UK against austerity - general discussion

Submitted by Mike Harman on November 25, 2010

Starting this for more general/long term discussion of the anti-cuts protests in the UK. We have several 'newsy' threads but I think there's a need for a more general one to discuss what's going on with this overall, the composition of the protests, how it could develop, what the dangers are, what we can contribute to it etc.

For me there are a few main questions about the direction of the protests:

I'm really, really happy to see call outs for November 30th, and what appears to be a general appetite for 'more of the same' - in terms of road blocking/occupations, hopefully not so much getting kettled in Whitehall set piece policing operations.

It looks like that specific date was set by anticuts.com / NCAFC which is WP/AWL/Revo according to another thread. However it's obvious that the local demonstrations aren't yet dominated by any one political group, and while things continue to develop that's likely to get harder rather than easier (no established Trot base in schools and sixth form colleges, feels like the SWP aren't up to much compared to 2003 etc.). The NUS was mostly absent from everything yesterday, they appear to be getting mostly ignored now (and don't have a base in schools and sixth form colleges either).

The main things that concern me here are two-fold. First, after November 30th there are only a couple of weeks before all educational institutions go on winter break for 2-4 weeks. This was one of the things that hamstrung the anti-CPE movement in France 2005, but in that case it was the much longer summer holidays. It's also going to be getting cold, which means that central London protests will get smaller and easier to police, although from yesterday it looks like the move to localised actions and occupations has been very successful (more than ten, less than twenty universities in some kind of occupation?), and occupations ought to be fairly warm at least.

If momentum is still high as people go on break, it might resume once people get back in January, or it might not. It looks like there won't be any climbdown on policy, although that's very hard to predict and they may well try to come up with a change on paper that's enough to fragment the movement without being a genuine concession, that gives some kind of saving of face for the Lib Dems etc. - talking tough about it now doesn't mean there won't be shennanigans later.

If there's no concession then there's no particular reason for things to just stop, apart from people running out of energy, being worn down by heavy policing and set pieces, politicos hijacking occupations and alienating everyone but themselves etc. those are quite a few reasons really. Overall I'd be interested to know what people a bit closer to this think about how it might be sustained over the next few weeks or months, how much appetite there is to keep going etc.

The next main concern is how much this is going to be kept separate from attacks on the rest of the working class. The London firefighters strike I'm not sure of the current status, but that was put on hold just before this all flared up - had it continued we might have seen students on FBU picket lines etc. I'm not aware of any other official disputes on any kind of scale at the moment, and generally strikes before Christmas get called off anyway even if they get called in the first place.

On top of this there is the TUC, and Len McKluskey (newly elected general secretary of Unite who apparently /loves/ Milliband and managed to give an interview to the Guardian on the day of the protests without the word 'students' being printed once).

They have so far only quietly announced a London demo on 26th March which is a full four months away. While the official TUC demo is going to be pointless in itself, like the NUS march on November 10th it could be a jumping off point for other things, but at four months away it feels relatively unlikely that students will still be protesting then on any scale - so a big question is what links can be made between the actively protesting students at the moment and workers in general long before that date.

It was mentioned on another thread that a student day of action on a Saturday would would allow more workers to participate. Unrealistic to expect that any but a few would take time out of work either officially or bunking off to go on a weekday demo - since at the moment they'd likely be isolated in their workplace - that sort of thing is only likely to happen once there's some initial momentum.

This post might sound very pessimistic but I like to be pleasantly surprised rather than crushingly disappointed ;)

I'm pretty far away from all this, although trying to keep up as closely as possible, a few questions for those a bit closer:

* What's the current status of the London firefighters dispute? Is further industrial action basically off the cards now?

* Does anyone know of action being taken against the redundancy notices being handed around in councils? Seems like while these are somewhat localised attacks, they're happening in a lot of cities, which will in many cases be the same ones that have burgeoning student movements.

* Any other workplace disputes coming up?

* Anyone involved with anti-cuts groups think it's worth trying to call a day of action on a Saturday after the Nov 30th one? Is there any kind of communication network between the various groups to talk about stuff like this? Seems like not to me, although I'm also not sure what it'd look like at this point beyond an activist e-list.

* That so much of the mobilisation/communication is happening on facebook/twitter is a double-edged sword - it's good that people aren't relying on either the national media, or traditional activist channels like indymedia and the trot groups to organise most of this (although at least the university events seem mainly started by anti cuts groups, but perhaps not all the school ones), but they're also really, really bad in terms of privacy and centralisation. The #demo2010 hashtag on twitter was never trended yesterday, which led to conspiracy theories about censorship, although the most likely explanation was a username exists called 'demo2010' and twitter doesn't trend usernames. It's good to see a few blogs get set up for the occupations, those at least provide some kind of infrastructure that's closer to being independently run.

Lots more to say but this is long enough already.

Mike Harman

13 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mike Harman on November 25, 2010

Sabotage asked on the Nov 24th thread:

Sabotage

keep on hearing about consensus being used, how did all these non-political students learn about that spontaneously???

maybe political groups and the student unions are not leading these, but definitely sounds like some activist types are???

which is fine, just interesting...also that it is working well! chuckle

I'm about as geographically distant from this as you are if not further, but the impression I get is that most universities (at least the ones that have gone into occupation, although that might not be 100% true of yesterday which appears to have had a mixture of planned and relatively unplanned occupations) have an anti-cuts group, and that group will number between tens and the low hundreds, and be made up primarily of those who were already politicised before this started.

I have no idea of actual composition, but in general you could expect some or all of the following:

- a handful of anarchists from AF/Solfed - I don't know exact numbers but in the mid-hundreds between them including non-students, so quite thinly spread I'd think.

- possibly a much higher number of people who identify as 'anarchist' but aren't in any organisation, and may have quite different politics to the general trend on here. There is http://autonomousstudentsnetwork.wordpress.com/ which is all I know about in terms of specific anarchist student organising.

- various Trotskyist groups:
-- The SWP - they managed very successfully to control and fuck up the anti-war movement in 2003. But since then got embroiled in various fiascos like the electoral coalition RESPECT, and had some kind of implosion a year or two ago with major part figures either quitting or being forced out. Also all the students who were around in 2003 have left university by now. They will still be around, in quite large numbers, but apart from apparently forming their own cordon in Scotland to prevent an occupation don't appear to have their act together in terms of a front group or in taking this over.

- Workers Power / AWL / Revolution - these are a bit smaller than the SWP, although maybe not in terms of student numbers. They are at least partially, if not entirely, behind the National Coalition Against Fees and Cuts - http://anticuts.com/. One of their members had a longish phone interview from the Westminster kettle yesterday (which was not bad at all in terms of content iirc). They appear to have called both the 24th and 30th days of action, but I have no idea if they have any significant local presence or just the most organised website and media interaction.

- The only other Trot group of note is the Socialst Party, they are somewhat saner than the SWP etc. and traditionally more interested in workplace etc. issues than the other groups who tend to jump around campaigns loads, again I don't know what kind of presence they have in universities.

- There are also various activist groups like People and Planet, one person interviewed on the 10th November was from the Plane Stupid anti-Heathrow extension group which did some high profile (but quite stupid) actions a year or so ago. They will likely be well into consensus decision making. There will also obviously be unaligned lefties - people who are loosely Trotskyist but not in an organisation.

- Unlike the US there are almost zero Maoist groups in the UK. There are some very crazy Trot cults like the WRP that have youth sections but they are thankfully tiny.

- There is probably very little direct involvement, and certainly not control, but the NUS. Most of the higher up NUS officials will be Labour Party, and they have not had any pretence of being remotely 'left' since the '80s, it is going to be hard for Labour or the NUS to do anything but talk shit about the protests IMO - they won't be able to take them over, they are in a very messy situation in terms of either lining up directly with the coalition government or actually opposing the cuts, so will probably do both and fuck it up in each direction.

So, others may correct me, but my feeling is that on a national level, none of those political tendencies has anything like any kind of overall control. To me the best organised at the moment is the NCAFC, but they are nowhere compared to the informal organisation happening in terms of the general mobilisation, and also have non-partisan competition in http://anticuts.org.uk/ although again I'm not sure if that's at all an expression of local groups. The NFAFC at the moment also appears to be following the direction of the protests rather than trying to direct it - they are all for occupations etc., they have refused to condemn and in some cases supported Millbank etc., but that doesn't mean they won't be a problem later.

At a local level, at least from what JK has said about Sussex, while the groups are dominated by politicos, they're not dominated by any one particular group. So the main issue at least at the moment, is whether those groups can extend themselves to students who are being politicised by events rather than just alienating them (particularly if those same groups are the ones doing the occupations). I hope this explains why the groups could be consensus-based/activisty, without being dominated by a particular group.

It's also worth noting here for people not in the UK that this situation is quite different from 2003 when there were also school walkouts, over one million on the Feb 15th anti-war protests, hundreds of thousands on some later days etc.

In 2003 you had a much stronger SWP/WP etc., there was no facebook/twitter so most of the organising/communication was through IMC/e-lists/party newspapers. This site just about got started in 2002/3 - it was this site that actually got me involved with politics on any practical level, I'd been pretty isolated up until then, but it was very embryonic, and very, very different in terms of focus eight years ago. Also both the AF and Solfed have seen quite a considerable increase in members since then, so while overall numbers of politicos may not have gone up a great deal, the composition/focus has definitely changed.

Samotnaf

13 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Samotnaf on November 25, 2010

WP - Workers' Power?
AWL - presumably not as spikey as the Wikipedia definition -

An awl is a long pointed spike

- but the Alliance for Worker's Liberty?
And Revolution - another section of Workers' Power - but how exactly is it different from WP?

Sorry for naive questions - acronyms have changed over the years and I haven't kept up because the UK left hasn't interested me for years. Obviously now things are beginning to happen back in the mother country I need to get informed....

Mike Harman

13 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mike Harman on November 25, 2010

WP - yes Workers's Power. Note there was a split a couple of years back into http://www.permanentrevolution.net/ - one is the young upstarts, the other is the older trade union/traditional trot types who were kicked out, pretty sure PR is the older ones.

AWL - yes the Alliance for Workers Liberty

Revolution - they are a youth-specific front group for Workers Power, but unless I've got it mixed up, people in the front group do not in any way have to join Workers Power (i.e. it's an actual front group, whereas some parties can only manage completely pretend ones). I believe some people who post on here were either members of them in 2002/3-ish or at least knew people who were so they may be able to clarify. At least at that time, it would be completely possible to join Revolution, but not have any real affiliation for or knowledge of Trotskyist politics at all, this somewhat confused dynamic between the two groups was what eventually led to the split in WP itself after a while. This is mostly trivia, but it's a bit different from just being the WP equivalent of a student SWP group afaik.

cobbler

13 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by cobbler on November 25, 2010

Regarding consensus, I wonder if the presence of politically aware people is what has caused it. If you bring a group of students together to protest, but with no imposed leadership, surely it's a style of organisation which could realistically be expected to emerge. It's organic, spontaneous, inclusive etc...

klas batalo

13 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by klas batalo on November 25, 2010

yeah informal consensus is different then formal, you are right...

Mike Harman

13 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mike Harman on November 25, 2010

Yes this is another possibility, it's a bad sign that we automatically associate consensus with bizarre rules and wavy hands.

Ramona

13 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Ramona on November 25, 2010

Back in the bad old days around 2002/3 I was in Revolution and members were strongly encouraged to join Worker's Power, especially any members who became particularly active in terms of organising and recruitment. But no one was made to join, they'd rather hang onto members in Revolution than risk losing them by pressuring them into WP.

Regards consensus decision making - at Edinburgh it's been working really, really well in groups of up to 100 people, facilitators are all young (not sure what political backgrounds specifically, but don't get the impression they're SWP, a fair few from the anarchist society are quite active in meetings though) and doing a very impressive job of it - very quick to teach everyone how it works, and people have been waving hands around all over the place.

I get the impression lots of people have used consensus before, and the students here have gone into occupation before, but there haven't been any non-students steering the wheel so far.

Report from the field...

http://libcom.org/news/interview-edinburgh-university-students-under-occupation-25112010

Samotnaf

13 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Samotnaf on November 25, 2010

zorbag:

Regards consensus decision making - at Edinburgh it's been working really, really well in groups of up to 100 people,

What do you mean by " it's been working really, really well "? In what way? What decisions are made, actions are taken and what discussions develop as a result of this consensus? Is consensus also established round texts, slogans, posters? If so, what comes out of these texts? I'm asking because I'm not really sure that consensus is automatically helpful for the progress of a social movement at all. But I need to know more about the content of this consensus.

Submitted by Ramona on November 25, 2010

Hmm ok. Well, the decision to have an occupation in the first place, the decision to keep it going as long as possible, practical things like how we're dealing with uni security guards and so on... The list of demands was all discussed, nit-picked and agreed on by consensus (this takes fucking forever), anything produced like leaflets etc, the decision to have a rally today... All of it really. There's been a consensus decision to NOT try and reach a consensus on our position on Millbank (this is what reporters have been asking us about mainly) because no one can agree. It's all very tentative but it's interesting to see how it happens, and it does feel like it's stopping everything getting taken over by a small group of people.

Jason Cortez

13 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Jason Cortez on November 25, 2010

Does anyone know of action being taken against the redundancy notices being handed around in councils? Seems like while these are somewhat localised attacks, they're happening in a lot of cities, which will in many cases be the same ones that have burgeoning student movements.

I believe that all Teacher Assistants in LB Greenwich have been told that they will need to reapply in April for their jobs on worse conditions (not sure about pay). I think they are mainly in Unison (the association which had its elected officers(Socialist Party) witch-hunted out and replaced with central office hacks. So unlikely that much encouragement for resistance will come those quaters. The local NUT have been better (calling joint meetings in at lest some schools and trying to encourage members to support the TAs) but nationally nada really.

Mike Harman

13 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mike Harman on November 26, 2010

Tube strike 28th/29th November - http://www.rmt.org.uk/Templates/Internal.asp?NodeId=139445

Ed

13 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Ed on November 26, 2010

Oh for fuck's sake, this is a fucking pisstake! Every time I leave the fucking country, the working class decide they're gonna go all 1968.. it was hard enough reading about the posties wildcats from abroad, this is heartbreaking :(

Anyway, the important thing that needs to happen now is that people from different struggles need to start speaking to each other.. if tube workers are going on strike the day before fresh rounds of student protest (seems daft not to do it on the same day) then I think it's important that students go down, talk to workers and see where they can support each other.. I dunno if picket lines have been announced but if students from the occupations went down to show their support I imagine that it could only be a positive development..

Submitted by fingers malone on November 26, 2010

Ed

Oh for fuck's sake, this is a fucking pisstake! Every time I leave the fucking country, the working class decide they're gonna go all 1968.. it was hard enough reading about the posties wildcats from abroad, this is heartbreaking :(

Me too, when I left the country fuck all had happened for years, I´m really pissed off now. You better be saving something really full on for when I´m home for Christmas....

I agree with the thing about going to picket lines too by the way.

(edit) Ok I still can´t use the quote thingy, the first bit is ed the second bit is me ok?

edit - admin, fixed for yer

Auto

13 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Auto on November 26, 2010

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=166941933346069#!/event.php?eid=166941933346069

A call has gone out for a united day of action on the 4th December. Students, Workers, Unemployed, everyone.

Spread the word if you can.

Rum Lad

13 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Rum Lad on November 26, 2010

If the Libertarian left in London can be doing anything right now there should be strong support of the tube strike. Perhaps an open letter of solidarity signed by various organisations, and student occupations, perhaps printed in a newspaper. It could prove very worthwhile.

I would organise it, but not being a London resident it wouldn't seem right.

Auto

13 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Auto on November 26, 2010

NCAFC has just called for its own day of action on Sunday the 5th of Dec (Third day of action), listing pretty much verbatim the reasons given in the call-out for Saturday the 4th.

The question is why did they start their own (apparently competing) event when the other one already has over 100 members?

Jason Cortez

13 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Jason Cortez on November 26, 2010

Well everyone is vying for glory.

Auto

13 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Auto on November 26, 2010

Although on the plus side, it seems as though there is some discussion going on in an attempt to sync the dates.

Auto

13 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Auto on November 27, 2010

Yeah, looks like the date is now the 5th. I was glad to see that the other group involved seemed to be keen on reaching a consensus over what should be done.

I'm a bit wary of the NCAFC though. It looks very much like they called their event for the 5th precisely so they could muscle things into being part of 'their' event.

I think people need to keep a much closer eye on exactly what they're doing.

Wellclose Square

13 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Wellclose Square on November 27, 2010

I really would've preferred the 4th - a Saturday - but there you go... Or is that fetishising particular days - 'the big event' - too much? What about 'rolling disruption' in different areas merging into different days, integrating different groups involving themselves on an ad-hoc basis when the enthusiasm grabs them? Or is that a dissipation of energies into a melange of unfocused actions? I dunno... but I'm greatly enthused by what's been developing in recent weeks, and the way it's developed, and the possibilities it's opening up.

slothjabber

13 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by slothjabber on November 27, 2010

I'm rather of the opinion that the Workers and Students Movement (as the United Day of Action people are calling themselves) didn't 'reach a consensus' they were steamrollered into the Sunday event by NCAFC who presented them with a fait accompli.

Mind, they were perhaps a bit premature calling a national day of action in the first place.

There already seem to be several actions planned and announced for the 4th.

Wellclose Square

13 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Wellclose Square on November 27, 2010

(Ha! Let's see if I'm 'authorised' to post this comment - somehow got logged out...)

I'm still of the opinion that a Saturday (and the 4th looks good) is a better day to involve all those - here and elsewhere - who've expressed a desire to participate in the 'exciting developments' of recent weeks, who otherwise can't manage a weekday - not that Sunday should be a day of 'rest' from the emerging contestation...

Recent days have been characterised by all sorts of 'premature' call-outs by people not otherwise 'authorised' - with some unexpected and inspiring results.

slothjabber

13 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by slothjabber on November 27, 2010

Weird. Just logged me out too...

It wasn't about being 'authorised' - I support their call for the 4th as a day of action, I reckon it makes moresense than the 5th, it was about whether they should have called it on the basis that other groups were going to be demonstrating anyway (thereby lending a spurious air of co-ordination) then cancelling it 12 hours later - when it seesm to me they can't 'cancel' events they were only promoting, not organising.

I would have preferred a propsal for a national day of action and for that to be debated. But that would maybe fetishing language or organsisational structures...

Mike Harman

13 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mike Harman on November 27, 2010

@slothjabber - if you have a close look at the last page or so of the news thread, you'll see who 'Workers and Students Movement' are, and also that calling the day was a punt.

I have no idea what the reasoning between the Saturday/Sunday was, however one of the organising e-mail lists suggests that this came through university occupations (although it may have been ncafc motions at those occupations - anyone there can clarify?). Either way I think it's good that it's been picked up on.

It looks to me like the complete absence of the NUS since 10th November has allowed NCAFC to step in as semi-official spokespeople, but I don't get the impression they've very big - just better organised and more up for it than any of the other groups at the moment. In terms of what they're doing, they're doing a pretty good job overall IMO. The big question is what happens as things develop, and whether things remain largely independent or end up relying on them to call the demos, and while they seem to want to make links between students and workers, how is that going to be framed - a lot of comments around talk about students getting in touch with 'the unions', ignoring the fact that many are going to be as interested in a genuine movement as the NUS are.

There have also been callouts on facebook for 'riot if fees go up' for Friday 3rd December. And 'Proteset against tuition fees' on 6th December. All of these events got to over 150 attendees pretty quick, but the way facebook works is that if you already have a group/event with 15k members, you can send all those people a direct message for the next event, and no-one else can - so while things are focused around days of action it's likely to stay very centralised in their direction at least in terms of setting the dates if not the form the action takes on the day.

Mike Harman

13 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mike Harman on November 27, 2010

I would have preferred a propsal for a national day of action and for that to be debated. But that would maybe fetishing language or organsisational structures...

Apart from the occupations, which appear to be co-ordinating via skype (and posting youtube videos for a dance competition), and the few national groups (which all appear to be some kind of trot front except for the anticuts.org.uk website, but that's not a group afaik), I don't think there's any way for that to actually happen at the moment - certainly on facebook it appears to be "post an event and see how many people sign up", actual discussion on facebook barely happens, twitter is even worse for that. This is going to be something that's going to come up as things develop.

Auto

13 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Auto on November 27, 2010

I definitely agree that a lot of the call-outs are just that, call-outs. People post a 'day of action' and then it either gets nobody, or it starts to take off through the gradual rise of people joining and promoting it.

It seems that the United Day of Action guys didn't really know the best way to respond to the sudden problem of having the NCAFC call a competing date. Had they been in a stronger position numbers-wise they might have tried to keep their own date.

Still, I think it was a good thing they made the call out overall. They say the stated aim is to build links between workers and students, and to spread the action beyond the student movement. When the NCAFC made their call out their reasons for calling the event were almost identical. Perhaps they felt their hand was forced by the presence of the other event.

Chilli Sauce

13 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on November 27, 2010

Can I offer a suggestion for a new issue of Tea Break that includes a callout for actions on the 4th and the 5th. I'd love to have something to stick in pigeon holes around my school. Plus, the Tea Breaks tend to be really good and could (and should) used by a wide variety libertarian organizations.

I'm volunteering to help out.

flaneur

13 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by flaneur on November 27, 2010

Got a list of the pickets for the RMT's weekend strike.

I'd be up for helping out with Tea Break too.

Jason Cortez

13 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Jason Cortez on November 27, 2010

The NCAFC are an established group who made the call out for the 24th before the 10th had happened. By the 10th it had already got about 5,000 people saying they would attend on facebook (what this means in the real world, fucks know) after the 10th it became the de-facto next big event and went massive. So they already have a certain amount of kudos and are seem as a 'real' organisation. As far as I know there has been little in the way of physical propaganda or resources. I know that Workers Power and their semi-independent front group/youth wing Revolution (and are claiming they made the student movement happen)are heavily involved (they have very little in the way resources) and I believe the AWL are too(they certainly have resources). But perhaps haven't wanted to commit too much the project? The NCAFC has certainly found itself in a very good position since the NUS has left the playing field temporarily. The only other organised left presence is the EAN but they are playing catch up.

Submitted by slothjabber on November 27, 2010

Mike Harman

@slothjabber - if you have a close look at the last page or so of the news thread, you'll see who 'Workers and Students Movement' are, and also that calling the day was a punt....

I'm sorry Mike, I don't know what you're getting at. I'm trying to juggle 6 facebook pages and a couple of Libcom threads, there may be info staring me in the face that I'm not getting but I believe that the 'Workers and Students Movement' is about 7-8 people in a facebook group. If you have more info than that (if they're a front for a Trot group or whatever) please post it, as (at least as far as I'm concerned) it's getting lost in the information overload.

Mike Harman

I have no idea what the reasoning between the Saturday/Sunday was, however one of the organising e-mail lists suggests that this came through university occupations (although it may have been ncafc motions at those occupations - anyone there can clarify?). Either way I think it's good that it's been picked up on...

Both groups have claimed that it's so working people (especially the parents of students) can get involved without facing the problems of unauthorised absences from work.

Mike Harman

...It looks to me like the complete absence of the NUS since 10th November has allowed NCAFC to step in as semi-official spokespeople, but I don't get the impression they've very big - just better organised and more up for it than any of the other groups at the moment. In terms of what they're doing, they're doing a pretty good job overall IMO...

Aren't these guys backed by WP/AWL? Or idid I get that really wrong? Not sure they're 'more up' than the other lot, it was after the other lot with the 'Unified Day of Action' that called it first. Also, seems to me from reading the facebook groups, that the Unified Day of Action was called on the basis that there were already local actions called - Unified Day of Action was then an umbrella for all these local actions. The NCAFC 'Third National Day of Action' seems to have been called centrally, about 8 hours after the United Day of Action was called, and even publicised on the NCAFC facebook page.

Mike Harman

... The big question is what happens as things develop, and whether things remain largely independent or end up relying on them to call the demos, and while they seem to want to make links between students and workers, how is that going to be framed - a lot of comments around talk about students getting in touch with 'the unions', ignoring the fact that many are going to be as interested in a genuine movement as the NUS are.

There have also been callouts on facebook for 'riot if fees go up' for Friday 3rd December. And 'Proteset against tuition fees' on 6th December. All of these events got to over 150 attendees pretty quick, but the way facebook works is that if you already have a group/event with 15k members, you can send all those people a direct message for the next event, and no-one else can - so while things are focused around days of action it's likely to stay very centralised in their direction at least in terms of setting the dates if not the form the action takes on the day.

UDA already had more than 100 signed up before NCAFC had even announced their date. When the NCAFC guy posted on UDA to say (and this is only my reading) 'we're much bigger than you, you should join us', the two groups had equal numbers of responders. Sure NCAFC already had a massive list to send invites to and UDA maybe didn't, but is that a good reason for picking a different day? NCAFC already knew that UDA has called the 4th, it was on the NCAFC facebook page for several hours. They could have joined the United Day of Action and messaged all their contacts. But they didn't.

Wellclose Square

13 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Wellclose Square on November 27, 2010

Yes, having looked at the UDA/WSM and NCAFC facebook stuff about the 4th/5th December, I get the impression that the NCAFC may be getting ever so slightly proprietorial about 'their' date. It certainly got my 'trot radar' twitching (but let's not go there... for now).

As far as the political background of the UDA/WSM 'group', I thought it was significant that when challenged by the NCAFC person about their 'legitimacy' (implicitly, at least) as a group ('What is your geographical location?', to paraphrase - something else which got my radar twitching), the reply was 'we are everywhere and nowhere', which doesn't sound like your standard leftist response.

@ slothjabber - I was being a bit mischievous with the comment about being 'authorised', riffing on the fact of being logged out mid-session...

PS I still think a Saturday callout makes infinitely more sense, for a variety of reasons

Submitted by Yorkie Bar on November 27, 2010

Jason Cortez

The NCAFC are an established group who made the call out for the 24th before the 10th had happened. By the 10th it had already got about 5,000 people saying they would attend on facebook (what this means in the real world, fucks know) after the 10th it became the de-facto next big event and went massive. So they already have a certain amount of kudos and are seem as a 'real' organisation. As far as I know there has been little in the way of physical propaganda or resources. I know that Workers Power and their semi-independent front group/youth wing Revolution (and are claiming they made the student movement happen)are heavily involved (they have very little in the way resources) and I believe the AWL are too(they certainly have resources). But perhaps haven't wanted to commit too much the project? The NCAFC has certainly found itself in a very good position since the NUS has left the playing field temporarily. The only other organised left presence is the EAN but they are playing catch up.

I only really know NCAFC in the north, where I understand it's a lot smaller and more informal than down south. The meeting I attended included AWL, WP, Revo and anarchoids as well as unaligned folks, with no obviously dominant faction as far as I could tell. I think I'm on their mailing list now.

~J.

mons

13 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by mons on November 27, 2010

I was involved last year with NCAFC in the South. They were launched with over 100 people at a conference thing last year, and were launched mainly by independent socialists as far as I know. Regional (south) meetings had maybe 30 people at them, but there were also local meetings at uni's, etc. Mainly trotskyists, some anarchists. It seemed to become more trotskyist, and SWP was pretty openly slagged off. Education Activist Network (SWP) said NCAFC should fold and join EAN... It's fair to say they are worse than NCAFC.
Think people are right, AWL and WP seemed to dominate NCAFC, in fact I can't think of anybody in an org other than those two. The guy making most of the comments on the facebook pages is a prominent AWL person. But there are other prominent NCAFC people who aren't affiliated to any organisation.
They organise with a 'steering committee'.
They have put out some propaganda, but not that much, and I haven't read any in depth or very good stuff - always a double sided A4 page or something.

Mike Harman

13 years 6 months ago

In reply to by slothjabber

Submitted by Mike Harman on November 27, 2010

slothjabber

Mike Harman

@slothjabber - if you have a close look at the last page or so of the news thread, you'll see who 'Workers and Students Movement' are, and also that calling the day was a punt....

I'm sorry Mike, I don't know what you're getting at. I'm trying to juggle 6 facebook pages and a couple of Libcom threads, there may be info staring me in the face that I'm not getting but I believe that the 'Workers and Students Movement' is about 7-8 people in a facebook group. If you have more info than that (if they're a front for a Trot group or whatever) please post it, as (at least as far as I'm concerned) it's getting lost in the information overload.

Sorry unless I've got it wrong myself, it was a poster from here who posted the united day of action following a discussion in the comment thread. I'll let them own up to it if it was them though.

Both groups have claimed that it's so working people (especially the parents of students) can get involved without facing the problems of unauthorised absences from work.

Yes definitely. There's also the issue of high school students facing truancy measures, and sixth-formers losing their EMA (oh the irony). However there's a somewhat confusing melange of events on the Saturday, which seemed to me to be quite positive to hold alongside, but having it on the Sunday doesn't really bother me, especially since I can't attend in person either way...

Aren't these guys backed by WP/AWL? Or idid I get that really wrong?

Yes I think they are. But without knowing that I'd say they're doing a bang-up job. Calling the days in the first place, supporting occupations and other decentralised actions, where they interact with the media they neither condemn vandalism nor play it up. Pretty much any other group, whether on 'our' side or the 'Coalition of Resistance' or NUT lot are almost entirely out of the picture and this needs to be recognised.

Not sure they're 'more up' than the other lot, it was after the other lot with the 'Unified Day of Action' that called it first. Also, seems to me from reading the facebook groups, that the Unified Day of Action was called on the basis that there were already local actions called - Unified Day of Action was then an umbrella for all these local actions. The NCAFC 'Third National Day of Action' seems to have been called centrally, about 8 hours after the United Day of Action was called, and even publicised on the NCAFC facebook page.

Yes agreed with all this, I still want to hear from the occupations whether there was a plan for the Sunday in the works that was simply in the process of discussion in person and didn't get to the internet quick enough, but if that's not the case then they clearly either ignored or deliberately overruled the UDA.
.

UDA already had more than 100 signed up before NCAFC had even announced their date. When the NCAFC guy posted on UDA to say (and this is only my reading) 'we're much bigger than you, you should join us', the two groups had equal numbers of responders. Sure NCAFC already had a massive list to send invites to and UDA maybe didn't, but is that a good reason for picking a different day? NCAFC already knew that UDA has called the 4th, it was on the NCAFC facebook page for several hours. They could have joined the United Day of Action and messaged all their contacts. But they didn't.

Fully agreed on this. I'm not at all excusing what happened, just pointing out that the decentralised nature of facebook organising is exactly the opposite - extremely centralised and top-down. The whole dynamic of these protests is massively, massively different from the anti-war stuff in 2003, and that's in part because it's closer to home, in part because the means of organising and publicity have changed significantly.

Auto

13 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Auto on November 27, 2010

Oxford banks (and vodafone) got closed today by students attempting occupation in protest after the Oxford Anti-Cuts alliance march.

http://libcom.org/forums/news/direct-action-after-oxford-anti-cuts-alliance-march-27112010

Submitted by slothjabber on November 27, 2010

Mike Harman

...
Sorry unless I've got it wrong myself, it was a poster from here who posted the united day of action following a discussion in the comment thread. I'll let them own up to it if it was them though....

Was it me?

I found them yesterday; I posted up information about various groups that were co-ordinating demos, in the thread that you were asking nme to look at. I know nothing about them other than what's on the facebook pages. Seriously, if you have any other info, please make it known, I'd like to know if I'm publicising a group with a shady and sinister (or just shit) agenda.

Submitted by Auto on November 27, 2010

It was me who posted it. There had been calls for a day of action on a weekend, so I posted one just to see what would happen.

Maybe slightly Naive on my part, but there were no sinister motives behind it at all. I half expected it just to die off without mention.

Sorry if it caused any confusion.

Submitted by Ed on November 27, 2010

ncwob

Can I offer a suggestion for a new issue of Tea Break that includes a callout for actions on the 4th and the 5th. I'd love to have something to stick in pigeon holes around my school. Plus, the Tea Breaks tend to be really good and could (and should) used by a wide variety libertarian organizations.

I'm volunteering to help out.

That's not a bad idea.. what do others think?

Chilli Sauce

13 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on November 27, 2010

Just my thoughts on what a new Tea Break might look like:

1) Round-up: The issues (EMA, tuition fees), what's happened so far (the 10th, the 24th, occupations), the role (or lack thereof) of the NUS. All placed within the context of the cuts/TUs/Labour.

2) What can be done? How to support? Examples of actions that could be undertaken next weekend. The need to spread struggle across workplaces, industries, and unions. The need for actions to keep building! Some inspiring example of education workers supporting the students.

3) Resources: Websites, organizations, further reading.

If others are interested, how should we go about creating this? New thread?

Mike Harman

13 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mike Harman on November 27, 2010

New Tea Break sounds good to me as well, new thread seems sensible since it'll take a fair amount of co-ordination to do it. Main issues apart from content (which shouldn't be all that hard this time around) are layout and printing/distro - in the past we've left that until too late in nearly all cases, so would be good to work on that alongside the actual publication this time. One issue is trying to make it so it's not out of date before it's even printed, that may be difficult to do without being too generic on the other side.

Submitted by no1 on November 27, 2010

ncwob

Just my thoughts on what a new Tea Break might look like:

1) Round-up: The issues (EMA, tuition fees), what's happened so far (the 10th, the 24th, occupations), the role (or lack thereof) of the NUS. All placed within the context of the cuts/TUs/Labour.

2) What can be done? How to support? Examples of actions that could be undertaken next weekend. The need to spread struggle across workplaces, industries, and unions. The need for actions to keep building! Some inspiring example of education workers supporting the students.

3) Resources: Websites, organizations, further reading.

Also: how and why leftists will try to kill it off asap.

Submitted by slothjabber on November 28, 2010

Mike Harman

...
Sorry unless I've got it wrong myself, it was a poster from here who posted the united day of action following a discussion in the comment thread. I'll let them own up to it if it was them though...

Sorry Mike, I misunderstood when you said 'posted' - I thought you meant posted the link to the facebook page.

I am now fully up to speed on who called the day of action. And feeling a little sheepish that I failed to add two to another two successfully.

Mike Harman

13 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mike Harman on November 29, 2010

ncafc mailing list

At today's national co-ordination meeting, it was decided that the proposed day of action on Sunday 5th December should be put back: that there would be a day of evening demonstrations on Thursday 9th December and then a further day of action on Saturday the 11th of December.

It was decided that the day of the 5th of December would be a day of meetings and rallies instead of a day of action.

So, we need to adjust the facebook event accordingly. Some places (e.g. Colchester) have demonstrations and meetings already being organised, so I think we need to adjust the facebook event in such a way as to not disrupt their efforts, but to make it clear that the main event in London on the day will be the London-wide general assembly at 4pm.

I think that it would be best to change the name and description of the 5th December facebook event rather than cancelling it or changing the date. We should send out a message to explain the change, and set up separate events for Dec 9th and Dec 11th.

How should we word the new group description, the new name for the 5th Dec event, and how should this be explained in a message to the facebook group?

Joseph Kay

13 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Joseph Kay on November 29, 2010

NCAFC

to make it clear that the main event in London on the day will be the London-wide general assembly at 4pm.

as i said elsewhere:

Joseph Kay

it's no surprise that the attempts to turn civil disorder into orderly discussion of 'where to go next' have locally come from Trots; structurally the politics are identical [to assembly fetishists].

:(

slothjabber

13 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by slothjabber on November 29, 2010

:wall:

Mike Harman

13 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mike Harman on November 29, 2010

Mike Harman

The big question is what happens as things develop, and whether things remain largely independent or end up relying on them to call the demos

Looks like we'll find out sooner than we might have thought with this date change.

PRESS RELEASE
National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts

30 November
Second Day of Protest Against Fees and Cuts

London, 29
th
November 2010
Over 100 students from across the country met in London this Sunday, 28November, to discuss future plans for the student movement. The
9 and 11 ofDecember
have been called as new
days of action
to draw in more forcesbehind the movement. The weekend will allow for more people to join in thefight for education, including teachers, parents, trade unionists, the disabled andthe unemployed.A series of national demands have been agreed to be the basis of present andfuture university occupations.
30 November
will see even more students come out on protest across thecountry. The event, launched once more via Facebook, has around
24.000

people
pledging to join actions on the day. Teaching and academic unionshave been approached to support the protests by bringing out their membersalong with the students.Aaron Porter, NUS President, announced yesterday that he is now supportingthe student protests and apologised to a meeting of student occupiers at UCLfor his “spineless” behaviour after the occupation of the Tory Party HQ.This admission proves that the National Campaign against Fees and Cuts wasright all along to organise the 24 November protests and campaign for anescalation of the action against the government.The
National Campaign against Fees and Cuts
continues to encourage allstudents willing to take direct action, particularly university occupations.We condemn any disciplinary actions taken by any institutions against studentsfor exercising their democratic right to protest.The fight to stop education cuts and fee increases cannot be limited just tostudents. This fight is an issue for the whole of society.Another national day of action is to be called on the day that Parliament voteson the proposed measures. Both the
UCU
and the
NUS
are calling for protestson this day.The
NCAFC
is calling for a
march on parliament
to stop the bill

slothjabber

13 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by slothjabber on November 29, 2010

Still, at least this way there's no chance of left-com politicos hijacking the movement to advocate self-organisation. That's a relief.

Too sarcastic?

Auto

13 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Auto on November 29, 2010

I'm confused... it looks to me as if the callout was adding the 9th and the 11th as extra days, not replacing the 4th/5th with meetings. Has the statement changed?

Anyway, I think the NCAFC is a lot weaker than it makes itself out to be. There are only about 4,250 members of its facebook group (as opposed to 23,000+ signed up to the second day of action).

I don't think they can move things away from direct action and protest because they're not really in the driving seat. I think that's why they've called the additional days of action on the 9th and 11th - they're calling them in advance to avoid someone else getting in the call first.

Submitted by slothjabber on November 29, 2010

If Mike's posting is accurate then it's been called off. It's instead not as well, the actions for the weekend have been changed from demos/actions to meetings -

Mike Harman

ncafc mailing list

At today's national co-ordination meeting, it was decided that the proposed day of action on Sunday 5th December (I didn't know it was only a 'proposed' day of action, why the hell did they make the UDA change the day on a 'proposal'?) should be put back: that there would be a day of evening demonstrations on Thursday 9th December and then a further day of action on Saturday the 11th of December.

It was decided that the day of the 5th of December would be a day of meetings and rallies instead of a day of action.

So, we need to adjust the facebook event accordingly. Some places (e.g. Colchester) have demonstrations and meetings already being organised, so I think we need to adjust the facebook event in such a way as to not disrupt their efforts, but to make it clear that the main event in London on the day will be the London-wide general assembly at 4pm.

I think that it would be best to change the name and description of the 5th December facebook event rather than cancelling it or changing the date. We should send out a message to explain the change, and set up separate events for Dec 9th and Dec 11th.

How should we word the new group description, the new name for the 5th Dec event, and how should this be explained in a message to the facebook group?

Jason Cortez

13 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Jason Cortez on November 29, 2010

When the class struggle bursts its banks and becomes a flood, it is no surprise to see the left attempt to divert course and dissipate its force, to act as a storm drain, if you will. nor is it any surprise to find that Left Communists are desparately trying to turn to some of the flood, into the course of the tributary of the 'revolutionary' failing to see the waters sweeping all before it.

Auto

13 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Auto on November 29, 2010

Well if that's the case, resist it wherever possible. The general will is with taking action, so the NCAFC is actually taking the risk here. They risk being left behind just the same as the NUS.

slothjabber

13 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by slothjabber on November 29, 2010

Seriously; this is a tipping point. If it goes wrong now the whole student protest movement is fucked.

If we allow the NCAFC to roadblock the protests, there will continue to be individual actions at different campuses and some link ups but the momentum will be lost. Honestly. The 'general will' doesn't matter for shit if the means of communicating what's happening (or not) are in the hands of a group out to sabotage struggle.

Auto

13 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Auto on November 29, 2010

I agree, SJ. But I'm fairly confident that they won't be able to roadblock the protests. I think they've convinced themselves they are in control when they're not.

We live in an age of free-flowing information. The NCAFC don't have the monolithic ability to block communication between students. Hell, even their own press release has been lost in the noise on their own event pages.

I'm not being complacent - I know how these things can get soundly fucked up by these kinds of co-ordinating groups - but I think their hand is a lot weaker than that of the StWC during the anti-war protests.

I still think this is way bigger than the NCAFC.

Wayne

12 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Wayne on February 18, 2012

I was also at the convention that launched the NCAFC and what mons says is a fair picture. The conference was 140 people or so and the political composition seemed to be approximately 35% Trots (maybe less - they do so much talking it's hard to be sure), 20% libertarians, 5% other politicos (e.g. the Communist Students, who resembled characters from an etching of a Victorian lunatic asylum), and 40% not the usual suspects (e.g., the boys who went from our uni didn't have previous left involvement and probably voted Lib Dem. I spoke to one girl who left early because she couldn't hack all the paper selling, speech-making, etc., but most people stayed throughout). The SWP only sent their paid orgainsers, I think.

The local groups that together form NCAFC are probably even broader in terms of political alignment. On the other hand, there is a small group of half-a-dozen or so Trots (AWL, I think, though I'm not that interested), that pretty much set the agenda, do the interviews, make the statements, chair the meetings, etc. A couple of them are classically obnoxious Trot blokes who love the sound of their own voices, others are more personable, all seem very genuine. At the convention I went to there was a more libertarian challenge to their proposed steering group idea and the vote was fairly close. They had said at the start that they didn't want anything passed by narrow margins but obviously that didn't apply to their motions. Still, my impression is that their desire to control the movement isn't Machiavellian but, rather, is because they know that they have the right ideas and if people will just let them run things... We all feel like that sometimes - democracy is a pain in the arse - and that's the great danger of Leninism, I guess. Similarly, if they're pulling back from action then I imagine this is because of the pressure they feel personally now they are in the public eye, rather than because they want an ineffective resistance. Again, this is a problem with having leaders. I think the local campaigns are strong enough and autonomous enough that they can't be controlled by a few Trots in London, but I do worry when I hear that a meeting of 'over 100 students' (what percentage came from outside London? Did a London Trotskyist have the same voting rights as the representative of a big occupation in another town? Were the representatives mandated? How was the chair selected?) has agreed a national list of demands for all occupations. I don't think such homogenisation is positive. I think the best thing to do is to keep involved in the local campaigns and not allow their agendas to be centrally dictated.

Sorry for rambling.

Here (Uni of Glos) things are comparatively very quiet and the students are having their action on the 8th December, rather than tomorrow, for some reason. Tomorrow, myself and a couple of colleagues are going to hang a banner and distribute the following text at a campus that's due for closure:

Free education: we are not content to “have our say”

University students will pay annual fees of up to £9000, thousands of young people will lose their Education Maintenance Allowance, and teaching funding for arts, humanities, and social sciences will be cut entirely. The government says the cuts are an economic necessity, the Universities and College Union and the National Union of Students reply that education is an economic necessity, and thousands of students are fighting back autonomously. We few lecturers are making a small show of solidarity with the autonomous student protests. Why?

We want future generations to have no worse opportunities than those we had ourselves. If government plans are enacted then socio-economic inequities in educational attainment will increase, and higher education will be further subordinated to the interests of the economy. Less affluent students will be discouraged to pursue further education by the cessation of EMA payments and the growing burden of debt. Universities will pursue corporate funding by supporting vocationally-focused courses at the expense of independent intellectual enquiry; for many debt-burdened students, too, the value of a degree will be determined, not by its academic or artistic merit, but by how it increases its graduates’ employability. In less-vocational university departments there will be further redundancies among academic and support staff.
B
ut our society is not short of resources. In 2009, UK businesses spent £15.7 billion on advertising, 840,000 homes sat empty, we threw away £10 billion worth of food, the treasury spent tens of billions supporting British banks, and taxpayers donated £41.5 million to the royal family. Today’s teenagers will work for more hours than any previous generation. The average working week is longer than it was fifty years ago and for most of us there will be no retirement at sixty five. Today’s teenagers, if able to attend university, will work throughout their degrees and then work to repay their loans. They will produce more adverts and sell more food and work to minimise the environmental impact of indefinite economic growth.

Millions of people marched against the invasion of Iraq – an invasion that caused the deaths of 100,000 to 600,000 Iraqis. We are not here to “have our say”; rather, we are here to register our solidarity with a European movement that through direct action aims to make mercantilist education reforms unworkable. Stop the country. Take back the future. We won’t pay for their crisis.

Auto

13 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Auto on November 29, 2010

Great work Wayne. Nice to hear of action where you are. :)

I get exactly that feeling from the NCAFC - or at least their press releases and public actions) - that they feel somewhat overwhelmed by events (much in the same way as the NUS was). They probably feel that more meetings need to be held, more disscussions and resolutions drafted.

I think it's moved beyond them though. In a world where anyone can make a group calling for action and then have it go viral, there's not much one lone organising group can do.

slothjabber

13 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by slothjabber on November 29, 2010

Wayne: glad to see that there are people propagandising in Gloucester (is that the old GlosCAT?) - hope it goes well.

Auto: I don't share your confidence. Of course this is 'way bigger than the NCAFC' - I agree with you there. But the NCAFC is important. It has been allowed to put itself in the position of co-ordinator and voice of the protests. I say 'been allowed' quite carefully. So if it is doing things that we (as students or as revolutionaries, I don't care which) disagree with, I claim it's our duty to contest that.

How do we contest it? Do we think there should still be a day of action at the weekend?

I'd argue that the Day of Action called originally for the 4th is the place to start. The Workers', and Students' Movement facebook group can be an alternative platform for groups who don't want to follow the NCAFC's route. Using http://anticuts.org.uk/ would help. Linking with all the actions going on on Saturday would be a help. A leaflet or some other way of disseminating a call to workers and students for action at the weekend is important I think.

Submitted by Auto on November 29, 2010

Yes, I should have been more clear, I'm confident that the NCAFC won't be able to roadblock the protests - but that doesn't mean that we sit back and do nothing.

I think we should just keep on with the call out for action on the weekend of the 4th/5th. The NCAFC needs to be contested - not in an outright 'political' way which will just bore any non-politicos to death - but just by keeping up with the calls for action, supporting direct action taken and continuing to build links and organise.

It's not just about putting pressure on the government anymore - it's also about putting the pressure on the unions and these self-proclaimed 'organisers'.

Auto

13 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Auto on November 29, 2010

Okay, the NCAFC facebook 'third day of action' event has changed to the 11th.

How do we respond to this? I think if we let the callout for national action on the 4th and 5th slide the movement will lose too much momentum.

Yet at the same time I don't want the groups to fall into politico-infighting as it will just (quite rightly) turn off all those students who have come on board to fight the cause.

Ideas?

Rob Ray

13 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Rob Ray on November 29, 2010

I think it'd be a good thing to get people thinking about doing stuff without the say-so of self-appointed leaders and branching out as far as possible, which can be put through as a positive thing without being too infighty.

I do also think a tentative critique of the NCACF and warning of where it "could" go/why that would be a bad idea and what warning signs to look out for would be an important sideline to follow though.

no1

13 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by no1 on November 29, 2010

I think a lot depends on how protests go tomorrow. If the movement further grows, deepens and radicalises, then most people will agree that there is a need for another day of action soon, which more people can take part in, so Saturday 4. will be the obvious choice. I would also expect that the number of occupations grows, which would be the best avenue for making the case for another day of action this weekend regardless of what the NCAFC say. However if the movement stalls, if the leftists manage to assert a bit more control, if the cops manage to intimidate, if the media no longer give us the 'oxygen of publicity', if the schools clamp down on protesters, if the parents get too scared of consequences etc., then it will be very difficult whatever the NCAFC say.

Auto

13 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Auto on November 29, 2010

It's a good point no1, the NCAFC are kind of taking a gamble with moving the date. If tomorrow ends up being huge then they've essentially abandoned the most immediate weekend date for further action.

I think we can keep trying to support the grassroots of the movement - but at the end of the day we all have to wait and see.

mons

13 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by mons on November 29, 2010

I don't know about other local groups, but I don't see why it'd so different from in Oxford. In Oxford, there is a really strong sense of not letting any group control our activities. Nobody wanted the Oxford group to be official supporters of NCAFC's day of action when it was proposed. Instead people chose to act on the day because other people were. Here anyway I cannot see how NCAFC's fucking about will make any difference to local actions. Only thing that it could do is make 'days of action' smaller and less united, with different groups acting at different times. But even that isn't that bad, so long as there are sometimes times when we can act in a more united way.
Is this same strong sense of autonomy felt by other local groups? If so, I share Auto's confidence.
Auto, are you coming to the meeting tonight? Should make the case for action tomorrow and Saturday/Sunday, and not letting NCAFC dictate our moves, but I think that'll be totally uncontroversial.
Did NCAFC send anything to the 'United Day of Action' after their moving the dates? Really bad if not. Would it be worth sending a friendly email or something, by the people behind UDA and others expressing concern? Bit of good liberal letter-writing...

Submitted by Auto on November 29, 2010

mons

I don't know about other local groups, but I don't see why it'd so different from in Oxford. In Oxford, there is a really strong sense of not letting any group control our activities. Nobody wanted the Oxford group to be official supporters of NCAFC's day of action when it was proposed. Instead people chose to act on the day because other people were. Here anyway I cannot see how NCAFC's fucking about will make any difference to local actions. Only thing that it could do is make 'days of action' smaller and less united, with different groups acting at different times. But even that isn't that bad, so long as there are sometimes times when we can act in a more united way.
Is this same strong sense of autonomy felt by other local groups? If so, I share Auto's confidence.
Auto, are you coming to the meeting tonight? Should make the case for action tomorrow and Saturday/Sunday, and not letting NCAFC dictate our moves, but I think that'll be totally uncontroversial.
Did NCAFC send anything to the 'United Day of Action' after their moving the dates? Really bad if not. Would it be worth sending a friendly email or something, by the people behind UDA and others expressing concern? Bit of good liberal letter-writing...

Nah, there was absolutely no response to the date change other than 'well we think you can do whatever you want as long as it builds towards the main (i.e. our) day of action'. That's the day of action they've just changed the date of. I agree with the attitude of the Oxford students with regards to the NCAFC; if they call a date which can be used for useful and wide-reaching action, then great. If they start to back off and call for meetings we'll just do it ourselves. Any group can make a nationwide call out these days - the joy of the interwebs!

I might be coming down to the meeting, though I might not be able to make it. Just for future reference is the meeting/college open to non-students as well? Even if I can't make it down I definitely agree with those points being raised, see what the generality of the students make on them. It does seem that there's a hunger for more direct action here... with not much desire to be 'led'.

I also reckon there should be another meeting of us libertarian types, see what support we can give to the movement here in Oxford.

mons

13 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by mons on November 29, 2010

Well I'm not strictly speaking a student at the moment so I hope they're open to all.. yeah they are, and it's not just Oxford Uni students either.

I also reckon there should be another meeting of us libertarian types, see what support we can give to the movement here in Oxford.

Did you get my PM?

Sidney Huffman

13 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Sidney Huffman on November 29, 2010

I have totally lost the thread now and looking at the different anti-cuts groups on the net has not clarified anything - could some kind soul do a simple list of what is happening and when?

slothjabber

13 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by slothjabber on November 29, 2010

This I think is the best site: http://anticuts.org.uk/ where there is a pretty extensive list.

I think to be honest it would be beyond anyone's ability to produce a simple list.

Auto

13 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Auto on November 29, 2010

Apparently it's all kicking off in Lewisham Town Hall. Gas canisters let off in the Town hall, riot police have smashed their way in. It's a full on riot apparently.

https://twitter.com/search?q=lewisham

slothjabber

13 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by slothjabber on November 29, 2010

Auto

...Any group can make a nationwide call out these days - the joy of the interwebs!...

While this undoubtedly true, what happens after this call is not unimportant. Just because someone can do something it doesn't necessarily mean they should; and if they do, I think they should take responsibility for that.

The United Day of Action/Workers' and Students' Movement call for a day of action on Saturday 4th was I believe based on
1 - the desire some people had expressed for a day of action at the weekend;
2 - the fact that some local actions had already been called.

Whether that day of action should have been called is neither here nor there. Once it had been called the only responsible thing to do was deal with the consequences. Either make an orderly retreat, withdraw the call and explain that the reason is that it didn't look like it was going to get enough backing, perhaps even explaining about NCAFC's manouevres over the other day of action; or ignoring NCAFC's attempts to block further protests, go out to promote the national day of action on the 4th.

It doesn't seem to me that either of these courses have been taken; on the one hand, the United Day of Action facebook group is still listing the original day of action on the Saturday along with the NCAFC day of action 20 hours after NCAFC cancelled; on the other, no new listings of events have gone up and there is no indication that any attempts have been made to establish new links with any other groups who might be protesting on the Saturday (or even on Sunday 5th).

So I think those who control the Workers' and Students' Movement group and the United Day of Action site with it, have a very stark choice to make very quickly; step up to the responsibility they've chosen for themselves, or shut themselves down while saving what they can from the shipwreck of naive adventurism. Sadly I know which I think is more likley.

Submitted by Auto on November 29, 2010

slothjabber

While this undoubtedly true, what happens after this call is not unimportant. Just because someone can do something it doesn't necessarily mean they should; and if they do, I think they should take responsibility for that.

The United Day of Action/Workers' and Students' Movement call for a day of action on Saturday 4th was I believe based on
1 - the desire some people had expressed for a day of action at the weekend;
2 - the fact that some local actions had already been called.

Whether that day of action should have been called is neither here nor there. Once it had been called the only responsible thing to do was deal with the consequences. Either make an orderly retreat, withdraw the call and explain that the reason is that it didn't look like it was going to get enough backing, perhaps even explaining about NCAFC's manouevres over the other day of action; or ignoring NCAFC's attempts to block further protests, go out to promote the national day of action on the 4th.

It doesn't seem to me that either of these courses have been taken; on the one hand, the United Day of Action facebook group is still listing the original day of action on the Saturday along with the NCAFC day of action 20 hours after NCAFC cancelled; on the other, no new listings of events have gone up and there is no indication that any attempts have been made to establish new links with any other groups who might be protesting on the Saturday (or even on Sunday 5th).

So I think those who control the Workers' and Students' Movement group and the United Day of Action site with it, have a very stark choice to make very quickly; step up to the responsibility they've chosen for themselves, or shut themselves down while saving what they can from the shipwreck of naive adventurism. Sadly I know which I think is more likley.

The date was only left because the NCAFC was still listing theirs as the 5th until this evening.

I hold my hands up that I might have been naive to post it, but I (and people who have since joined the group) are doing our best to facilitate action on the 4th/5th.

Wellclose Square

13 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Wellclose Square on November 29, 2010

Just to add my two penn'orth - Saturday 4th is the screamingly obvious day to go for, as originally proposed by the Workers and Students Movement (naively adventurist or not), especially if there's still momentum from tomorrow...

I don't quite know what the NCAFC are playing at.

Submitted by Auto on November 29, 2010

Wellclose Square

Just to add my two penn'orth - Saturday 4th is the screamingly obvious day to go for, as originally proposed by the Workers and Students Movement (naively adventurist or not), especially if there's still momentum from tomorrow...

I don't quite know what the NCAFC are playing at.

It's the SWP apparently. They've organised some teach-in on the 5th that they don't want any other event clashing with it. So the NCAFC moved it. Although they are now under quite a lot of pressure from the grassroots student movements to put it back.

Submitted by Caiman del Barrio on November 29, 2010

Auto

Apparently it's all kicking off in Lewisham Town Hall. Gas canisters let off in the Town hall, riot police have smashed their way in. It's a full on riot apparently.

https://twitter.com/search?q=lewisham

Just spoke to some people about this. Seems like it's all over now. A bunch of protestors managed to enter the Council Chamber and got the meeting adjourned (for the second time I believe). Seems like it got pretty violent inside the Hall itself, with one security guard coming out covered in "someone else's blood". There was apparently one arrest of a young lad, although there were a bunch of undercovers dressed in black within the protesting group itself, who then turned round and started fighting on the cops' side.

I'm sure more eye witness versions will start to emerge.

Caiman del Barrio

13 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Caiman del Barrio on November 29, 2010

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BRgKNL6UzLk

EDIT: no assemblies though, clearly worthless bourgeois adventurism! :roll:

Auto

13 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Auto on November 29, 2010

Can anyone give me a list of currently planned actions for the weekend of the 4th/5th? Looking to build up a list of them for the Facebook group.

Or just let me know of any events you know going on.

Cheers.

Submitted by cantdocartwheels on November 29, 2010

Rob Ray

I do also think a tentative critique of the NCACF and warning of where it "could" go/why that would be a bad idea and what warning signs to look out for would be an important sideline to follow though.

http://libcom.org/library/national-campaign-against-cuts-fees-insider-perspective-leftist-dead-end

Sorry but that just reads a bit like a rant, it has the word leftist in it nearly twice a sentence, to most people it would simply come across like some spart talking about someone being a bourgeois lackey or whatnot,

In short it needs to be heavily toned down.

slothjabber

13 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by slothjabber on November 29, 2010

I was thinking that it was great and confirmed my deep suspicions!

But then again I've been warning about the Trots taking over so I've got form I suppose...

Submitted by cantdocartwheels on November 29, 2010

slothjabber

I was thinking that it was great and confirmed my deep suspicions!

But then again I've been warning about the Trots taking over so I've got form I suppose...

perhaps i'm being harsh its a decent artcle and makes good points but.... it does mention the words ''leftist'' and ''bourgeois'' wayy too much, and most people won't have a clear idea of the context in which the author is using both those terms

Rob Ray

13 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Rob Ray on November 29, 2010

Ranty, but then again it clearly comes from the heart and shows up what's going on, particularly near the end.

slothjabber

13 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by slothjabber on November 29, 2010

Yeah it probably reads better to 'politicos' than the general public. As a suspicious ranter myself I probably identify with the viewpoint more than the casual reader.

ernie

13 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by ernie on December 1, 2010

I am not sure if this is the correct thread, but does anyone know what is meant to be happening this weekend? Talking to people today on the demo in Exeter they had not even heard that something was meant to be happening on 4th/5th let alone whether it was going to happen or not.

Mike Harman

13 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mike Harman on December 1, 2010

Posted up this in news to try to document what's coming up over the next few weeks, it's a bit of a rush job so corrections/additions welcome - http://libcom.org/news/student-protests-what-next-01122010

edit: cross-posted with Ernie but there's your answer. Also the discussion on this article has some background as to why the dates are so confusing.

Mike Harman

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mike Harman on December 7, 2010

Unions are organising a save EMA 'nationwide day of lunchtime protests' on the 13th December:

http://emacampaign.org.uk/

Take a stand now against the cruelest of cuts

NUS, UCU, UNISON, NUT, Unite, GMB and ATL are holding a nationwide day of lunchtime protests at colleges on 13 December.

We are calling on all members to support these peaceful lunchtime protests at their local college.

Please note that this is a united day of protest and not industrial action. emphasis mine

What YOU can do

Make urgent contact now with your other campus unions and Students’ Union or student reps to discuss local ideas for the day
Speak to other union branches and community groups in your area and involve them in your plans
Approach your college principal about your plans – ask them to support the day (many principals are concerned about the axing of the EMA)
Sign the joint union EMA petition
Contact your local MP (www.writetothem.com) to ask them to sign the petition, attend and/or publicly support the day and the campaign
Put up a poster advertising the day of action: EMA day of action poster
Distribute a leaflet about the day of action and the EMA cut: EMA day of action leaflet

Lunchtime protests, petition and contact your local MP is extremely limp, but if a lot of lecturers and/or admin staff take part then it might be interesting despite this.

Submitted by Auto on December 7, 2010

Mark.

Also if students take action in support.

Maybe it'd be good to spread word of the protests to local student groups? I'm sure there'd be students up for supporting the action.

baboon

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by baboon on December 11, 2010

I’ve been involved in the elements of the class struggle in the UK since the early 1960s, strikes, demonstrations, marches, etc., and, as important as some of these developments were, there is something new and potentially profound about this current movement of youth. I’m sure that many on here shared the view that the working class response to the unleashing of the attacks on it wasn’t up to the required level. It appears to be that the ante is being upped now.

This movement is miles away from the student university occupations of two years ago which were mainly directed by leftism and overwhelmingly in support of Palestinian nationalism against the US and Israel, ie, support for one imperialist faction against another.

I think that the positive and rapid development of this revolt is also down to the absence of trade union divisions as well as the complete sidelining of the NUS. This has resulted in the expression of self-organisation and mobilisation of working class youngsters who seem to be the vanguard of this movement. The majority of these probably won’t get anywhere near a university education and this makes the struggle all the more wider and deeper for the future.

Mike Harman

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mike Harman on December 11, 2010

Strike and indefinite overtime ban over pay at Heinz coming up - http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23906054-heinz-workers-to-strike-over-pay.do

Mike Harman

13 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mike Harman on January 7, 2011

Excuse the source, just seen this on twitter:

Two youth centres in Rotherham were occupied this evening (Thursday) against cuts in youth services.

Some 40 young people aged between 11 and 15 occupied Dalton Youth Centre. Another group has occupied the Bramley Youth Centre.

Inspired by the student occupations around the country before Christmas, they are demanding no cuts to youth services or connexions.

http://www.socialist worker.co.uk/art.php?id=23520

Auto

13 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Auto on January 7, 2011

I think it's one of the most positive things that the student unions have sparked - the spreading of action/protest beyond the uni campuses.

Has anyone got any further info on this latest occupation? Are they still there?

Mike Harman

13 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mike Harman on January 7, 2011

Also - Save EMA protest 11th January - to coincide with the vote. - http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=138065529585690

http://anticuts.com/2010/12/23/save-ema-parliament-votes-on-scrapping-emas-11-january

not being promoted much from what I can see.

and

http://www.scotsman.com/news/Protester-throws-pie-at-Scotland39s.6683120.jp

Stranger Than …

13 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Stranger Than … on January 7, 2011

The Scotsman

It was not known who threw the pastry, understood to a be a shop-bought keylime pie.

ajjohnstone

13 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by ajjohnstone on January 11, 2011

http://meltdown.uk.net/election/Dual_Power.html

TUC march for March 26th

Mike Harman

13 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mike Harman on January 12, 2011

200 people marched on Truro county hall, six people occupied it briefly when they got there:

http://marchthefury.wordpress.com/2011/01/11/activists-occupy-council-in-truro-against-scrapping-of-ema/

Mike Harman

13 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mike Harman on January 12, 2011

Bin men are protesting against cuts in Birmingham. Someone blocked the entrance to the council with some bins - http://twitpic.com/3pf0v2f

Stuff on twitter here: http://twitter.com/#!/eddbauer

Mike Harman

13 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mike Harman on February 22, 2011

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/coalition-ready-for-strikes-as-pm-outlines-public-sector-revolution-2221701.html

Ministers are drawing up plans to deal with a wave of co-ordinated public sector strikes across the country this summer. A special unit of civil servants has been set up in the Cabinet Office to "war game" areas of vulnerability in key services and infrastructure. They are also investigating how they can draft in private-sector "strike breakers" to cross picket lines.

Services identified as vulnerable to strikes include transport, energy, prisons and the health service. Ministers fear that the trigger for such co-ordinated action will be plans to increase the amount that public-sector workers have to contribute to their pensions – and could come as soon as the summer.

Mike Harman

13 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mike Harman on February 22, 2011

Also someone please read this and tell me if it's parody or not, I can't get past the first paragraph:

http://liberal conspiracy.org/2011/02/22/five-reasons-why-the-left-should-support-labour-council-cuts/

(link broken to hostile site).

Wayne

12 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Wayne on June 9, 2011

Thought I'd revive this thread as previous comments included discussion of how the NCAFC was structured; it's interesting to see how its (already problematic) structure has, according to others involved, eventually been totally hijacked by Workers Liberty:

We have grave concerns about the recent Ncafc conference – both how it was organised and the outcome of the conference, which imposed a new set of structures that undermine the unity and inclusivity of the national organisation.

The conference was called with less than four week’s notice and was not brought as a proposal to the existing open-steering structure but simply presented as something that was ‘happening’.

Initially it was defined as an ‘activist meet-up’, but the conference effectively over-turned the decisions of two previous larger conferences, which had agreed to work with an open-steering group structure and use the e-group to discuss ideas and plan action.

Part of Ncafc’s strength in the student movement is that it united a broad range of forces from the student left. But this conference was the initiative of only one group, Workers’ Liberty students, who did not discuss their plans with other groups and activists in the organisation before going ahead and organising it.

For example, AWL activists were at a London Ncafc meeting with thirty other activists two days before they announced the conference and remarkably they did not even raise it as a proposal to that meeting.

The conference came when many students still had exams, directly clashed with the Cairo conference which a number of activists attended, and was the smallest Ncafc had ever organised – with around 70 people in attendance and around 20 of these being Workers’ Liberty members.

The vote to establish a structure was 42 in favour and 15 against – this is not a strong democratic mandate for a new leadership given that previous conferences had around 90 people (January 2010) and over 200 (February 2009) at the organisation’s foundation.

The steering committee structure only represents 9 universities, which is very few given the dozens of uni anti-cuts groups nationally. And under the new constitution, though anti-cuts groups can send representatives to the new leadership meetings those activists would not be able to vote – de facto cutting them out of Ncafc’s decision making. Predictably, about a third of the new leadership are members of Workers’ Liberty.

At the conference itself alterations to amendments were not even allowed to be taken from the floor – which not only polarised the debate and made attempts to achieve a consensus impossible, but reproduced the undemocratic practice of an NUS conference. Similarly, amendments were not allowed to be put forward in light of a discussion – but only if they had been formally submitted prior to the lunch break.

This is not in the spirit of how Ncafc has organised in the past.

Far from uniting a broad range of forces, the steering committee set up is exclusive and a step backwards from the broad and united student movement that Ncafc has been at the forefront of trying to develop through initiatives like the Student and Education Assemblies.

The skewed attendance that flowed from how the conference was organised (short notice, etc) meant that even key activists were not elected to the new leadership.

We are in favour of bringing new people into the movement, but many activists who had done a lot of work for Ncafc were not able to attend the conference and participate in a debate and decision that considerably changed the direction of the organisation.

The meeting was not only undemocratic but also a missed opportunity.

It could have drawn up action points relating to the strikes on 30 June or developed a plan of action for the autumn, but it did neither. Instead it focused on a divisive argument over structures – with an inevitably divisive outcome, which has badly undermined Ncafc’s claim to be a broad, inclusive and united student campaigning organisation.

Ncafc achieved a lot in the student movement – far from being a London-centric clique as Workers’ Liberty claimed, it played a leading role in developing hundreds-strong student assemblies to organise action democratically. This sectarian manoeuvre undermines our good record.

While only some of us were present at the conference, as activists in the movement we all share grave concerns about what its outcome means for the future unity of the student left.

Signed –

Patrizia Kokot, LSE

Ashok Kumar, LSESU Education Officer

Luke Cooper, University of Sussex

Simon Hardy, spokeperson NCAFC

Joana Pinto, Press Officer, NCAFC

Sean Rillo Raczka, Chair Birkbeck Student Union, Vice-President Elect University of London Union

Steven.

12 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Steven. on June 9, 2011

Are those people all in Revolution (workers power youth)? If so, I wouldn't necessarily believe what they say, because they are no better than the AWL, they might just be sore that the AWL out-manipulated them

Wayne

12 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Wayne on June 9, 2011

Yeah, it's a power struggle between rival lefty groups (the steering group have had their hands wrestled from the steering wheel, as it were), but I think the NCAFC should serve as a warning; there's sometimes a tendency to equate online social media organising with a more spontatneous and decentralised politics, but I'd argue that this technology enabled a clique of activists to exert massively disporportionate power in the student movement. I mean, they didn't have the numbers to influence how protests developed on the ground (which is one reason why the protests were militant and spontaneous), but in terms of deciding when protests were 'official NCAFC call outs', and in terms of presenting the movement to the media, they had influence that belied their numbers (a traditional Trot tactic such as handing out thousands of branded placards at least requires some resources and foot soldiers). The AWL coup isn't very different from how Revolution activists behaved at the February 2009 conference, but the death throws of this supposedly 'democratic network of local anti-cuts campaigns' makes an unedifying spectacle.

Joseph Kay

12 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Joseph Kay on June 9, 2011

Luke Cooper's the guy who wrote that bizarre 'the black block are fascists because of Walter Benjamin' hatchet job. Looks like they're all Workers Power/Revo, pissed they got out-Trotted.

Steven.

12 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Steven. on June 10, 2011

Are that lot all revolution/workers power then? If so, then that is a pretty good example of the deceitful trot tactic of pretending not to be in a group, all signing the document as representatives of other things

Arbeiten

12 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Arbeiten on June 10, 2011

I think that Sean RIllo guy is Counterfire isn't he?

Matt_efc

12 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Matt_efc on June 10, 2011

Any chance of a link to that? Walter Benjamin and the black bloc seems like a strange link[

Joseph Kay

12 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Joseph Kay on June 10, 2011

http://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/luke-cooper/black-bloc-aesthetics-wont-beat-cuts

Ramona

12 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Ramona on June 10, 2011

Yeah Luke Cooper is Workers Power, he was in Revo at the same time as me. Simon Hardy is Workers Power, so is Joana Pinto, pretty sure Sean Rillo Raczka is counterfire. Dunno about the others but as far as I've heard, it's mostly Workers Power kicking off. More about the conference here , Workers Power were there but didn't stand anyone for election and boycotted the elections, SWP had no one there cos they're busy doing their Education Activist Network or whatever it is they're doing. Some quite interesting people did get elected, kinda surprised Michael Chessum didn't.