The ’25 things…’ meme

1)      In school, I was no more a socialist than Kilroy is still a Marxist, but I did wear a badge that said “I hate the Middle Class” which was worn in protest at a family member I took a disliking to.

2)      I first became a socialist after reading Marx at college. Soon after I went to a Socialist Workers’ Party meeting in Southend, where on entry I was asked if I’d read the Communist Manifesto. Having met their criteria – strange as it was – I became a member.

3)      I didn’t join the first anti-war march in London because I hadn’t made up my mind at the time, despite being a cohort of the SWP.

4)      My favourite band is Yes.

5)      I have a wanky taste in film; my favourite film is Jean-Luc Godard’s Bande a Part.

6)      I had something akin to a religious experience when on a bus during the day near St John’s Wood, the sun was beaming in through the window, while I was listening to Wagner’s Overture. A cloud covered the sun and I could see a Jewish wedding was taking place. For some reason this made an impact on me.

7)      I’ve met a fair few bloggers now: Sunny Hundal; Dave Semple; Paul Cotterill; Tim Ireland; Five Chinese Crackers; Left Outside; Pete Bowers; Laurie Penny; Paul Sagar; Jack of Kent; Jamie Sport; Louise Whittle; Splintered Sunrise; Dave Osler; Cath Elliot; Kate Belgrave, to name only a few.

8)      I went through a phase of listening to Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells once a day

9)      I once wore a badge reading “repeal all immigration laws”. I stopped wearing it after a man came up to me to say he liked my badge, and that “there were too many fucking Japs in the country anyway”. I told him the word Japs is as outdated as his stupid opinion.

10)   When I was 17 I attended the Marxist festival in Central London where I requested accommodation. It was space on the floor of a church in Bow with about 50 SWP activists.

11)   I’m pictured on the Redwatch website after attending a demo against the National Front, who themselves were marching in Woolwich after a Caucasian boy was beaten to death by some Asian youths. I saw and recognised the NF activist who photographed me, and knew from then on that the NF is inextricably linked to C18.

12)   The first anti-BNP demo I attended was in Wickford, Essex, which was used as a meeting point for the BNP to get the train to their red, white and blue festival. Before the BNP had arrived a man was stood near the platform wearing his postman uniform and holding a British bulldog by a leash, causing one person to mistake him for a BNP member, whereupon the entire crowd of anti-fascists confronted him. He, very meekly, told us he wasn’t the BNP, and that he hated that lot. Very embarrassing for everyone.

13)   Even though I was a socialist, I used to hang around with an anarchist sect in Essex because they didn’t care for meetings about the old’n days (as I would’ve put it back then). Oddly for an anarchist sect, we effectively acted as security for Labour activists in South East Essex during a by-election campaign where BNP activists were intimidating them.

14)   This lot, and me, also acted as unofficial security when the holocaust survivor Leon Greenman spoke to a small audience in Vange, Essex. The room, which composed of mainly SWP activists and local Labour members, went uncomfortably quiet when Greenman praised Tony Blair and expressed his support for the war in Iraq.

15)   The second May Day march that I attended was with one of the anarchists who went by the name of Austin, and is relatively well known for, among other things, his piercings and large red Mohican. After the main march, we wondered around Hyde Park waiting for the anarchist cricket match to start with a constant police presence – it was then that I learnt of his notoriety. We both had our pictures taken with the police, but they did not leave us until about 3pm.

16)   The Southend division of Unite Against Fascism – which was almost entirely composed of SWPpies – staged a protest outside a pub in 2003 where the BNP were going to meet, but were refused by the pub landlord last minute (it turned out that the BNP had booked the room in the pub under the name “National Trust”). A friend of mine became involved in a fracas with who we later found out was Matthew Single. Single was the individual who released the names and addresses of all BNP members a few years ago – a story I recall here.

17)   I’m a big fan of the writing of Edmund Standing, who has written a report on the far right for the anti-fascist think-tank Centre for Social cohesion, and occasionally writes for Harry’s Place.

18)   I was happy that the BBC put Nick Griffin on Question Time. I don’t think it was ever going to have the effect people feared (giving credibility to an old fascist) – I knew the BBC was simply lending Griffin the rope with which to hang himself with.

19)   My girlfriend once accidentally kicked Walter Wolfgang – the man who was thrown out of the Labour Party conference for heckling – on the leg during an anti-war march.

20)   I spent the day looking for a bank so I could change up dollars in Bolivia while a pro-Evo rally was taking place – I was very jealous.

21)   I was, for a very short period of time, a “Grantite”, which is someone who is a member or supporter of Socialist Appeal. I was attracted to SA because I felt the only way to bring about socialism was through the historical party of the working class – the Labour Party. By this time I had had enough of Trotskyite groups serving little other than creating factions between themselves and dismissing the Labour Party outright.

22)   About a year and half ago, I realised I wasn’t a Trotskyite at all (or at least I wasn’t Trostkyite in the way in which I’d experienced it in the South East of England and London) but rather, my politics are based nearer to British guild socialism. Earlier this year I joined the Labour Party.

23)   People say they hate being pinned down to labels, I love labels, I’ll have to check with Phil, but I think this has something to do with my love of sociology, which also loves labels.

24)   I support a strategic presence of US and UK troops in Afghanistan, but have not always been happy with the strategy. I am in favour of massively reducing armed conflict in the country, but continuing the assistance of building up an Afghan army able to deal with the huge internal problems, which impacts upon global safety.

UK troops leaving Sangin is the beginning of the end of our defeat, which means that fascism will continue to spread across the Middle East by terrorists who will gain an almighty boost similar to that when the Russians left. This is by no means a victory for the anti-war movement, even less so for the anti-fascist movement, and far less so for the Trotskyites who favoured a mass internal rising over UN intervention.

25)   I secretly don’t support any of the candidates for the Labour leadership.

Will tag this person, this person, this person, this person, this person and this person (I just copied Phil tbh) for this reason, apparently.

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The Pope Protest

On Saturday I went down to central London to watch as the No Popey people marched through te streets. I went with a few intentions: to be among those who take an opposite stance to that of the Catholic church on abortion, on homosexual consensual sex, on condoms and on AIDS.

I also went to see the blatant displays of anti-Catholic bigotry – and stickers that read “religion is stupid”.

I went expecting to see one set of people for sure – atheist leftwingers protesting against a person who to them signifies everything that is wrong about extremely conservative, institutional religiosity.

I belong to this sub-set of people in most ways so this was fine. But I went along to see if I could spot other, less palatable folk, who have every reason to be protesting a visit by the Pope; namely Ulster Volunteer Force types, far right groups with those sorts of sympathies such as Combat 18, and the less unpalatable, more weird groups that believe the word of God is enough, rendering pointless the need for a papa.

I didn’t see any “Ulster types” – although I did hear a chap outside the Clarence pub, near number 10, say “the Ulster guys wouldn’t have had this”, by which I can only imagine he meant sharing a platform with quite a prominent cohort of gay rights activists, who happened to be walking past him at the same time as me.

I could hardly hear what Geoffrey Robertson QC, Richard Dawkins, Peter Tatchell and Johann Hari said as I was stood next to some anarchists with a flag which depicted Benedict XVI as a nazi with slave children, and they frankly didn’t give a shit about being there, instead were interested in waving scarves in front of the faces of policeman and replying “wha!!” to requests of silence from the rest of the crowd who were there to listen.

Proudhon wouldn’t have smelt like arse, throwing beercans at photographers by the women during world war 2 wreath, and shouting at the tops of the voices (feel better for that).

One thing I didn’t expect to see was the sight of a chap dressed as the Pope simulating anal sex with a young boy who had the words “God loves fags” scrawled upon his half naked body – but one has to expect the unexpected at these sorts of things.

My musings on the Pope’s visit can be found here.