February 4, 1913 – October 24, 2005
American Civil Rights Campaigner
February 4, 1913 – October 24, 2005
American Civil Rights Campaigner
"The only thing I am tired of-
is tired of giving in".
Across Italy this week 1 million women marched against Berlusconi the Italian Prime Minister. It seems the idea that a mass of connected people can bring about real and significant change in their own lives is being tested around the world. Information technology is facilitaing an unstoppable sharing of political ideas, awareness and hope.
For those of you who are not familiar with the 38 degree petitions site the 38 degrees represents the angle necessary for a landslide. Very appropriate for the text below. This text was sent to me, as I am sure it was to all who signed, THE SAVE OUR FORESTS petition at http://38degrees.org.uk/
From 38 degrees
WE'VE WON! The government has just confirmed they're totally scrapping the forest sell-off. The phoney consultation has been cancelled. The sinister legal changes to pave the way for privatisation have been dropped.
We did this together. Next time someone tries to tell any of us that signing petitions or emailing our MPs doesn’t work, we’ll know exactly what to say: “People power does work. Just look at the Save Our Forests campaign”.
Over half a million of us can feel very proud of what we've achieved together today.
Other uplifting news is that the Arabian revolution is spreading fast with Bahrain being the latest nation to rise up. Of course it will be a hard road. Of course people will be hurt. Of course this is always tragic but, how can we not admire their courage and support them? The people are being hurt systematically by state systems that torture any one who dissents and that crush all opposition even when protest is peaceful.
The people have chosen to risk the hurt that might come to them in their struggle to improve things for them selves and their children. The Independent headline for Saturday the 19th of Feb states “They didn’t run away. They faced the bullets Head-on”. It seems that the majority of protesters are willing to sacrifice a great deal, even their lives, for a chance to have what we have by right. The police fired on young children in Bahrain and Libya today.
ln all of the civil unrest across the Middle east the violence has not been initiated by the pro democracy protesters but came from the government thugs. Just as it was that the kettling in Parliament sq and the thuggish elements of the Met police officers precipitated the violence at the Demo over Student fee increases. Of course there is no like for like comparison possible with the struggle in the Middle East but there are similarities. There were no bullets fired in Westminster though a disabled man was dragged from his wheel chair by police, a young man who was behaving peacefully had his skull cracked by police and I witnessed far more assaults on peaceful demonstrators by the police than the other way around.
It is no longer surprising that the tyrants and despots get the tools and the resources for their vicious work supplied by nice little democracies like ours. This is evidenced by the current out cry about the supply of arms and riot gear which is being used by the ruling regime in Bahrain right now.
It’s time for change. The signs are all around. People have had enough of this hypocrisy and want real change. Here in the UK the fight must be primarily for preserving the services vital to those most vulnerable and the basic rights of all in the UK but we also have to stop the ConDem from allowing the arms trading with despots to continue. That old chestnut that some one will sell them the tools of repression if we don’t is no justification for the UK’s trade in arms and riot gear to the dictatorships of the world. One nice Norfolk farmer makes and sells gallows to Iran. How does he get the export licence?
In my opinion the only way to be sure we can rid ourselves of this stinking trade is to get rid of the ConDem and to send a message to the next government that we want them to be better, decent, fair, just, egalitarian, open, transparent and compassionate. I don't want the right to run riot in the streets. I want the poor and the vulnerable to be cared for not attacked as is and will continue to be the case as a result of the vicious Con Dem cuts.
They need to know we will be watching and waiting to see if they do what is needed and that we will not allow their dysfunctional governance to continue . Idealistic, naïve? If two million people march in London on the 26th of March then that could be the beginning of real change. Any little mob bent on violence would not have much impact among such numbers and the Police cannot kettle 2 million of us.
Regarding other people’s reluctance to participate and the arm chair commentators, I say this. Every one must decide what is right for them selves according to their conscience. I respect that this is your right. I respect the views of the pacifist and conscientious objector. I would defend their right to free choice and acknowledge they are often prepared to work just as hard as the next man or woman for the common cause, as long as it does not involve them in committing violence. I think they deserve our full respect.
By contrast it is galling to me that there are millions of anti trade unionists who never joined a union but still benefit from agreements negotiated by a union, with out their involvement. Often they do nothing until it is their neck on the line. Then when they belatedly adopt a self interested militancy they expect the benefits of our Lefty support and usually get it.
I must have heard most of the reasons for none participation. I know a man who has physically abused most of the women in his life, at some point, yet he professes a non-violent philosophy as his reason for not marching. There are those who claim to have done their bit already and there are those who just can’t be bothered.
When I was at school and a bunch of us were in trouble it was often with justification though not always. I got used to looking around to find my erstwhile comrades had disappeared when the time came to make our defence.
When I first worked in a factory, as a comparative youngster, I complained that the safety guards for the machinery only came out of their boxes when the Factory Inspector visited. Many of the men I worked with backed off from the issue as soon as our boss, the Fat Controller flexed his muscles. I remember the women machinists did not back off so easily. They suggested I wore a hair net to avoid being sacked for having long hair, as a result of my protest, and I did.
So, I am used to the vagaries of the support one can expect in this life and I take it where I can. I have had plenty in my life and for this I am very grateful.
These are the days of change whether we are ready or not and whether it is comfortable or not. This is our chance to shape the future of this nation and how it is regarded by the rest of the world. You can be sure I will play my part for as long as I am able. My dad marched with a placard in protest outside the school my brother was unfairly expelled from. He would have had some things to say about the state of the nation. My mom would revel in the opportunity to join and participate in the movement of the new reality.