Monday, 28 March 2011

'I can't get over how organised these anarchists are!'

photo by Dominic Alves
A PUNDIT on Radio 4 yesterday said: 'I can't get over how organised these anarchists are!' He and Brian Paddick, a former senior Metropolitan police officer, marveled at how the anarchist last Saturday had managed to stay ahead of the police in London. Actually it seems that the chaos on Oxford Street and elsewhere was the result of fast moving activists from the young anarchist 'Black Bloc' and UK Uncut.

It had been an early kick off for us up North on Saturday morning when we, along with thousands of other trade unionists, caught the trains from Manchester Piccadilly station. It was a good humoured crowd that landed at Euston armed with whistles, tabards and banners from the Unite union. Oh yes, and the regional officers were handing out arrest cards from Thompsons Solicitors - just in case. Then it was off down to the Embankment for most of them while others made for the feeder marches from the University of London.

After sipping tea at Albertinis near the RMT officers near Euston we made for Holborn only to catch a bus to Oxford Street and the store of John Lewis where my companion wanted to buy some moisturiser before joining the TUC march on Piccadilly en route for Hyde Park. The stores round Oxford Street like Boots and Top Shop already had police outside and by that time it was 2 p.m. and the Black Block and UK Uncut were surrounding our bus as it skirted round Oxford Circus. Time for another cup of tea - this time English Breakfast in John Lewis - which provided us with a safe haven to watch the riot police vans at the back. Text messages told us of breakaways from the main march and riot police on Oxford Street with a possible kettle forming at Oxford Circus. Suddenly, sirens wailing, nine riot wagons with lights flashing tore off towards the trouble. 'Isn't it a shame', said one woman in the Coffee Bar. Then, on advice from the local Cockneys, we sneaked out by the backdoor of John Lewis anxious to dodge most of the trouble and head for the main protest at Hyde Park. 'I wouldn't go there; if you don't have to!' said a security guard on the street outside as it seemed by that time that things were kicking off all over the show around Oxford Street.

Yet, determined to show our faces, we headed off down Oxford Street past Bond Street tube station and Vodafone. Others carrying Unison banners were walking back in the opposite direction saying that they'd been on their feet since 9 a.m. and had had enough. By then messages were coming in to say that the Ritz had been trashed and Fortnum & Mason occupied and it was then 'la hora de comer' in Spain (3-4 p.m.), so we retreated, or skedaddled, back to John Lewis on Oxford Street for a plate of grilled Mackerel and salad, and a glass of tap water. After that it was time to think about getting the Unite train from Euston station even though it was 4.30 and John from the Leeds contingent still hadn't got into Hyde Park.

Later, near Euston in the Exmouth Arms, people there with the NUT from Liverpool were complaining that the anarchists would get all the news coverage. That hasn't altogether been the case and a professor on the Radio 4 Today program this morning said that the 'Black Bloc' was only a small faction among the anarchists, pointing out that anarchists were in favour of organisation but objected to top-down bosses and bureaucrats. Today's web page of the BBC says: 'The label "anarchist" has been widely used to describe violent protesters' and asks, 'what does it mean to be an anarchist nowadays?' This morning, interviewed by John Humphries, Dr Alan Finlayson, a reader in politics at Swansea University, whose research interests include protest movements in the UK, analysed last Saturday's protest including the anarchists.


Anonymous said...

You`ve got to hand-it to Clegg & Cameron. These two half-witted public school boys have done a marvelous job of radicalising the some of the youth of Britain. The anger on the faces of some of these kids in London on Saturday, was palpable. Can you blame them? No jobs, no money and now no education for some, because of the increase in tuition fees. Is it any wonder they`ve finished up trashing stores and government buildings and fighting with the coppers (the bodyguards of the monied classes.) As Charlotte Bronte says in her novel 'Shirley':
"Misery generates hate".

Anonymous said...

As a regular reader of the NV Blog, I must confess that I`m sometimes inclined to feel rather hungry when reading some of Bammy's postings. He really is a Bon Viveur a kind of Egon Ronay of Northern Anarchism. "Sipping tea at Albertinis" and John Lewis "which provided us with a safe haven to watch the riot police vans at the back." And then as the Black Block trashed the Ritz and occupied Fortnam and Mason he was off like a shot, back to John Lewis for lunch, which consisted of a plate of grilled mackerel and salad. How delightful! But I bet it didn`t cost as much as Big Bob Crow`s lunch at Rules in Covent Garden.Fish and chips for two, will cost you £53.90 at this establishment and the chips are £7.50 for two portions. Ah, La Dolce Vita!