Scotland anti-G8 protest report, 2005

Report from the G8-resistance in Edinburgh, July 2005, by Prol-Position.

Submitted by Steven. on January 5, 2010

During the anti-G8 protests we were mostly in Edinburgh and spend a bit of time at the Stirling camp. The practical organisation and co-ordination was flawless. Smooth ride from the train to the bus to the campsite. The convergence space was excellent, the meetings well facilitated, the Stirling camp was an example of anarchism in action with co-operation, autonomy, harmony and functionality. We, the movement, have chosen to focus on and priorities the practicalities of our own organising and communicating with each other. However, this may be at the expense of more rigorous political questioning and debating amongst ourselves and also serious attempts to connect with those outside of our movement.
The G8 in Edinburgh/Gleneagles confirmed the post-Genoa trend of the ‘anti-summit-actions’: the direct-action and radical wing is shrinking in numbers, the reformist wing officially dissociates itself from the ‘anarchist’ and the police are more or less able to counter the direct actions. Following some general observations from the summit:
a) The radical counter-summit was smaller and less international. Most of the direct-action folks came from Great Britain, Skandinavia and Germany, only very few Italians and Spanish, hardly any French. The ‘black bloc’ was often referred to as the ‘Germans’, which was probably right. On the big ‘Make Poverty History’ march the police managed to encircle and isolated the ‘black bloc’ within few minutes, in total may be 600 people.
b) The reformist-wing was much less political than at other anti-summit mobilisations. Most of the infra-structure and official orientation of the ‘reformist’ activities were dominated by the big NGOs, such as Oxfam and Christian Aid as well as the media/ pop-star circus. They managed to enforce a ‘wearing white’ dress-code on the big demo. The demo had an atmosphere of ‘we are all against poverty’ and of demonstrated individual/bourgeois humanism, which matches more or less the official line of the Labour Party ‘drop the debt’ policy. There were much less unions, migrant organisations, left-wing parties than e.g. in Genoa.
c) The split between ‘direct actions’ and ‘politics’ deepened. There was hardly any political statements concerning global politics, the UK governmental position on Africa or other general developments from the ‘direct action’ scene. Hardly any political leaflets and on the work-shop-day only very few debates. The main discussions and talks were organised within the trots/ lefty ‘G8 Alternative’ conference. There was an attempt to have a political discussion about ‘precarity, work, unemployment’ around ‘Carnival of Full Enjoyment’, but unfortunately only few people turned up. Also after the bombs in London there was no ‘collective’ statement from the ‘revolutionary movement’. It was also disappointing how little recent international struggles were present and/or discussed within the radical counter-summit, e.g. the school occupations in France, the events in Bolivia, the pension struggles in Rusia etc. The recent european movements coming out of the direct action scene such as social centres or the precarity discussion was also absent. There were few links made between the actions in Scotland and our activities back where we live.
d) The police couldn’t handle their superior position. On the big march the police managed to isolate the ‘direct action’ people. On the ‘Carnival of Full Enjoyment’ and on other smaller events in Edinburgh their strategy of out-numbering the activists turned against them. They managed to contain the ‘Carnival’ which was meant to visit the job center and some bigger companies, but they encircled thousands of passers-by and spectators which lead to a situation were the spectators turned into activists. A lot of conflicts between ‘local people’ and the police evolved. Later in the evening about 400 younger Edinburgh proles had fights with the cops, shouting ‘Who’s streets - Our streets’. During the day of the decentralised blockades the cops didn’t managed to prevent any actions beforehand, but could react to the blockades quite quickly. The legal support groups speak about the biggest police intervention in the UK ever, about 700 people got arrested during the summit.
e) Conclusions: The G8-summit proved once more that the ‘movement’ is very able to organise itself (huge indymedia space, camping sites, decentralised coordinated actions etc.), but particularly after the bombs it became ever more obvious that some street blockades and parties don’t provide an answer to the situation.

[prol-position news #3, 8/2005]