Details on what is expected to be the biggest march of the year:

Saturday 26 March 2011

On Saturday 26 March, students, trade union members and supporters will unite in central London to continue the campaign against the coalition Governments savage programme of cuts to education and the public service.

NUS is standing shoulder to shoulder in solidarity with trade unions to fight against the spending cuts that will inevitably cause huge damage to public services – putting more than a million out of work and creating huge barriers for future generations.

What’s the purpose of the march?

The demonstration will aim to give a national voice to all those affected by the cuts. This will be a huge event that in its breadth and support shows just how much opposition there is to the government’s programme. It will bring together public service workers, those who depend on good public services, those involved in national campaigns and those who are defending what is special in their own community.

To show that people reject the argument that there is no alternative. Of course the recession did damage to our economy. But these deep rapid cuts are not the best way to solve our problems, and may well make them worse.

Where is the march and rally taking place?

The march will gather on Victoria Embankment from 11.00am, and will finish at Hyde Park by 1.30pm where a rally will take place.

Why is this important?

These cuts will hit the vulnerable, damage communities and undermine much of what holds us together as a society. Ministers say there is no alternative, despite evidence to the contrary. It is up to us to show our opposition to these moves that will cause huge damage to education and our economy.

Join us on Saturday 26 March

We hope to see you there, supporting public service workers and continuing the battle for a fairer education system.

More details of the march:

Transport information – including coach drop off points
March route and rally venue
Promotional material
All the information you could ever want

If you have any questions please contact fundourfuture@nus.org.uk or Willow Wood (the writer of Lemon City III) at willowitch@hotmail.co.uk

 

-WRITTEN BY THE NATIONAL UNION OF STUDENTS (NUS).

 

All intelligent people have intelligent babies who can achieve great wealth, don’t you know?

The following was written by my gorgeous friend, Nina Blues. I wanted to share with you what she wanted to share with me, because I think Nina murders the following lady better than I ever could. You’re about to be outraged, or at least, I bloody well hope you are. I would like to believe that the article quoted in Nina’s rant was published because the Sunday Times hoped they would make more sales, but somehow, that’s a little too convient for me.

—————–

I [Nina Blues] have just read the most ignorant, bigoted, classist pile of horseshit I’ve ever had the displeasure to clap eyes on– and in The Sunday Times, too, a newspaper my family have regularly read for years!

The villain is Minette Marrin, a well-to-do, toffee-nosed journalist type who is constantly spewing her right-wing rubbish all over the place. Usually I ignore her articles but this one actually made me want to laugh at its sheer inanity. After the initial sickening rage, I wondered how this atrocity ever slipped past her editors.

The title? “Pretending all poor students are up to university– that’s unfair.”

Let the rage-fest begin.

It is unrealistic to imagine that any good university, still less one of the world’s elite, can somehow wave a remedial wand at hopelessly undereducated teenagers who are not remotely ready for university education and instill in them the missing 13 years of learning and discipline.

The article is absolutely grounded on this assumption that students from working class backgrounds are instantly “hopelessly undereducated” and that state schools are incapable of preparing students for university. OK, then. Her privately educated children doubtless had every single advantage possible thrown at them from every direction, and no, I didn’t have that. But that doesn’t instantly make me “not remotely ready” for university, as if the higher education learnings will totally melt my poor, working-class brain. You’re right, Miss Marrin! I should just go and work in the local Burger King.

The only certain result of letting weak candidates into a university will be to bring about the decline of that university and of this country’s place in international league tables.”

Because that matters so much more than the education of our generation. Oh, please! Won’t anyone think of the league tables? And again, here we are with the assumption that state-educated students are “weak candidates”. Bloody hell, this lady is such a bigot it makes me hurt.

[Nick Clegg] pointed out that while 18% of children are disadvantaged enough to be entitled to free school meals, they make up only 1% of Oxbridge students. […] He demanded that universities “throw open their doors” and make more “differential offers”: this is jargon for admitting underprivileged candidates with lower A-level grades than their more affluent competitors, on the basis of “contextual evidence” about their backgrounds and schools. Perhaps he is unaware that this happens a great deal already; many, if not most, university teachers are anxious to help clever children from lower-class comps.”

And here we get to the meat of it. Oh no, a politician is suggesting that students that are vastly disadvantaged in comparison to your Eton-attending spawn should be allowed into universities with slightly lowered A-level grades! And as a student from one of the shittiest schools in England currently applying to universities, may I say that yes, the A-levels grades required of us are lowered slightly. From, say, AAA to AAB. And this is in a school in which my Biology teacher has shown up to about 75% of lessons and we can only have one shot at our practical coursework because we don’t have the resources for another go. And what is with the whiny tone of that paragraph? “University teachers are anxious to help the filthy poor!” Probably to help us from the derision we face at the hands of people like you.

And don’t you love the disdainful quotation marks? “He says we need to…” –big bunny ears– “throw open their doors.” Yeah, whoever’s heard of such a terrible idea as encouraging universities to allow more working class students in? The shame of it! She does it again a little later on:

[The government] announced that leading universities will be forced, if they charge the maximum of £9,000 a year, to accept fixed quotas of students from state schools and ethnic minorities and those with disabilities, so that these groups are more fairly “represented”.”

So that they’re– big bunny ears– fairly represented. What a ridiculous idea! And note: it’s only the universities that are charging the new Conservative-governed maximum tuition fees of £9,000 a year that are even being asked for these higher fixed quotas. Top universities being asked to “fairly represent” students from state schools, ethnic minorities and those with disabilities? The horror. Wait, I’m from a state school and I’m an ethnic minority! Clearly they’ll just let me swan in with three E-grades!

Except wait, real life doesn’t work that way, Miss Marrin.

It is astonishing to see a Conservative-led government behaving like old-fashioned, unreconstructed socialists.”

I’ve been trying to remain relatively high-brow until now, but what the fuck? What the actual fuck is this? Yes, of course the Conservatives are acting like socialists, why didn’t I see it before? Must have missed it while they raised university fees to £9,000, cut the Education Maintainance Allowance (a small grant for students from a poorer background attending sixth form colleges, which I received, being from a family earning under £25,000 a year) and cut the public sector here, there and everywhere while allowing the banks to reward themselves with millions of pounds’ worth of bonuses! Oh, those sneaky Conservatives, they sure are good at hiding their socialist ways.

It is wishful thinking to imagine that any but a few poorly educated teenagers from deprived backgrounds can catch up in just three years.”

Well, excuse you! I’m from what would be called a “deprived background” and according to you, myself and countless others can never even dream of achieving the sparkling level of perfection you upper-middle class snobs can? “Catch up”? You realise that we don’t spend our days eating our schoolbooks to stave off the hunger before getting to work chimney-sweeping, do you? I go to college and I learn things. Yes, even in a state school, I actually learn things! I don’t need to “catch up”! I am poorly educated in relation to the private school kids, but that doesn’t mean it’s “wishful thinking” that I’ll ever be as good as them. Jesus Christ.

The next quote continues directly from the last one:

To imagine so is to ignore the evidence; all discussions on high intelligence agree that constant, repetitive hard study from a young age is essential and universal among the intellectually able. Contrariwise, those who have not developed such habits, even the simple habit of conversing with their parents, are at a lifelong disadvantage.”

Aw, isn’t she cute? Making more hideously wrong and bigoted assumptions! Because of course state-educated students never, ever study hard or talk with their parents in an intellectual manner. No, that’s only for the rich kids. Studying? Psh, what’s that? I spend my days shooting pensioners with BB guns, like all of us state-educated scumbags. I’m just… I’m at a total loss. What has this got to do with her point at all? Would she really be that surprised to discover that I discuss politics, philosophy and many other things with my parents? And that I work hard to attain good grades… yet, I go to a state school?

It would be the most counterproductive kind of social engineering to imagine that such children ought to be included in fairer access quotas at good universities at 18; it would be a disaster for this country’s universities. Is that what Clegg has in mind?

Yeah, Clegg, is that what you have in mind? Giving “such children” a chance at education? You absolute bastard! Did you hear that? Letting us uneducated plebeians into higher education at slightly lower grades to make up for our disadvantages would be a disaster for this country’s universities because we are so badly-educated and would definitely fail, whereas private school students never fail exams, ever, and are all born acutely intelligent and hardworking and good God, we are oppressing them. She finishes this paragraph like this:

These children’s problems start with their parents and their family background.”

All I can respond to that with is a supermassive, “Fuck you.” No, seriously, Miss Marrin. Fuck. You.

Her utter batshittery only gets worse from here.

They may also in some cases start with their basic intelligence. This is a contentious subject, but it is an unquestioned assumption these days that intelligence is equally distributed across all socioeconomic classes. That may be true, but it is only an assumption. It is well documented that bright and successful young men and women tend to select each other, in a process bleakly called assortative mating, and tend to have bright children. The less bright tend to have children with others who are less bright and tend to produce corresponding children.”

The sheer might of her ignorance is slaying me here, absolutely slaying me. Yes, prehaps “brighter people” do tend to pair up with other “brighter people”, though that’s not always the case, I agree that it is more likely that not. But the huge steaming shit of wrong in your nice clean toilet bowl of fascism? Intelligent people aren’t always private school types or “successful”, as you call it.

My parents are both highly intelligent. My mother is a dental hygeinist for the NHS, which pays a pittance but she works for the people who can’t afford medical healthcare or who have issues pertaining to dentistry. She works in prisons. She works with people with disabilities who cannot use ordinary dental seats or are uncomfortable with usual dental practises and procedures. She works with children who are highly phobic of dentists. Her job is a thousand times harder than those who work in private practise yet she earns a fraction of their wage. She is a hero.

My father went to one of the worst primary schools in Bristol. He was the only child in his yeargroup to pass the SATs tests and make it to grammar school at the age of eleven. He went on to get a Bachelor in Education. He fought his way out of the situation he was born in. Our family are still not wealthy, no, but compared to the conditions he lived in as a child, I’m spoilt rotten. He’s one of the smartest people I know.

So even if your fucked-up theory that clever people always have clever babies and stupid people always have stupid babies is correct, I have perfect proof that wait, actually, it’s still horrifyingly wrong. There are intelligent people from intelligent “backgrounds” who aren’t money-grabbing gobshites and cannot afford to send their children to private school. In fact, despite the fact that my parents are very intelligent, I go to one of the worst sixth forms in the area.

Maybe your answer would be, “Well then your mother should have gone into private practise to ensure you a place in private school! Your father shouldn’t have quit teaching in order to be a stay-at-home dad to his kids!”

We’re not all like you, Miss Marrin.

There is no sense in this article, no reason; and your points constantly contradict one another. It is a minefield of moronic assumptions and bigotry, as well as a healthy dose of what looks like willful ignorance. Or maybe you are simply that ignorant. Picking apart this article is like shooting fish in a barrel because the argument is badly-constructed and absolutely senseless. Such a pile of absolute bollocks should never have been published and allowed where the public can view it.

Please stop writing forever. Thank you.

The anti-fascist demo at #Luton 2011, from the perspective of a #UAF member

This is written from a subjective view-point that captures the craziness and chaos of what happened from someone directly involved. For one of the very few videos with footage of the UAF rally, click [here]. Skip to 02:42 for the speech by Martin Smith ❤ The BBC nor any other channel will ever broadcast it. I urge you to listen to what he has to say.

Saturday 5th 2011, a group of us from Southampton went to up join the Unite Against Fascism (UAF) members in Luton. The cause was to stop the English Defence League (EDL) from vandalising the local mosque, harming foreign-owned shops and acting as if it is OK to drive out the Muslim community. As we drove down the M1, we could see the EDL men in coaches were already sloshed on cans of beer.

fig.1 The EDL

There were two separate rally points, one for the UAF and one for the EDL. I suppose, by sheer coincidence, the EDL rally was accidentally placed closest to the mosque.

We arrived at the festival of pro-multiculturalism (reggae music blaring) and joined the plot to escape the square. The police were waiting for everyone to turn up so that they could confine us (kettle us) to the square. I had brought a friend, Elijah, to the event and we warned him that if he joined us in escaping, things would be hairy. He chose not to stay in the square and despite what happens next, I’m sure, in hindsight, he enjoyed the craziness of it all.

Taking police by surprise, around 300 of us casually marched past and out into the streets of Luton. We marched out onto the dual-carriage-way, keeping a fast pace and checking everywhere as I endeavoured to keep my eyes on Elijah, Alex, Maji, Peter and Billy. I felt in part responsible for Billy, as well, because he is not familiar with demos and kept turning to me as if hoping I’d lead the way.

We were heading to Bury Park to cut off the EDL from reaching the mosque. We were a peaceful parade and didn’t have much to chant. Many were holding placards that spoke of pro-multiculturalism. We weren’t even five minutes down the carriage-way when Alex turned to me with wide eyes, grabbed my hand and cried, “Run!” Whether from the EDL, police batons – I had no idea at the time.

Just thinking about how panicked that made me sets my heart racing again.

He made me run a good stretch up the road before slowing down. I was most worried about Elijah as he was my responsibility for the day.

We slowed to yell abuse at members of the EDL as we feel no obligation to be polite to them. We wished to tell them that their racist views are not tolerated. Our short outburst was cut off as the police charged for us again.

I grabbed Elijah’s hand and ran for it. I steered him through the crowds and falling people, pushing him out of way of being harmed by policemen. I kept a constant eye on Alex a few paces ahead. He was my beacon through all the chaos. Maji and Peter I kept losing and finding, but we couldn’t slow down or we’d be caught. I’m no expert at ‘dodging police’ so I could only imagine what would happen if we were aprehended.

Much further up, in the middle of the road, there is a metal barrier that comes up to my chest and splits the road in half. We raced up one side of the road, not far from Bury Park, but policemen on horseback headed us off. They tried to kettle six of us.

We were cut off and in a tiny group, squashed together by horses and I knew we were easy pickings for arrest it that’s what they wanted to do. Alex had already escaped – just before the kettling. Somehow, I spotted a way past the horses. I grabbed Maji, pushed her in that direction – pointing out the slot to her – then seized Elijah and thundered through the opening.

I later found out that the reason we had been forced to run was because the police had trapped off the rear half of the UAF march. But by this point, they had escaped and were now sprinting down the road on the other side of the barrier, yelling and overtaking the police.

I helped one girl over the barrier, ordered Elijah to get over too and then tried to jump myself. My foot got caught in between the railing. It was difficult not to panic but I kicked my foot free and made it to the other side. Again, I grabbed Elijah and we ran for it.

The police were getting violent now. True, I think some idiots were trying to antagonise them and piss off the horses, but the mass is not responsible for each individual’s choice.  I kept my eye on the group. I could tell that Elijah was more than a little worried from the serious amounts of running and people stumbling into the floor, but I could only hold his hand. It still surprises me how confident I remained throughout the chaos. We were resisting authority for a reason.

Chant: “Who protects the Nazis? POLICE protect the Nazis.”

Driving Elijah out the way of shoving and beating policemen, I lost sight of Maji, Billy and Alex. That was the first time I began to feel afraid but also the first time I knew what to do. Keep calm, avoid being hit, keep the destination in mind: stand between the EDL and the mosque.

Maji later told me that she had taken charge of Billy (she’s such a mum). Apparently, when the horses came charging around one particular corner, she had had to push Billy out the way.

Just off Bury Park, however, the police eventually headed us off and we were kettled for around half an hour. This wasn’t so bad – time to catch our breath, calm our nerves, drink water and sing songs and chants. The Sheik community (who are always told never to join us, the UAF) came out to show their support beyond the chain-link. Many cheers and songs went up from us who were kettled.

Sung to the tune of, She’ll be coming round the mountain when she comes.
We are black, white, Asian and we’re Jew.
We are black, white, Asian and we’re Jew.
We are black, white and Asian.
Black, white and Asian.
We’re black, white, Asian and we’re Jew.
AND WE’RE GAY.

We were escorted back to the square where everyone enjoyed the music and homemade sandwiches for a while. Sheiks against the English Defence League turned up and they were greeted with cheers and applause. Why should they be told to hide themselves away on such an occasion that needs their input? They should not be discriminated against, and they should feel they can stand up and say, ‘we won’t tolerate it’.

fig.2 Sheiks against the EDL

fig.3 banner at the pro-multiculturalism square

fig.4 the stage

Around an hour later, the EDL came to try and ‘beat us up’ (lul) but we stood our ground and pushed back police horses. I wasn’t a part of it this time around. I watched, wondering why the UAF were pushing to go in the direction of the EDL, but it was impressive that they pushed back police horses, nonetheless.

fig.5 behind the UAF lines

After a long, two and a half hours of wondering around the square, listening to practically the same pro-multicultural speech over and over, it started to get tiresome. A fleeting game of Quiz (made for nerds of obscure topics) happened, courtesy of Alex’s iPhone.

When we learnt the EDL had broken free of their rally-point and were heading to vandalise/burn the local mosque. The police had trapped us into the square since they’d escorted us back by creating impenetrable lines of human bodies. There was no way out other than through.

In one movement, we drove down the narrowest street out. Totally squashed. I’m not a very tall person; 5 foot flat; but boy did I feel smaller than normal as everyone surged at the police line. I was four lines back from the front, too. I had to keep my head tipped back to avoid having my face flattened into the person in front, but I had hold of everyone in our group, and Alex in my field of vision. Again, there was much chanting at the police. We demanded to know why they weren’t defending the mosque from the EDL and ‘monitoring’ us instead.

fig.6 EDL member

We pushed (squashed me) a good few times at the police. I was worried about Maji though who seemed to be having a breathing fit every so often. There was a huge surge and Alex got through to the other side where horses were waiting. I was confronted face-to-face with three policemen. I at once grabbed Elijah and pulled him from their grasp before they could nab us and perhaps try and claim someone for arrest. As much as it’s nice to know we have a lawyer, I’d rather not need to meet him.

We returned to the music and sat and waited. The song “zombie” by the Cranberries was sung (badly) and the usual speech yelled. At last the ones who had broken through were escorted back and Alex was reunited with our group. He said they hadn’t gone far; kettled at various places around the block. But according to unknown sources, the EDL had been held back from the mosque and a few arrested for carrying weapons or assaulting police.

To round off the event, a fantastic speech was given by Martin Smith. I couldn’t help but wish and hope that his words sunk into at least one of the many policemen standing guard.

Martin Smith is a leading member of the Socialist Workers Party who speaks openly about his politics with theory, evidence and passion. My aim is not to intentionally convert anyone who reads these blog posts. I’m just speaking up from the corner of society that is always pushed from the limelight to favour of parties like the Conservatives or EDL. The UAF members outnumbered the EDL yesterday, but that wasn’t reported. So far, the people involved with left-wing politics have no internet voice. The majority of reports I find are given by people who were either not at the event, not directly involved or by (far) right-wing people, such as the EDL.

I hope I didn’t need to say in this post that the EDL are racist fascists. I’m sure you could see that for yourself. If the EDL encapsulate what it means to be British, then I am ashamed to be British. Perhaps I should mention that they often give the Nazi salute, and they do it knowing full well that it’s the Nazi salute. If you’re unsure how literally I mean that, here’s a photo:

fig.7 Hitler

fig.8 21st Century EDL

But that’s not the point. No shops were vandalised by the EDL (like the Polish building in fig.10), the mosque is still in-tact, there was no punch-up between groups, and overall, we told ‘em to fuck off.

When home at last, it was sushi and beer for me with a blitz at Half Life on the PS2. The End. For now.

-Suzuki.

fig.9

fig.10 A Polish Centre in Luton

fig.11 An EDL member wearing a pig's head because Muslims don't eat pork. It has also been reported that the EDL throw real, severed pig heads through the windows of Muslim shops and mosques.

Scrivener, London demos, coffee-demons and saga eureka (maybe)

From 11AM yesterday until 4AM today, Mitch and I did not move from the sofa other than to make tea/coffee or use the loo. It was, despite not moving for seventeen hours, quite productive. I made a decent dent into my presentation (now almost finished) due in tomorrow. I’ve organised an expansive Writing Bible with, even better, stuff in it and re-mastered an old drawing of mine.

original
(brother and sister)

redone
(it didn’t fully scan in)

Suko’s name has been changed yet again (including surname), and I’m beginning to wonder if I’ve written book two first…

In Scars in the System (my ever-going-saga), I have been trying to tell my characters’ past through flashback chapters. While I like revealing information in this way, I don’t want to dwell in the past: that is not the main story. At the same time, there’s always more the characters’ have to say.

This has made me wonder: what if I wrote a novel about how they grew up? It would explain so much. That way, I wouldn’t have to squeeze in clunky explanations or, even worse, leave things half-explained; and I mean things that shouldn’t be left half-explained. The build up to ‘secrets being revealed’ might feel like more of an investment, too.

To help, I’ve started the process of creating that mystical-writing-bible I keep talking about (follow the link to find out what it is). Slowly, mind, but chugga-chugga. The contents is three pages long and growing. There is a lot to tell – six worlds of it, to be precise, and with a huge cast (30 people). I’ve become pretty good at introducing tons of characters without confusing the reader, but this is a story that can’t be crammed.

So perhaps I’ve only written book two.

Mitch has downloaded Scrivener beta, and from what I can tell, it looks incredibly useful. Scrivener is a programme designed for fiction & non-fiction writers, comic writers, screenwriters, writing thesis, poetry & lyrics and more. It allows you to organise chapters and writing bibles in an organised manner. It eliminates scrolling through a 100 page document to try and find out if Character X has blue eyes or brown eyes. Each chapter can be labelled as being either a ‘first draft’, ‘revised’ or ‘finished’ (which always confuses me, “have I edited this?”), and you can give the chapter a mini-description so you know exactly what chapter you’re searching for. When the finalised version is available, I know I’ll be buying it.

Onto the exciting bit. Last Saturday (January 29th) I made my way up to London for another protest against cuts to public services, tax rises and education. I had my own placard to hold this time – a mass produced one, but nonetheless, a placard.

Through the streets we paraded chants and songs galore. I’d never been through that part of London before, so I had a refreshing view at the same time. Police locked pedestrians into Topshop and stood guard of it (afraid we’d overrun it and make camp again, I suppose). I was surprised they let us march past Millbank (see: we broke windows last time) but I suppose the wall of policemen two lines thick was enough to stop sensible people trying a second demonstration. It was kinda hilarious, especially as the windows are still bordered up.

We trundled through the roads, blocking them off, sneering at BMWs and Jaguar cars and despite being stuck behind anarchists all day, pedestrians made it better. Some honked horns and cheered at us as we meandered between the cars, others looked terrified. There was no abuse to drivers and their cars (other than laughing at the rich) I hasten to add.

Admittedly, my enthusiasm began to wane as we walked to every embassy in search of the Egyptian HQ. We intended to show our support for the revolution in Egypt and we had to take many different roads in order to get around the police. But it was long and I was tired. We managed it, however. Somehow a hoard of us made it there before the police could block off the last route.

A bonfire was lit (to which I barely batted an eyelid, I’m too expectant of this now) and we milled around, chatting. After a long while, we realised only anarchists were left outside the Egyptian embassy and we decided it was time to get away before people were either arrests or kettled.

As we left, ten riot police vans bolted past to the Egyptian HQ. Ten. What the heck did they need ten for? They didn’t even need one let alone ten! Everyone had been quite happy roaming around. Nobody really had the energy to keep up chants for too long. But who knows. Those dangerous students an’ all.

And last but not least, this Saturday I’m off to Luton to stand up to the EDL and their racist discriminatory ways. I’ll let you know how it goes.

P.S. Oyster cards are aweshum, btw.