Tag Archives: Counter Olympics Network

July 28 CON demo: stewards sought

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I reported yesterday that the route of the Counter Olympic Network demonstration has been agreed with the police.  Naturally, we are all focussing now on the final preparations for the event.

CON is particularly seeking stewards, as there have been difficulties negotiating the event with the authorities, including TfL and the local authority, as well as the police. It is our simple priority to keep everyone on the event safe, and the more stewards we have the easier it will be.

There will be an informal stewards meeting on Thursday July 26  from 6.30pm and then a final training/debrief on Saturday July 28 at 11am

Write to me at davidkrenton[at]gmail.com if you’re interested in being a steward and I will send you full details of each event.

Route of July 28 CON demonstration agreed with police

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Wennington Green, where the CON demo ends, is where the recent Stop the Olympic missiles march began

Image courtesy of Peter Marshall,  http://mylondondiary.co.uk/#missiles

I know there has been a lot of discussion online as to whether the CON demonstration on July 28 would be allowed by the authorities. As has previously been reported TfL originally refused us permission to march down Bow Road as it is an “alternative Olympic Route Network” or AORN (i.e. might be used, in the event of an emergency).

I’m glad to say that the Met have written to the group today, and on the face of it, haven’t merely approved the route, they also appear to have pulled rank on TfL, deciding (in effect) that subject to an emergency we will be allowed on the road – not merely the pavement – of Bow Road.

I thought it would be useful to post this online, not merely for the news of the approval but to allow anyone intending to join the CON demonstration to see in advance the route we propose to take.

Date: 19 July 2012 11:06
Subject: CON Route

Having spoken to the command team your request for Bow Road has been agreed. It has been decided that Commissioners Directions will be used which means you don’t have to apply for a Temporary Traffic Order. If for whatever reason the AORN needs to be used on the day, a decision will be made as to whether the march will go on the pavement.

Your proposed route has been approved as follows;
Mile End Park
Bow Road
Fairfield Road
Tredegar Road
St Stephen’s Road
Roman Road
Wennington Green

Let me know if I can assist further.

Thanks,

Lipika PAUL | Event Planner | Public Order Branch | New Scotland Yard |

Counter Olympics Protesters Will Defy Demo Ban

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Press Statement – COUNTER OLYMPICS PROTESTORS WILL DEFY DEMO BAN

PRESS STATEMENT

COUNTER OLYMPICS NETWORK

(phone contacts: Julian Cheyne 020-3560 4064, 07988 401216, Albert Beale 020-7278 4474)

12 July 2012

COUNTER OLYMPICS PROTESTORS WILL DEFY DEMO BAN

A packed meeting of Counter Olympics activists agreed last night to march through Bow on Saturday 28 July in protest at the corporate takeover of the London 2012 Games. The protestors will defy an attempt by Transport forLondonto ban the demo.

The meeting, representing an alliance of 43 campaign groups (see below), plans to assemble at Mile End Park at 12 noon, march down Bow Road, up Fairfield Road (past the planned site of a ground-to-air missile), and down Roman Road, ending with a ‘People’s Games for All’ rally and festival at Wennington Green.

When activists met representatives of the Metropolitan Police, Tower Hamlets Council, and Transport forLondonon 9 July, TfL said they would not sanction a march alongBow Road, claiming it is part of the ‘Alternative Olympic Route Network’ (AORN).

The AORN network is an alternative route for use during the London 2012 Games if the main Olympic Route Network (ORN) should for any reason be blocked.

Comments

Counter Olympics Network (CON) spokesperson Julian Cheyne said: ‘The ORN will be used exclusively by the IOC, Olympic officials, sponsors, media, and athletes. Even ambulances are barred. The IOC are getting luxury accommodation in theWest Endand will ride around in chauffer-driven BMWs at public expense. They will have priority over all other road users.

‘Everyone else will be herded onto congested roads and overloaded public transport. The ORN will be a 35-mile ribbon of class privilege running acrossLondonfor the duration of the Games. It will cause six weeks of blocked roads, traffic congestion, and closed bus routes, cycle lanes, and pedestrian crossings.

‘But the AORN isn’t even part of this. It will only come into operation if the ORN suffers some kind of breakdown. The idea that you ban free speech and shut down democracy to ensure that the rich have an alternative priority highway is an outrage.’

The protest meeting, held from 7 to 9pm at theSchoolofOrientaland African Studies last night (11 July), decided that the demonstration will follow the route already agreed but use the pavement if necessary.

CON spokesperson Albert Beale said: ‘We’ve done everything we can to accommodate the authorities – giving early notice of our intention to march, avoiding the ORN network and the immediate vicinity of the Olympic Park, agreeing to use the parks proposed by the local council, and so on. But we won’t be denied our right to protest, so we will be marching downBow Road, and if we are restricted to the pavement, the stupidity of the resulting congestion and delay will be the responsibility of Transport forLondon.’

The demonstration and supporting organisations

The march is taking place under the slogans ‘Whose Games? Whose City? No Limos! No Logos! No Launchers! Demonstate Against the Corporate Olympics’.

It has been called by the Counter Olympics Network and is supported by the following organisations, representing a wide range of critical perspectives:

ALARM, Athletes Against Dow Chemical’s Sponsorship, Badhoc, BARAC, Blacklist Support Group, Bread and Circuses, Brent Trades Council, Coalition of Resistance, Counterfire, Defend the Right to Protest, Disabled People Against Cuts, Drop Dow Now, East London Against Arms Fairs, Games Monitor, G4S Campaign, Grunts for the Arts, Hackney Green Party, Hackney Trades Council, Hackney Woodcraft Folk, Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers, Haringey Trades Council, Islington Hands Off Our Public Services, Islington Trades Council, Jewish Socialist Group, Lewisham People Not Profit, Lewisham Stop the War, Lewisham Trades Council, London Green Party, London Mining Network, Netpol, No Games Chicago, Occupy London, Our Olympics, Partizans, People & Planet, Save Leyton Marsh Campaign, Space Hijackers, Stop the Olympic Missiles, Thurrock Hecklers, UK Tar Sands Network, Waltham Forest Trades Council, War on Want, Youth Fight for Jobs, and more.

Press contacts

Julian Cheyne (from 1pm onwards): juliancheyne@yahoo.co.uk, 020-3560 4064, 07988 401216.

Albert Beale: worldpeace@gn.apc.org, 020-7278 4474.

Websites

For further background on CON, the issues raised by the Olympics, and the demonstration, see previous press release and other info at:

www.counterolympicsnetwork.wordpress.com

www.gamesmonitor.org.uk

https://livesrunning.wordpress.com/tag/counter-olympics-network/

Counter Olympics Network organising meeting – today, SOAS, 7pm

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Get Ready! Get Set! Get Involved in WHOSE GAMES? WHOSE CITY?

Counter Olympics is holding an OPEN MEETING on WEDNESDAY 11th JULY 7.00 – 9.00pm
Room G3 SOAS MAIN BUILDING, Ground floor, Thornaugh Street, WC1

As most regular readers of this blog will be well aware, on July 28, the Counter Olympics Network (CON) will be organising a protest in East London, in the general vicinity of the Games. We hope it will be an enjoyable as well as an important event, with all the main anti-Olympics groups well represented, as well as post-demo children’s events, speakers, skits, etc.

The demo is coming around fast and this evening CON is holding its final planning meeting before the 28th

Discussions will include press, police, legal observers, stewarding, networking and outreach, event organising, funding and access

All readers of this blog (except for you, Inspector Clouseau) are very welcome to attend

Counter Olympics Network – July 28: no limos, no logos, no launchers

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Here is the poster for the Counter Olympics Network demonstration and party on July 28. You’ll see the assembly point of our demonstration above. We#re then hoping to have an enjoyable and accessible afternoon of cultural activities, with particular events aimed at children. Full pdf for printing here. Any offers of assistance (with sponsorship, stewarding, ideas for speakers, etc etc) do feel free to drop me a line at davidkrenton[at]gmail.com.

Reasons to demonstrate on July 28; number 7: Atos

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For all the talk of the corporate take-over of the Olympic Games, less has been said about the take-over of the Paralympics. Here, the great scandal is the role given to Atos, whose website describes the company as the “IT sponsor” of the event. Atos is of course one of a cluster of Olympic and Paralympic sponsors which exists in a parasitical relationship to the state; providing private services which once would have been done by government departments, and doing so at exorbitant rates.

More particularly, Atos is the primary recipient of government contracts for “work capability assessments”, i.e. the process under which disabled people are declared fit or unfit to work, with the result (where a finding of capability is made) that their benefits are downgraded to those available to other, non-disabled unemployed people. It is estimated that as many as 1 million disabled people have failed capability assessments over the past 4 years. Many of course have appealed (and appellants’ success rates are unusually high in this area of the law), but this is a jurisdiction which does not receive legal aid, and many others have felt powerless to do anything to resist Atos.

Examples of people to have been diagnosed as well by Atos include people with terminal cancer, people between sections by mental health professionals, etc. Atos has been criticised by CAB, McMillan Cancer and others.

The BMA Local Medical Committee Conference has voted unanimously for an end to work capability assessments and it was announced last year that 12 doctors employed by Atos were under investigation by the General Medical Council over allegations of improper conduct. Seven of the doctors had been under investigation for more than seven months. The complaint linking all of them was that they had assessed people incapable of work, as if they were capable, doing so for Atos.

For disabled activists, Atos’ role in the Paralympics is about as incongruous as putting the Childcatcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in charge of a children’s kindergarten.

Details of the July 28 protest below (click on the image to enlarge):

The Olympics: how neo-liberalism makes for a joyless Games

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I will come on to the crimes of the London Olympics organisers in due course, but I wanted to begin, seemingly a long way away from Stratford, with two ideas which I think are essential to any compelling explanation of the present Games.

The first is the distinction between sport and play. (Anyone who has read the article I posted recently by Gareth Edwards will spot that these next two paragraphs are based on conversations I’ve had with him).

Anyone who has an interest in the politics of sport will be aware of the extraordinarily different reactions that different groups of adult shave towards competitive sport: half of us love it, half loathe it. Very few indeed sit anywhere between these two extremes. My explanation is as follows. Together with art and literature, sport is one of a series of activities that emerges from childhood play. For those unfamiliar with the concept, play is the word used by Marxists, and indeed by non-Marxists who write about childhood development, to describe the self-directed activity of toddlers and young primary school children, and to describe what happens when they make up a game, experiment, and use their discovering to learn about the world. Educationalists love play because they believe that it is the period of anyone’s life when we are learning most quickly and effectively. Marxists are interested in play because we see play as the opposite (even under capitalism) of alienated labour.

Now, the difference between play and sport is that sport is a regulated and therefore “alienated” activity (in the loose sense of the term in which Marx used it in the 1840s). Without going into this in too much detail: in all class societies sport is alienated from play in at least the following respects: i) it belongs to special time of its own (for example, under feudalism: what made village football an alienated activity was not the rules of the game but the fact that peasants were only allowed to play it on a couple of days each year), ii) it is competitive (which I think explains why PE tops any list of the subjects that adults recall with least pleasure from their school days: it’s pretty obvious that if you compel 20 young people to run a competitive race – the person who wins is more likely to remember it with pleasure than the 19 who don’t), iii) it is rule-bound (unlike play, the participants don’t set their own rules), iv) sport is increasingly something that people watch, not something they do, and v) sport is over-determined (especially under capitalism) by the subtle relationships of domination that we associate with the market (think of the increasing price of going to football, or the marketisation of activities such as swimming, which were once what people just did and are now what people have to pay to do).

The reason, I believe, that many people love sport is in part that they are remembering backwards in time to the sporting activities they did as children and enjoyed and which were closer to play than sport, and in part that they are “remembering forwards” to a time under a different sort of society when most of what we now think of as sport will be much more like play. The reason, conversely, many people hate sport is that they see it through sport’s, and their own, alienation.

The second idea I want to introduce is neo-liberalism.

I believe that when historians look back at the last 120 years, they will divide it into three epochs. During the first, to 1917, the dominant form of capitalism was private capitalism. During the second, till 1989, the dominant form was state capitalism. We are back in a private capitalist moment. In every country, state capitalism was characterised by (amongst other things) bureaucratic welfare states, engaged to a greater or lesser extent in redistributing wealth very slowly from the rich to the poor. (At the time, most socialists emphasised the slowness of this transfer, these days we acknowledge the fact that there was any transfer at all). The point about neo-liberalism as a variety of right-wing politics is not, as Thatcher used to pretend, that it sought to scale down the state. In fact the portion of state spending in most countries is about the same as it was thirty years ago. The difference is that taxes are not being used to redistribute wealth down, they are being used rather to redistribute up: to bolster companies and their owners who are already fabulously wealthy.

So, the distinctive neo-liberal “reform” is something like PFI which involved the state deliberately choosing to build schools, hospitals etc on long-term contracts which guaranteed the private companies four to fives times more than the “ordinary” value of their work. It was as if you could walk through a building site where a hospital was being built, and arrive at the other end, to find a manager by a van, simply doling out large bundles of cash to any suitable capitalist who walked by.

Under neo-liberalism, there is inevitably also a general move away from spending on the “nice” bits of welfare state capitalism (education, hospitals, etc), the bits that make people identify with the system, and a relocation of resources towards the “nasty” bits (policing, the military, etc)

Coming finally to the London Olympics; my argument is that they Olympics mark a new stage of the distinction between sport and play, a stage that could only have been reached in the neo-liberal moment.

I will give five examples of aspects of the Olympics which strike me as new:

1. Their use to concentrate riches in the hands of those already wealthy

Huge contracts amounting to £12 billion have been awarded to the construction companies building the venues. Sixteen Olympic managers are being paid in excess of £150,000 per year. Meanwhile the typical Olympics jobs, cleaning, guarding, etc, are being done by workers on short-term insecure contracts, usually for an hourly rate of £10 or less. InStratford, landlords’ dreams of an “Olympic windfall” are being used to justify the eviction of large numbers of private sector or insecure public sector tenants. The Olympic boroughs are increasingly willing to offer housing to homeless people, not only just out of borough, but even out ofLondon. People are being moved, families broken up, only so that the landlords can make more money.

2. The Games’ militarisation

13,500 soldiers are being deployed at the Olympics; the navy is deploying two attack vessels, including HMS Ocean, the largest boat in the fleet. There will be Eurofighters and attack helicopters, missiles stationed inEast Londonand around the capital. We are seeing armed police becoming a routine sight at many ofLondon’s train stations. The army has bought in additional technology for the games, including a sonic cannon, a form of crowd dispersal technology used in occupied Gaza and Baghdad, which is now stationed on HMS Ocean on theThames.

3. The promotion of some of the most unscrupulous units of capital

The Olympic Games has long been associated with Nike, Adidas, etc. What’s different now is the adoption of sponsors such as Dow (responsible for theBhopalchemical leak) and Rio Tinto (responsible for extensive air pollution in theUS). The worst single sponsor is undoubtedly BP, the games’ official “sustainability partner”, and responsible not just for Deepwater (the worst oil leak in world history) but also the mining of the Canadian tar sands, probably the single greatest instance of unsustainable resource extraction taking place anywhere in the world today.

The Games’ organisers have also been busy protecting the intellectual property of the sponsors – ie cracking down on companies, people and protesters associating themselves in any way with Olympic (or even anti-Olympic) words or images.

4. Their extravagance

The bid for the Olympics specified that the total event of the budge would be no more than £2 billion. The true figure has crept up, according even to the limited scrutiny of the House of Commons Public Account committee to £23 billion, of which the public subsidy will be no less than £11 billion, and in all likelihood rather more.

5. Very specifically, the organisers have allowed the Games to be associated with companies who exist only to leech money from the public sector

This includes the sponsors G4S and Atos, the former of which has received in return a large slice of the total £500 million that will be spent on security guards.

Finally, what can be done about the Games? There are a lot of small things that people could be doing to reverse parts of the alienation process from play to sport that the Games represents. I see a positive trend in people turning out to watch the Olympic torch relay – almost the only part of the Games that will be held sustainedly outsideLondon. And I would be all in favour for example of a similar process of wresting back control of spectating around the Olympic cycling: a sport which is almost universally free to watch, save at this year’s Games.

We will see hints of struggle even during the Games itself. There are athletes whose participation in the Games represents moments in their individual struggles against oppression (I am not thinking of the organised Paralympics, which most disabled activists regard as patronising in the extreme), but there are athletes, the Palestinian competitors, the intersex runner Caster Semanya, who I wish well.

Some local groups are talking organising counter-Olympic sporting or cultural events, there will be a Fattylympics against body fascism, there is already a fantastic anti-Olympic exhibition at the Free Word centre in Farringdon. Where the events take place, socialists should welcome them, and spread the message of how mass left-wing sporting movements have organised play differently – such as through the Workers’ Olympics of the 1920s and 1930s, which involved more athletes and more spectators in different kinds of activities from their rival the official Olympics, and which are a part of the immediate context, for example, to the Civil War in Spain.

Finally, there will be a main, single anti-Olympics demonstration taking place at 12 noon at a venue in East London on 28 July, and organised by the Counter Olympics Network, which I hope will bring together people from all the different counter-cultural and anti-Olympic movements. This will be the biggest and best chance for all of Red London to make our opposition felt.

Counter Olympics Network: a calendar of events

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As far as I know, these are the main alternative Olympics events taking place over the next two months:

26 May 2pm Save Leyton Marsh DEMO for more details contact saveleytonmarsh.wordpress.com

31 May 7pm STOP THE OLYMPIC MISSILES PUBLIC MEETING Bow Road Methodist Church, 1 Merchant Street, E3 4LY Do we want missiles in our communities?’ speakers: Councillor Rania Khan, Bow Quarter Resident Brian Whelan, TH NUT Alex Kenny STW’s Chris Nineham

2 June 2pm Save Leyton Marsh Gathering on the Marsh. Protest the corruption, incompetence, and loss of this precious open space

7 June 10-3pm No to G4S: Stop G4S! Protest at G4S Annual General Meeting -London Stock Exchange, Paternoster Square EC4M 7LS Bring banners, drums, pans, and anything else you can make noise with! G4campaign.blogspot.org

9 June, Greenwich CND demonstration from Blackheath to Oxleas Woods, against Rapier missiles

10 June 2pm WANSTEAD FLATS PICNIC Save Wanstead Flats invites everyone to a community picnic on the planned site of the operations base

30 June 12 noon STOP THE MISSILES DEMO stoptheolympicmissiles.org

7 July 12-5pm FATTYLIMPICS Accessible to people with all kinds of bodies and abilities fattylimpics.blogspot.co.uk

28 July 12 noon Mass Mobilisation NO LIMOS NO LOGOS Counter Olympics Network demonstration, location to be announced

If anyone can add to this list, please just post in the comments