Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Bath Drones Conference - Opposition Meeting this Saturday

The opposition to the drones conference at the Assembly Rooms in June is growing, with Bath Stop War Coalition's petition increasing in signatures via the internet and on paper by the day and letters most weeks in the Bath Chronicle. Now, Bath Stop the Drones have issued the following information relating to a meeting this Saturday 2nd June to plan action for the event. Please spread this far and wide throughout Bath and the rest of the UK.

Manvers street Baptist church (1 minute walk from Bath Spa train station) – 11AM-4.00PM

As you may have seen, a large military fair - focussing on military and surveillance drones - is being held in Bath between the 25th and 28th of June. We intend to resist them, and want to bring together the biggest coalition of groups and individuals to educate, agitate, organise and make sure the death dealers' stay in Bath isn't a pleasant one!

As we speak, groups and individuals in Bath, including the local Stop the War Coalition are doing sterling work petitioning the council to scrap the conference (as it is being held in council-owned buildings). We hope that this tactic will encourage the council to see sense, but in case the fair does go ahead, we need to start organising ASAP to build the biggest and most effective response.

In an effort to make sure that resisting the drone conference is a process that includes as many different voices, groups and perspectives as possible, we are holding a planning day, where all groups and individuals opposed to the conference can kick-start the process of organising resistance/events. We would love it if you, and as many of your mates/representatives from your group as possible could make it along.

As you will probably know, drones are unmanned aerial weapons which have been indiscriminately terrorising, killing and maiming hundereds of civilians in countries including Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The structure of the day is completely open, so if you have any amendments or suggestions, please drop us an email at bathstopthedrones@gmail.com. At this point, we imagine the day will break down a bit like this -


*Introduction to the conference - who are the baddies/where and when will they be meeting?
*Feedback on progress so far - finding out the progress of petitions to the council etc
*Feedback from anti-drone conference protests in Bristol - what worked, what didn't?
*Events - coming up with ideas for protests/events and a timetable
*Any other ideas/ things that need to be discussed or have not been covered
*'To do list'
*people form working groups to complete tasks on the to do list

LUNCH - 12.30 - 1.15


*Split into working groups
*Feedback from working groups and discussion of next steps

Monday, 14 May 2012

Anti-EDL Demo in Bristol this July

The English Defence League (EDL) are planning a demonstration in Bristol on 14th July, according to this source (note that the original date of 21st July has been changed to 14th in the most recent sources).

Two separate counter-demonstrations are being planned, with events set up on Facebook. The first has nearly 700 people confirmed as attending and has attracted a lot trolling from EDL supporters, while the second, advocating a peaceful demonstration, has nearly 100 people confirmed as attending.

Unite Against Fascism has built up an alliance of groups in Bristol opposed to the EDL. Bristol and District Anti-Cuts Alliance have also stated on their website that they will be supporting action on the day.

The alliance, calling themselves "We Are Bristol" have put out the following statement (the original source is here):

The English Defence League (EDL) has announced its intention to hold a March and Rally here in Bristol on July 14th.

The EDL is a violent, racist group riddled with fascists, dedicated to promoting hatred and intolerance in society. We agree that Islamophobia -  bigotry against Muslims - is as unacceptable as any other form of racism. The EDL aims to create divisions in society by using diversity as a cause for hatred rather than celebration. The EDL is trying to create a street movement to terrorise ethnic minority communities and attack socialist and Trade Union organisations.

They have staged many provocative demonstrations across the UK over the past three years. Whenever the EDL march they bring disruption and violence. We do not want that here in Bristol.

The route they are planning is through the city centre and coincides with Bristol Pride – We are: Proud - , itself a celebration of diversity. Pride is a celebration of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. It is organised by the LGBT community for the people of the South West. There is no place for the EDL here in Bristol's multi-cultural, multi-racial and multi-faith community.

WE ARE BRISTOL is a broad-based network of local community groups, political organisations and Trade Unionists and, supported by Unite Against Fascism, will organise a counter demonstration to keep the EDL out of our city. We urge all decent people of this community - irrespective of colour, faith or beliefs to join us in opposing the EDL. They want to create hatred and division - Let's Unite to stop them.
Please add your name to the growing list of supporters.

WE ARE BRISTOL can offer speakers and publicity for your union branch, community group, church or mosque.

For more information or to send messages of support please contact southwestuaf@gmail.com

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Bath Drones Conference

Bath Stop War Coalition are leading a campaign to stop the forthcoming drones conference in Bath in June, and have asked for the following message to be spread as widely as possible. If you don't want this conference to go ahead, please sign the petition:


Stay tuned for updates on this campaign.

Groups in Bath led by Bath Stop War Coalition are mobilising to stop the conference and exhibition booked for June 25 – 28 in Bath’s historic Assembly Rooms to promote and market drones – unmanned aerial vehicles. Although the event is billed as covering the military and civilian use of drones, a visit to the organisers’ website will soon convince you of its overriding military purpose.  In recent years there has been a huge increase in the military use of drones in state surveillance and bombing in Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Middle East and North Africa; they are widely implicated in terrible civilian casualties and in extra-judicial killings (executions).  
Specialist conferences for drones procurement represent rich opportunities to profit from suffering – we don’t think there should be such a conference here.
The Assembly Rooms are owned by the National Trust, which has no legal say in their use, since they are under long-term lease to the Heritage department of Bath & North East Somerset Council. Our current aim is to mobilise to convince the Council to cancel the letting. We also want to persuade the National Trust to play its part by requesting the Council to re-think this particular commercial transaction, which is unethical and liable to bring the NT’s name into disrepute.

We ask B&NES residents to write to their councillors and to sign the on-line petition here to convince them that the event will be seen as an outrage by its electorate, making them complicit in encouraging this sinister new direction for the arms race and arms trade. (You can also sign the paper petition at the regular Bath Stop War weekly peace vigil outside Bath Abbey, 11.30 to 12.30 every Saturday).
The petition calls on the Council to hold a public debate on the matter. If we get 1000 signatures on the petition, a public debate will be granted automatically.
Our first and most urgent request is for support in these and other moves to stop this ugly event from going ahead. We think that with enough publicity it is possible to get it cancelled, especially if we can make it a national issue and give it all the publicity and notoriety it deserves. Please pass this email on!
If … in spite of all our persuasive powers this event goes ahead, we hope that the protests will be so loud and so eloquent that all Local Authorities and owners of buildings get the message for the future: such events are an affront to human decency and will inevitably excite such levels of protest that they become unviable

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Save the NHS March - Bristol 5th May 2012

At 11am, around 400 people from all walks of life congregated on the bland and sterile new grass on College Green for the final event in the May week of action for the Save Our NHS march.
Organisations and campaigns represented included various unions (including Unite, Unision and UCU), Bristol and District Anti-Cuts Alliance, South West Against Nuclear, Bristol Anarchist Federation, Bristol Fawcett, Occupiers from Bath and Bristol and lots of other members of the public.

A rally with a variety of speeches took place outside the council building. Although there were some great speeches, the highlight was a couple of smartly-dressed women with Virgin badges, posing as company reps and outlining exactly what they were going to do to the NHS.

Following the rally, banners were held up high and all assembled for the march. People joined in along the way, and we caused quite a scene marching through town to chants of "Whose NHS? Our NHS" and a selection of reggae, rock and punk from a stereo system in a wheelie bin, as well as an excellent cover of Pulp's Common People sung from David Cameron's perspective.

Will this march change anything? On its own, no. But if we don't want the NHS to be privatised by this sham of a government - made up of two parties that vowed to protect the NHS - then we need to keep showing that we're not happy. Keep it in the public eye, keep piling the pressure on and maybe someone will listen. But even if it changes nothing, I'm going to keep doing it. I'm here to change the world, not be changed by those trying to destroy it. Be the change you want to see.

Peace all.

Video here:

More reporting from The Shittro here: http://theshittro.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/pro-nhs-rally-bristol-saturday-5th-may.html

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Visions for Change 2012

On Saturday 28th April, 23 different groups dedicated to working and campaigning for a better world converged on the Friends' Meeting House in Bath for the Visions for Change event, organised by Bath People's Assembly.

Since its beginnings, as an idea that originated in the Occupy Bath camp, Bath People's Assembly has taken on a life of its own and is now a clearly distinct "organisation" from the Occupy Movement, although inspired by the direct democracy popularised by the movement. Many former Occupiers still attend, but the twice-monthly meetings have attracted a much wider variety of people with more diverse opinions. Many people who regularly attend Bath People's Assembly are also involved with other groups, and it was apparent very early on that throughout Bath is a wide range of groups working or campaigning in some way for a better world. Visions for Change brought them all together.

Twenty-three groups attended the event and to set up stalls and to give talks. A well organised kitchen area was also set up with hot drinks and homemade cakes. Occupy Bath decided to take a different approach to the stall, with a child's play tent occupying half of our allocated space.

Occupy Bath at Visions for Change

Other groups in attendance included: Bath Stop the War Coalition, Greenpeace, Bath Against Cuts, Amnesty, Bath Animal Action, Friends of the Earth, Stop Hinkley, Transition Bath, South West Against Nuclear, Green Vision, Energy Efficient Widcombe, Friends of Longacre Hall, 38 Degrees and more.

Highlights of the talks in the cafe area included Occupy Bath (with the speaker dressed as a bank manager), an excellent talk on improving your home by Energy Efficient Widcombe, an impassioned talk by Transition Bath on a post-oil world, a well-rehearsed and enacted trio of young speakers from Green Vision and a scientist from the Stop Hinkley campaign on the dangers of nuclear waste.

The event was packed out with people wanting to learn more about these campaigns (unfortunately the noise of all the people talking to the stallholders drowned out some of the speakers and there was no microphone - but at least people turned up and hopefully learned something!).

After the public event, all of the groups took part in a structured networking session, with everyone divided into groups and finding common ground. Many found this incredibly useful and found many connections. At the end of the day, many of the groups expressed a desire to do this event again sometime, and for all of the group to keep in contact with each other. It was, by all means, a successful day.

Today (2nd May 2012), Bath and North East Somerset Council held the first "Bath City Conference". The concept was similar to Visions for Change, but with less campaigns and more of a flashy and corporate feel to the event, with prolonged speeches from the council about how they are going to listen to peoples' ideas. They asked people to fill out forms with their ideas for Bath, claiming that they wanted to generate 100 ideas. Although it remains to be seen if they will follow through on these ideas, it is good to see how the recent show of support for parcipitory democracy has influenced our local government. Several people I spoke to at the council event commented that Visions for Change had much more of an air of authenticity to it, with some arguing that it was good that council were doing this, while others were less impressed.

For me, the highlight of the conference was during a question and answer session. The very first question came from a member of Bath Stop the War Coalition, calling for forthcoming drones conference (military go free) at the Bath Assembly Rooms to be stopped. The councillors pleaded ignorance (despite letters having appeared in the Bath Chronicle every issue for weeks now) and swiftly moved on, but not before a round of applause for the questioner erupted in the room.

So, all in all, an exciting week in Bath, and hopefully Visions for Change will continue in some form beyond the one event. Visions for Change has already spread, with a similar event run in Norwich yesterday.

(As always, all opinions above are my own etc.)