With the end of lockdown and, to all intents and purposes, the end of the Labour Party left, we appear to find ourselves in something of a political grey zone in the Summer of 2022.
On the one hand, the Tories have never been less popular and rightfully so. The NHS crisis created by their deliberately chaotic privatisation policies has reached critical proportions. Vast sums have been wasted on cash bungs to their mates.
Their mishandling of Covid has killed vast swathes of people. Double standards on lockdown. Draconian laws enacted on everything from migration to protest and travellers’ rights. Countless issues around senior figures’ personal behaviour.
On the other, the public is offered little better than Tory-lite in the form of Starmer’s Labour. A shadow cabinet made up of make-weights. A self-assumed role of doing what the Tories do, just more efficiently. The brightest counters to this rolling pratfall of grey malfeasance have, inevitably, taken the form of direct action. Where Bojo and co. prattle about a new wave of nuclear power 20 years from now and net zero by 2050, activists have taken the initiative to force more from them.
It is no coincidence that our media’s most vitriolic condemnation has been reserved for the likes of Just Stop Oil and the HS2 protesters – economic disruption cannot be ignored, unlike A-B marches.
The resurrection of injunctions and airing of draconian new laws proves their worth. Primetime discussion about them and their cause bypasses the usual gatekeeping even as pundits sneer about “counterproductive tactics.”
The question should be asked, if these disruptive actions are so irrelevant, why are the penalties being handed down so incredibly harsh? Why spend so much time and energy intimidating people who aren’t getting anywhere?
The reality is that for them, the actions of green fluffies blockading business as usual is the tip of a terrifying possibility.
Over the last decade the political class has, at every turn, acted against working class interests. They’ve made having a stable home a pipe dream while building luxury properties everywhere they can. They’ve denied us reliable incomes and taken away our pensions while enriching themselves. They’ve distracted us with culture wars while gobbling up all of the best of life. And they’ve made it increasingly difficult to oppose them within the law. There is no political path to real change, no legal challenge they can’t outspend us on.
It is this which makes them rant so loudly at any hint of direct confrontation. It’s why they hand out decade-long sentences to young people in Bristol who defended themselves against police aggression in 2020. It’s why they intend to start imposing prison terms for “obstructing the highway” – as though highways aren’t obstructed by partygoers every Friday night.
They do so because they need to cut the idea of direct action off before it spreads any further. They know exactly where it could lead. they know how much further the working class could go should it rediscover the will to act.
The greatest hope of the State as it stands is for the grey zone to last forever. Every so often a new Corbyn can come along to be handily crushed, as long as a stasis and sense of helplessness persists in the general public. They love us to shrug at their incompetencies and corruptions. It is the vibrant light brought by those prepared to act directly against their interests and make change happen that they cannot abide.
This article first appeared in the Summer-Autumn edition of Freedom journal, available at our online shop for the cost of postage.
Pic: Alternative Bristol