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June 25, 2016

Britain votes to leave the European Union

Britain votes to leave the European Union

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Saturday, June 25, 2016

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On Thursday, the United Kingdom (UK) voted to leave the European Union (EU) in a referendum.

During the referendum, voters were asked the following question with these options:

“Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?
Remain a member of the European Union
Leave the European Union”.

Voters across the UK voted in favour of leaving the EU by a margin 52% to 48%. Support for this outcome was strongest across the majority of England and Wales, with London, Scotland, and Northern Ireland the only regions where the majority voted to remain a member of the EU.

The Flag of Europe, used by the EU.

Following the results, David Cameron announced his intention to resign as the UK’s Prime Minister. It is expected he will remain in his post before the UK Conservative Party choose a new leader ahead of their annual conference in October. He also said he would not invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, the process by which a member can leave the EU, leaving that to his successor as Prime Minister. A number of officials at the EU — which would be down to 27 members with the UK gone — in a statement said they would like this process to begin “as soon as possible”.

At the start of trading on Friday the markets reacted negatively to the result, with the FTSE 100 falling in value by £120 billion. Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, stated an extra £250 billion will be made available to help stabilise markets.



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May 20, 2016

Lord Howard and Alistair Darling address CBI on EU referendum

Lord Howard and Alistair Darling address CBI on EU referendum

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Friday, May 20, 2016

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Lord Howard, the former United Kingdom (UK) Conservative Party leader, and Alistair Darling, the former UK Chancellor, set out their opposing views regarding the UK’s continuing membership of the European Union at the Confederation of British Industry’s (CBI) annual dinner on Wednesday.

Logo of the CBI.

The dinner was held as the UK is expected to vote on the matter in next month’s EU referendum. Lord Howard encouraged those in attendance to vote for the UK to leave the EU, while Mr Darling was speaking in favour of a vote to remain.

Responding to the CBI calling for the UK to remain in the EU, Lord Howard referred to the organisation’s previous calls to become a full member of the European Monetary System and the Euro, saying these calls had been wrong, and suggesting that this reduces the credibility of the CBI’s current stance. Lord Howard also said that if the UK left the EU with no trade deal, which he described as “inconceivable”, then the UK’s exports would face EU import tariffs of 2.4% on average. He compared this to the UK’s net contribution to the EU’s budget, which he said was equivalent to a seven per cent tariff.

Mr Darling reminded the audience of warnings from Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, and Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund, that leaving the EU could lead to a recession in the UK. Mr Darling said this “would be disastrous for working people’s life chances and living standards”.

The referendum is expected to take place on the 23 June.



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  • “IMF says UK leaving the EU will lead to negative economic consequences” — Wikinews, May 13, 2016

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Lord Howard and Alistair Darling address Confederation of British Industry on EU referendum

Lord Howard and Alistair Darling address Confederation of British Industry on EU referendum

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Friday, May 20, 2016

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Lord Howard, the former United Kingdom (UK) Conservative Party leader, and Alistair Darling, the former UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, set out their opposing views regarding the UK’s continuing membership of the European Union at the Confederation of British Industry‘s (CBI) annual dinner on Wednesday.

Logo of the CBI.

The dinner was held as the UK is expected to vote on the matter in next month’s EU referendum. Lord Howard encouraged those in attendance to vote for the UK to leave the EU, while Mr Darling was speaking in favour of a vote to remain.

Responding to the CBI calling for the UK to remain in the EU, Lord Howard referred to the organisation’s previous calls to become a full member of the European Monetary System and the Euro, saying these calls had been wrong, and suggesting this reduces the credibility of the CBI’s current stance. Lord Howard also said if the UK left the EU and didn’t replace it with some trade deal, which he described as “inconceivable”, then the UK’s exports would face EU import tariffs of 2.4% on average. He compared this to the UK’s net contribution to the EU’s budget, which he said was “equivalent to a seven per cent tariff.”

Mr Darling reminded the audience of warnings from Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, and Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund, that leaving the EU could lead to a recession in the UK. Mr Darling said this “would be disastrous for working people’s life chances and living standards”.

The referendum is expected to take place on June 23.



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  • “IMF says UK leaving the EU will lead to negative economic consequences” — Wikinews, May 13, 2016

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May 18, 2014

Bank of England governor warns housing market is biggest threat to UK economy

Bank of England governor warns housing market is biggest threat to UK economy

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Sunday, May 18, 2014

Mark Carney in 2010.
Image: World Economic Forum.

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The governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, has warned that the state of the housing market in the United Kingdom is the current biggest domestic threat to the country’s economy, due to lack of house building, and regulatory issues.

In an interview to be aired on Sky News today, he said the housing market is the “biggest risk” to the economy and has “deep, deep structural problems”. Of house building he said: “There are not sufficient houses built in the UK. To go back to Canada, there are half as many people in Canada as in the UK, twice as many houses are built every year in Canada as in the UK and we can’t influence that.”

“We’re not going to build a single house at the Bank of England. We can’t influence that. What we can influence […] is whether the banks are strong enough. Do they have enough capital against risk in the housing market?”

Carney also said the Bank of England would look into the procedures used to issue loans and mortgages to see if they were being granted appropriately: “We’d be concerned if there was a rapid increase in high loan-to-value mortgages across the banks. We’ve seen that creeping up and it’s something we’re watching closely.”

Kris Hopkins responded to Carney on behalf of the government, saying the government “inherited a broken housing market, but our efforts to fix it are working”. “We’ve scrapped the failed top-down planning system, built over 170,000 affordable homes and released more surplus brownfield sites for new housing. We’ve also helped homebuyers get on the housing ladder, because if people can buy homes builders will build them. Housebuilding is now at its highest level since 2007 and climbing. Last year councils gave permission for almost 200,000 new homes under the locally-led planning system and more than 1,000 communities have swiftly taken up neighbourhood planning. It’s clear evidence the government’s long-term economic plan is working.”

Earlier this month, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development called on the UK government to “tighten” access to the ‘Help to Buy‘ scheme introduced by George Osborne and the coalition government in 2013. ‘Help to Buy’ has also recently been criticised by three former Chancellors of the Exchequer — the Conservatives Norman Lamont and Nigel Lawson, and former Labour Chancellor Alistair Darling. Darling said: “Unless supply can be increased substantially, we will exacerbate that situation with schemes like Help to Buy.”



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March 20, 2013

British Chancellor George Osborne downgrades growth forecast in annual budget

British Chancellor George Osborne downgrades growth forecast in annual budget

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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

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A file photo of the British Chancellor George Osborne.
Image: HM Treasury.

The British Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne delivered the budget today, an annually-held audit of the country’s finances deciding how taxpayers’ money should be spent. He set out plans to boost the housing market in his fourth budget, as well as stating the economy will grow by 0.6% — half his prediction four months ago.

George Osborne revealed plans to improve the housing market, including a “Help to Buy” shared equity scheme which would offer buyers who can place a 5% deposit on a new house, a 20% loan to buy it. He said: “This is a budget for those who aspire to own their own home”. He also offered a new Mortgage Guarantee, created in conjunction with mortgage lenders — the scheme would allow them to offer loans to homeowners without the need for a large deposit and offer guarantees to support up to £130bn of lending for three years beginning in 2014.

As a measure to attract investment to the British economy, he announced to reduce corporation tax from 21% to 20% taking effect from April 2015. The rate of corporation tax has fallen from 28% in 2010 to the current level of 21%. The United Kingdom is to have lower rates of corporation tax than the USA at 40%, France at 33%, and Germany at 29%.

The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) stated the government debt reduction programme to reduce the budget deficit will miss its targets. The government has forecast the total public sector debt will begin to fall by the financial year 2015/2016, while OBR says national debt will reach a high of 85.6% of GDP, £1.58 trillion, in 2016/17. Osborne defended the government efforts to reduce the deficit and said: “Our judgement has since been supported by the IMF, the OECD and the Governor of the Bank of England.”

In response to the Budget speech, the Leader of the Opposition Ed Miliband said: “At the worst possible time for the country. It’s a downgraded budget from a downgraded Chancellor […] Debt is higher in every year of this Parliament than he forecast at the last Budget. He is going to borrow £200 billion more than he planned.”

The Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer Ed Balls said to The Independent, “They are borrowing £245bn more in this Parliament, we said all along …said this two years ago, if they had moved more quickly with a sensible, targeted package of measures to kick-start the economy, which would have meant at that time more borrowing for a VAT [Value Added Tax] cut to bring forward housing investment, then we would have got the economy growing and the deficit coming down.”

The Business Secretary Vince Cable told the BBC in an interview, the “age of austerity” would probably end within the current decade, but made no more definite forecast.

The head of the British Federation of Small Businesses, John Walker, said: “The Budget opens the door for small businesses to grow and create jobs. The Chancellor has pulled out all the stops with a wide ranging package of measures to support small business. […] [W]e are pleased to see the scrapping of the 3p fuel duty due in September”.

Len McCluskey, the General Secretary of Unite the Union, criticized the budget for not helping working families. He said: “This is a Budget for the few by the few that attacks the many. Millionaires are days away from getting a £40,000 tax cut from the Tories, but George Osborne is using the budget to attack hard-working public sector workers. The worst chancellor in British history has gone further by giving big business another tax cut while staff caring for the sick get pay cuts. […] [H]e should have raised the national minimum wage by £1 and drop the senseless plan to give millionaires a tax break in a few days’ time”.



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May 24, 2011

London policeman charged over G20 protest death

London policeman charged over G20 protest death

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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

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Tomlinson after being pushed over, shortly before his death
Image: Anonymous.

An officer with London’s Metropolitan Police has been charged with causing the death of a man caught up in the G20 protests in 2009. PC Simon Harwood is accused of the manslaughter of Ian Tomlinson, who died after Harwood hit him with a baton before pushing him to the ground.

Homeless paper-seller Tomlinson was pushed from behind outside the Bank of England as he walked back from work. He died within minutes. The death was filmed and attracted international media attention.

Last year, Keir Starmer, Director of Public Prosecutions for England and Wales, announced that no charges would be brought due to conflicting medical evidence. That decision was placed under review after an inquest jury ruled last month that Tomlinson had been unlawfully killed.

Starmer met with the Tomlinson family today, informing them of his changed decision before the Crown Prosecution Service released a statement by him. In it, he explained that the inquest evidence had changed his position.

He named two areas in which the inquest has had an impact: One is extra medical evidence and the other is questioning in court to assess conflicting medical evidence from different sources. “But for the inquest, the significant conflicts in the evidence that had previously existed could not have been addressed; and the inquest process, which is less confined than a criminal trial, has allowed a degree of clarity to emerge,” said Starmer.

He adds that “the position in relation to the medical evidence about the cause of death has clearly changed,” although he cautioned that the prosecution will remain difficult owing to conflicting medical evidence. Starmer continued, saying that “it is clearly in the public interest that criminal proceedings be brought. Accordingly, a summons charging PC Harwood with the manslaughter of Mr Tomlinson has been obtained …. He will appear before [City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court] on 20 June 2011.”



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January 7, 2010

Bank of England holds interest rates at record low

Bank of England holds interest rates at record low

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Thursday, January 7, 2010

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The Bank of England in Threadneedle Street, London.
Image: Adrian Pingstone.

The Bank of England has held UK interest rates at 0.5% for another month. The rate is the lowest ever, and has remained in place since March last year as part of the central bank’s response to the global financial crisis. Most analysts had predicted the rate to go unchanged.

Quantitative easing, also begun in March 2009, will continue in January. This involves the Bank purchasing a total of £200 billion in assets. In a brief statement released today, the Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee said it expected the programme to take another month to complete. The decision will be revisited in February, when more official economic data and forecasts are available.

The Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank has been responsible for setting the UK’s official interest rate each month since 1997. Prior to this the base rate was controlled by the Treasury and the Chancellor of the Exchequer.



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August 13, 2009

Number of unemployed in the UK climbs to 2.4 million

Number of unemployed in the UK climbs to 2.4 million

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

2008–09 financial crisis

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According to official figures, the unemployment rate in the United Kingdom has risen to 7.8%, its highest level in thirteen years. 2.435 million people in the country are now without jobs. The rise is higher than that predicted by economists, who forecast an increase to 7.7%.

The Office for National Statistics reported that average earnings rose at the slowest rate since 2001, when records began. Excluding bonusues, incomes increased at a yearly rate of 2.5% in the quarter to June, less than the 2.6% in the quarter to May. Including bonuses, average earnings rose by 2.5%, a rise from the previous figure of 2.3%.

Before the release of the figures, Business Secretary Peter Mandelson announced that UK stimulus plans had managed to save about half a million jobs in the country. “The Treasury estimates that there would have been at least, probably far in excess of, 500,000 more jobs lost in the recession had it not been for the government’s and the Bank of England’s intervention,” he said to BBC Radio.



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August 5, 2009

British constable may be prosecuted for manslaughter

British constable may be prosecuted for manslaughter

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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

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A police constable serving with the Metropolitan Police Service in London, England may be prosecuted for manslaughter over the death of a bystander at a protest that occurred during the G-20 summit earlier this year.

After concluding what it says is its largest ever investigation, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has sent its file on the death of Ian Tomlinson to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

Ian Tomlinson died on April 1, 2009 from injuries sustained when he was allegedly struck and pushed to the ground by a police officer. The CPS will now consider if enough evidence exists and if it is in the public interest to bring a prosecution for manslaughter.

Ian Tomlinson remonstrates with police after being pushed to the ground.
Image: An anonymous American tourist who relinquished his copyright.

Tomlinson was an innocent bystander caught in the police cordon at the G-20 Meltdown protest near the Bank of England. Initially it was claimed by the police that Tomlinson had had no contact with the police, that he had collapsed most probably because of stress and exhaustion, and that protesters had attacked police officers trying to give him first aid. The first of two postmortems concluded that Tomlinson had died of a heart attack.

Following the publication of the postmortem, an American tourist handed over film footage of the moments leading up to Ian Tomlinson’s death to The Guardian newspaper. This footage showed a police constable of the Territorial Support Group striking Tomlinson across the legs with his baton before pushing him to the ground. The Guardian story prompted other news organisations including Channel 4 to review their own recordings of the protest. The retrieved footage from a number of sources and the testimony of witnesses produced evidence that contradicted the veracity of all aspects of the police version of events.

Subsequent to these revelations a second postmortem was held, this second postmortem concluding that internal injuries sustained as a result of his fall were the most likely cause of Tomlinson’s death.

A request was made by the police service for the police constable filmed to make himself known, an individual came forward and was questioned under caution. He remains suspended from duty.



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April 3, 2009

G20 protests: Inside a labour march

G20 protests: Inside a labour march – Wikinews, the free news source

G20 protests: Inside a labour march

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Wikinews accredited reporter Killing Vector traveled to the G-20 2009 summit protests in London with a group of protesters. This is his personal account.

Friday, April 3, 2009

London – “Protest”, says Ross Saunders, “is basically theatre”.

It’s seven a.m. and I’m on a mini-bus heading east on the M4 motorway from Cardiff toward London. I’m riding with seventeen members of the Cardiff Socialist Party, of which Saunders is branch secretary for the Cardiff West branch; they’re going to participate in a march that’s part of the protests against the G-20 meeting.

The South Wales protesters gathered on the steps of the National Museum, Cardiff
Image: Steve Chapple.

Before we boarded the minibus Saunders made a speech outlining the reasons for the march. He said they were “fighting for jobs for young people, fighting for free education, fighting for our share of the wealth, which we create.” His anger is directed at the government’s response to the economic downturn: “Now that the recession is underway, they’ve been trying to shoulder more of the burden onto the people, and onto the young people…they’re expecting us to pay for it.” He compared the protest to the Jarrow March and to the miners’ strikes which were hugely influential in the history of the British labour movement. The people assembled, though, aren’t miners or industrial workers — they’re university students or recent graduates, and the march they’re going to participate in is the Youth Fight For Jobs.

The Socialist Party was formerly part of the Labour Party, which has ruled the United Kingdom since 1997 and remains a member of the Socialist International. On the bus, Saunders and some of his cohorts — they occasionally, especially the older members, address each other as “comrade” — explains their view on how the split with Labour came about. As the Third Way became the dominant voice in the Labour Party, culminating with the replacement of Neil Kinnock with Tony Blair as party leader, the Socialist cadre became increasingly disaffected. “There used to be democratic structures, political meetings” within the party, they say. The branch meetings still exist but “now, they passed a resolution calling for renationalisation of the railways, and they [the party leadership] just ignored it.” They claim that the disaffection with New Labour has caused the party to lose “half its membership” and that people are seeking alternatives. Since the economic crisis began, Cardiff West’s membership has doubled, to 25 members, and the RMT has organized itself as a political movement running candidates in the 2009 EU Parliament election. The right-wing British National Party or BNP is making gains as well, though.

Talk on the bus is mostly political and the news of yesterday’s violence at the G-20 demonstrations, where a bank was stormed by protesters and 87 were arrested, is thick in the air. One member comments on the invasion of a RBS building in which phone lines were cut and furniture was destroyed: “It’s not very constructive but it does make you smile.” Another, reading about developments at the conference which have set France and Germany opposing the UK and the United States, says sardonically, “we’re going to stop all the squabbles — they’re going to unite against us. That’s what happens.” She recounts how, in her native Sweden during the Second World War, a national unity government was formed among all major parties, and Swedish communists were interned in camps, while Nazi-leaning parties were left unmolested.

The Youth Fight For Jobs assembles.
Image: Killing Vector.

In London around 11am the march assembles on Camberwell Green. About 250 people are here, from many parts of Britain; I meet marchers from Newcastle, Manchester, Leicester, and especially organized-labor stronghold Sheffield. The sky is grey but the atmosphere is convivial; five members of London’s Metropolitan Police are present, and they’re all smiling. Most marchers are young, some as young as high school age, but a few are older; some teachers, including members of the Lewisham and Sheffield chapters of the National Union of Teachers, are carrying banners in support of their students.

Cquote1.svg Gordon Brown’s a Tory/He wears a Tory hat/And when he saw our uni fees/He said ‘I’ll double that!’ Cquote2.svg

—Youth Fight for Jobs, chant #5

Stewards hand out sheets of paper with the words to call-and-response chants on them. Some are youth-oriented and education-oriented, like the jaunty “Gordon Brown’s a Tory/He wears a Tory hat/And when he saw our uni fees/He said ‘I’ll double that!'” (sung to the tune of the Lonnie Donegan song “My Old Man’s a Dustman”); but many are standbys of organized labour, including the infamous “workers of the world, unite!”. It also outlines the goals of the protest, as “demands”: “The right to a decent job for all, with a living wage of at least £8 and hour. No to cheap labour apprenticeships! for all apprenticeships to pay at least the minimum wage, with a job guaranteed at the end. No to university fees. support the campaign to defeat fees.” Another steward with a megaphone and a bright red t-shirt talks the assembled protesters through the basics of call-and-response chanting.

Police escorted the march along the entire length of its route.
Image: Killing Vector.

Finally the march gets underway, traveling through the London boroughs of Camberwell and Southwark. Along the route of the march more police follow along, escorting and guiding the march and watching it carefully, while a police van with flashing lights clears the route in front of it. On the surface the atmosphere is enthusiastic, but everyone freezes for a second as a siren is heard behind them; it turns out to be a passing ambulance.

The march enters the City of London. The top of The Gherkin, a symbol of London’s financial center, can be seen in the background.
Image: Killing Vector.

Crossing Southwark Bridge, the march enters the City of London, the comparably small but dense area containing London’s financial and economic heart. Although one recipient of the protesters’ anger is the Bank of England, the march does not stop in the City, only passing through the streets by the London Exchange. Tourists on buses and businessmen in pinstripe suits record snippets of the march on their mobile phones as it passes them; as it goes past a branch of HSBC the employees gather at the glass store front and watch nervously. The time in the City is brief; rather than continue into the very centre of London the march turns east and, passing the Tower of London, proceeds into the poor, largely immigrant neighbourhoods of the Tower Hamlets.

The march finds empty streets in the Tower Hamlets
Image: Killing Vector.

The sun has come out, and the spirits of the protesters have remained high. But few people, only occasional faces at windows in the blocks of apartments, are here to see the march and it is in Wapping High Street that I hear my first complaint from the marchers. Peter, a steward, complains that the police have taken the march off its original route and onto back streets where “there’s nobody to protest to”. I ask how he feels about the possibility of violence, noting the incidents the day before, and he replies that it was “justified aggression”. “We don’t condone it but people have only got certain limitations.”

Cquote1.svg There’s nobody to protest to! Cquote2.svg

—Peter, march steward

A policeman I ask is very polite but noncommittal about the change in route. “The students are getting the message out”, he says, so there’s no problem. “Everyone’s very well behaved” in his assessment and the atmosphere is “very positive”. Another protestor, a sign-carrying university student from Sheffield, half-heartedly returns the compliment: today, she says, “the police have been surprisingly unridiculous.”

Marchers chant labor slogans in Wapping

The march pauses just before it enters Cable Street. Here, in 1936, was the site of the Battle of Cable Street, and the march leader, addressing the protesters through her megaphone, marks the moment. She draws a parallel between the British Union of Fascists of the 1930s and the much smaller BNP today, and as the protesters follow the East London street their chant becomes “The BNP tell racist lies/We fight back and organise!”

Marchers take in lunch in Victoria Park. Speakers from organized labor address the crowd.
Image: Killing Vector.

In Victoria Park — “The People’s Park” as it was sometimes known — the march stops for lunch. The trade unions of East London have organized and paid for a lunch of hamburgers, hot dogs, french fries and tea, and, picnic-style, the marchers enjoy their meals as organized labor veterans give brief speeches about industrial actions from a small raised platform.

Cquote1.svg A demonstration is always a means to and end. Cquote2.svg

—Neil Cafferky, London organizer of the Youth Fight For Jobs march

During the rally I have the opportunity to speak with Neil Cafferky, a Galway-born Londoner and the London organizer of the Youth Fight For Jobs march. I ask him first about why, despite being surrounded by red banners and quotes from Karl Marx, I haven’t once heard the word “communism” used all day. He explains that, while he considers himself a Marxist and a Trotskyist, the word communism has negative connotations that would “act as a barrier” to getting people involved: the Socialist Party wants to avoid the discussion of its position on the USSR and disassociate itself from Stalinism. What the Socialists favor, he says, is “democratic planned production” with “the working class, the youths brought into the heart of decision making.”

On the subject of the police’s re-routing of the march, he says the new route is actually the synthesis of two proposals. Originally the march was to have gone from Camberwell Green to the Houses of Parliament, then across the sites of the 2012 Olympics and finally to the ExCel Centre. The police, meanwhile, wanted there to be no march at all.

The Metropolitan Police had argued that, with only 650 trained traffic officers on the force and most of those providing security at the ExCel Centre itself, there simply wasn’t the manpower available to close main streets, so a route along back streets was necessary if the march was to go ahead at all. Cafferky is sceptical of the police explanation. “It’s all very well having concern for health and safety,” he responds. “Our concern is using planning to block protest.”

He accuses the police and the government of having used legal, bureaucratic and even violent means to block protests. Talking about marches having to defend themselves, he says “if the police set out with the intention of assaulting marches then violence is unavoidable.” He says the police have been known to insert “provocateurs” into marches, which have to be isolated. He also asserts the right of marches to defend themselves when attacked, although this “must be done in a disciplined manner”.

He says he wasn’t present at yesterday’s demonstrations and so can’t comment on the accusations of violence against police. But, he says, there is often provocative behavior on both sides. Rather than reject violence outright, Cafferky argues that there needs to be “clear political understanding of the role of violence” and calls it “counter-productive”.

Demonstration overall, though, he says, is always a useful tool, although “a demonstration is always a means to an end” rather than an end in itself. He mentions other ongoing industrial actions such as the occupation of the Visteon plant in Enfield; 200 fired workers at the factory have been occupying the plant since April 1, and states the solidarity between the youth marchers and the industrial workers.

Members of the International Bolshevik Tendency display signs and sell literature in Victoria Park
Image: Killing Vector.

I also speak briefly with members of the International Bolshevik Tendency, a small group of left-wing activists who have brought some signs to the rally. The Bolsheviks say that, like the Socialists, they’re Trotskyists, but have differences with them on the idea of organization; the International Bolshevik Tendency believes that control of the party representing the working class should be less democratic and instead be in the hands of a team of experts in history and politics. Relations between the two groups are “chilly”, says one.

A march steward calls out a chant

At 2:30 the march resumes. Rather than proceeding to the ExCel Centre itself, though, it makes its way to a station of London’s Docklands Light Railway; on the way, several of East London’s school-aged youths join the march, and on reaching Canning Town the group is some 300 strong. Proceeding on foot through the borough, the Youth Fight For Jobs reaches the protest site outside the G-20 meeting.

Police cover all roads leading into the ExCel Centre.
Image: Killing Vector.

It’s impossible to legally get too close to the conference itself. Police are guarding every approach, and have formed a double cordon between the protest area and the route that motorcades take into and out of the conference venue. Most are un-armed, in the tradition of London police; only a few even carry truncheons. Closer to the building, though, a few machine gun-armed riot police are present, standing out sharply in their black uniforms against the high-visibility yellow vests of the Metropolitan Police. The G-20 conference itself, which started a few hours before the march began, is already winding down, and about a thousand protesters are present.

A speaker demands an end to dictatorship in Ethiopia

I see three large groups: the Youth Fight For Jobs avoids going into the center of the protest area, instead staying in their own group at the admonition of the stewards and listening to a series of guest speakers who tell them about current industrial actions and the organization of the Youth Fight’s upcoming rally at UCL. A second group carries the Ogaden National Liberation Front’s flag and is campaigning for recognition of an autonomous homeland in eastern Ethiopia. Others protesting the Ethiopian government make up the third group; waving old Ethiopian flags, including the Lion of Judah standard of emperor Haile Selassie, they demand that foreign aid to Ethiopia be tied to democratization in that country: “No recovery without democracy”.

Ogaden Somalis demand an autonomous homeland.
Image: Killing Vector.

A set of abandoned signs tied to bollards indicate that the CND has been here, but has already gone home; they were demanding the abandonment of nuclear weapons. But apart from a handful of individuals with handmade, cardboard signs I see no groups addressing the G-20 meeting itself, other than the Youth Fight For Jobs’ slogans concerning the bailout. But when a motorcade passes, catcalls and jeers are heard.

It’s now 5pm and, after four hours of driving, five hours marching and one hour at the G-20, Cardiff’s Socialists are returning home. I board the bus with them and, navigating slowly through the snarled London traffic, we listen to BBC Radio 4. The news is reporting on the closure of the G-20 conference; while they take time out to mention that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper delayed the traditional group photograph of the G-20’s world leaders because “he was on the loo”, no mention is made of today’s protests. Those listening in the bus are disappointed by the lack of coverage.

Most people on the return trip are tired. Many sleep. Others read the latest issue of The Socialist, the Socialist Party’s newspaper. Mia quietly sings “The Internationale” in Swedish.

Due to the traffic, the journey back to Cardiff will be even longer than the journey to London. Over the objections of a few of its members, the South Welsh participants in the Youth Fight For Jobs stop at a McDonald’s before returning to the M4 and home.



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