OL General Assembly 5.4.14 MINUTES
Minutes from Occupy London General Assembly on 5th April 2014 on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral, London.
Facilitator: Liz + Em. Minutes: Simon.
Working Group Feedback:
Website Group: Questions about whether to move from a WordPress site to a tailor made site. There is no WordPress or similar type site that will provide the solution. Request for a competent website designer to build a website from scratch and willing to work for free. If you are willing or know someone please email Michael@radicalsoapbox.com along with a CV of websites you have done.
International Working Group: A group of people are trying to reorganise the International Working Group. Occupy is an international movement and should remain so. The purpose of the group is to link up with groups all over the world including Africa and work out what issues those groups are working with and work towards joint actions. Identify more local groups and find international contacts. Its important to reconnect with the global network so that Occupy doesn’t become isolated on single issues.
Democracy Action Working Group: The group has met 4 times. There are two main issues: a statement and an action of importance later in the year. A concern is that there is not enough input or discussion about a statement about how parliamentary democracy can be changed in a radical way to represent the interests of the majority.
Economics Working Group: has done a ‘SWOT’ analysis: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Meets every Friday afternoon at the Friends house.
Occupy London agrees to support peaceful campaigns and actions against the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
Explanation: there are three trade agreements: TTIP, TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership) and the CETA (Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement) which is the Canadian/EU trade agreement. Occupy is obviously against fracking in the UK. The TTIP if signed will ensure that fracking companies can actually sue the British governments for loss profits.
Further explanation: It is creating corporate governance trumping national governance. An agreement on this beats any ecological agreement, wage setting agreement etc… It is secretive, laws will be written in secret.
Question: How is this not just about free trade agreements?
Reply: This is not just about free trade agreement in that the word ‘trade’ implies lowering the barriers to trade. That is only 20% of the agreement. 80% is about deregulation. Lowering environmental standards, health standards, all social protection come into threat under free trade agreement.
Point: TTIP is a complex issue, please can someone explain in very simple language what this will mean for the people of the UK. Someone has summarised it on paper:
“TTIP is US/EU free trade agreement currently being negotiated. Proponents claim it will lower barriers to trade.” Q: Does anyone know what this means? It needs to be explained…
“Those attempting to stop the TTIP say it will reduce social health and environmental protection, increase inequality and massively undermine democracy. TTIP gives global corporations the power to sue government if regulations restrict their profit. This potentially opens the gate to things like GM food and Fracking rigs spread throughout the country regardless of what the people want and want their governments want. Privatisation of the NHS. No future of government could reverse it. TTIP disputes would be settled in private by lawyers in the pay of corporations.
Question: How do people feel about supporting the campaign against TTIP (temp check).
-Explanation of lowering barriers to trade: When countries are trading between each other they impose tariffs on imports to protect local industries.
Question: Is anyone confused on the significance of TTIP?
Point: Medical implications on generic medicines and patented medicines. It could potentially be illegal in the long run to grow your own fruit and vegetables. Can anyone expand on that?
– no reply: perhaps we should all look into that..
The Campaign will no doubt learn more about it and publish it through the website.
Request for modification to proposal: That ‘peaceful’ should be replaced with ‘non-violent’ because it is an important distinction. It is possible to protest and be civilly disobedient without being violent but no-one should be peaceful.
Amended proposal: Occupy London agrees to support non-violent campaigns and actions against the TTIP.
Consensus achieved. No stand asides
Proposal about structure of Occupy London:
The proposal is for the formation of short term OL working group to clarify current practice and work on proposals for how OL organises itself with input from all interested parties and all decisions to be agreed at subsequent GA’s.
Further explanation: decisions can be not be made by the WG only by the GA’s.
Question: Is this Working Group intending to work with the ‘Future of Occupy Group’?
This group is entirely open for anyone to come and discuss the practices of OL on things like how consensus works and ‘how we go about things’ so we have stuff on paper.
Point: If the group wants to clarify any points its positive, as long as it brings stuff to the GA for agreement.
Q: What are the implications for decisions working groups make? To some extent WGS have autonomy but there was some reference to the issues of working groups getting approval from GA before making any decisions.
R: This group will clarify on the practices of OL and form proposals on issues where things are unclear or need clarity. it’s a short term working group, not like the old process working group.
Q: Occupy is full of keen young spirits. The horizontal democracy structure of Occupy has at times been a little unclear. It makes sense to have a clear structure but at the same time have sub groups that explain what they are up to but are free to go and do as they please as long as they work within an agreed framework. OL has struggled for a long time with this.
Temp check: No objections.
Question: Is this a steering group?
Reply: This is a group that is trying to form proposals for suggestions which the GA would approve.
Q: How can members of the public bring issues to the forum, to the GA?
R: If a member of the public wants to bring issues to the GA, there is a mechanism on the website where you can ask the GA to discuss a proposal and you send an email to someone who will reply and which GA your proposal will be discussed at. Its important that proposals are very clear…
Q: How do people feel about this short term working group?
Point: This group needs to be self conscious about contradictory tendencies that might arise and what opinions might coalesce there.
Reply: The group should be open and all inclusive as possible. We’ll put this on the OL website. Or you can
Consensus reached. No stand asides.
Proposal: That there should be a minimum number of people at a GA for a decision to be made.
This GA has quite a lot of people but there have been GA’s with as little as 6-10 people who are still making decisions which affect the whole of OL. In one instance there was only 3 people left to make a decision at a GA. There is a danger this could be exploited by someone who wanted to get their agenda through. Should there be a min number and what should it be. Suggestion that it should be 20 people but would like discussion on whether there should be a min number and what that should be.
Point: Yes it maybe that if less people were present the decision would be less valid. At the moment there is a good number but in the future there maybe not as many people around and an important decision may need to be made. Also there is no such thing as a ‘binding’ decision by consensus. A decision can be overturned by consensus at future assemblies. Its important that if something serious happens, Occupy can call a short notice meeting and perhaps at such an event relatively few people will be available, but it is important to have the flexibility.
Q: Are you saying that there should be no min number of that it should be less?
R: Perhaps if there is a low number (less than 20) decisions made will be discussed at the next GA when numbers are higher (more than 20).
Proposal that it should be discussed by the short term working group in further detail.
Proposed amendment that: in general we agree that there should be a min number of people but that the exact details will be worked out by the short term working group.
Block: based on the point that there are concerns about the ability of OL to make emergency decisions.
Point: All these discussions are fairly useless because the GA will have to discuss any finer points at future GA’s.
Proposal: Minimum timescale for GA’s. To stop people calling snap GA’s when no-one can make it.
Proposer withdraws proposal in order that short term working group can discuss in detail.
Question: Is the function of the GA a decision making body at all?
Reply: Yes the GA is a decision making body…
Reply: Yes the GA does makes decisions but sometimes not immediately.
Break out groups discussion:
There are four topics up for discussion: these could be for proposals or just a chat:
Topics: Housing issues:
Housing is a big issue in London now, its importants if you’re a squatter or renting etc..
There is an event coming up called the Housing Weekender with many actions coming up. Check out:
Housing Weekender on Facebook. Rising rents, bedroom tax, gentrification and squatting laws. There is a strong grass roots movement building in the UK. It affects everyone.
Other topics: Occupy Action on Mayday.. Day of Nationwide Assemblies, Putney Debates.
Putney Debates: In 2012 there was an event called the Putney Debates. Economics, Environment were discussed. Proposal to get it going again for 2014. Please get involved.
Feedback from breakout groups:
Occupy Mayday: There is an action about Mayday called: Occupy Wonga scheduled for Mayday. Stay tuned to the website and Facebook group.
Putney Debates: Collecting ideas. These should be debates, they should be a bit confrontational. We shouldn’t be afraid to invite along people who we disagree with. Agreed to circulate the link of the previous debates online. PR ideas, clarifying what they want to achieve. Looking for more input.
Feedback from Housing Discussion: discussing a few initiatives. Recent actions including Boris Johnson being challenged publicly as he went to open 3 council houses! West Hendon campaign where there are thousands of tenants being forced out of the city. South African slum dwellers movement very inspiring resistance. Another group: Occupy Fight for Closure. Another group called the Radical Housing Coalition. It would be a good idea if OL gave its support to the Radical Housing Weekender over the 26th And 27th of April. We should spread the word through the networks: website etc…
End of feedback from breakout groups.
Proposal: For the next GA (Mayday), the agenda would be decided at the GA itself (rather than at a GA planning meeting just before the GA, as is commonly the case).
Question: Does this mean that people would submit agenda items before hand or just turn up and propose.
Answer: People are free to turn up with pre-formulated agenda items or submit them spontaneously but the ultimate decision as to whether they are discussed is made by those present.
Point: Good idea, but might be good to allocate a set period for agenda item discussion at start.
Consensus reached, no stand asides or blocks.
Proposal for support of the ‘Tipping Point Declaration’ prepared and drafted by the Kirklees Campaign Against Climate Change group:
‘The Tipping Point Declaration’
“Over the past two years, man-made climate change has been increasingly evident in extreme weather and other impacts. These include the record-breaking summer melting of Arctic sea ice in 2012, heatwaves in the US and Australia and Typhoon Haiyan, the most powerful typhoon ever recorded to hit land.
We state that:
In its most recent report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has stated that ‘warming of the climate system is unequivocal’ with many of the observed changes being unprecedented over decades to millennia.
Climate change has already resulted in Arctic sea ice decreasing in extent, glaciers shrinking almost worldwide, sea levels rising by 19cms (since 1901) and oceans becoming increasingly acidic.
Climate change is already costing the world $1.2 trillion per year and causing the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people each year through extreme weather, drought and conflict.
The IPCC is 95% confident that the cause of the climate change is greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of fossil fuels and land use changes by humans. It states that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases have increased to levels unprecedented in at least the last 800,000 years.
Continued emissions of greenhouse gases will cause further global warming and climate change. Further global warming risks the crossing of ‘tipping points’ (in natural processes) leading to run-away climate change which threatens civilisation itself.
Current national and international measures to cut emissions in such a way as to keep below 2 degrees of global warming and avoid crossing ‘tipping points’ are wholly inadequate.
Some eminent climate scientists are now warning that the limit of 2 degrees of global warming may itself be a “dangerous target” as catastrophic events will be triggered by a 1 degree rise in temperature. Governments need to investigate these warnings.
Nations should implement radical short-term emissions cuts consistent with the latest science while working to reach an international deal to avoid dangerous climate change. To avoid global warming of more than 2 degrees we must not emit more than our remaining carbon budget of 565 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide – leaving eighty per cent of proven fossil fuel reserves in the ground.”
“Rising to the challenge of climate change is a big idea for next year. In 2014, we must turn the greatest collective challenge facing humankind today – climate change – into the greatest opportunity for common progress towards a sustainable future. Next year is the year for climate action.” Ban Ki Moon.”
Question: What can all of us do right now apart from support this statement to support the work of the Energy, Equity and Environment Working Group?
Reply: The best thing you can do is come to the meetings and get involved in the fight against Fracking. Caroline Lucas MP called the fight against fracking the frontline against the fight against climate change.
Point: What are the options for a very precise idea or imperatives as to what government should do in very practical terms?
Reply: Many organisations have worked out in very precise detail about what we should do including the Centre for Alternative Technology in Wales which has got a “Zero Carbon Britain plan for 2030” also the Green New Deal Group and 1 Million Green jobs ideal. Its not a lack of ideas but of political will.
Question: should OL back this statement?
Point: Has Occupy London got a position on Fracking?
Reply: OL has a consensus in support of anti-fracking campaigns and opposition to fracking.
Q: Are there any actions at the moment?
R: There are many camps at the moment opposing fracking including one up near Barton Moss, Lancaster and Cheshire and Brighton.
There is an organisation called Frack Off and the OL EEG group has made it is first priority to support Frack Off and investigate where the funding is coming from in the City for Fracking.
Point: I will block or stand aside on this issue. Call for a special meeting of the EEE WG to discuss this statement. The climate agenda is for the benefit of the 1%. There is corruption in climate science and politics. Would like to discuss these matters.
Reply: Please stand aside. We’re being told that climate change is man made by experts. We’ve got to make our position clear.
Point: Many of us are against the false solutions: carbon markets, land grabs, all of which are not helping to reduce climate change and line the pockets of the 1%. Fossil fuel money is also skewing the debate. We don’t want climate change to be used to benefit the 1% so perhaps we can add a statement that OL is against false solutions for climate change but we are for a just sustainable world.
Point: We can’t add a sentence, this is an agreed statement. You either support or not.
Point: This is about an environmental issue, I don’t want to block the statement, rather have a discussion about the wider issues as a group.
Reply: There is an urgency because they want signatures by the 11th.
Q: Any objections to proposal?
1 stand aside:
Point: The US Federal government is taxing people on carbon.
Q: Are you blocking?
R: not sure.
The proposal reached consensus. There are 2 stand asides.
Proposal to send a big message of solidarity to the London Underground station staff and the RMT union in their campaign to oppose un-manned stations.
It is a horrible plan. There will be empty stations. Computers and tickets machines are no substitute for human beings.
Statement: Occupy London General Assembly send their message of support to RMT members and LU station staff taking action to defend jobs of stations staff. + ‘Hands off London Transport campaign’.
– Democracy Action Group is planning an action in Parliament Sq for October. There is a call for action on the website.
– Biomass conference. Taking wood from West Africa to burn in UK power stations.
– Drug Policy Reform Effort: Andria would like to establish a working group with Obi. On July 5th there will be another public execution in China and Malaysia of some people selling pot. We want to stop that.
-Occupy Film and Discussion Night. Happens at the Common House in Bethnal Green on the first Friday of every month. Also the Future of Occupy Meetings. A full day of workshops, meetings and discussions to formulate ideas, happens once a month.
-Email for Occupy London is: email@example.com
-TTIP. Every 2nd Monday at Unite building at 6.30 p.m. for Stop TTIP.
– Mass civil disobedience working group to organise mass civil disobedience public and overt to shut down the oppressive system which rule us for example Whitehall (center of UK gov) on a weekday to disrupt activities of government. Possible meeting to be announced.
– Free Critical Thinking. Check out freecriticalthinking.org Meet every Tuesday at Friends House between 7-9 p.m. Lots of info about destructive economic systems.
– Update from Arthur about trip to Barcelona. Toured Catalonia checking out Occupy. Lots of militant actions involving thousands of people coming out to protect people from squat evictions and smashing up banks! It is inspiring to see the community and action that happens there. We are sitting in the face of the City of London and we need to do something. The CIC sprung up from activists and have created community. They have a big umbrella that is protecting the people. It is getting rid of all the red tape that is restricting us. They are using bit coins and local currencies to bypass all of the negative trade agreements. TTIP blocks people from being able to trade. Bitcoin bypasses their systems. Because they co-operate and work together, they have power to make agreements to take over property. They are colonizing Catalonia. It gives them a lot of strength.
Intro by Pete the Temp.
7 min video