Reflections on the March for the Alternative….
The ‘March for the Alternative’ is a beginning, not an end, that much is clear. Following on from Saturday, I think we can see hairline fractures emerge within the movement, something evidenced in concrete reality by the ‘Black Bloc’ breaking away and deciding to rampage across London in a display which was a mixture of predetermined malice and complete and utter idiocy.
Defenders of this self-appointed elite should ponder this link. In it we see clear evidence that the Black Bloc has in fact been heavily infiltrated by and is under the influence of the police. It’s cheerleaders, sycophants and glorifiers of this group are unwitting tools of the police. How blissfully ironic! On Saturday, the Black Bloc provided just the right context for the Met’s reprehensible and duplicitous attack on the UK Uncut actions and those peacefully protesting in Trafalgar Square to proceed. Incidentally, isn’t it an amazing and fortunate for some that this group started their actions just as Ed Miliband was about to speak; thus providing ample opportunity for the slice and splice merchants at both the BBC and Sky to work their magic. Here division is necessary; these people must be marginalised and defeated politically within this movement, they are a mixture of tools of the state and those easily duped and led astray by these people; put plainly they are poison.
UK Uncut were wrong to protest on the same day. They are not the Black Bloc but their decision to protest on this day was deeply misguided and was a serious tactical misjudgement in my view. Whatever their intent, I broadly accept it is noble, they conveyed an image of being superior, self-satisfied and attention seeking. I admire them and largely support their actions and I hope this does not damage their future influence on the wider movement but fear it might. Sometimes there is virtue to taking a back seat and they failed to appreciate that in London on March 26th.
All of which leads us to the commentary provided by Laurie Penny who has managed to unite a significant section of the movement in enmity against her today. She deserves all the attacks this time around for this comment:
It would be naive to suggest that small numbers of people did not come to London today intent on breaking windows should the opportunity arise. It would be equally naive to suggest that no other groups had action plans that involved rather more than munching houmous in Hyde park and listening to some speeches.
Unacceptable. Arrogant and a downright disgrace. Well done to both Medhi Hasan and Anthony Painter for tearing this whimsical and quintessentially ‘r-r-r-r-r evoluntionism’ of the privileged to shreds. Her patronising attitude towards those in Hyde Park is matched by her politically inept soft-soaping of ‘violent agitators’. Unable or unwilling to draw correct lines of demarcation between UK Uncut and the Black Bloc by condemning, without reservation, the undemocratic and damaging actions of the latter, she also seriously damages the former. Incidentally, I don’t care much for houmous either.
Despite these issues, the March was a significant show of force by the trade union movement which it is to be hoped will now recover some of the self-confidence that has bled from it through what have been very difficult decades. Maybe they will also now assert themselves in the Labour Party where Ed Miliband has placed himself in a difficult position with his correct, in my eyes, decision to speak. Stylistically the speech left alot to be desired and, it seems to me, the charge of delusions of grandeur are not without foundation. Nonetheless, although I disagree with some of his content, credit where it has due.
However, it has sent the Blairites into a frenzy of disapproval; as typified by Luke Boizers piece here. One simply starts to lose count of how many instances of complete and utter wrongness can permeate an article. I will content myself with this single example;
Cutting public spending will have an effect on some peoples’ lives but we have to take hold of our senses – nothing this government can do will take us anywhere near the levels of suffering and deprivation Britain witnessed in the 1980s.
They will actually far surpass these experiences on every measurable scale. I understand why people like Luke don’t want to acknowledge the depth of the crisis their favoured social system is in and the level of misery its desperate, life-or-death, scramble to return to profitability will impose but I think it a little churlish of him to then criticise Ed Miliband for issues with delusion.
The big question after the March is, what next? In the immediate future, the shift of attention will now be to the ballot box and May’s poll. In the longer-term the question will be how we cohere a programme that can unite all those disparate interests opposed to the cuts. Oddly, this may well include some of its former adversaries in the police, who if a conversation with a off-duty officer are anything to go by, are ‘split’ and in some ways ‘sympathetic’ to those opposing the cuts.
Without a programme committed to democracy as the only tool of social change though the danger is this movement will fracture into its component parts and its enemies, both overt and covert, will triumph.