Westside Action

a motley crew of anarchists and activists from Bristol, Bath and South Wales

Archive for kingsnorth

Climate Camp Critique Reader

Drax, 2006

Excellent Range of Articles contained here: cca_reader

Yeah, I know it’s 52 pages long, but at least for those of you who arent getting out much at the moment or

A) Think Climate Camp is a “wizard idea” and don’t see why it needs to change at all

B) Think Climate Camp used to be good but now has been hijacked by liberals

C) Didn’t know Climate Camp was Started by Anarchists

It’s an essential read.


In January & February 2010, the Camp for Climate Action will go through a period
of introspection as it works out where it shall go next. While in some ways the Camp has been a success, it has also come under a barrage of criticism from some quarters within the radical movements that spawned it.

To help this debate we have put together a set of resources and relevant articles to inform and spark discussion relating to this criticism. Our bias is obvious, though the opinions expressed are those of the authors alone.

Whether you agree with them or not, we believe they are worth taking on board. We hope at least that you feel confident answering their challenges, rather than just dismissing them.
Now is the time for the Camp to examine its politics in more depth, to work out just what it stands for. This is a cross-roads in its development, to continue down a path of ever increasing liberal, reformist approach, or to be the noisy radical, pointing out all the white elephants in the climate change debate. The future of the movement around the camp is being shaped here. The decisions being made now will have profound impacts on who is and who is not involved in the future.

The Camp for Climate Action grew out of the radical anarchist and environmental movements, a synthesis of the organisational skills developed at the Anti-G8 protest camp at Stirling, and the ecological direct action movements such as Earth First! The perception that emerges from these criticisms is this has been lost along the way. We accept that this booklet makes challenging reading and that we offer little in the way of solutions. These, we believe, must come from within the camp itself. However, it is apparent that there is a need for two things. Firstly, a greater visibility for the anarchist roots within the day to day life of the CCA process and proposals.
Secondly, and just as important, a more open and explicit critique of capitalism and how it is the root cause of climate change.

If we do neither out of fear of a mainstream media backlash, then we are reduced to being another NGO. Yet, the power of the Camp has always been the promise of a genuine alternative action in the face of prevarication and obstruction from governments and corporations – now is the time to spell that critique out and use it to build real alternatives, not legitimising the system we complain of. It was the strength of the Camp‟s founding critiques that gave it the boldness its subsequent successes have rested on.

Ultimately, the message of the Camp is a very radical one – that radical social change is needed, especially if we are to tackle of the root causes of climate change. The answer is not to water down our actions and our messages, but to be bolder than ever. That is the excitement and power that gives the Camp its life.

The Only Good Policing is No Policing

While any pressure put on the police to behave less violently is to be welcomed, lets remember that they have and always will be used as tinstruments of the state to stop us achieving justice.

This is not to diminish the work that has gone into winning a Judicial Review by Climate Camp and Bindmans into the Policing the G20 but it’ s clear from the both the distant and recent past and that once a social movement is seen as a threat, the state will use what ever means they have to extinguish it.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate’s report was also issued today on Protest Policing, while it did make some criticisms and while we echo the call of The Guardian Frances Wright, which calls for ACPO (responsible for Nectu, FIT, and intense protester harassment) to be abolished, we won’t be happy till they all fuck off.

Meanwhile, in Denmark the Police have been moaning about Climate Justice Action issuing legal guides to the upcoming protests, and especially about advice to give no comment interviews: That seems a pretty good endorsement of the “No Comment” Message.



See Full Report:



‘Aggressive’ policing of protests condemned in post-G20 inquiry
Senior inspector discredits heavy-handed approach and calls for return to 19th-century style of minimal force

British policing’s wake-up call
Heavy-handed policing is drifting away from British ‘soft’ tactics

Police methods ‘could erode public support’

Police protest training in chaos, report finds

Police tactics ‘risking loss of public support’
British police risk losing the support of the public if they confront demonstrators with tactics seen as aggressive and unfair.


Kingsnorth Police Report: Poor Handwriting Slammed

You may have thought that unjustified stop and searches, assaults and raids may have been the focus of the report. But apparently, the fact that some Officers have ineligable handwriting is, as Emily Apple of Fitwatch and now the Guardian (!) says in her article (below) is  apparently of more concern than, for instance,  the fact that her and Val Swain were brutally arrested and then remanded for 3 days, only later to have their charges dropped.

Emily Apple (Guardian Article) :

The soundbites sound good. A report into the policing of Kingsnorth has stated the use of blanket stop and search powers were “disproportionate and counterproductive” and show a failed command structure displaying incompetent leadership and poor communication.

However, the motivation behind these findings needs to be examined. The report is not concerned with the rights of protesters but protecting the integrity of the police force. Yes, the searches were criticised, but not for the right reasons. Instead of finding the searches contravened civil liberties, the report worries about the effect a judicial review might have on the force, stating they were “counterproductive” because of “organisational vulnerability through legal challenge”. Instead of using the opportunity to condemn the blanket use of section 1 stop and searches as an abuse of civil liberties, even more draconian legislation is called for asking for further powers, presumably to counteract the effects of any pesky judicial interference.

None of the civil liberties concerns raised by activists and politicians in relation to the camp are addressed. In fact, the report praises the police for meeting one of their key objectives of “facilitating peaceful protest”, which is simply not true. Facilitating protest must include adherence to all human rights law, including the rights to privacy and freedom of expression. Stating that, during a protest which extended over several days, the police facilitated one march at the end of the week ignores all the civil liberties abuses which took place at the camp itself.

While no mention is made of the use of excessive violence by officers using batons strikes against peaceful protesters, the handwriting of officers is criticised, with fewer than 25% of all forms legible. However, instead of criticising the need for 8,000-plus searches, the report laments the fact there weren’t more details to put onto the police database. The fact details of thousands of protesters has been entered into a database is not examined, nor is the admission this information is disseminated to the Forward Intelligence Teams (Fits), and that people should not give the police personal details if they do not want to end up on such a database.

Meanwhile, another report commissioned by the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA), has not been released, even to the IPCC. The findings were seemingly not to the liking of senior police officers, who ordered this current report to be written instead. Despite promises by the policing minister, David Hanson, to publish the original report, this has not been done, and we are left with a report which is hostile to demonstrators and repressive in tone.

The recommendations of the HMIC report to move towards a less confrontational model of policing will never be achieved unless the attitude of the police changes towards demonstrators. However, the biggest test for all the reports will be seen on the streets over the next couple of months. Climate Camp is returning to London in August, while in September activists return to the City for a mass protest against the DSEi arms fair.

It is clear from this report, and from examples such as the suggestion, made by City of London police during a meeting with the family of Ian Tomlinson and the IPCC, that Tomlinson might have been attacked by a protester “dressed in police uniform”, that the mindset of the police has not altered. It is important they are held to account on the streets, and anyone who has any concerns over the policing of protests and civil liberties should attend these events to monitor and challenge this policing for themselves.

Kingsnorth Policing Cover-up

29 May 2009

090808_marcvallee_climate_camp_mass_action_9The failure to publish the long awaited report on policing tactics last summer is leading to accusations of a cover-up. Chris Ames reports

The Home Office and Kent Police have buried a report on the policing of last summer’s climate camp at Kingsnorth power station, provoking suspicions that it was critical of the controversial police tactics at the protest.

During the protest last August, activists complained of aggressive policing, including violence against peaceful protestors, excessive use of stop and search powers, arbitrary arrests and mass confiscation of personal property. A number of MPs called for an inquiry.

Last December, policing minister Vernon Coaker told MPs that the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) was “considering the lessons to be learned” from Kingsnorth. He said he would discuss its report with the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) and would then “be happy to share those conclusions” with Liberal Democrat Shadow Justice Secretary David Howarth.

But the report has been shelved, apparently because Kent Police did not like its findings, despite sending it back to be revised. Soon after receiving a “final” version, Chief Constable Michael Fuller commissioned a second review, on the grounds that the NPIA report “was not an evaluation of the operation overall or whether or not strategic and tactical objectives were achieved”.

The force also refused to hand the report to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC). Kent Police have declined to say what the report’s findings were, in spite of a claim that its policy “has always been to be open and transparent in everything we do”.

The Home Office is now presenting the second review, which is being carried out by an assistant chief constable of South Yorkshire Police, as a “report by the NPIA”, even though both the NPIA and South Yorkshire Police have stated that the NPIA are not involved.

Howarth has tabled a parliamentary question asking when the Home Office expects to receive the original report. He has not yet had a reply. He told Index: “It would be disturbing if the police and Home Office were not being wholly transparent about the outcome of the review into the policing of Kingsnorth. This is not a time for the police to close ranks. A democratic police force should not be afraid of healthy public debate and scrutiny. A fully open discussion is an essential part of the process of rebuilding public confidence in the policing of protest.”

Coaker referred to the original NPIA report several times when he gave evidence to the parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights in December. He said: “I want to see what that report says with respect to Kingsnorth.” Six days later, he had to apologise to MPs for an earlier, false, claim that 70 police officers at the climate camp had been injured by demonstrators. But he declined to comment on his previous assertion that police tactics had been “appropriate and proportionate”. He told Howarth that he would “wait for the NPIA report”.

But Kent’s Deputy Chief Constable Adrian Leppard has now claimed that the report was only “an initial debrief”. He said: “As a police force, we are always keen to learn and advance our techniques and that is why we asked the NPIA to carry out a full review.”

Kent Police’s refusal to give the original report to the IPCC has increased suspicions that it was critical of the force’s tactics. In March, the force made a voluntary referral to the IPCC of a highly critical report on Kingsnorth, which was published by the Liberal Democrats. The IPCC’s commissioner for south-east England, Mike Franklin, then asked to see the NPIA report.

According to the IPCC, “Kent Police told the commissioner that they had asked for additional work to be done on the report and that they would share it with him when it was complete.” Although Kent Police have not stated the exact date on which they received the final NPIA report, it seems clear that they had already been given it by that time.

In spite of Coaker’s pledge to consider the report, the Home Office has declined to say whether he took steps to obtain it. Like Kent Police, it is now referring to the South Yorkshire police review as an NPIA report, in an apparent attempt to deflect attention from the shelving of the original report.

A spokesperson said: “The conclusions of the report by the NPIA will be shared with the Home Office in June. We will in turn be ensuring that these lessons are picked up across the police service and linked into the [Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary] review of [the policing of the G20 protests].” She added: “At NPIA’s suggestion this review will be led by a Deputy Police Constable (DCC)with wide public order experience (from South Yorkshire), supported by NPIA.”

But this claim is contradicted by the NPIA and South Yorkshire Police, who have both stated that the new review has nothing to do with the NPIA. South Yorkshire police told Index: “The review was commissioned jointly by Kent Constabulary’s Chief Constable Michael Fuller and ACPO’s lead for public order, Deputy Chief Constable Sue Sim from Northumbria Police. The NPIA are not involved.”

The disappearance of the original report has aroused suspicions among campaigners. A spokesperson for the climate camp legal team said: “The policing at Kingsnorth was completely over the top, with the indiscriminate use of stop and search powers, the mass confiscation of personal property, and aggressive behaviour by police officers. The police do all they can to cover up their heavy handed behaviour, and so we aren’t surprised to learn that this potentially critical report has been buried.”

She added: “The right to protest is a vital part of our democracy and the police must not be allowed to silence public dissent on crucial issues such as climate change.”

A Trade Unionist-Climate Camper on the Wildcat Strikes.

Intro: While there has been much talk within the anarchist newswires, and meetings, responses and counter-responses, none of the people I have had contact with actually had been to the picket lines, or indeed has previous interaction with the workers concerned. Hence, this is why I publish the below which  is not the anarchist dialogue you may expect on this blog

“This week has been phenomenal. I hope it is an epiphenomenon in some ways, in others of course not. I feel like I have to say from the outset: up class struggle. Down the bosses. Down the union mis leadership. I have got home tonight and caught up like every night this week with a lot of writing on this wave of strikes: I just want to sum up my little journey – I’ll try and be brief. I’m going to leave out things that incriminate my own organisation, because apparently that’s what we do, apart from when it concerns me (and that’s the least of the group’s political problems).

Friday, I can barely remember that morning. Or anything before last Friday at the moment. (I stopped to think a moment, 50p sparked a thought). I got to London Bridge, and spent my last 50p (give or take shrapnel) on an Evening Standard. I only ever buy it when it is whipping up race hate, so I can keep on top of what some tube passengers read. The headline, more or less “Mass walkouts over foreign workers” I stopped dead. I’m not easily perturbed. There’s a genocide of my people going on, but I’ve kept a level head and done what I could do. I haven’t been hysterical, wailing at the left to do something. There’s a lot of things going on.

This headline is everything you dread, if you’re me. For the last year I’ve put down nearly every bit of activity that I’d been sampling as part of my GCSEs in activism; I thought it’s time to focus: I chose three main things. Being a Workers’ Liberty organiser, a Campaign Against Immigration Controls activist and a Workers’ Climate Action activist.

For the first, this means a hundred things, a hundred different responsibilities, schedules, spheres of activity, politics. The other two have been a joy to watch grow and develop, not without their difficulties and setbacks. All three – and my life – I brought to this issue of the strikes. After I calmed down, and put out of my mind roughly might be called all the CAIC repercussions, I put on my trade union hat. I know the issues. It’s been brewing up for ages. this does not diminish a massive attack on migrant workers and black people, a massively reactionary strike in some ways, but at the core is a labour dispute, major class action that marks the start of the fightback. What a terrible start. Look, of course this is fantastic strike action, fantastic solidarity. Whether or not the union leadership are being written out of this too much, I can’t tell yet. It smacks of them. There were union banners not just lone placards that carried the British Jobs for British Workers’ slogan. Anyway, the trade union issues I talked through with one comrade, apparently in the know.

Nothing he told me was new to me as such, only I’d never heard anyone be so incoherent about it. The Posted Workers stuff, the ECJ Viking and Laval rulings I’d known of. From Climate Camp and WCA I’ve been and spoken at Grain and Hoo, I’ve hung out in the pub there trying to speak to workers about Kingsnorth. A new AWL comrade, also involved in CAIC and WCA, came away agreeing that the main next step there was to do a CAIC meeting, not a WCA one. I don’t know how much this ruling has a bearing on any of this. As far as I can see the maximum demands of the constituent European Union bureaucracies up until this point has been for better provision for cross europe trade unionism. There is a particular UK grievance, which stems from New Labour not the EU. Why has New Labour not enshrined national union-employer agreements in law ? We know why. I’ve long thought the union strategy here was reactionary. I.e because labour costs are higher here, and polish workers cheaper, it was only necessary to fight for same terms for migrant workers, to ensure they wouldn’t arrive in the first place, in one of the few industries still protected from non-white workers and women.

The union on strike this week is hardly the Builders’ Labourers’ Federation. Apart from the fact, and I could be wrong here, that these are mainly skilled and highly skilled workers, our existing socialist organisations, none of them, are up to the task of what Jack Munday and his comrades did for the New South Wales BLF. It is worth standing them up against this week, and remember that one of our biggest enemies is close to home, in the union leadership. Derek Simpson must go now, no money, no pay off. Out! He has been demanding BJ4BW for years! I should stop the analogy there, because though my economics is bad, they grew in and because of a capitalist boom. Better maybe to look at the Lucas Plan to see what this strike might have been. But again that’s silly. We’re heading in to a global recession, of a scale we’ve never seen before.

While it’s probably true that the existing British labour movement has attacked every wave of migrants that have arrived on this little corner of the world over time, and the capitalists exploited it, I can’t help but feel the eventual result has been progressive. The fact that each wave of migrants has been made an attack on existing workers and their security (hundreds of thousands of refugees are detained, abused and deported) has made solidarity difficult each time. I’ve argued against pro-migrant/internationalists/socialists etc putting “racist” in front of every mention of immigration controls. Yes they are racist (I won’t explain here) but it just doesn’t help to have people think their support for immigration controls is racist, and in this support the BNP. Lots of people don’t consider themselves to be racist, and good; do I want them to think they’re racist because they support immigration controls no. I can see all around me the manifold challenges of working-class life and migration. We want working-class unity, and we work not in conditions of out own making.

I’ve known for a while what’s been brewing in Grain. One of our comrades flagged up some weeks ago, the strikes that took place/were due to take place over this same issue, concerning Polish workers. I’m going to have to skip lots of things and return to the left. What we should have been saying/doing straight away: –These strikes are for jobs. -These slogans are an attack on migrant workers and Black people. Point the finger at the bosses. Point the finger at Brown and Simpson. Though neither of the latter can be totally to blame for British nationalism. Brown would have known this was a National Front Slogan, the slogan of fascists across the world, racist and always sooner or later anti-working class. But I remember thinking that that speech (which wasn’t a budget speech, but his LP conference on apparently) was partly designed to stem the slightly weird English nationalist sentiments and doubts the media kept on talking about. I wonder now. – We can’t see these workers sent back to Italy. This would be a disaster. The repercussions could be frightful, a rallying cry to fascists across Europe (they do exist, remember, even if the BNP are fascist lite at the moment).

All this discussion of do you or don;t you support it, whose side are you on, – has been profoundly unhelpful. At one point a comrade called me a scab, several accused me of calling on the bureaucracy to smash rank-and file action. Pure hysteria, but I’ll explain my mistakes later, or some of the ones I can talk about. – We need to find a way in the short term to keep the Italian workers here and for workers to be able to keep their jobs. – Also, and this felt impossible, under the slogans, this action needed to spread for all of us, but also for these workers. As far as I understand it a lot of the Viking-Laval issues had been sorted, I can’t say for sure, but it seems so. The SP communiques served as cover, for god knows what. They didn’t add up. What were the aims of the strike when it was organised. It wasn’t spontaneous. It was organised and must have happened under the nose of the bureaucrats. We can say that it was organised by the union now can’t we, because everyone is crowing over this brave breaking of the anti-union laws.

They forget in their joy to mention the police and the posties who also did a bit of this recently, neither of which raised reactionary slogans. Anyway, so what were the demands that people struck over? That the jobs go to the UK workforce, no? there must be at least a ‘fair share/deal’ for “UK workers”? What does this mean. why has Derek Simpson and the SP, the CPB, now the SSP, argued that this is what must happen. none of them are arguing for jobs for all as far as I can see. The demand for Italian workers’ unionisation seems a PR move as much as anything else (for the left as much as anyone else), as is the 50:50 conception of equal rights. this is a disaster. I can’t help but feel that it must have been the bosses that have save us here, for now. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but the union victory was negotiated and won to the tune of not just 50/50 but a little more to the Brits! note the joke from the Unite negotiator on the Italian England manager being able to stay – quoted in the Workers’ Power statement on the deal reached. I didn’t find it funny.

Apart from the closing paragraphs of the new Workers’ Power statement, and the fact that they really seemed to eclipse the fact that this is at root a fight for jobs where you live, I think their political assessment is correct, though like the strikes themselves, all of this has to be seen in motion, this whole thing from the start had to be seen in motion, continuing and changing reality all the time. It was an important moment in our history, I think. I’ve never felt like I’ve been in a minority of four. I’ll pick up other points later, I don;t know why I always feel like I need to say it all. Actually the main thing I wanted to say was put your fucking fascist attacks away. Then I remember I was a class struggle socialist and Marxist. What guided me was my own sense of class struggle, my own sense of solidarity. I could write volumes on this word, solidarity. It must be the most difficult and most necessary word in this language. I think our left needs to learn a lot about solidarity, class solidarity, and democratic and critical solidarity. I have been more or less silenced this week and have come under attack heavily. Main conclusions: keep your friends close, and your comrades closer. This left is a racist left, in the main. We are so weak that we could have turned a terrible page, with some people denying it entirely, bully the rest of us to agree that we are utterly inspired. Look, I am inspired, sort of. It shows what might be done.

The way I chose to frame it, after a lot of thinking and soul-searching was in the form of a picket of the Unite offices. Whether to ask for the strikes to stop was an open question. I had a mandate from the CAIC meeting to call for that. I think that would have been wrong but fair enough. In the end we supported the strikers but not their seeming aims or slogans. To do this, does not requre just going to appeal to the workers on their picket lines. I will not beg for this. It has more of the character of a protest and a demand. how dare they raise those slogans. how dare the union not rescind them, apologise for them, but rather defend them. I do not paint the workers as rabid nationalists, though I would guess only a minority in that trade, in that union section aren’t at least mildly so. Any way the point is not to abstain: I want to defend migrant workers who have already been fucked by both the unions involved in equal measure to organising them. the GMB sponsors the immigration minister, who also insisted that to fight racism you must say British workers first… I want to defend job for all workers, no group of workers should be displaced against their will, there can be no job losses accepted anywhere. The GMB have been stamping on a strike in NW London of mainly Indian women, perhaps this was to free up some personnel. This small workforce has had some 50 lay-offs, another 50 threatened. The union mafia are colluding with the bosses in getting rid of union activists. On the buses in London, the union lied to workers about an injunction to save the government on October 22nd. The RMT called off the Andy Littlechild dispute without a murmur from anyone that should have coincided with the buses.

I would like to know how people account for these episodes.

For those who draw the class lines so sharply this week, why did we not call the RMT, the NUT, and the PCS scabs for coming out against Heathrow expansion, when it was not their union members whose jobs could be kept through expansion. Why was Bob Crow not called a scab on the international working-class when he came out for Kingsnorth.

Anyway, back to the real difficulty apart from our own inconsistencies: the workers’ jobs. We need to think hard about what to do now. The problems we have faced have their origins. It’s not just because we have a race to the bottom EU. That we do. How are we going to build meaningful rank-and-file workers’ solidarity across the world – not just Europe. This issue now, is not so different to what off-shoring has been, and all the other displacement migration has caused for all working-class people. What is our positive solutions to move beyond the impasse that is the nationalism of nearly all working-class people, which reflect many things, the fact of the nation state and national governments, for one. The fact of really existing unionism being on a national level, if that, and only in a few core industries testament to industrial strength and a strong protectionism, craft-unionist mentality. Migrants and bureaucratic union attempts at coordination are probably the two things already given to internationalists. Migrants being the most important. I can;t believe that so few people saw fit to take some action that made a clear act of solidarity with Italians and all migrants. Under the circumstances, whatever the reasons, our unions have raised fascist slogans. Going to their picket lines to support workers cannot to my mind be the only response. There should also be an outcry from the movement. People have a strange idea of how you defend your class, what constitutes an attack. Black people and migrants are part of this movement too. I should spare a word of criticism for the middle-class socialists who vacillated every which way, the root of their problem being that they are still anti-working class, sometimes after years in the movement. They cannot be honest about our class, because they have never really believed in democracy and grassroots socialism. What the workers don’t know, we can tell them. If they don’t know already, and they fuck up, it’s our fault. Our little groups must issue statements of revolutionary leadership from London. I think we just about all failed the test. Good I say.

So much to say, so early in the morning. In conclusion, it’s difficult forming a position, but it’s possible to take action, if we don’t shut the space down ourselves. solidarity is not fine art, though it can be. We need to find ways of resolving this dispute. It is not over. I can’t see an obvious thing to demand. The critiques about fair share along the lines of nationality, I can’t even begin to say how much I oppose this, I imagine everyone will. I hope this whole chapter on our left, won;t stop comrades from doing what’s necessary to make sure that we fight utterly this trend developping. I honestly can’t sum up what needs to be done, and locally and nationally different strategies will have to be deployed. Certainly, we should not bandy around European unity as a slogan like some in the movement talk of stopping climate change. We need to have a purchase on reality, how will be build European solidarity as strong as the solidarity demonstrated by the workers this week. how are we going to reconcile the need to fight union busting via posted workers, but also avoid the SP solution of a local register!

There has to be a sane way of addressing this. I think the slogan the AWL raised is the most satisfactory, Jobs or Full Pay / Jobs for all. And the right to direct employment. Workers’ schemes to be deployed abroad as workers’ not bosses wish. Or something like that. It feels impossible at 5am, I’m seriously going to read the transitional programme this week, finally workers of the world unite. Like the phoenix may the left emerge form our sectarian mess. Where would we have been without some socialists this week. Where might we have been had been been united some time ago. Left unity cannot be an empty slogan.

Our internationalism cannot be internationalism of slogans to be tucked away, nor that of abstention and utopianism. solidarity with migrant workers is the obvious first step.