The Jubilee is a national sedative; this is a national wake up call

Posted on May 14, 2012 by | 7 Comments

UK Uncut's Great British Street Party - The future's not what it used to be

By Anna Walker, a campaigner from UK Uncut

Cameron wants to see ‘the mother of all parties’. The Queen is old – celebrate! The Olympics are in town – celebrate! Ignore the fact that we are screwing you, your parents, your grandparents, your children, your friends and neighbours. Ignore the fact that we will monitor your emails, tap your phones, sell off the hospitals and schools brick by brick to the private companies. Have an extra day off, have a party, drink some tea, preferably drink some Pimms. But whatever you do, don’t remember the unemployment figures, the number of disabled people who are killing themselves because their benefits are stopped or the number of services you use that are being scrapped.

Don’t dissent. Don’t resist. Don’t protest. If you do, you are unpatriotic, a killjoy, a ‘dangerous anarchist’. We will arrest you if you put an anti-Olympics poster in the window, we will stop and search if you’re wearing a hoodie too near the Olympic stadium. We will pre-emptively arrest you and slap an ASBO on you if you dare to suggest that all is not well and try to do something about it.

UK Uncut also wants to party – but for completely different reasons. We want to undermine the government’s propaganda and the Jubilee pageantry. The idea of UK Uncut holding street parties of resistance came from anger that the government will use Jubilee celebrations as a national sedative and a justification to clamp down on political protest. We want people to remember and to resist the cuts being rammed through by the government. We want people to celebrate a different future, determined by everyone.

The last time the Olympics were held in London was in 1948. The country had an enormous national debt yet the NHS and welfare state were introduced. We are not saying that we wish we could go back to this time, but that the introduction of free healthcare for (almost) everyone is a good thing. That it is better to have some form of support for disabled people, children, single parents and people without work than not. We are not saying that Britain was a perfect place for everyone then or now. Discrimination against people of colour, women, disabled people, LGBT and queer people, migrants, travellers and Roma people was rife then and remains today. Colonialism was vicious and persists in new forms today. The flag is a symbol which means very different things to different people from pride to football hooliganism to far right extremist views. What does it mean to be British? Again, it’s different for different people, so we’ve asked people with different perspectives to write guest blogs which will be posted on the UK Uncut site next week.

We live in communities that make up this country. And those communities are suffering. We are asking what do we want society to look like in a future Britain? You decide. You decide together how you want resist the attack on our services, rights and future. Do what works for you wherever you live.

As opposed to the sedative effect of Jubilee parties, UK Uncut’s street parties are intended to wake up new ideas, new connections and new collective power. They are not about celebrating Britain as it is or as it was in 1948. They are about defiance and the definition of a future that we want to see, where we live – that is determined by us all – not for us, by a bunch of men who think they own power, money, business, government, us and our future.

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7 Responses to “The Jubilee is a national sedative; this is a national wake up call”

  1. NickNo Gravatar
    May 14th, 2012 @ 10:38 am

    Calling it ‘Great British’ is a serious mistake and shows a serious lack of understanding by UK Uncut of the political realities at play in Scotland and other nations currently in the UK.

    ‘We are asking what do we want society to look like in a future Britain?’ – What about the option of not being in Britain at all.

    Worse still the logo for this event looks as if its advertising the kind of horrendous craft fair where everyone pretends that cup cakes are brilliant. Euch.

  2. KBNo Gravatar
    May 14th, 2012 @ 10:55 am

    I think UK Uncut are saying that if you don’t want to be in Britain that’s fine, focus on what you do want, and how you are going to make it happen.

    And yes there should be cake and a party and you should shut something down at the same time. If you don;t want to eat cake, then don’t, but I like cake, I like parties and I like shutting massive things down as a protest.

    Maybe the logo is awful – fine, but i am getting quite fed up of people sniping from the side lines with a detailed critique but without much comment on what individuals are going to do instead or to make it better…etc…maybe if we were all focused on doing something, rather than criticising each other constantly for trying to do something, we wouldn’t quite be in state that we are in now.

  3. Eugene MatthewsonNo Gravatar
    May 14th, 2012 @ 2:59 pm

    re. calling it great british is a mistake…

    So is it also a mistake that the group’s called UK Uncut?

    That didn’t seem to stop plenty of actions happening across the country over the last two years.

    Hmm…Nick, please also respond to the whole article in future- y’know- it’s substance. That’d be nice.

    Also- bunting is great for blocking roads! And I am reliably informed that cupcakes are the best means of cheering up sad activists (especially those whining and carping from their anonymous armchairs) when they’re feeling depressed at the cuts and want to get stuff done.

  4. NickNo Gravatar
    May 15th, 2012 @ 12:58 am

    That’s me, always sitting in my poor nameless armchair sniping away. If only I’d do something, anything really, doesn’t matter what, then maybe someone would listen to my pathetic whining.

    Although actually of course I do stuff, including having been involved in a fair few UK Uncut actions, not that that makes my points here any more or less valid, so lets move on from that particularly lazy dismissal of a critical viewpoint and have a look at the issues at hand.

    I like UK Uncut, when the group took its first action against Vodaphone, it brought a real energy and excitement to the anti-cuts movement. The central idea of taking disruptive direct action against an identifiable target is I think a vital strategy. What was also great was that anyone could go ahead and organise an action wherever they were.

    I’ve also always had a few issues with the whole uncut thing, I’ve felt there are limitations to the politics of those organising UK Uncut itself. I’ve always found the wacky dressing up side of things to be a bit cringeworthy (feel free to put that down to me being an old curmudgeon). And yes was always slightly uncomfortable with the UK part of the name although this was a pretty minor gripe.

    Anyway, I think it’s a great idea for UK Uncut to do something aimed at all the Jubilee bullshit. I can see the value of the argument pointing out that last time the Olympics were in the UK the economy was totally gone to shit but the real gains of the NHS and welfare state were seen as not just affordable but necessary. And I can sort of almost see how this ‘Great British Street Party’ idea came out of that.

    The trouble is the centrality of the concept of Britishness and the associated symbolism is totally alienating at a gut level for a lot of people, including me, who are fundamentally opposed to the austerity agenda and are keen to take action against it but link those politics to a rejection of the British state and a desire for Scottish Independence. This isn’t a side issue but is absolutely central to the possibilities of defeating austerity in these islands and moving forward to something better.

    I’m not being critical just to attack UK Uncut, but because I think it’s a real shame that political short sightedness has led them promote what could have been a great opportunity to action against austerity an royalist propaganda in such an ultimately self defeating way.

  5. Marjory SmithNo Gravatar
    May 15th, 2012 @ 10:40 am

    Why not join with the Republic protest at Tower Bridge 12-5pm on 3rd June or have a very clearly anti-monarchy protest wherever you are? The monarchy is symbolic of and integral to injustice, vast wealth, inherited privilege, a feudal political system based around royal prerogative powers (the powers of a tyrant handed to whoever manoeuvres into Number 10 bearing no relation whatever to democratic mandate gained or not, or deals done) and the ‘Crown in parliament’. Monarchy has been the facilitator of massacre and murder. The jubilee is all about the monarchy so tackle that issue head on rather than have some kind of vague party, make it specific – the establishment certainly are. I do agree the emphasis on ‘British’ seems strange here as your web address is ‘brightgreenscotland’. It does seem a bit as if you’re wilfully ignoring Scotland being at least one part which has the chance to escape the antiquated crawling behemoth of Westminster and the stultifying class ridden establishment.

  6. JimNo Gravatar
    May 16th, 2012 @ 2:18 pm

    …So you’re having a street party, indistinguishable from every other street party, except this street party is somehow an ironic protest against street parties? I really don’t mean any malice at all, but I don’t understand- can you explain how this is going to be an effective protest?

  7. JacquelynNo Gravatar
    August 2nd, 2013 @ 4:57 am

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