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The thing about Downing Street parties …

Hey look, there’s a story that Boris and the Cabinet are corrupt! Another one!

There are few things which showcase the state of public discussion in modern Britain more than the recent talk about refurbishments and bollie behind closed doors, circa December 2020.

Much as the pain of those who lost loved ones around that time is very real, are you seriously telling me that you didn’t know already that these people have one rule for themselves and another for everyone else? Who was not tipped off by the billions they punted to their mates for PPE that never materialised? Or the billions they punted to their mates for test and trace systems that never worked? Or the billions they punted to their mates in finance, transport, construction contracts before they toddled off to lucrative (totally unrelated I’m sure) consultation jobs?

Are we goldfish? Is our collective memory so poor that these people’s dodgy links to the Panama Papers, the Pandora Papers and the like are as forgotten as their jolly holidays paid for by tycoons?

Every time new “revelations” appear it’s just added to the pile, which is quickly mulched in time for the next news cycle. Similar to the Russians with Putin, we just sort of shrug about it. Of course politicians don’t bother with the rules, happens all the time without any consequences. Business as usual.

But that’s not the worst of this surly funk we’ve gotten ourselves into. We’ve gone beyond merely nodding dully when politicians break their own rules, or come up with policies designed to line their mates’ pockets. 

Now we’re nodding dully as 150,000 people die. While they make rules specifically to remove our ability to hold them to account. We’re nodding while they impose 10-year jail sentences for graffiti. Force youth services to collaborate with cops. Criminalise the existence of travellers. Ban protests for being too noisy. Send people to prison for a year for walking slowly on a road. Send them to prison for challenging a stop and search. Get rid of judicial review so Ministers can no longer be challenged. Cut back welfare in the midst of massively increased poverty. Gut the NHS. 

Any one of these outrages should be enough to enrage a population that supposedly prides itself on fairness, on freedoms. But here we are, nodding. Kill The Bill marches brag of pulling out “hundreds of people” – where’s the rest? Nodding. Getting pointlessly angry about noise on the internet and doing nothing. Nodding. Indulging in a sarcastic comment on the latest “oh Boris” moment and waiting for the next election, by which time it’ll all be far too late and, if Keir wins, will change nothing because he is nothing. Toryish continuity from a preening quiff. Nod nod nod.

Where’s the fire in the guts? What are we waiting for? A left movement that’s not at war with itself? For a Twitter storm to make a point to all those Cabinet Ministers who don’t give the slightest of damns about those virtual bollockings they never even see? We’ll be waiting a long time. These virtual hammers are made of feathers, the left isn’t going to lead anything. Any reckoning that happens now will be from outside such areas. It must be physical, and it must be focused on the matter at hand rather than on whatever tedious debate happens to be occupying the minds of self-appointed political tastemakers.

Politicians fear one thing, and one thing only. Threats to their agenda that can be backed by action. So physically cause some trouble for these people. Make them uncomfortable. Remind them that the public is not in fact just a useless flesh lump to be manipulated as they wish. Not just A-B marches, but direct action. There’s a reason Priti Patel is looking to ban it. There’s a reason the Tories go out of their way to restrict not just people opposing them on the street but, through laws against incitement, even the tone of articles calling for people to do so. There’s a reason the press vilifies and smears everyone who does so as thugs, crusties or equally vacuous terms. And there’s a reason cops threaten and intimidate anyone they catch organising it.

Direct action gets the goods. 

The Tories have had a decade of doing almost precisely what they wanted. Austerity, privatisation, rewritings of what children are taught, random excursions into xenophobia and endless propagandistic attacks on the very idea of treating other human beings with decency. These parasites have learned that nothing they do has any consequences. Bomb their own economy into the ground for a decade so they can gleefully brag about how many public sector jobs they’ve cut? Never mind, no-one’s going to do anything about it. Repeatedly undermine and underfund the health system right before a pandemic and then carry on doing the same thing regardless? Meh, no-one’s hitting their back pocket over it. Destroy the pension system so no-one can retire and make every job precarious for shits and giggles? Well, who’s gonna stop them.

It’s us. We’ve got to stop them. They’ll keep doing this over and over again until we do. Christmas parties? They’re at the end of a very long list of crimes these people need to face the music for. 


Direct action resources

Libcom introduction

Crimethinc guide

Earth First! toolkit (pdf)

Bumping Back (book)

Please note, the law on legality in direct action is complex and subject to change. In Britain, Green and Black Cross and the Activist Court Aid Brigade are invaluable resources for activists.

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