There’s a lot of desperation here in Calais.
Police repression is fairly consistent. We’ve been working here for almost two and a half years now and it hasn’t changed much.
Visits like the Stand Up To Racism one last week can help. It’s always good when people come to show solidarity. It’s very important. I met lots of very compassionate and passionate people.
In the last few weeks the police attacks haven’t been so bad. Sometimes it can be awful—broken limbs and people with all sorts of wounds. I’ve been shot in the back with a rubber bullet before.
Recently the temperature has dropped and that has meant people, police included, don’t want to be out and about.
Police violence varies from week to week.
They are brought in from different regions to Calais because the town has a disproportionate number of riot police needed relative to its size.
So they bring in different police forces. Their attitude can depend on the region or on the mood at the time. Dunkirk has a pro-refugee mayor, but it still has a police force full of bigots.
Violence is a fairly constant feature.
When something happens there’s always a week or a couple of weeks when everyone is reeling from it. When there are deaths—such as earlier this year and at the end of last year—it leaves everyone a little bit confused and a bit quieter.
People here are so far from what’s going on politically in Britain it’s difficult to focus on things like Theresa May’s new pledge to add £45 million to border security.
Maybe once upon a time it might have shocked some people, or more people. But having seen how people have been policed here I think people see the news as one more part of a failing situation.
Silent Walks for Grenfell are spreading
The monthly Silent Walks in memory of the people who died in the Grenfell Tower fire are spreading.
A protest in Manchester took place this month and one will happen in Bristol next month. The organisers in Bristol plan to do it monthly after seeing how the first month goes.
Now it’s about spreading it to different cities across the country.
It’s about people putting pressure on whoever is in that position of power.
Whether it’s the Conservatives in power or if it moves on to a Labour government, they need to understand that as a people we are united and we are together.
If Jeremy Corbyn comes into play I hope he does what he’s promised.
This movement is showing that we are powerful together and we have a say over our lives.
Silent Walk organiser
Supporting the strikes
As students that support university workers fighting for pensions we need to be clear about how we can help their fight.
Some have argued that we should claim our tuition fees back for lost lessons on strike days.
Students may genuinely believe that this can help academic staff by putting pressure on university mangement.
But this runs the risk of suggesting we’re against the strike.
If students really want to do something about this, they should join the picket line.
This not only offers solidarity but also sends a strong message to the university and neoliberal bosses.
Education is already treated as a commodity thanks to the introduction of tuition fees.
Universities treat the provision of education as a profit-making enterprise.
Using the bourgeois concept of contractual damages to claim property back would not just directly affect the strikers.
It would also affect students in the long run.
It suggests that lecturers are responsible for providing the commodity to students.
The University of Bristol has already said that it has no plans to reimburse our fees as they go towards more than just contact hours.
With this in the backdrop, it is all the more important to join the picket lines and offer solidarity. We can do better than signing up to the idea of education as a commodity.
Justice for Ahed Tamimi
Ahed Tamimi became famous after a video of her slapping an Israeli soldier went viral in December 2017.
Now she is standing trial in a secretive military court.
The last thing Israel want is further attention towards her.
The Israeli state is constantly trying to present a sanitised version of itself.
It is now set to host one of the biggest cycling tours in the world in May—the Giro D’Italia.
This is just one of a series of high profile events it is hosting.
These include the FIL Men’s Lacrosse World Championship in July. And Tel Aviv hosts the African Film Festival in January 2019.
Israel is attempting to pose as a place of freedom and inclusivity.
Ahed Tamimi has become an icon that Israel wants the world to forget about as she faces trial.
We must make sure it doesn’t succeed.
Westminster’s sick joke on us
Tory Westminster Council’s plans to ask richer residents to give voluntary donations to help the homeless in the borough would be laughable if they were not so hypocritical.
A Shelter report published last year claims that over 300,000 people in Britain are homeless or living in temporary accomodation.
The idea that this disaster can be solved by appealing to the charitable instincts of the rich residents of Westminster is a sick joke. If the homelessness problem is to be solved we can start by kicking the Tories out.
Haringey win gives us hope
seeing campaigners in Haringey get rid of a hated right wing Labour council leader is a sight for sore eyes (Socialist Worker, 14 February).
Now the race is on to kick out all the Blairite councillors along with all those who want to sell off council housing.
The campaign against the redevelopment gives a boost in the fight for decent housing for all.
Why do Labour councillors continue to implement Tory cuts?
One reason is expenses. In Haringey, council leader Claire Kober raked in £44,293 in expenses for 2016-17.
If elected, left wing candidates should promise to take only what are genuine expenses and give the rest to local campaign groups. Then they will be much closer to the working class they are meant to represent.
Stop Labour’s council cuts
The Tories plan to cut £300 million central government subsidy to Bradford in 2020.
The council will have to find that money from council tax and business rates. This will mean more devastating cuts to services. Well done Tory voters, the cuts are coming to you soon!