So, continuing my run of bad timing, I managed to write that piece about how we should engage with the media more just before that Jody McIntyre “rolling towards the police” interview happened. Having said that, I would still claim that, as shitty as that interview was, I don’t really think it contradicts what I was trying to say, since McIntyre clearly won the argument and made the interviewer – and, by implication, the BBC as a whole – look ridiculous. If he’d refused to engage with the media and boycotted the interview, it would have saved him from the unpleasant experience of having to talk to a prick, but it would’ve also meant that he, and the movement as a whole, would’ve missed the chance to argue against police brutality and media bias to a massive audience, so I think it was worth it.
Meanwhile, away from the media bubble, other than some left-sounding talk from the union leaders, things seem to have mostly quietened down for Christmas over here, although the UK Uncut tax protests are continuing. In terms of attempts to understand what’s going on at the moment, the Commune and Whitechapel Anarchist Group are still coming out with worthwhile pieces of analysis fairly regularly. And while activists may be taking a break, that certainly doesn’t mean the police are, since they’ve just raided a student’s house in Bristol.
The most promising new development seems to be the slow development of a claimants’ fightback, as the day of action against benefit cuts on the 15th saw protests by disabled people in London and Oxford, as well as an invasion of A4e by Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty (and apparently another demo against housing benefit cuts in London). Even bearing in mind that mobilising disabled people and the unemployed is much more difficult than mobilising students, and that this movement is starting off from pretty much nothing, it’s still a slightly disappointing response to a call for a national day of action. We can only hope that resistance to benefit cuts spreads, and at least the militant approach of ECAP – a militancy based on a commitment to sticking around for the long term, not just doing a few attention-grabbing stunts then moving on – offers a worthwhile model to follow.
But, while things may have quieted down somewhat in the UK, the same is definitely not true over on the continent. In general, Italy Calling and Occupied London are the best sources for info on the ongoing struggles in Italy and Greece respectively, although it’s also worth looking at Contra-Info for reports on things like the Greek general strike on the 15th. Currently, there doesn’t seem to be much going on across the continent that lives up to the standards of Italy and Greece, but that could all change soon. And, as with the last student demo here, I’ll end this post with a gratuitous amount of pics (this time from the Greek general strike), just because there’re so many brilliant ones.