Tag Archives: class war

Half Bakered at The Shard…

Occupy The Shard posterSo, the other day the owners (that would be various members of the Qatari royal family) of the Shard, a boutique towerblock in Central London notable for its numerous empty luxury apartments, initiated pre-emptive legal action against erstwhile anarchist Ian Bone (and that ever-popular beat combo ‘persons unknown’).

Why? Because the in-his-seventies-but-still-fuckin’-angry Class War founder called for protests against the Shard. He sees it as an example of the gilded skyscrapers increasingly dominating the London skyline, often empty of any actual residents, like enormous rich men’s follies, spunking steel-and-crystal tumescences contemptuously drawing shade over the capital’s poorer denizens. Turns out them vastly wealthy Qatari royal dudes do not have a sense of humour when it comes to shouty anarchists threatening to picket their valuable, shiny metropolitan real estate. Turns out they take it really fucking seriously, in fact.

Apart from the ridiculousness of them thinking even for a minute that they were going to win a propaganda war against Bone (IAN. FUCKING. BONE.), there were some interesting titbits which emerged from news stories about the injunction. Interesting titbits which, one might say, prove somewhat instructive at a time when elsewhere, for example, the judge running the supposedly independent Undercover Policing Inquiry has suggested giving ex-spycops anonymity on the frankly bizarre grounds that married men don’t tell lies; the Scottish Justice Minister has decided not to have a Scottish spycops inquiry because the HMICS police investigation of undercover policing has found no evidence of malfeasance (despite self-limiting its scope to after the Mark Kennedy shitstorm which blew the whole thing wide open); and top Scots cop Phil Gormley (himself sporran-deep in shady spycops shenanigans thanks to his time RUNNING SPECIAL BRANCH) deciding to take the I’m-leaving-before-you-sack-me-oh-is-that-my-pension-thank-you-very-much route to retirement, conveniently sidestepping the numerous investigations into his behaviour.

So anyway, those titbits. First off, the whole harassment-of-Bone shebang was organised by the Shard’s security manager, one André Frank Baker. He contracted a private security company, VSG, to compile a dossier on The Most Dangerous Man In Britain in order to put it before the court as evidence of the threat he and his unruly kind present to innocent empty multi-million pound flats. Currently Team Shard is looking to sting Bone for £525 for the privilege of being injuncted, with that figure only likely to rise.

In case you were wondering why that security manager’s name is familiar, it’s because he’s an ex-Met cop who over the years has popped up everywhere, a contemporary of such luminaries as John Yates (latterly an advisor to the democracy demonstration-crushing Bahraini police) and Bob ‘No Plainclothes Cops Here Honest Guv’ Broadhurst. After not doing very well in the Daniel Morgan or Milly Dowler murder inquiries, ‘Andy’ shifted over to the second-raters of SOCA, and then onto the anti-kiddie porn unit CEOP.

After retirement his attempts at becoming a self-employed security consultant didn’t go so well. How he landed the cushy job of security chief at the Shard isn’t exactly clear, but it wouldn’t be any stranger than career mediocrity Sid Nicholson bagging the post of Head of Security for McDonald’s UK back in the 80s after an unillustrious time spent in the boroughs.

André Baker: a man without dignity?

It helps that despite being turned over by Sun and NOTW hacks during the Dowler investigation *coff* *phonehacking* Baker later demonstrated his absolute lack of dignity by praising the Currant Bun, despite him being at (and, indeed, requesting) that awkward meeting between Morgan inquiry detective Dave Cook and Murdoch’s representative on Earth, Rebekah Wade, brokered by Slippery Dick Fedorcio, when Wade tried to deny that News Corp had Cook and his wife Jacqui Hames under surveillance by Southern Investigations-aligned journalists. Zing!

As for the private security company he commissioned the risk assessment of Bone from, VSG, that was a penny-ante little firm of shopping centre woodentops before it teamed up with – wait for it – a catering company. Always more geared towards static guarding than sophisticated investigative work, in 2016 it was boasting how it had secured a contract to operate the national business-facing counter terrorism information campaign Project Griffin… Which is convenient, seeing as how VSG’s head of counter terrorism Ian Mansfield was, err, in charge of Project Griffin whilst at the City of London Police right up until he left for a cushy private sector job!

So what sort of high grade intel did the failed detective-hired mall cop company serve up on Bone?

The VSG report described Class War as “a small but passionate group of leftwing, pro-anarchy activists with a long and proven history of campaigning against ‘the elite’ and other entities associated with wealth or perceived social injustice”.

The report advised the Shard’s owners that if Bone’s protest was allowed to take place it could endure for months and “attract widespread media coverage”. It also warned that activists could use “pyrotechnics and large, offensive banners of a derogatory nature”…

“Class War is a far-left, pro-anarchy, UK-based pseudo-political party, originally borne out of a newspaper established in 1982. The group opposes the ‘ruling elite’ for their exploitation of the poor and the disadvantaged and have recently been involved in campaigns against the demolition of social housing in London to make way for the construction of luxury housing, as well as campaigns against inequality and austerity. Class War vocally supports, and engages in, civil disobedience, violence and anarchy as acceptable methods of pursuing their objectives.”

Wow. Mind blowing – truly exceptional levels of wiki fu going on there.

Still, at least the obscenely rich Shard barons are being cost money. But perhaps VSG should bring on some fresh new talent to reenergise the company.

I hear Phil Gormley is available.

 

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‘Undercover’ book: lists revisited, and thoughts on a first flick through

Undercover - The True Story of Britain's Secret Police

So, I have been flicking through Undercover, the spy-cops book by Paul Lewis and Rob Evans. Some interesting stuff in there, much of it unfamiliar – notably the material on Mike Chitty AKA ‘Mike Blake’. They certainly kept him under wraps for a long time.

But first – the numbering issue. The best I can make out is that the Dispatches methodology excludes ‘Rod Richardson’ and both ‘Officer 10’ (who reportedly had a child) and ‘Officer 11’ (who reportedly took on the identity of a child killed in a car crash). This may be on the grounds either that there was not enough corroborating evidence to confirm that they were a police spy (in the case of ‘Richardson’, who in the book is referred to only as a “suspected police officer”), or for other reasons, such as not wanting to implicate a source. ‘Wellings’ appears to be the unnamed tenth officer in silhouette. It may be that there were rights issues over using the existing pictures of him, all of which appear to have been taken by Globalise Resistance people. That takes our twelve down to nine; then we add Chitty/‘Blake’ to take us back up to ten.

Of course, it may be that Chitty/‘Blake’ (presumably the “South African resident” mentioned in the acknowledgements) is either ‘Officer 10’ or ‘Officer 11’ (though more likely the latter than the former given the lack of any reference to a child fathered by him whilst on deployment).

Undercover - The True Story of Britain's Secret PoliceSo, the book. Of interest to many will be exactly whom the SDS, NPOIU and other police units were targeting.

In terms of anarchist groups, the book claims (at least) three in the early 1990s – one in the Direct Action Movement (a key component of Anti-Fascist Action, it should be noted), and two in Class War. Peter Francis/‘Pete Black’/‘Peter Daley’/‘Officer A’ was also to have been deployed into the anarchist milieu, but was retasked to anti-fascist/anti-racist groups at the last minute:

As Black prepared to start his covert mission, senior officers in the SDS were deciding on his future undercover role. They were constantly working out which political groups needed infiltrating and which officers would make suitable spies. Initially, Black was lined up to become an anarchist. At least three SDS officers had already been embedded in anarchist groups in the early 1990s. One was in a small anarchist group called the Direct Action Movement (DAM), which had existed since 1979. Its associates believed capitalism should be abolished by workers organising themselves at the grassroots level, a political philosophy known as anarcho-syndicalism dating back to the late 1890s. Oneconfidential Special Branch document states that a detective constable who worked as an SDS spy ‘successfully’ infiltrated DAM between 1990 and 1993.

Another group of interest to the SDS was the better-known Class War, which achieved some notoriety after it was set up in the 1980s.

…The SDS viewed [Ian] Bone and his friends as considerably more sinister. The unit posted at least two undercover police into the group.

There then follows a chortle-worthy reference to former MI5 ‘whistleblower’ David Shayler, who ruffled feathers in the late 1990s with his various claims. Adopting the stance of a courageous campaigner for a more efficient, more effective spy service, Shayler – who along with his girlfriend Annie Machon had worked on the counter-subversion F Branch desk – had characterised Class War as being very much full of crustie-with-a-dog-on-a-string types (suggesting ineffectiveness or dilettantism), whilst at other times claimed it had been riddled with informers.

When those such as Larry O’Hara (and others) have called on him to back up his claims, or asked him to explain the issue of the proven attempts of sometime-fascist Tim Hepple AKA Tim Matthews to infiltrate the orbit of Green Anarchist, and the interconnected targeting of effective Class War organiser Tim Scargill through smears and other such activity, Shayler has never responded satisfactorily.

Anyway, let’s continue with the story:

One was in place in February 1992 when he had a meeting in a London safe house with David Shayler, the MI5 officer later jailed for breaking the Official Secrets Act after leaking details of alleged incompetence in the secret services. Shayler had at that time been assigned to investigate whether Class War posed a threat to British democracy. The SDS officer supplied intelligence to the Security Service, and had become an official MI5 informant, designated the code number M2589.

According to Shayler, the ‘peculiar arrangement’ in which the SDS officer lived the life of an anarchist for six days a week, returning only occasionally to his friends and family, had ‘affected the agent psychologically’. Shayler recounts: ‘After around four years of pretending to be an anarchist, he had clearly become one. To use the service jargon, he had gone native. He drank about six cans of Special Brew during the debrief, and regaled us with stories about beating up uniformed officers as part of his “cover”. Partly as a result, he was “terminated” after the 1992 general election. Without his organisational skills, Class War fell apart.’

According to Black, the true story was a little different. He says the SDS officer in question was a ‘top end’ operative who served the unit well. During the encounter with the MI5 officer, he acted the part of a coarse anarchist because he had little time for Shayler, who was perceived to be a ‘desk wanker’ – though Black concedes that ‘some MI5 desk officers who came out to talk to us were superb and we had a very, very good relationship with them’. A second SDS officer was later sent into Class War, but it became apparent the group was fading out. Rather ignominiously for the anarchists who wanted to tear down the state, the SDS concluded they could no longer justify spending money to infiltrate them.

Ultimately Francis found himself (via the ‘stepping stone’ method) in Militant’s Youth Against Racism in Europe (YRE) group. This was at a time when the SWP had resurrected the Anti-Nazi League, and even the Labour Party had its own front, the Anti-Racist Alliance (ARA) (notable for calling for a pointless Trafalgar Square demonstration on the same day that YRE and the ANL announced their ‘Unity’ demo would ‘shut down the BNP bookshop’ in Welling). And, of course, the aforementioned AFA – which was definitely of interest to the state for both its willingness to engage in physical conflict with fascists on the streets and its robust, resolutely working class politics.

There is very little mention of AFA in the book – which is strange, really, considering how effective its record was on the streets at this time, and how much more ‘of interest’ it became when members of Red Action (another constituent part of AFA) were convicted for involvement in Irish Republican bomb campaigns. But then the small mention that there is does seem to be rather illuminating:

The key group the SDS believed was involved in confronting the far right was called Anti-Fascist Action (AFA). Formed in the mid-1980s through a loose alliance of anarchists and left-wingers, the SDS said it was now subject to a political rift. In a trait painfully familiar to radical politics over the decades, there was an alphabet soup of competing organisations campaigning against racists. To make matters more complicated, each group was often just a front, controlled by another political faction.

Beating The Fascists - The Untold Story of Anti-Fascist ActionIt doesn’t betray a great deal of understanding of AFA or what was going on in the organisation at the time (for that see Beating The Fascists), but it does give an indication of why Francis was deployed where he was, and what the ultimate objective – in a best case scenario – was.

The book continues:

Black was told he should penetrate Youth Against Racism in Europe, better known by its acronym YRE. It was a front for the revolutionary left-wing group, Militant. The head of the SDS believed there was a new anti-fascist alliance forming ‘within the loose confederation’ of the YRE, a second Trotskyist group and ‘sundry ad-hoc student and Asian youth groups’. The SDS boss identified an obscure anti-fascist group at a further education college in Camden, north London, as a possible stepping stone into the YRE.

The SDS technique was to identify a key individual within a political group and get close to them. In Black’s case, the target was an anti-fascist campaigner at Kingsway College. Black was instructed to attend the college and befriend this particular individual, who had connections with the YRE. ‘This allows an entry into the YRE and possibly AFA,’ his boss wrote.

Again this lends itself to the interpretation that deployments were not defined by a single target organisation, but by political currents. London Greenpeace appears to have been infiltrated in order to build up legends for the spycops involved as much as it was a specific target of interest in itself. From that platform the infiltrators could then explore other groups and tendencies – such as those acting under the ALF banner.

Similarly whilst not doubting the sincerity of YRE activists, and notably their stewards’ group, clearly AFA was an even more prime target – as also suggested by the targeting of DAM. Trying to reach AFA both through having a pedigree within the physical anti-fascist left, and through DAM, seems entirely plausible given the evidence here and elseewhere.

Another intriguing titbit comes directly after this:

If this failed, there was a plan B: Black could penetrate ‘an autonomous group of anarchists’ based in Hackney, east London who had been previously infiltrated by the SDS.

As we have seen, Hackney – and Stoke Newington, and then also Haringey – was a prime hunting ground for the spycops. I feel certain we shall be returning to this issue.

Lyon under oath: BoneCast marches on!

Ed Lyon interview (AITUK#19) artwork

Another episode of Ian Bone‘s Anarchism In The UK radio series is up on the podcast page – this time round it’s Ed Lyon, talking about getting into anarchism via punk rock, the Situationists and the Poll Tax riot, with forays into Class War, the ACF, MA’M, J18 and much more.


» Ed Lyon interviewd by Ian Bone on Anarchism In The UK «

THE MOST DANGEROUS PODCAST IN BRITAIN

Ian Bone podcast

Ian Bone‘s weekly ‘Anarchism In The UK’ radio show on London’s Resonance FM has now been archived on a podcast page, so even if you miss an episode’s original airing, you can stream or download it later at your own convenience 🙂

Interviews up currently include those with Ellenor Hutson (LCAP), Si Mitchell (Guerillavision), Paul Stott (‘9/11 truth’ debunker) and Sandy Hale (Liberty & Solidarity); older interviews with the likes of John Rety, Phil Ruff and Martin Wright will be added as soon as possible.

» Anarchism In The UK podcast page «
» Anarchism In The UK podcast RSS feed «

MPs: “80% of British households are scum”

The government needs to do more to prosecute suspected benefit fraudsters, MPs have said.

The Commons public accounts committee said fewer than 7,500 out of 200,000 potential fraud cases investigated in 2006/7 had ended up going to court.

It said the Department of Work and Pensions risked not being “seen to be taking firm action”.

…The report said: “Potential fraudsters will not be deterred if the department is not seen to be taking firm action where there is good evidence that fraud has taken place.”

It urged the DWP to continue to take a “firm and co-ordinated approach” on organised crime posing a “serious threat” to the benefit system.

The committee’s chairman, Conservative MP Edward Leigh, said: “Benefit fraud diverts public funds into the pockets of criminals and, in so doing, reduces our confidence in the benefits system.

“There are important areas where the DWP must improve its performance.”

(BBC News)

From the Office of National Statistics:

From the House of Commons Information Service:

PRSC Says: Stop the yuppie developments! Save Lakota!

Right, so I been a lazy little blogger, been away, yadda yadda yadda, but anyhow, that busy bee Chris at the People’s Republic of Stokes Croft has done my work for me by putting out another call to arms to the people of the Croft and the STP…

As you may know, Lakota – one of Bristol’s most significant nightclub venues, and a progenitor of local underground dance culture – is under serious threat of being knocked down to make way for (yes, you’ve guessed it) more yuppie flats. I wrote about the earlier stages of all this back in 2006, and sadly Clockwork has now fallen to the speculators; but we do still have the chance to execute a blocking manoeuvre on the profiteers wanting to socially cleanse our neighbourhood by sticking together and routing them on the Lakota issue. How can we do that? Well, over to Mr Chalkley:

IMPORTANT NOTICE: FINAL COUNCIL PLANNING MEETING TO DECIDE WHETHER THE LAKOTA NIGHT CLUB WILL BE DEMOLISHED

TIME AND VENUE: WEDNESDAY, 11th JUNE 2PM, at the Council House.

The Lakota building is up for demolition. A development of The Lakota and the Coroner’s Court is proposed (See attached images), which will mean the demolition of the former malthouse, now the Lakota, and the construction of 57 residential units, ground floor commercial units, to include a restaurant/cafe and an element of affordable business space.

The Lakota is a former malthouse which has its origins in the 18th Century… and falls within the Stokes Croft Conservation area, and is identified as “an unlisted building of merit.” 197 letters and e-mails have been received by the Council, of which 21 were in favour of demolition, the rest being against… most people citing the loss of the club… Be warned: this is not a valid reason as far as the planning is concerned…

We invite you to peruse the relevant documents, and there are many (See the two links at the bottom of the email)… and would ask you to attend the meeting…

Everybody has a right to speak at this meeting for up to three minutes, to put one’s point of view. In order to do this, you must contact Steve Gregory at the Council by 12 o’clock the previous day [midday, Tuesday 10th June], with details of what you are going to say… Tel. 01179224357 or email steve.gregory@bristol.gov.uk

The proposed development has some merit, but we feel that, even though the Lakota building is in poor repair, and is a simple utilitarian warehouse building, there is no valid reason for its demolition. The reason that Stokes Croft is “Known as much for its individuality, culture and diversity, as for its perceived decay” is precisely because it has managed to retain an eclectic mix of historic buildings that have managed to escape the blandification of commercial re-development. It is arguable that the reason that the Lakota night club came into existence, is that the building was not locked into one specific use… Essentially it is a large box.

With developments taking place all over the City currently, we believe that it is increasingly important to retain whatever historic fabric that remains within the City Centre, and to retain buildings that offer the possibility of many different uses. By creating more accommodation, we remove these buildings and potential space from the possibility of public/creative/commercial use. In fact, we believe that to demolish the Lakota would do the City an enormous disservice, and risk setting a precedent for further re-development throughout Stokes Croft that neither ‘preserves’ nor ‘enhances’ its status as a Conservation area.

Jamaica Street Arts Studios in the centre of Stokes Croft is an old industrial building which was similarly under threat in the early 1990’s. By working with English Heritage, the owners managed to keep the building alive, and it is now a flourishing Arts studio complex, and houses over 40 working artists in a refurbished historic building.

One thing is certain: If we demolish the Lakota, we cannot un-demolish it a few years later… So, if there is the slightest element of doubt, we must work to preserve it…

If you wish to speak, then please get in contact Steve Gregory Tel. 01179224357 email steve.gregory@bristol.gov.uk
Or… contact us [PRSC], with a view to co-ordinating our response.

————————————————————————–
Lakota planning app on BCC website
Description: DEMOLITION OF LAKOTA CLUB BUILDINGS.
Address: Lakota 6 Upper York Street Bristol BS2 8QN
Council reference: 08/00155/LC
Online Reference: Not Available
Date opened: 25/Jan/2008
Status: Current

Coroner’s Court planning app on BCC website
Address: Former Coroners Court Backfields And The Lakota Club Upper York Street Stokes Croft Bristol BS2 8JW
Council reference: 07/04779/F
Online Reference: Not Available
Date opened: 01/Nov/2007
Status: Current

REFURBISHMENT AND CONVERSION OF THE FORMER CORONER’S COURT TO RESIDENTIAL USE (19 UNITS) INCLUDING DEMOLITION OF LATER ADDITIONS AND EXTERNAL ALTERATIONS. DEMOLITION OF ADJOINING LAKOTA CLUB BUILDINGS AND REPLACEMENT WITH A MIXED USE DEVELOPMENT INCLUDING Drawings can be large files. We recommend that you click on the “thumbnail” links. The quality of the image depends on the quality of the original submission.

People’s Republic of Stokes Croft

Turbo Island Studio,
37, Jamaica Street,
Stokes Croft,
Bristol,
BS2 8JP

Mobile: 07866627052
Email: chris@prsc.org.uk
Web: http://www.prsc.org.uk

Oh, and the pic directly above? That’s the coroner’s court standing in for Peckham Town Hall in the 1996 Only Fools And Horses Christmas special, ‘Heroes And Villains‘. Guess it’s time for our councillors to decide which they are themselves…

The world of modern policing

The Ladybird Book of Modern Policing

From a recent eBay auction (tip o’ the titfer: Bristol Graffiti)