Hot on the heels of ‘The Protest Players – Part 1‘ comes the second instalment of this mini series looking at ‘who is who?’ of the organisers of the recent batch of anti austerity protests.
This time we focus on UK Uncut who arranged the protest in the image below for Saturday 30th May 2015
The Organisers of ‘The Great British Right off’ (we’re not sure if that’s a grammatical error or if its meant to be a play on words) were three individuals. Jon Warner, Kelly Fitz and Kyle Williamson. We will talk a little about them later in the blog.
I must stress at this point that we support protests and are not here to belittle any organisation. I know exactly how hard it is to get support for a protest and how much effort it can take to generate interest. The point of this mini series is to question if the tactics we conduct are working, asking if we know exactly who we are protesting on behalf of and with whom and if we can learn anything of note. I personally have what some may say are controversial opinions on certain groups and tactics but it is opinion with the best of intentions.
So, UK Uncut had called for more protests just a few days after the previous (semi) high profile protest event on the day of the State Opening of Parliament, and it seems UK Uncut had better success at attracting the numbers. Being a Saturday and just after lunchtime it was hardly a surprise.
The UK Uncut website says of itself;
“UK Uncut is a grassroots movement taking action to highlight alternatives to austerity. We use acts of creative civil disobedience to show our opposition to the Government’s cuts to our public services”
They go on to say;
“Austerity-economics is the policy of the powerful. It cannot be stopped by asking nicely. If we want to win the fight against these cuts (and we can win) then we must make it impossible to ignore our arguments and impossible to resist our demands. This means building a powerful grassroots mass movement, able to resist the Government cuts at every turn”
“Since 2010 there have been over 800 UK Uncut actions all over the country”
(The bold type will be relevant later)
The UK Uncut website doesn’t go into who runs it or how it really formed, just that it started from a group of people starting off with a hashtag and the idea growing from there.
I am more than a little curious, I would love to ask them how they built it up so much since 2010. After all, a good idea needs more than just a hashtag. Trust me.
Even with The People’s Assembly that we covered in Part 1 of this mini series at least they went into how it was formed and who they got the backing of in the first instance. You get an idea of where there roots are. (Generally Labour MP’s looking for a leftist platform for the party if you were wondering). With UK Uncut, you just don’t know.
UK Uncut claim to be neither left nor right leaning but offer alternative solutions to austerity. On their Wikipedia entry it states that the group was initially formed by 10 people in 2010 in a pub and yet in 2011 just one year after their formation, the following is said to have happened;
“In November 2011, the legal arm of UK Uncut took HM Revenue & Customs to court. HMRC had been accused of failing to provide substantial reasons for not collecting billions of pounds in tax revenue”
What group of people in a pub in the space of a year gets their own ‘legal arm’? The article doesn’t elaborate but we are taking it at face value. We think there is a question to answer there but we will leave it to you to decide what that question should be.
Before we move on to the organisers of the second Protest of the day we must pose just a couple more questions about the UK Uncut demo.
How did the protest go? And what of the bold text above that we haven’t touched upon yet?
Both questions can be answered as one. The protest happened. It happened and a fair number of people attended, a few thousand maybe.
What creative act of civil disobedience occurred to make it impossible for the government to ignore?
As far as we can reasonably be expected to know, a great big banner was unfurled over Westminster Bridge. Huzzah!
The event description contained the following passage;
(Shameful Plug alert: Search #IAM99G on Facebook search or on Twitter… For a Green 2020)
So what have we learnt from today’s protest and the 800 other UK Uncut actions since 2010? Not a lot, other than government haven’t been moved by any of the 800+ actions.
So what of the second protest of the day?
Same day, same time, different location different cause, although once again we say if the protesters had teamed up maybe things could have been a lot different. So often we hear groups like the People’s Assembly and UK Uncut talk of unity and organising, yet they can’t seem to Organise with each other.
This cause though was for the threat to the Human Rights Act. (We think the word ‘Rights’ is how the spelling for the event was realised, ‘Great British Right off’). A noble cause and one which many activists online are talking about.
4,700 had said they would attend the UK Uncut demo. 6,200 had said the would attend the ‘Right off’ demo.
We estimated earlier that around 3,000 turned up for UK Uncut, so it wasn’t shabby at all. For the ‘Right off’ though we estimate about 100 turned up. How did we come to that conclusion? We have little idea ourselves. Actually it was allegedly 500 according to one update we read.
Meet the organisers of the ‘Right off’.
First up is Kyle Williamson, his profile gives nothing away other than one post which is anti-tory so that’s a good start although he couldn’t attend because of illness. Then we have Kelly Fitz… I think.. Well… It might… Then we move on to Jon Warner, poor old Jon. Jon seems to be the main organiser here and he was none too pleased at the turnout. I feel for him because I arranged a protest back on 2nd May and if it hadn’t been for Occupy and ‘Feed the Birds’ doing their own thing on the day the official attendence for my protest would have stood at a grand total of around 14. Maybe one or two more at a push. I really do feel for him.
One thing that stands out from Jon’s profile is that he is almost certainly a Labour supporter. He likes the Liberal Democrats but not that much.
Here are a couple of excerpts from his public status update after the protest;
So what we have had today, much like we mentioned in Part 1 of this mini series is two different yet similar groups organising two different events on the same day, again, with one turning out well but having little impact on anything whilst another realises that as individuals we get the short end of the stick, we don’t have a name behind us, like ‘UK Uncut’ or ‘The People’s Assembly’. Maybe they should get a name. ‘Write off the Right off’ perhaps? No? I tried.
It just leaves me to point out one last thing. People’s Assembly, largely a platform for Labour MP’s as we pointed out in Part 1, the GB ‘right off’ most certainly Labour orientated (plus the Lib Dem 100). So when you support these events just remember you may be giving a voice or support, in an indirect way at least, to the Labour Party.
We need to do away with the Old political guard. Especially now Labour are moving to the right. It’s odd that Jon hasn’t noticed that yet. Jon! Get back over here… Go Green instead.
The next in the series will be sometime after the 20th June when we take another but much more brief look at The People’s Assembly again as well as the 10 million Bloc’s taking part. There is a bloc for everything these days. Part 4 will look at a National Strike on 29th June but we are not even sure the Unions either a) know it’s happening or b) would even turn up to their own protest if there was a national strike… Toothless. I may stop at Part 4. We will have to see how much comedy material I have left.
Keep on Protesting, keep on fighting back.