What I will talk about mainly is the recent events and what they mean for the struggle against racism. The attack in Paris was, particularly for Dutch anti-racist activists, a quite bizarre experience. I was very active in the Dutch anti-racist movement when [?1:05] came up firstly after 9/11 in 2001 and then Theo Van Gogh was killed two years later. Watching Paris was like being thrown back 10 years, with some similarities and differences that I want to going into because I think they are important for our analysis in how we deal with the current form of Islamophobia and how we understand also how it changed.
What is interesting is, everything you hear about Paris, similarly what we heard about Van Gogh in the Netherlands, is that it’s very unique and that it’s “unprecedented” and “historical.” All the news framings are giving us the idea that this is a historic phenomena. The only reason why it’s unique is the sense that terrible things happen in the world but they happen in the periphery, or they are proxy wars elsewhere, in which Europe or the West is involved, but they don’t happen in the centre. This is the “unique” element used in framing this as a “shocking” event. For those of us who know people in other parts of the world, who are in solidarity with other struggles, it doesn’t quite feel that way. Of course it’s unique for other reasons but we sort of have an ability to internationalise and frame these events in a different light. But an identical narrative was given when [?3:06] was killed: it was the first political assassination in 300 years in the Netherlands.
Finally! I got a copy of *that* Socialist Worker. It’s very unsettling to see a positive headline in the Worker, and I’m not sure what it says that they needed a death to be able to write one. On the back of the Thatcher’s Dead pullout there’s a good section on how Labour are essentially trying to copy Thatcherism. “Labour’s failure to challenge right wing ideas has helped legitimise them.”
Me and nine others took part in an East Kent KONP (Keep Our NHS Public) meeting. We have plans to celebrate around 6th July, which will be the 65th birthday of the National Health Service. We will most likely have a showing of Spirit of ’45 and some speakers.
There was lots of other internal and publicity stuff to talk about, but we probably spent longer addressing the campaign against the Bedroom Tax. There are many myths that need to explain on benefits, but the main issue is that being unemployed and on housing benefits is the norm. This is only a minority. Most benefits claimants are either pensioners, disabled, or on in-work benefits. The divisive exaggerations are only a distraction from the billions lost in the rich’s tax avoidance, which doesn’t receive nearly enough outrage. Seeing as Ukip would go even further than the Tories with cutting benefits, there is an anti-Ukip leaflet that we will be giving out leading up to the Kent County Council elections. I have found from talking to people while leafletting or selling papers that many Ukip-supporters do not know what the party is really about, merely agreeing with the anti-EU stance. We agreed we need to pressure local Labour councillors to back the ‘No Evictions’ motion supported by independent left candidate Ian Driver, who has expressed his disgust at the bedroom tax and privatisation of the NHS.