Ruin the LibDems’ Weekend: Shut Down Workfare in Brighton – Sat 22nd September 2012

Image

The Liberal Democrat conference is being held in Brighton on Saturday 22nd September 2012 – there will be a large demonstration organised by Brighton Stop the Cuts Coalition and Brighton Trades Council.

To coincide with this, Brighton Solidarity Federation, Brighton Benefits Campaign and Brighton Uncut are calling for a day of action in Brighton against workfare – instead of ineffectually “having our say” and being ignored by the junior coalition partner, we should physically shut down a high profile coalition policy.

We are aiming to use a diversity of tactics on the day – from static or roving pickets outside shops, to UK Uncut style occupations, to whatever anyone else fancies getting up to.

We will distribute a list of workfare targets and their locations – when the march ends we will head into town and try and shut down as many of them as we can for as long as we can.

Facebook event

Image

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Press Release: Never Mind the Jubilee – It’s the Great Brighton Street Party

E-mail: brighton.uncut@gmail.com

Phone: 07527497339

Twitter: @brightonuncut

Website: www.brightonuncut.wordpress.com

Never Mind the Jubilee – It’s the Great Brighton Street Party

Brighton Uncut, the direct action anti cuts group, has called for a party and protest in central Brighton to celebrate “Community Spirit Uncut”. Brighton Uncut are asking people to meet on Saturday 2nd June at 12 noon at the Clock Tower for an afternoon which will include tea, cake and conversation, music and games, bunting and traditional gingham table cloths in interesting places.

The move follows a call out by national activist network UK Uncut for street parties to highlight alternatives to Government’s austerity economics [1].

Brighton Uncutter Al Buntson said: “We continue to pay the price for bankers’ greed and recklessness while the mega wealthy get tax breaks and the corporate tax dodgers continue unfettered.”

“Since Brighton Uncut first took to the streets armed with nothing more than tubes of superglue, the financial crisis has worsened and we’re still braced for the full force of the Government’s slash and burn approach to public services.

“We could leave our fate in the hands of a tiny group of millionaires in business and government. Or we could organise, take back the power and build a better world. That’s why we’re celebrating Community Spirit Uncut. It’s the one thing this Government can’t cut. And it’s something we’ll need in spades.”

The Great Brighton Street Party has a 1948 theme, to remind people of the year when the debt crisis was worse than it is now [2]. It was also the year the welfare state [3] and the NHS [4] were born and the UK hosted a no frills Olympic Games [5].  The Government invested in the nation, its people and the future.

Brighton Uncutter Jen Ewing said “In 2012 we face a government with policies to destroy that legacy, prop up a failing system and protect the elite.

It has attempted to placate us with bread and circuses –  a corporatized budget-busting Mclympics and a royal non event. We say never mind the jubilee, it’s the Great Brighton Street Party: Community Spirit Uncut. Usual targets apply.”

 

ENDS

 

Contact Details

E-mail: brighton.uncut@gmail.com

Phone: 07527497339

Twitter: @brightonuncut

Website: www.brightonuncut.wordpress.com

 

Notes For Editors:

[1] http://ukuncut.org.uk/blog/PR-great-british-street-parties

[2] http://falseeconomy.org.uk/cure/how-big-is-the-problem

[3] http://www.open.edu/openlearn/history-the-arts/history/history-science-technology-and-medicine/history-medicine/birth-the-welfare-state

[4] http://www.http.com//www.nhs.uk/Livewell/NHS60/Pages/BirthoftheNHS.aspx

[5] http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2012/mar/30/london-1948-olympics-austerity-games

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Great Brighton Street Party

Never mind the jubilee

– it’s the Great Brighton Street Party

Community Spirit Uncut!

Come together under the Brighton Uncut banner – to celebrate what’s great about our city: our communities.

The government is destroying our NHS, cutting the welfare state, obliterating public services, fighting wars, favouring the mega wealthy, indulging corporate tax dodgers, and sanctioning climate change.

BUT one thing this government can’t do is to take away our community spirit. Now that’s something worth celebrating.

Come and be part of our get-together and together we can build a better future.

Meet at the Clock Tower 12 noon Saturday 2nd June for a moveable feast of conversation, music, dancing and a picnic to share somewhere in central Brighton.

We encourage a 1948 dress up theme as this was the year our beloved NHS and welfare state were born – and the year England hosted the austerity Olympics. So think rationing, make-do and mend, bunting, tank tops and pencil skirts.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Block The Bridge – Block The Bill Westminster Bridge Sunday 9th October 1pm

On Sunday 9th October, just three days before the Lords vote, join UK Uncut in a spectacular act of mass civil disobedience to block the bill. By blocking Westminster Bridge we symbolically block the bill from getting from Parliament to our hospitals. Yes, it will be disruptive. Yes, it will stop the traffic. But this is an emergency and we have to shout as loud as we can. Get to the middle of Westminster Bridge shortly before 1pm. When Big Ben strikes one, pick one of the tactics below and help block the bridge: Bring some fake blood and play dead Bring hospital radio to the bridge with some music and comedy Bring a nurse for a resuscitation skill-share Dress up in scrubs and perform an operation Enjoy a picnic overlooking Parliament Share stories about the the NHS Invite a friend from across the pond to describe the reality of a privatised healthcare system Invite older generations to describe a time before universal healthcare

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The case closes…

After a tiresome two weeks, the trial of the BrightoNine is finally coming to an end. Today is the final day, with the verdict edging nearer by the minute. As the case closed yesterday, the court room turned its focus to legal dispute between the prosecution and the defence. Closing statements were then heard on behalf of all nine defendants.

With the prosecution claiming that the accused had ‘evidently’ intended to cause criminal damage, the defence argued that in fact no damage had even occurred. A hand simply placed on a window, they argued, could never be considered damage. How could glue, therefore, make this act criminal? As had been heard in the evidence provided by all the defendants, the hands were removed by the use of acetone, a substance with dissolves the glue. The defence therefore concluded by suggesting that in the removal of the hand from a window, all glue would be dissolved, and hence no damage would have occurred. The glue was, the court heard, ‘a means to an end’, or ‘a form of attachment without obstruction’.

With further legal jargon used to decipher the true meaning of ‘intent’ the defence lawyers each put forward their argument as to why the BrighoNine had neither intended to cause, nor could have foreseen any damage occurring. The prosecution indeed needs to prove that either was the case, in order for the nine activists to be convicted. Intention to act the defence claimed, is not the same as intention to cause damage through that action. It has not been disputed throughout this trial that each defendant intended to glue their hands to the window: eight of the nine being successful, and the ninth having been arrested prior to attachment. The lawyers however claimed that there was no intent to cause damage through that action, nor could damage have been foreseen. Similarly, when attention turned towards the mannequins which has been agreed were ‘disturbed’ by a door upon entrance to the western window area, the defence claimed that there was no foreseeable risk that these mannequins could have been damaged. In fact, there was not enough evidence, the defence suggested, that the judge could be beyond reasonable doubt that damage had even occurred; claiming that the crown’s case was ‘speculation at its highest’. As heard in evidence given by Miss Pearce (the Topshop manager) earlier in the trial, the Visual Manager of the shop enters through the same door on a daily basis. How then, the defence claimed, could the defendants have foreseen that the door could have disturbed the mannequins?

The BrightoNine trial is one which has received a lot of support from around the country, suggesting a public interest in the case. The prosecutor, Mr Shay said he ‘did not dispute [the activists’] sincerity’ with reference to their concern about the government’s spending cuts. As the court heard from each defendant the reasons behind their actions, there were examples of ward closures, benefits cuts, and austerity measures leading to cuts to the NHS. The court heard of the want to offer an alternative to the government, stimulate debate within parliament, and a felt necessity to play a fundamental role in creating more public awareness about the issue. And as stated by expert witness Caroline Lucas MP, parliamentary bills will only be discussed as public pressure mounts, and actions such as this are taken.

And so the case closes….

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

DAY TWO of TRIAL

The following is a guest post by one of the supporters that attended the second day of the trial:

I attended court today for the first time ever to watch the 2nd day of the trial of the “Brighton9”. The morning consisted of the police officers who attended the Topshop protest on 4th December 2010 by Brighton Uncut activists being cross-examined as to the details of where the defendants were in the window, whether there was ‘anything on the floor’, and how they were arrested. There was a lot of mention of superglue tubes on the floor, but not one police officer admitted that they saw mannequins, broken or otherwise, lying on the floor, despite the prosecution desperately trying to get one officer to say what he saw on the floor “a display” “what did that consist of” “I can’t remember: coat hangers and clothes, maybe”.  It was quite farcical.

My reasons for coming to watch the trial are firstly, that as a ‘member’ (UK Uncut has no ‘membership’, but people who choose to participate in actions) and supporter of UK Uncut and someone who has taken part in Brighton Uncut and London Uncut actions, I wanted to show solidarity with the activists on trial and demonstrate support for their actions.  UK Uncut actions highlight the billions lost to the UK economy in legal tax avoidance, by those such as Philip Green, the owner of Topshop/Topman, BHS and others, whose company the Arcadia Group is registered as being owned by his wife in Monaco, where there is no income tax: if the rich paid the tax they owed on their businesses, there would be enough money generated that ordinary people would not need ‘austerity measures’ with vital public services being slashed and difficult lives made even worse.

Secondly, I have sympathy with trumped-up exaggerated charges of ‘criminal damage’ by unscrupulous shop managers seeking to exploit peaceful protests.  On 30th January this year, I took part in a sit-in in Boots The Chemist in Oxford Street with London Uncut, to highlight Boots’ Company Registration in Switzerland, which conveniently means they avoid paying tax in the UK. The well-publicised peaceful sit-in was permitted by the police, much to the annoyance of Boots security.  After leaving the store and demonstrating outside several other tax-dodging shops in Oxford Street such as BHS, Topshop and Vodafone, the group returned to the store to carry on demonstrating outside. UK Uncut had produced several leaflets highlighting Boots’ tax avoidance, and many of these had been dropped by passers-by littering the pavement. Being a green-minded person, I picked up these leaflets, and put them through a gap in the door of Boots. The security in Boots then told the police to arrest me for criminal damage as the rubber seal had come off the door. I was then arrested for the first (and so far only) time in my life, and, after a fellow activist had physically tried to ‘de-arrest’ me against my will, many people got sprayed in the face with CS gas by the police, I was taken to a police station and held for 8 hours, interviewed and released at 11:45pm on bail.  My case was dropped without charge a day before I was due to return for bail, as, guess what, it’s not actually a criminal offence to put leaflets through a gap in a door.

Ridiculous charges such as mine, the aggressive prosecution on charges of ‘aggravated trespass’ against those UK Uncut activists who peacefully sat in Fortnum and Mason on March 26th, and those against Brighton Uncut activists with no evidence are just a few examples of attempts by those avoiding tax to prosecute peaceful protestors for highlighting injustice, as they want to deter others from such actions, because they can see that they are producing results.  MPs are calling an enquiry into tax avoidance and it is a cause that the majority of the public supports. This frightens them.  Well, their actions will not be a deterrent: it will make us more determined to use peaceful protest to highlight this injustice and demand a fair society where multi-billionaires pay the tax they owe and contribute to UK public services, like the rest of us.

Well done to the Brighton 9 for the publicity this case has generated.  Hope to join you on further actions.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

DAY ONE of TRIAL

Firstly, big up everyone who came to show us support. We turned up at court to be met by a crowd, many of whom came into court with us and sat through the day. Cheers all – that was properly appreciated.

Solidarity demo outside Brighton Magistrates court to support the BrightoNine

Turns out our prosecutor is Stephen Shay, otherwise known as the prosecutor at the Smash EDO trial. The five activists in that case – accused of causing £180,000 of damage to an arms factory – were acquitted last year after making the argument that they were seeking to prevent Israeli war crimes. Nice.

The trial itself started off well and I think it’s fair to say we’re all feeling pretty happy about how today went. We have seven barristers (eight as of tomorrow) representing us so any of the prosecution witnesses have to face cross-examination from all of them should our council wish to ask anything. Along with them, we have the input of our extremely competent solicitors at Kellys so we’re definitely feeling well supported in court, even if we are separated off to the side in a dock, behind glass… Where’s Sir Philip Green’s glass box?

Anyway. These first few days are dedicated to the prosecution so today saw Shay calling a number of the CPS witnesses, including a Topshop Brighton manager and several police officers who were present on 4th December 2010.

Andrew Burnyeat wrote in a lot more detail about the day’s proceedings from that aspect here so I won’t repeat the details – it makes for very interesting reading indeed so do check it out.

Now it’s time to get ready for day two. The good news is that the prosecution seems to be going faster than had been anticipated so it looks like this trial might not take the two weeks it’s been allocated. The defence may well be starting as early as Thursday so do keep checking back here for updates and come down and visit us at court if you’re near.

We’ve got some great expert witnesses lined up and are looking forward to putting our case forward as to why we superglued ourselves to Topshop.

If billionaires like Sir Philip Green think they can continue to get away with not paying millions into the public purse while the rest of society has to undergo stringent cuts in vital public services, they’ve got another thing coming.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments