NEO-LABOUR'S 2005 BRIGHTON CONFERENCE
Get yer wallets out, the corporate party conference is coming back
to town with the usual range of policies, directorships and knighthoods
up for grabs to the highest bidder. 20 years ago the Labour
conference was packed with social justice campaigners, says
Terry, a lifelong party activist, as he contemplates ripping up
his membership card. Now you cant get around without
tripping over some suited corporate lackey. Yep, the international
law-breaking, war mongering, money-hungry machine that is the Labour
Party Plc. is back at to stay in the swankiest hotels in Brighton
- whilst the locals have to suffer armed police on every street
Yet again, conference is welcoming with open arms (deals) a range
of corrupt and dodgy corporations. This year organisers are even
putting on a Labour Party Corporate Day in honour of
their rich mates (you couldnt make this up!) Tuesdays
event is being billed as a specially designed commercial package
for business visitors to Conference. Not only do paying attendees
get a reserved seat at Tonys keynote speech and a free lunch
to boot, they are also invited to a series of focused policy
seminars with senior Labour figures. If company bosses find
this event fully booked, Neo Labours exhibitors catalogue
proudly offers sponsorship of other conference events such as Identity
crisis: who do we think we are? sponsored by Siemens (up for
the contracts for I.D.card technology) or how about Kyoto:
dead or alive? International climate change policy beyond 2012?
sponsored by those eco-minded types at Shell. For the smaller entrepreneur
theres always conference maps and staircases to bung a logo
on. Even SchNEWS thinks it could afford its logo on a couple of
directional floor tiles!
Sponsorships a worthwhile business. Take US arms manufacturer,
Raytheon Systems for example. They chucked the Labour party five
grand in 1997, sweetening the gift by flying a load of MPs to Paris
on a jolly at the same time. A real bargain - despite former Raytheon
sales manager, John McDermott, admitting taking £140,000 in
bribes two years previously, the company still managed to pick up
a Ministry of Offence contract to build a £800m battlefield
radar spy-plane system. And dont forget David Sainsbury. Dave
donated the Labour party £1 million in 1997, receiving a Lordship
in return for his much needed cash injection into a party which
had bankrupted itself running its General Election campaign. In
1998, he dug deeper, doubling his donation and, in a completely
unrelated set of events, became the Science Minister in charge of
promoting Genetically Modified food on behalf of his various business
cronies. Who knows what Enron would have got from the £36,000
they gave the Neo Labour for dinner tickets and conference tables?
Given that the company went belly up and drowned in one of the largest
financial scandal in history, SchNEWS guesses that well never
Profits of Doom
If you get bored of wondering around the exhibitors conference,
there are always the corporate sponsored fringe meetings. Why not
trundle along to Transport Minister Sephen Ladymans fireside
chat about the success of the governments transport policy?
Thats being sponsored by the Go-Ahead group. Go-Ahead lost
the Thameslink rail franchise due to utterly crap performance; having
the lowest customer satisfaction rating of any train operating company
- which with our railway system is pretty impressive. Standard Life,
meanwhile, is sponsoring a fringe meeting debating whether pensions
should be made compulsory. As the one of UKs largest pension
providers, Standard Life is just dying to force people to buy its
Round the corner, Patricia Hewitt, the Health Secretary, is giving
a speech to a meeting debating public service delivery.
Theyll be no doctor or nurse joining her on the platform though;
instead shell be cosying up to one of the partners from accountancy
firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers, a company at the forefront of the business
of advising people how to avoid paying the kinds of taxes which
are needed to run the a health service. Much of this corporate success
has been thanks the Neo Labour peer, Lord Michael Levy. He is reported
to have raised £12 million for the partys high
value fund before the 1997 election, quickly becoming known
as Mr Cashpoint. Although a multi-millionaire, he only
paid £5,000 in tax in 1998-9 and less than £10,000 in
1997-8 as he said he wasnt working.
Of the 97 official high-value donors in 1998-9 more than 30 have
received some kind of Government job. And, the revolving door works
both ways: in order to maintain influence at the heart of government,
the corporations are buying up the partys special advisers.
Tim Allan, a former Downing Street adviser, went on to become the
Director of Corporate Communications for Rupert Murdochs BSkyB.
Blairs former Gatekeeper private secretary, Anji
Hunter, also left Tonys side to take over as Director of Communications
at BP on a salary of £200,000.
If all the corporate activity wears you out, dont think that
Bonos going to save you. Hes in town and headlining
on Wednesday to tell conference-goers how to solve world poverty.
In case you miss the speech, SchNEWS can reveal that lapdog Bonio
will likely be recommending business as usual. Two years ago in
a similar discussion on poverty Bono must have missed the fact that
one quarter of US children grow up in poverty, when he said hed
moved on from U2s anti-American lyrics, adding, now,
America looks smart and dare I say it, sexy again. Give him
When, back in 1998, Peter Mandelson told reporters that the
Labour party is intensely relaxed about people getting filthy rich,
he was clearly talking in particular about elite members of Neo
Labour and its corporate cronies, because Labour MPs were dashing
around Brighton last week in a desperate attempt to find themselves
somewhere to stay. They come way down on the pecking list for hotels,
with the party elite and the exhibitors booking some 18 months ahead.
Thats priorities for you! No wonder exhibitors recently praised
the party for running the friendliest political conference
in Europe! The party is now so far from its roots as a political
party of the working classes as to be unrecognisable and corporate
interests have effectively privatised the political process. Fight
back. Dont give money to strange men in suits - visit the
SchNEWS website and chuck us a tenner instead!
* For more on Neo Labours corporate links www.red-star-research.org.uk
of policing this year:
* Neo Labour Conference in Brighton £3.692 million.
Paid for by central government (ie taxpayer)
* DSEI Arms Fair £4 million (paid for by central
* Raft Race Fundraiser organised by the RNLI £4,000
(see briefs back page)
CRAP ARREST OF THE WEEK
For being in a Barbershop Quartet!
Police arrested four people at last weeks DSEi Arms Fair
protest who performed an anti-war song in the style of a Barbershop
Quartet with hands covered in blood. They were originally arrested
them under an obscure 1824 enclosure law, then for burglary.
After a few hours in the cell they were let go with a fixed penalty
notice of £80 for causing harassment alarm or distress.
Not a good result for public harmony.
Hippies and anarchists never get anything organised do
they? Or if they do, it never lasts because they lack bureaucratic
fibre dont they? Well in 1972, a bunch of layabouts broke
into a disused Ministry of Defence facility in Copenhagen, Denmark,
and declared an autonomous living space, which they named Christiana.
Losers from all parts of Denmark joined in, building
houses, planting gardens, sharing skills and providing services
until a thriving Freetown was established, with hundreds of residents.
33 years later and they are still there.
The towns guiding principle is that everything is allowed
until it bothers somebody else. The only rules are a ban on hard
drugs, violence, weapons and the selling or renting of buildings
or living space. All decisions are made collectively in a common
meeting open to all residents, which are held whenever needed.
There is no governing council or other administrative body, and
decisions are made by consensus rather than majority vote.
Annoyingly for the Danish authorities this concept seemed to work
too damn well (you can just imagine the politicians saying to each
other, Dont worry, theyll be at each others
throats within a year
). The town however, hadnt
read the script and went from strength to strength, growing to over
a thousand residents and becoming a centre for art, music and sustainable
living. They developed and maintained an entire infrastructure for
the town with electricity (experimenting with solar and renewables
long before it was mainstream), water supplies, garbage collection
and recycling. In time they had a soccer team, a nursery and childrens
playgrounds, a weekly newspaper, a radio station, communal shops
and factories (specialising in sustainable, eco-friendly innovations
of course), a restaurant and several cafes and night clubs. Tourists
and locals started wanting to see what all the fuss was about, and
eventually Christiana became the third most popular attraction in
Denmark with 750,000 visitors a year! After 25 years of trying unsuccessfully
to dismantle the community, from political and legal pressure to
police raids on the site, the government finally had to give up
in 1994 and they agreed to tolerate the town and legalise
it as a social experiment
Until recently that is. In the summer of 2004 a new law (Law 205)
was passed, a 3-phase bill effectively designed to finally destroy
Christiana for good. By forcing all Danes to register with the state
and essentially then privatising the land beneath their feet, on
Jan 1st 2006 the residents will have to pay the government-set
market price for their land or face removal. Building and planning
regulations will begin to be enforced, with any buildings not meeting
normal (i.e. marketable) standards will be torn down.
Despite a march of 10,000 protestors against the law in Oct 2004,
plans are still in place and the opening skirmishes of the battle
for Christiana and self-management have already begun. On Sept 7th,
around 200 riot police stormed in and quickly sealed off Fredens
Eng (The Meadow of Peace), part of the site where people live
in trailers. In one of the biggest mass arrests in Denmark ever,
the police nicked over 100 people, forcibly removing people and
caravans alike. There are various reports of injured people, with
some charged for not following police orders and others relating
to violence against the police. The town is now bracing itself for
increased attacks like this one as New Year approaches. Well we
cant allow people to govern themselves can we?
The towns own site is www.christiania.org
Footage of raids and other links at www.indymedia.org
* A global day of action happened last week in support of a community
of neutrality in Columbia. In 1997, the Community of San José
de Apartadó declared themselves a Peace Community,hoping
to create a space free from fighters from any group involved in
the countrys endless conflict to entering their land. The
community believe that one group attracts the other, so want nowt
to do with any of em.
The actions were to commemorate the killing of 8 residents (3 of
them kids) by the Army last February. They also coincided with an
international Gathering in San Jose, Columbia. More at www.colombiasolidarity.org.uk
SchNEWS in brief
- Demonstration against Compulsory Treatment Orders - enforced
medication on mentally ill people - next Monday (26th) 12.30pm
outside the Brighton Centre, organised by Mad Pride and No Force.
- Section 60 Benefit Gig & Party for the
Saorsa social centre and people facing court after the G8. Two
live music stages, two sound systems, films, food, bar, kids space
and chill out zone. Music will be a wide range of Indy, punk,
reggae, metal, house and Celtic rock. Friday (30th) at the Warehouse,
20 Dora Street, Dalmarnock, Glasgow. www.g42collective.net
- Talk with an Israeli anarchist from a refusenik group
in Israel, about the Palestine Wall and the Gaza pullout, at The
Red Rose, 129 Seven Sisters Rd, London, 8pm, Thurs 29th
- Bubbling up Down Under - Workers struggles in Australia.
Members of Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group will be speaking
at the Autonomy Club, Freedom Bookshop next Thursday (29th) Angel
Alley, 84b Whitechapel High St, London E1 7.30pm email@example.com
- If youre in the Bath area and fancy some radical literature
check out the From Ashes Rise stall at Green
Park Station most Saturdays 07814 677458 firstname.lastname@example.org
- Support the sacked Gate Gourmet workers - join the pickets
between the Cargo terminal and Terminal 4 (7am to 7pm) www.sackedbygategourmet.org.uk
- Monday (26th) is the start of the trial of the George Fox
6 - six Lancaster University students who were charged with
aggravated trespass who were trespassing on their own universitys
property (!) when handing out leaflets against a privatisation
conference. Demonstration at Lancaster Magistrates Court, Thurnham
St, Lancaster from 8.45am. www.free-webspace.biz/GeorgeFox
- Who Pays The Bill? New rules from the Association Of
Police Officers force all private events - community, sports,
charities and festivals - to pay the bill for policing. Events
such as the Mumbles Raft Race Fundraiser in aid of lifeboats -
which has gone on incident free for 21 years but had to pay £4000
from the £15000 raised for unneeded cops to be there. Football
clubs will be hit with a 43% rise in police costs. On the other
hand the DSEi Arms Fair was exempt - because it was held
indoors, and the protests were outside.
Crap Racism of the Week
For spending too long on the bog!
On the anniversary of 9-11 two Muslim men were forced off a plane
by fellow passengers. The flight due to leave from Cyprus was cancelled
after some passengers became worried that one of the men had spent
a long time on the toilet. They were removed from the plane and
questioned by police who concluded there was no problem with the
men who had been on a pilgrimage to see a Muslim spiritual figure
in northern Cyprus. The flight took off the next day without the
two men, who had to fly with a different airline.
Last week two peace campaigners Kate Holcombe and Ludd
McCloud spent three days up a 150 foot communication mast inside
a secret military base at Padworth Common, Berkshire. With enough
food and water for a week, they secured a platform up the mast,
unfurled banners Nukes Out and US Bases Out Of
UK, and hung out at Padworth which is the distribution
hub for fuel to UKs nuclear weapons factory at Aldermaston,
and US bases in Britain.
But when the MOD built a fence around the occupied mast and guarded
it with bods from private security firm Corporate Guarding, the
two protesters decided to show how crap the security was, and escaped
during the early hours of Monday which included breaking
out of the base itself. For more see: www.tridentploughshares.org
* Demonstration this Sunday (25th) at USAF Lakenheath to
demand the withdrawal of the 110 nuclear bombs deployed at this
base. 12pm main gate on the A1065 3 miles sth of Brandon. 01508
When a Muslim woman became the target of a hate-mail campaign by
Flemish fascists for wearing a headscarf to work, no-one saw how
it would backfire.
Her co-workers began to all wear scarves themselves, and the factorys
owner has been on international media channels denouncing the cowardly
Nazis. She even got a visit from the Belgian King! The incident
has proved embarrassing for the countrys strong right-wing
anti-immigrant party, who had previously supported such intolerant
Before the DSEi Arms Fair in London, ten thousand copies of a free
paper, the East London Adversaries, was delivered to about 90% of
homes in the Canning Town area. It was similar in appearance to
the East London Advertiser and is the latest in a long list of spoof
papers that have been produced. The editor of the Advertiser claims
that Anarchists passed off the Advertiser, clearly he
is pissed off that his reputation has been tarnished.
But his reputation must be pretty low because as one papergirl who
delivered the spoof Adversaries commented:
I had to assure people that it wasnt the Advertiser before
they would take a paper from me
Editor Malcolm Starbrook says that his paper is apolitical and
said We always report on the event, but we never take a view.
Presumably the international arms trade is not good for advertisingOf
the spoof, Starbrook moaned Its all spun against the
organisers of the event, but we have never tried to side with the
protesters. Clearly the Advertiser is more used to parroting
the police line about violent baby-eating anarchists: I am
angered that an organisation sets itself up to replicate a reputable
newspaper and uses the respect we have to gain support for what
is a call for protests and, even worse, the possibility of violence.
- unlike the business of selling cluster bombs, pistols and helicopter
gunships, of course.
Starbrook also claimed that: If we could stop them we would,
but the whole thing about anarchy is that you cant find those
in charge. Clearly he hadnt looked that closely or he
would have seen the words Published by Hamsters and
their contact details. A spokesperson for the Hamsters said, Nobody
from the Advertiser has tried to contact us via either email or
phone so Starbrook would appear to be making malicious claims in
order to discredit our publication
The East End Advertiser
is welcome to take legal action if he rates his chances, although
no other political spoof that I am aware of has lost such a case.
In the meantime, perhaps Hamsters will seek legal advice as to the
possibility of issuing a writ for libel against us. To read
East London Adversaries see: www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2005/09/323198.html
SchNEWS warns all readers... watch out for goose-steppers down
on the seafront this week. Honest!
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