Lewisham – Fighting The Cuts

On Monday night Lewisham council was preparing to vote on a package of budget cuts of 60million. A few of us WAGs, decided to leave the cozy comforts of East London and head south to show our solidarity with the anti-cuts campaign. The cuts are going to hit childcare, libraries and jobs, to name just a few. The Lewisham Anti-Cuts Alliance states these cuts are “an ideological attack on our welfare services. The poor are being made to pay for a financial crisis, which was caused by greed for profit” and this true for all the cuts that are going to be hitting around the country on all levels of government.

When we got down there, we joined a large group of a few of hundred people outside the steps of the Town Hall. There was a large mixture of ages and a politically diverse crowd. Goldsmiths students had marched down from their university, and of course the SWP and a ratbag crew of local anarchists were there. It was brilliant that the Goldsmiths students had marched down, I hope this is the start of students being part of the larger anti-cuts campaign and there being more solidarity between everyone facing these cuts.

There was the usual guy with a loud howler saying something that I couldn’t quite make out and people trying to get me to sign another bloody petition. Then there was word that although the council had said that 30 people were going to be allowed in to sit in the public gallery they had changed their mind. There were people already positioned near the doors to be let in and as we were told that we weren’t actually going to be allowed in there was a surge of people towards the doors. A handy door holding maneuver meant that people were able to storm the building.

Once people had fought past the frankly pathetic security and police presence to gain access to the building there was an occupation of the reception area of the town hall. There was a smashed window and further damage to the reception, with the forty or so people scrapping with the police and security and coming out on top. Flares were going off, fire alarms set off, and the coppers totally lost control. Despite the filth trying to grab people out of the crowd they were unable to arrest anyone inside the building, such was the strength of the solidarity within. There were numerous de-arrests and more than one security guard was sporting a bloody lip by the end of the battle. It was inspiring to see people standing side by side and fighting the cops, not letting comrades get nicked and really causing them some grief.

Those of us who were stuck outside were then subjected to some rather enthusiastic and quite funny (when we were taking the piss out of them) plod. They weren’t shy in pushing, hitting and yelling at people who were actually just standing around. I’m pretty sure that riot shields are not supposed to be used sideways into people’s heads. Isn’t that saying “respect your elders”, not “push your elders down the stairs”, which the coppers seemed to get great excitement from doing. The resulting scuffle which started with the police being heavy handed was a great way to get some frustration out. But as usual the policing was completely over the top and unnecessary. Some of the crowd started off talking to the police about how they should be on our side because of the cuts to police budget, which didn’t go down very well. The guy who kept telling the coppers to form a union and go on strike only got a wack over the head as a response. After they started acting heavy handed, the chants then turned to “I hope your jobs get cut” and no one was trying to talk to them anymore.
The indignation of the cops when you push back was quite laughable, as their voices get rather high pitched. The cop who kept telling the others to grab hold of each others bums provided hours of fun, and I’m sure will continue to do so.

All in all and great night, and really set the bar for the rest of the anti- cuts movement. With the tube strike today, the student demonstration tommorrow  and this fantasic action tonight, there is a real buzz about the anti-cuts movement – long may it continue! There should be people at every council meeting making sure that the people in power know that we will not be taking these stupid and unnecessary cuts lying down.

5 responses to “Lewisham – Fighting The Cuts

  1. Hurray! Well done to all.

  2. You lot must have been at a different place, Security and Police were by far the greater then the SO CALLED protesters.
    Half of the SO CALLED protesters didn’t even know why they were there.

    Pathetic at BEST

  3. Very funny danny, I was there and there was only 4 cops and 4 security at the beginning with around 200 protestors. As you know it was extremely cold night so any reasonable person would have seen that it would have required a lot of commitment to be out that night. Commitment because people knew why they were there and what they wanted to do.

  4. Thanks for the shout out guys, Lewisham showing the way as always. RTW called the student march to the lobby aswell turned what could have been a boring fifty speech sedative affair into something more significant. Well done to the anarchists that come down and showed some real heart aswell, it was appreciated by all.

  5. Council managers cutting services to save their own jobs. It’s that simple. Senior managers have been told to cut services or cut jobs and it’s a lot easier to hit the elderly and vulnerable than to confront colleagues with job losses (and managers get paid roughly by the numbers of staff they manage). Key players in this will have been Kevin Sheehan and Barrie Neale who have fairly pointless (and in many ways duplicate) roles reporting directly to the Chief Executive. The first cuts to be made should be their jobs: http://www.lewisham.gov.uk/NR/rdonlyres/7B2D6181-6815-4077-8DDF-A5A07C8A8BE9/0/TopManagement.pdf

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