It’s been a grim year, overall. There’s been a few positive developments, but only a few: for the most part, attacks on our lives have come thick and fast, and opposition has mainly stayed at the level of polite complaining, rather than active resistance. But, every now and again, something a bit more worthwhile happens, and I think it’s worth drawing attention to those events when they happen.
On that note, the protests across Britain this Wednesday to coincide with Osborne’s budget statement seem to have mostly been standard lefty non-events, with two notable exceptions: in Birmingham, Andrew Mitchell’s office was occupied, and in Newcastle, a protest inside the Civic Centre disrupted a council meeting. Of course, these things by themselves are not enough; it’s disappointing that the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts call-out seems not to have led to similar action anywhere else, and, as with any tactic, the more we occupy MPs’ offices and council meetings, the better the police will get at dealing with it. But, for all the criticisms that can be made, any action that actually causes some disruption to our enemies is always far more worthwhile than one that doesn’t, so the protesters in Birmingham and Newcastle deserve our respect and solidarity, and it’s worth thinking about whether it’d be possible to pull off something similar where you are.
Finally, a really important development on the Universal Jobmatch front: building on Johnny Void’s important efforts highlighting the potential for abuse of the system, Channel 4 News have now run a prominent story on how easily Jobmatch can be used for identity theft. This is really important for claimants who want to avoid signing up to the system, and I’d recommend that anyone worried about pressure from the Jobcentre should print off a copy of the story* to take with them. It’s also worthwhile sharing the story around as widely as possible. Being too openly confrontational about not wanting to register will probably get you an official Jobcentre direction to sign up, with the threat of a sanction if you don’t, but playing the “I want to register, really I do, but I saw this story on the news and now I’m scared and don’t want to set up an account until I’m 100% sure my details are safe” card should at least buy you a bit of time.
Looking towards the future, there’s a few worthwhile events coming up: the Week of Action Against Workfare starting on Saturday 8th will see action in at least nine different locations, Manchester Disabled People Against Cuts are having a formal launch meeting tomorrow, and the Pret A Manger Staff Union are launching a new campaign for the living wage.
* I was going to say that if you don’t have access to a printer, it should be easy enough to do it at your local library, but thinking about it, this is Britain at the end of 2012, so there’s no guarantee that there’ll be a functioning library anywhere near you.