Out of the Silos

The reality of relations between the dispossessed and the elite of this country haven’t been as raw and exposed since Orgreave.

But some of the characters have changed. The industrial working class is dead, morphed into a thousand powerless voices, from the workers on zero hours to the homeless and abused, the low-pay workers and the unemployed and the refugees fleeing war-zones created in part by Britain’s own disastrous foreign policy.

This weekend London – and wider parts of urban Britain have a weird hallucinatory charge to them. They feel like the Black Lodge from Twin Peak, ‘a nightmarish place occupied by malign spirits who travel by electricity, talk backwards and feed on a substance made up of human pain and suffering.’

If the actors have changed power relations remain the same.

But as the writer Naomi Klein noted after interviewing Alexis Tsipras before he was elected in Greece, where he said ‘It is enough in this moment to say no’ – it is not enough to say no any more.

Klein disagrees: “The triumph of neoliberalism is the idea that the alternative is always even worse. To overturn that there has to be a boldness and a recapturing of the utopian imagination. If we can’t do that, then I really don’t think we have a chance against these guys.”

Klein suggests a new unity between the groups that spontaneously expressed resistance – Black Lives Matter, various green and community groups – and argues for them to come together. “To resist this we have get out of the silos,” she says. “Environmentalists in one corner, feminists in one corner, racial justice in another. We don’t have enough spaces where we can get together.”

Klein suggests collective memory as an essential part if resistance. And watching the community organisation in the aftermath of the Grenfell disaster reminded me of Pathe coverage of the Blitz. Leadership, completely absent from the elected officials, culpable and complicit, is coming instead from the streets, the communities and the churchs.

The media reaction has been predictable.

The Times and the Mail and the Telegraph and the Express have blamed everyone but the obvious. The Express tried to pin it on ‘EU regulation’ while the Mail tried ‘green targets’.

While a hundred scribes and underlings like Stephen Daisley bleat: “Why couldn’t these Trotskyist thugs leave the Grenfell families alone to protest in peace? We don’t need rampaging mobs right now.” As if having your family burnt to death wouldn’t be enough to make you angry?

The Times did their part.




Iain Martin weighed in with a new level of smear:

How to get out of here?

Practical community solidarity, mass peaceful protest and direct action are in full flow.

What about a parliamentary route?

Can May been run of Westminster? Can we get a vote of no confidence?

Mass protest and insurgency combined with a progressive coalition could oust this grim regime. The Blitz spirit can be re-born and re-made into a force to re-make society for the many not the few. The response to this crisis must include gentrification, housing as a right, poverty and the democratic deficit that defines British society. It is a question of citizenship and rejecting subject-status.

It is not enough to say no any more.


TODAY: Glasgow stands with you. 2pm, Buchanan St steps. (Called by the Living Rent Campaign)

Comments (15)

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  1. Alasdair Macdonald says:

    It is clear that the mainstream media are trying to neutralise Grenfell Towers as a political cause, or rather, to divert the anger on to other political themes where they feel they have established hegemony – ‘regulation and red tape’, ‘eco politics’, ‘Trotskyism’, ‘non-British troublemakers.’ ‘Political’ is baaaaaaad. What the Conservatives do is not ‘political’!!! And, pigs fly.

    By chance, a couple of months ago I found out about the New Cross fire which took place in the 1980s, when I took a wrong turning when cycling to Deptford and saw the memorial plaque. I researched it and Mrs Thatcher’s response was very similar to Mrs May’s and the media monstered the black victims, especially as they were led by racist hate figur, Darius Howe. I will be 70 this year, so the 1980s is well within memory, yet little of that incident was known to me as a resident of Glasgow. With no internet, we were hugely dependent on the media, which clearly quarantined this incident.

    We must ensure that social media keeps the Grenfell Tower atrocity in the public consciousness.

    1. kate macleod says:

      maybe england can become a society, maybe it does want to at last.

      but it can’t arise from a national ‘mood’ rather than a decision not to be led or governed again by ruthless & greedy politicians, media and corporate allies and royal PRs who don’t care about people at all.
      “they do not care about us” yes that’s true.
      they being people who value profits above life, such as most governments and corporations.

      it has never been more possible for the uk to have a PM who is a decent person, with a CV to show a real commitment to people rather than profit. and though Corbyn’s courage, endurance, lack of corruption and lack of malice has been crucial to this opportunity, so has his lack of charisma – he presents as of the many, intimidates no one in expensive tailoring, accessories or class accent as insignia of power and money, has seduced and bought no one. he is replaceable by any other incorruptible workhorse who will speak politely and reasonably to abusive and partisan journalists acting in bad faith or traitorous, narcissistic political colleagues, while resolutely attempting to pursue the public interest that they couldn’t care less about.

      poor and working people in scotland as elsewhere cannot be at all sure that the SNP will deliver more than UKLabour ( or even, on fishing employment, scottish tories) , so many voted for them again, not the powerless and right wing Scottish Labour.
      for example, it seems the snp has given scottish fisherman ( amongst others) the impression they don’t care about them and would deliver their livings over to the neo-liberal EU in an indy scotland, although other more ‘nationalist’ and local employment orientated options are apparently available when not a full EU member, as in nordic models. But as usual who is asking what people want or need to survive? and if they tell you, ignore it.

      I think a touchstone is that UKLabour offers to increase corporate tax, while the SNP offers to cut it. re trickle down theory, does the SNP think that the rich pissing their spare change on people is still a vote winner? Is that a potential national government the non wealthy can trust? No it isn’t.

      1. Legerwood says:

        “”poor and working people in scotland as elsewhere cannot be at all sure that the SNP will deliver more than UKLabour ( or even, on fishing employment, scottish tories) , so many voted for them again, …””

        The SNP has already delivered more than UK Labour. Have you forgotten the mitigation of the bedroom tax by the SNP? They took steps to mitigate it before Labour had decided whether they were for it or again it.

        Doing away with prescription charges and tuition fees to much criticism from Labour in Scotland but now these very same policies, already in place in Scotland, are now in Labour’s manifesto for GE 2017.

        Free nursery provision now extended to 2 year olds and free school meals for P1-3. Council houses being built and right to buy scrapped so that they remain in public ownership.

        Introduction of Road Equivalent Tarriff which has given a huge boost to the economies of the Inner and Outer Hebrides. And on and on.

        People seem to have forgotten just how much the SNP has delivered for communities across Scotland and all to a constant barrage of criticism from Labour in Scotland.

        Labour led by Mr Cornyn may be making the right noises now but don’t forget that many of the Labour MPs still in Parliament were the same ones who walked into the lobbies to vote for the Tories welfare cuts, or sat on their hands and let them pass by abstaining.

        And don’t forget it was the Tories who sold the fishermen out in the first place all those years ago and will do so again if it means a better deal can be negotiated for the City of London.

        1. Malcolm Pate says:

          I think there are a lot of Unionists who read and comment on this site. My question to them is how on earth can you support (especially Tories) when you see the shocking way they are running the UK. They tell Scotland that they are too wee, too stupid, and a whole lot of other rubbish to run their own country. I see the way the Scottish government is handling the country and there is no comparison with Westminster. Just think if Scotland had the power to handle all the finances that Scotland produces instead of the pocket money that Scotland gets from Westminster we could be a much stronger and better country. Can you imagine if Scotland were to behave like Theresa Mays party they wouldnt last five minutes. Scotland needs everyone to get behind their Government to get clear of the corrupt lot in London. Once Scotland gets Independence you can have any Government of your choice and your vote will count. Scotland is going to get dragged further down if it doesnt change. The Tories, Labour and Liberals in Scotland are not sticking up for Scotland and only answer to their bosses in London who dont care about Scotland.

      2. ronald alexander mcdonald says:

        The fact is Corbyn lost the election. He was up against the worst (tory) campaign in modern political history and the most inept prime minister I can remember. She is so bad, she became a laughing stock. A pretty sick one at that.

        True, Corbyn was against a hostile Labour PLP and an even more hostile media. He had to compromise to renew Trident and not reverse many public spending cuts, to produce a manifesto.
        In addition, the leaderships position on the EU is coming out of the single market and customs union. Identical to the extreme right wing tory party.

        If they ever form a government what else will they compromise on? Don’t think for a minute the Labour PLP will give Corbyn a clear run.

  2. douglas clark says:

    I doubt it will work. I think we are in for a long hot summer. Londoners are not passive.

    Frankly the inept government we have just now, teeters on a brink.

  3. douglas clark says:

    Quite odd that my comment didn’t appear.

    Just to say that Londoners are not particularly passive. I think this might be a long, hot, summer.

    Interested to see whether this appears here or not.

  4. bringiton says:

    The internet was originally conceived by scientists as a means of SHARING information for the common good and advancement of knowledge.
    It is largely Tory free because their ethos is not to share but dictate to others.
    However,the Tory press based in England continue to spout the message that their wealthy owners dictate.
    The internet can be the place where disparate peoples come together with the common aim of changing the way the establishment functions.
    We saw this during the Scottish independence referendum where internet based sites were the only voices speaking out against the establishment view and this is still the case.
    The press and broadcasters in the UK (HM press) are embedded in the establishment who have a symbiotic relationship with government in maintaining control over the population.
    It is going to take time for this cultural change to become effective during which the establishment will seek to gain control over the new information medium under the guise of protecting us from “extremists”.
    Successive governments and the press barons in the UK have been able to control the flow of information because it was limited and licensed solely to the UK but the internet is information sans frontières and much more difficult to “regulate”.
    Meantime,we must encourage people to make more use of this medium as an information source and as a place where citizens can legitimately organise and challenge their government’s policies.

    1. Willie says:

      As I recall reading somewhere the internet was largely set up at CERN by scientists funded by the CIA.

  5. J Galt says:

    I think you’ll find the “Blitz Spirit” was largely manufactured by the same culprits (in cahoots with a fearful establishment), who are now monstering the Grenfell Tower protesters!

    1. Yes J – you may well be right about the manufacture of the ‘Blitz spirit’ but I think, even if its myth it can still have useful resonance

      1. jack elliot says:



        En ma fin git mon commencement.




        truths are the cornerstone of myrhs


  6. florian albert says:

    ‘Mass protests and insurgency combined with a progressive coalition could oust this grim regime.’

    It is worth remembering that the grim regime has been in power for ten days. It got there as a result of an election.

    Mike Small may be in favour of ‘insurgency’, I doubt he will find many fellow-insurgents.

      1. florian albert says:

        I have been watching events in West London. I see people who are, understandably, angry and in shock.
        I do not see people – apart from the Socialist Workers and they don’t count – calling for ‘regime’ change.

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