Hyped up by the bullshit scare mongering of The Evening Standard, tonight’s Tower Hamlet’s Council meeting in Poplar resembled fort knox with the Old Bill in overdrive. Metal fencing formed a ginormous kettle as you entered the surrounding area of Mulbery Place, countless police vans with riot police situated in surrounding buildings, the street and through out the Town Hall, hands clenching truncheons ready for action. The Council Meeting was like a war zone. But where was this dangerous minority driving an angry mob with pitchforks hell bent on levelling every building in their sight? We were sitting with our feet up in the warmth of the Town Hall.
Known as Operation Turn Up Early our motley crew waltzed straight through the giant kettles under the noses of the FIT and TSG, holding our nerve, into the Town Hall making full use of our rights as residents of the borough to obtain the few spare seats available to the general public. Panic set in amongst the Police, they are use to us turning up masked up and shouting slogans within a cordoned off section, but how were they to react now? Officers who recognised our faces and for years have intimidated us under the Forward Intelligence Teams were pissed off to say the least at the sight of us lot sat ready and waiting for the meeting to begin. They had gone to so much effort, organised a large contigent of armed to the teeth uber males, secured the place to high heaven to keep us out but we weren’t exactly playing by the rules.
Our aim of the evening had been to get into the Town Hall and attend the Tower Hamlets Council meeting as various petitions were being raised by Resident Associations and Unions to oppose the £70 million pound cuts proposed to hit the borough over the next two years, offering our support against the political corruption behind the government cuts to public services and to high light the devastating effects these will have on our lives. Security jobsworths were all over our group as the police lined the corridors ready to steam in, we had entered the lion’s den and the fun was just about to begin.
Once the pomposity of proceedings was out the way we had some brilliant speeches by the individuals presenting the petitions, laying into the governments obvious attack upon the very services we have fought so hard for and attacking the double standards of the tax dodging rich parasites. Cheers and applause raised the roof and the turbulent nature of the crowd was obvious to everyone as the Chair announced that this was the rowdiest meetings for many years. The folly of party politics played out before us with Labour and Tory Councillors blaming each other, when most know they are all to blame for this mess, and the order of the day was the classic tactic of the heckle. And once the fuse paper is lit… Heckling, shouting, joking, haranguing came from all corners of the attendees, yes as anarchists we were a rowdy part, but members of the public, residents, unions – everyone basically – started to get involved. The flood gates burst open. An emergency motion was ushered in to discuss the cuts in more detail but still the onslaught of abuse and undermining was barraged onto the squirming councillors whose rhetoric couldn’t save them now.
As the Police slowly started to filter in and place themselves at the back we took the initiative and upped and leaved, the friends we had made amongst the crowd cheered and clapped as we tore a Tory Councillor apart verbally on our exit. Once again the old bill were fuming and despite some friction with the FIT on exiting the Town Hall, we had got away with our objective unscathed. We disrupted the Tower Hamlets Council meeting with a few home truths expressed in an enraged manner. Far from alienating ourselves as disruptive trouble makers we built alliances of solidarity and new friendships, summed up by the drinks and chat afterwards in the pub with members of the Unions and residents of Tower Hamlets who we shared information, stories, drinks and jokes with.
Never believe the bullshit you read in the newspapers, it just goes to show the sloppy nature of mainstream journalism as they once again raise the spectre of WAG as the bogeyman of dissent, with the Old Bill following suit by over reacting and enforcing the law of intimidation on anyone who dares question the authority of our rulers. It was an unorthodox night to say the least. A great laugh and success for us. They weren’t expecting that.