type supporting them. However, this is where I think us fluffies concerned about the EDL’s presence and who believe in non-violent action should come out in force and join the majority of peaceable protesters amongst UAF’s numbers. Let us be a peaceable presence on the streets on Saturday, refusing to give into anger and resentment!

Besides being bought up to be totally anti-facist (my dad took me to the Rock Against Racism concert when I was 4), one of the reasons I particularly dislike the EDL is their brand of nationalism. I am proud to be English, I am proud to want to wave the flag of St. George as the England team go out to kick some ass in South Africa, but I am not proud if that wish to identify as clearly English and wave that flag is seen as a sign of support for the far right. As Show of Hands said, “it’s our flag too and we want it back”. Being English to me means living alongside my Asian neighbours and learning from their culture as they learn from mine. It means being part of a nation which is constantly evolving as the mix moves on. It means being part of a country which Nelson Mandela praised as the best example of democracy going. It does not mean being a bigot or giving into the fear and lies which bullies try to sell us.

There have been e-mails going about suggesting there is a public meeting tomorrow night (27th) and a fb group also suggests this, however there seems to be nothing about this on any of the main websites – so posting the fb link but not the details.