Now that you can all stop worrying about the end of the world, let’s focus our attentions on the year ahead – there are real things that are a threat to the planet and the people and other life-forms that dwell upon it, and the momentum is already mounting behind the various campaigns and initiatives dedicated to solving the social, political, economic and environmental issues that we’re all concerned about right now. Here’s a summary of what’s in store, with the odd prediction thrown in here and there…
The Big Fight Back Against Austerity
The Big Fight Back Against Austerity
The warning shots have already been fired by a diverse range of groups opposed to the coalition’s austerity measures. Over the last couple of years we've seen actions and debates inspired by UK Uncut, Occupy, 38 Degrees and many other groups. This summer will see delegates from many of these groups, as well as opposition politicians, public figures and members of the public, gather in London for the People’s Assembly Against Austerity. And this is already looking like it will be BIG. No longer will these groups be working in isolation, if all goes well there will be one huge concerted effort to stop the government in its’ tracks. June 22nd 2013 will be a significant date in British history – the moment the fight back gets serious. For more information, see the letter in The Guardian http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2013/feb/05/people-assembly-against-austerity and if you want to attend see The Coalition of Resistance’s page: http://www.coalitionofresistance.org.uk/2013/02/peoples-assembly-against-austerity-saturday-22-june/. There is a small booking fee.
The Bedroom Tax is likely to become a big issue this year – and it will probably affect you. See here for more info: http://johnnyvoid.wordpress.com/2013/02/06/squaring-up-to-the-bedroom-tax-resistance-grows-around-the-uk/
The Badger Cull
The battles fought so far have been won by opponents to the cull on every level. Almost all of the environmental and animal rights groups are on board, the rock stars and TV naturalists have been talking about this at every opportunity, the House of Commons voted against it and even the government’s own scientists have found through previous trials that it will not work. But the Tories and NFU are winning the war and still plan to go ahead with the massacre this summer. In whom do you trust more? Natural History legend David Attenborough or (anti-) Environment Secretary Owen Paterson? The RSPCA or Defra? Top scientist Lord Krebs or rich farmer (who will profit from the cull) Jan Rowe? The war is far from over, and already activists, campaigners, celebrities and the general public are preparing to put a stop to this unethical, undemocratic and unscientific slaughter. Once the first of Britain’s Most Loved Wild Animal gets a bullet in the head, all hell is going to break loose. Owen Paterson, you won’t get away with this…
Sign the 38 Degrees petition here: http://www.38degrees.org.uk/page/s/badgers-petition
Standing Stone's Blog is working on a huge article on the badger cull for Head Heritage… watch this space for it!
The Re-Occupation of Britain
The Re-Occupation of Britain
The Occupy Movement has been out of the limelight of late, but although the tents are gone it hasn’t gone away… In November last year, Occupy Bath returned with a camp to once again highlight the issues and picket Starbucks, and the Bath People’s Assembly they set up has gone from strength to strength, engaging with other campaigns and coming up with new ideas – one of which, a “Tax Kite Mark” that companies who pay their taxes properly can display in their windows, was recently mentioned in parliament. But that’s not all. Occupy London have been in the headlines of late, having squatted the recently closed Friern Barnet library and started lending out books again – the library has now been given back to the people due to overwhelming public support. In Bristol, people from Occupy Bristol squatted the disused All Hallows Hall with the aim of turning it into a community centre. They have now been given a lease on the building by the owner, who was impressed with their work. People’s Assemblies are being formed by ex-occupiers, providing their communities with real democracy and the chance to have their say and take action. Occupy may be finally finding its' feet and going places, and actions are inspiring other actions. Don’t write the movement off just yet…
Standing Stone's Blog will be covering the Bath People's Assembly's Visions for Change on 27th April - see here for the details released on 5th Feb: http://standingstonesblog.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/visions-for-change-2013-announced.html and here for the Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/158627290953876/
The Return of the Road Protests
Road protesting was huge in the 90s, when the last Conservative administration embarked on a road building scheme greater than the Romans, and through the actions of protesters and campaigners at Twyford Down, Solsbury Hill, Fairmile, Newbury and other places, many of their road schemes were scrapped. Many of these roads were completely unnecessary and were sold to the public under false pretences – that they would keep traffic away from towns and villages – but the sinister reality was that they were all part of a massive Euro-route, and in many cases made the traffic problems that they were supposed to solve even worse, at the price of losing irreplaceable parts of the countryside. Although there have been road protests since then, none were quite on the scale of the Newbury Bypass. Now George Osborne has announced 191 new road schemes, including some of those scrapped at the end of the 90s. The first has begun already, and the Combe Haven Defenders along the route of the Bexhill-Hastings road have set up camps. Some camps have been evicted already, and media attention has yet to make a huge deal out of this, but when the road building scheme gets properly underway, it’s likely that the tree pixies and tunnel diggers will return en-mass to the countryside.
Rather than embark on a large-scale renewables programme, the government have opted for the cheap, nasty and environmentally destructive method of fracking. Now that the anti-nuclear lobby appear to have held back new nuclear power stations – for now – the government need to find other ways to exploit natural resources and mess up our planet in order to meet the energy demand AND make a tidy profit for the super-rich. Fracking (or shale gas extraction) has been known to pollute water systems, including drinking water, and cause earth tremors. You don’t want to live nearby. Already there are campaigns against this and the signs are that they are growing in numbers and activity.
Save the NHS
The NHS is NOT for sale. But the government are doing their best with attempting to privatise it. If the recent demonstrations and petitions are anything to go by, this is at the top of the agenda for an awful lot of people. The Tories will be committing political suicide for sure if they get their way, but that's not stopping them...
Of course, no-one wants to be out protesting and campaigning against these issues – we’ve got other things we’d like to do. But the people, our planet and the creatures we share it with are under threat. We can’t let them get away with it. 2013 needs to be the year that we fight back. Or the things we take for granted today will be gone tomorrow. We need to not just put a stop to the things that threaten us, we also need to ensure that they don't happen again. Our society needs a complete overhaul - perhaps even a complete revolution. It's time to start thinking about how much better the world could be, and doing something about it. The fate of the this country and this world is in all of our hands.
See you on the picket line.