Save the Independent Living Fund protest: an activist’s report

On 24 June disability activists went to Parliament. Here one activist explains what happened.

The lobby of ILF on 24-06-15 turned into a demonstration. The ILA PA arrived at 0840, followed by the cab at 0845. This demonstration was no surprise, my revolutionary comrade Andy Greene briefed me beforehand. So we all filed into the central lobby, about thirty of us, all defiant. We got our green cards on which you note MPs down, sometimes they will see you. At a given signal we all hurtled down a corridor. At the end there was a door, directly behind which prime minister’s questions were occurring. We raced down the corridor following our inspirational leader followed by thirty police officers, who were determined to get our chairs out of there. We were shouting “save the ILF” and we just outside the main chamber where there was Prime Ministers Questions. We could not get in the main chamber but the police grabbed my chair and I put my brakes on and dug my heels in the floor. Nonetheless they shoved my chair into the main lobby where we shouted “save the ILF” but my PA was very determined, and was helping a disabled lady. The police dragged him out, so I had to leave with him, he was a foreign national so I was scared he would be deported. After this, disabled people went outside and blocked the road, they went outside Downing Street and protested, but I stayed with my PA.

Disability, oppression and resistance

This is based on the introduction to a discussion on the politics of disability given by Roderick C at a recent Waltham Forest Left Unity meeting.

Like blacks, women and LGBT people, disabled people are a group who routinely suffer discrimination and oppression in society. Although some argue that this is the inevitable result of the physical and mental impairments that we possess, or people’s basic prejudices about disabled people, this article argues that the systematic oppression of disabled people as we know it today has at its root how capitalism developed as a system.

In saying this, we should avoid idealising pre-capitalist society. Although there is undoubtedly some truth in the idea that in such societies, based on rural subsistence production and extended families, disabled members of the family would be cared for and even contribute to production, prejudice was rife in many societies. Martin Luther famously called disabled children “changelings” and argued they should be put to death, and in ancient Greece a child was not regarded as a child for seven days after birth, allowing disabled babies to be killed without moral stigma.

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Teachers at George Monoux College announce further strike action

Teachers at Sir George Monoux Sixth Form College have voted to step up their strike action in defence of two colleagues sacked for their union roles.

wpid-wp-1434999397873.jpegNational Union of Teachers (NUT) members at the college say that Flor Thompson, union health and safety representative, and Diane George, joint college rep, were victimised by college management and that the charges against them are ridiculous.
Flor Thompson was originally suspended in 2013 and sacked after one year’s suspension. She was later reinstated after a governors’ inquiry, only to be re-suspended and sacked in 2015 on a different set of trumped up charges. Diane George was also sacked this year.
After five days of strike action Principal Paolo Ramella and the college governors have remained intransigent and refused all attempts at a negotiated settlement. NUT members have voted unanimously for another 5 days of strike action this term and 3 more at the start of next term.
wpid-wp-1434988427653.jpegCollege NUT rep Pippa Dowswell, a supporter of Left Unity, said: “We are facing a hardnosed management who want to establish an autocratic regime. They have to understand that we will not allow our representatives to be victimised in this way. Our union executive has given our strike action 100% support. If management can pick off union activists, all teachers at the college are threatened.”

Join the pickets outside George Monoux College, 190 Chingford Road E17 5AA from 7-9 am on 24 and 25 June, and 1, 2, 8 and 9 July.

Community stops eviction in Walthamstow

Yesterday a group of campaigners and neighbours successfully prevented the eviction of a family from their home in Walthamstow. Eleanor Firman, of union Unite Community issued this statement:

Today myself and my local Unite Community group along with friends and neighbours plus Focus E15 and Radical Housing Network are all pulling together to help a mother and her two young children. She has complex health needs and is being evicted by her landlord in what looks like a revenge eviction. She had gone to a rent tribunal who lowered the rent to Local Housing Allowance rates. The landlord hardly waited a month before applying for repossession. This is totally unacceptable. I live a few streets away from the family and the property is identical to mine. It’s a friendly area but every year my neighbours and others like them are thrown out – its like clockwork, its so predictable. It’s usually so the landlord can put up the rent and avoid tackling repairs. I see it every week in this neighbourhood.  Property prices have doubled since I moved here a few years ago.  I always make friends with whoever moves in next door to me and warn them about the landlord (and the damp that is never sorted out). But it’s time to stop this exploitation. Everywhere people complain about the benefits bill yet its greedy landlords that are to blame. I love the community spirit around here and it hurts that these landlords spoil this and give Walthamstow a bad name. So today we’re resisting this eviction and sending the bailiffs away so this young mum and her family have time to get help from the council.

The local Guardian newspaper covered the story here and has a video of campaigners repelling the bailiffs