Ciaron O’Reilly, Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning and making a choice


, , , , , , ,


*TRIGGER WARNING – rape & rape apology*

On Saturday 2nd November, known vile misogynist and transphobic shitbag Ciaron O’Reilly is due to hold a fundraiser for Chelsea Manning and her family at the Casa in Liverpool. To those unfamiliar with O’Reilly, you can read accounts of his behaviour here, here and here.

In short, O’Reilly is a supporter of Julian Assange. He continually misgenders Chelsea Manning and refers to her as Bradley. He intimidates and belittles women who challenge him. He called one trans woman who dared challenge his behaviour a “bloke in a dress”.

To many, his support for Julian Assange may not be controversial. This is why it matters:

Assange’s team is taking a conciliatory line. They will not challenge whether the alleged victims felt he was “disrespectful, discourteous, or disturbing”.

In one case Assange is accused of having sex with a woman without a condom – but Emmerson [Assange’s defence barrister] says deceiving someone on this issue is not illegal under English law.

Emmerson said earlier that he was not challenging the fact that they “found Mr Assange’s sexual behaviour in these encounters disreputable, discourteous, disturbing or even pushing towards the boundaries of what they were comfortable with”. But the sexual activities that occurred had taken place with consent, he argued, and, unlike in Sweden, could not be criminalised in the English jurisdiction.

Assange’s defence team admits his behaviour was “problematic”. They do not deny Assange’s actions. Their argument is based purely on differences in the law between Sweden and England. More to the point, they concede that his behaviour would lead to a charge of rape under Swedish law but not under English law. They argue that Assange should not be charged with and tried for rape because he did it in Sweden and now he’s in England.

If this doesn’t disturb supporters of Assange, then it should. Julian Assange has, through his defence team at his extradition hearing, admitted that he committed rape under Swedish law. So, despite the accounts of the survivors, despite the admissions of Assange’s own defence team at his extradition hearing, why do people continue to support this vile man? Why has a cult been built around him? And why do people on the left continue to give vile bastards like this a platform?

Despite all the accounts, despite the behaviour of these people and their obvious disregard for the opinions and the safety of the women who challenge them, horrible fuckers like this are still allowed into our spaces. And it’s got to stop right now.

It’s time for the left to stand up and stop accepting this pro-Assange bullshit because of its tenuous links to anti-establishment politics. The man is an admitted rapist. It’s time for the left to stop arguing that class alone is the decisive factor in all our oppressions. If class antagonisms disappeared tonight, would women be any freer, any more valued, in the society that resulted? The society we build will reflect the movement that builds it. While working-class women are ignored, belittled and shouted down, while we value the word of a man who called a trans woman a “bloke in a dress” over working-class feminist voices who have been victims of his disgusting behaviour, we accept all of the patriarchal bullshit that makes rape culture possible and keeps women “in their place”.

O’Reilly’s fundraiser in Liverpool will be challenged on the basis of his behaviour towards women and on the basis of his support for Julian Assange. There is no question that his misogyny and his support for Assange are linked. If you support Chelsea Manning, a fundraiser without the input of this horrible bastard might be a good idea. If O’Reilly’s fundraiser goes ahead, there WILL be strong opposition. For anyone who believes women are as important a part of the movement as men, for anyone who has ever called themselves a feminist or believe themselves to be an ally to feminism, you need to make a choice: stand with women against the likes of Assange, and against his supporters, O’Reilly included, or move aside. It is possible to be for Chelsea Manning and against Ciaron O’Reilly. It is possible to be against Julian Assange and the establishment. Your enemy’s enemy is not necessarily your friend.

Sources/further reading:-

A Response to Liverpool Hope’s Victim Blaming Safety Advice


*Trigger Warning – mentions of rape, sexual harassment and explanations of victim blaming & survivor shaming*
The following quote is what the dean of students felt the need to tell all current Liverpool Hope students presumably in light of recent news that Martin Smith (aka ‘Comrade Delta’) has been given a funded PhD at the university despite being accused of two counts of rape and other accusations of sexual harassment . I believe that it is safe to assume that this email is referring to sexual harassment and rape considering that the email was sent only a few days after the ‘Socialist Wanker’ posters appeared on Hope Park campus. The email vaguely refers to incidents yet Penny can’t bring herself to openly say that this email is in reference to sexual assault and is primarily directed at women.
“The Student Safety – A message from Dr Penny…

View original post 1,074 more words

Martin Smith Given PhD Place at Liverpool Hope University


nasty man*Trigger warning- rape and sexual harassment.*

It has come to our attention that Martin Smithwho resigned from the Socialist Workers Party following rape and sexual harassment allegationsis now based in the Social Work department at Liverpool Hope University

The accusations against Smith were covered up by an internal investigation from the party’s disputes committee. This was set up by the central committee a body largely consisting of Smith’s friendswho at this point were referring to him as Comrade Delta. The specifics of the case and the handling of the case can be read here, here and here

However, to summarise, not only were the survivors disbelieved and their cases not heard, but party leader and academic Alex Callinicos claimed that the partyand the wider movements of…

View original post 337 more words

King & Fowler workers are determined to win


, , ,

King & Fowler workers outside Brunswick Business Park today

For the past few weeks workers at King & Fowler, a metal treatment firm in Liverpool, have been taking strike action over pay, walking off the job on Fridays. An overtime ban is also in place, with business affected at weekends. Members of Liverpool Solidarity Federation visited the picket lines today to offer solidarity, practical support and to learn more about the dispute and we found workers in high spirits* on Friday 13th, with Scream masks in abundance.

Workers at the company haven’t had a pay rise since 2008 and the lowest paid staff receive around £6.40 an hour for what is essentially skilled labour. With the high level of inflation since 2008 and management’s refusal to contemplate a sensible offer, workers now feel that they have no choice but to take action.

More King & Fowler workers picket the firm

This isn’t the first dispute at the company. After buying the firm, current owners John Huddlestone Engineering (JHE) derecognized the union, with Unite having to reapply for statutory recognition. JHE boasts on its website of its “highly skilled workforce of 290 employees at 2 manufacturing and 2 treatment facilities, with a sales turnover of £23.5 million”. Without this highly skilled workforce, sales turnover would be nothing, yet it pays this workforce barely more than the minimum wage.

An offer amounting to 13p per hour has been made, but only to core staff, with temporary workers excluded, and on the condition that the workforce agree to sign new terms and conditions which they haven’t even seen yet. Clearly this offer is unacceptable and has been rightly rejected.

After spending a couple of hours with the workers on the picket line, it’s clear they are determined to win this dispute. Core workers are standing with temps and refusing to allow bosses to divide a united workforce. King & Fowler should be paying them what they deserve.

King & Fowler workers on the main picket today

* not a pun, honest

Merseyside Anti-Bedroom Tax Federation votes to include fascists


, , , , ,

combatbedroomtaxdirectactionYesterday saw the Merseyside Anti-Bedroom Tax Federation take one more step towards irrelevance when it voted to allow the Knowsley Fight the Bedroom Tax group to affiliate. This group contains and is guided by a number of prominent local fascists, members of the Liverpool “Scouse” Nationalists group. One such member, Kurtis Cawley, was exposed as the vile individual that he is by this story in the Liverpool Echo. He claims to have won damages from the paper over these allegations. However, if this is the case, why is the story still on the Echo website? The filth of the Liverpool “Scouse” Nationalists is available for all to read on their blog, which I won’t be linking to here. This has included the posting of pictures and personal information of people who have been involved in the anti-bedroom tax campaign from the beginning.

All this despite the anti-oppression statement which was adopted by the federation a few weeks ago. Suddenly, at the behest of certain individuals within the federation, and despite the vote on its adoption, this statement is no longer binding and has now become “something the federation should work towards”. I don’t think I need to point out how ridiculous this is.

The claim is that the federation is an inclusive group and that this means anybody who disagrees with the bedroom tax should be allowed to take part. But this leads us to the obvious question – if fascists are allowed to affiliate to and play an active role in the federation, who are we including and who are we then excluding? Because effectively the inclusion of fascists logically leads to the exclusion of people of colour, LGBTQ people and other minorities targeted by fascists.

The lack of class consciousness and the utter disregard for the feelings of people of colour, LGBTQ people and anti-fascists already involved in the federation is disturbing. The inclusion of the Knowsley group puts these individuals in particular in serious danger and also jeopardizes wider working-class organization in the city. The individuals involved in pushing for the inclusion of the Knowsley group are very fond of talking up their “35 years’ experience of campaigning and organizing” (I call this the “Roy Hodgson mantra”). Indeed, this has in the past been used as a tool to undermine the opinions of younger activists and tenants among the federation since its inception.

The constant undermining, belittling and ridicule of some members of the federation has been an issue for a while. At a meeting a few months ago, I was on the end of this myself when I suggested that if the fascists were allowed to stand among us unchallenged, they would inevitably gain some kind of traction with tenants who may already be harbouring certain (false) resentments and prejudices. I was literally laughed at by these “long-time campaigners”.

Yesterday though, this aspect of the federation took a very ugly turn. One person who was arguing against the inclusion of the fascists was being undermined and patronized by having her name constantly and deliberately mispronounced and her arguments dismissed by these “long-term campaigners”.  Eventually, this became intolerable for the individual and for other members of the federation, who felt they could no longer remain in the room.

Ironically, all of this has taken place in a building named after the prominent local trade unionist Jack Jones, who was wounded while fighting fascism in Spain. Indeed, there is a memorial plaque in the reception area of the building dedicated to all the local working-class people who fought and died fighting Franco’s fascists.

This isn’t the only problem with the federation, however. Almost immediately after their election as mandated officers of the federation, these officers met in secret with no input from and no output to tenants. This is behaviour clearly outside the mandate of the officers and has disturbing implications for the democratic nature of the federation. The direction of the federation and the control of the campaign MUST remain in the hands of the tenants and their local groups. We can’t allow certain ambitious and highly politically motivated individuals to begin pulling the entire campaign around by its nose. I don’t believe the tenants want to lose control of their campaign to these people.

In line with the original motion behind the federation, and the anti-oppression statement the federation adopted (both summarized here), I’m calling for the immediate recall of all of the recently elected officers and the immediate expulsion of the Knowsley group. A federation-wide meeting needs to be held as soon as possible and a condemnation of the recent behaviour of Celia Ralph and Freddie Taylor towards the individual mentioned earlier must be issued. An apology from Celia and Freddie must also be forthcoming.

The campaign against the bedroom tax across Merseyside has been one of the most encouraging things to happen for working-class organization for decades. We can’t let the good work of the past six months be in vain.

Knowsley Fight The Bedroom Tax Embrace Fascists, Exclude Antifascists – reposted from Infantile Disorder


, , ,

Dumont (centre) posing with the flag of Greek fascist party Golden Dawn

Dumont (centre) posing with the flag of Greek fascist party Golden Dawn

The growing Merseyside movement against the bedroom tax has astonished and delighted long-standing activists with the speed of its growth, both in terms of numbers and geographical spread. From the initial meeting in Liverpool city centre just four months ago, it has grown to involve thousands of people from across the region. Each local group is very different from the next, and this is to be welcomed, so long as it doesn’t stop us uniting when it matters.

But one difference which absolutely cannot be tolerated – as the new all-Merseyside federation unanimously agreed at its meeting last Saturday – is the inclusion of fascists. The anti-oppression motion stated:

Far right organisations pose a real threat to the groups that they discriminate against. They seek to control the streets through violence and their involvement in demonstrations and meetings risks creating a hostile environment for PoC, LGBTQ people and women. Far right organisations also have a history of attacking trade unionists and left wingers, including some who have been involved in organising against the bedroom tax since the end of last year when the local campaign began.

It was therefore decided that:

As a federation, we will not associate with racist, sexist, homophobic or otherwise oppressive organisations and/or their members. Racist, sexist, homophobic organisations and/or their members are not welcome at meetings, demonstrations or other events that the federation or its member groups have organised. The federation will not support or promote events or local groups that involve racist, sexist and homophobic organisations.

This motion was put forward by a group of bedroom tax activists who had become concerned that far right groups were starting to get a foot in the door, with the danger that what should be a broad, class-based campaign could be divided against itself. The federation had to choose: exclude the fascists, or by our inaction effectively exclude the groups fascists would happily send to the gas chambers.

Local fascists calling themselves the “Scouse Nationalists” have been hovering on the edges of the bedroom tax movement since the end of February, when they announced they would attend the first Stand Up In Bootle demonstration, before making do with popping up on the opposite side of the road. The same pair – Stephen Dumont and Kurtis Cawley – then made an appearance at the Labour Party-organised event in Liverpool city centre two weeks later. On both occasions they received a frosty welcome from antifascists before returning home to post a bizarre collection of lies on their blog.

But they seem to have carved out a niche with Knowsley Fight The Bedroom Tax, whose internet admins have reacted angrily to suggestions that they should be kept away. On Sunday, the Federation’s motion was posted on the Knowsley page, and again antifascists were met with hostility. Instead of defending people that fascists would love to oppress within the working class, the admins decided to defend the fascists, declaring that:

We do not judge people we do not know, and we can only take people as we find them, by what they do and by what they say. We will not prejudge people, we will not make assumptions and we will not put out any statements banning people who we have never met or have never spoken to. We would be discriminatory if we did.

Like all ‘neutral’ poses, the statement works to defend the oppressors. But more than this, people pointing out that Dumont posed with a Greek fascist flag over the weekend (see above), or that Cawley has made the Liverpool Echo for his anti-Muslim actions, had their posts removed, were dismissed as “clucking hen wives”, told they “need to get laid” and eventually banned. It is clear that Knowsley Fight The Bedroom Tax have chosen their path, and unfortunately it leads away from hopes of uniting the working class against the government.

Merseyside anti-bedroom tax groups meet in Liverpool at the first all-Merseyside anti-bedroom tax conference


, , , ,

combatbedroomtaxdirectactionToday, Saturday 6th April saw around 60 delegates from the various local anti-bedroom tax campaigns on Merseyside come together to discuss a strategy for co-ordinating action across the region.

After hearing the stories of several tenants affected by the tax and a brief overview of the campaign so far, the room heard what legal avenues are open to tenants in fighting the bedroom tax. This included the definition of what legally constitutes a bedroom, what information you should request from your local authority in the run-up to a challenge and how an appeal can be carried out for the best chance of success.

Following this, there were various suggestions from the floor on the different strategies that could be used in the fight. Encouragingly, the emphasis during this part of the day was on direct action, with occupations and pickets featuring. Various targets for such action were discussed, including housing associations, council buildings and bailiffs.

Then we heard the inspiring story of the rent strikes which sprung up in various places, most famously in Kirkby, in 1968, how grassroots tenant action won concessions during the introduction of the 1972 Housing Finance Act, and how some tenants’ movements were hijacked and misled by the Labour party. The emphasis here was on tenant-led action, non-hierarchical organization and direct democracy with direct action against bailiffs featuring strongly.

With time running out, a motion was put to the conference which resolved to establish a Merseyside-wide federation of anti-bedroom tax groups, with each group sending two mandated delegates to each all-Merseyside meeting and each local campaign group retaining its autonomy. The motion will be taken back to each local group to be discussed ahead of another Merseyside-wide meeting at some point in the next fortnight.

The focus on direct action and direct democracy is very encouraging. It’s vital that tenants retain control of this struggle and don’t allow themselves to be used by parties or unions for their own politicking. Where this movement goes next should be up to the tenants who are affected by the tax. The will to fight is there and soon the tools will be there too.

Sussex University example must inspire us all


, , , , ,

Picture from @Righttoprotest

Picture from @Righttoprotest

Today has been inspiring. Students and workers have been fighting back against the privatization of their university in Sussex despite the usual heavy-handed tactics of the police and the self-righteous bleating of liberals over some broken glass and scraps of burnt paper.

The events show that it really is possible for people to mobilize and resist effectively. That it’s possible to take the fight to the bosses in universities and workplaces everywhere, and for people to come together to resist a common enemy. That it’s possible for actions like this to be organized and effectively carried out without bureaucratic interference from traditional “representative” bodies like the NUS and trade unions. That it’s possible to shake the ruling class to their core with direct action.

The key from here is to work out how actions like this can be spread across the whole country, how they should be organized and how they should be co-ordinated. History has shown that victory can’t come via bodies like the NUS or through political parties and that change must be owned and carried through by the rank-and-file grass-roots organizations that spring up in response to threats from capitalism and the state, and directly involving those who are genuinely affected by the attacks from the ruling class.

The energy and determination of the Sussex occupiers needs to be an inspiration to the rest ofus. We can’t allow their example to go to waste. Solidarity and ALL POWER TO THE OCCUPIERS.

May Day in Liverpool to be reclaimed for all


, , ,

maydaycartoon-lg3Liverpool Solidarity Federation, along with radical comrades from across the city, will be holding a celebration of radical working-class and grass-roots solidarity in the city on Saturday 4th May to coincide with May Day weekend.

After last year’s stolid washout, we want to make this a May Day to remember for everyone so bring yourself, your comrades and your banners and lets send a message to the bosses and politicians who would exploit us – there’s more of us than there is of you and we’re coming…

Details to be announced shortly.

Facebook event: