The Emperor’s New Clothes

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= News =


Another two weeks, another case of politics stuck on repeat. Portugal protested against austerity, the EU gathered to discuss a Cyprus bailout. More bad news for the taxpayer from RBS, and amid the revelation that a third of all ex-council houses are now owned by private landlordsmass evictions took place in North London.  After the rise of Golden Dawn in Greece, the Northern League in Italy and the National Front in France, the rise of UKIP in the UK hardly registered a surprise.

And yet, if you listen closely, you’ll start hearing snatches of a different tune.

On the eve of a triple-dip recession, polls show that Britons have lost faith in Osborne’s austerity plan. Tory MPs started urging Cameron to scrap the bedroom tax. In response to public pressure, the health secretary agreed that NHS competition regulations needed to be rewritten. Also caving in to public pressure, EDF dropped its £5m lawsuit against protesters. And an appeal made against police surveillance of protest was successful.

Following the escalation of recent anti-austerity protests, the EU was quick to push back deficit deadlines and loosen budget requirements. Pragmatism was the explanation given for the new flexibility, not leniency. Fear wasn’t mentioned at all.

The Swiss, of all people, voted against fatcat pay. In Brussels, an isolated Osborne tried and failed to defend a cap on bankers’ bonuses. The Dutch and Danes are planning tighter caps than those envisaged by the EU. But it is when Economist readers rebel against bankers’ bonuses that you realise the issue has now gone mainstream. It’s time to push beyond fatcat pay.

Earlier this month, Hugo Chavez died. His legacy is best viewed in figures of Venezuela’s economic and social performance. This weekend, you can discover the links between money, austerity and the financial crisis, enter the tax haven capital of the world for a day of action, join discussions and practical workshops on how to globally build resistance to austerity and learn about debt in our upcoming debt assembly. After these events, you may feel the need to attend a forgiveness forum. On budget day, there are planned strikes and a protest in Whitehall. Later, Manuel Castells talks about the power of networked social movements. You can explore anarchism and a commons-based economy. You can also join anti-cuts actions such as the Whittington Hospital Sell Off demo or the Barnet spring.

Like in the fairy tale, only for real – let’s all say it together:

Austerity has no clothes.



= Event Calendar =

New events are being added all the time.

Check our calendar for updates.


Friday 15th March 2013

6:30 pm – 9 pm

Debt Assembly

Saturday 16th March 2013

10:00 am – 4:00 pm

Resisting austerity in Europe and the UK

11:00 am – 5:00 pm

Austerity is working… for the 1%

11:30 am – 1:00 pm

Stop the Whittington Hospital Sell Off Demo

2:00 pm 

Expose the Hidden London – Tax Haven Capital of the World

5:30 pm

VoiceOver | Riots Reframed Documentary World Premiere

Sunday 17th March 2013

11:00 am – 1:00 pm

Money, Austerity and the Financial Crisis

2:30 pm – 5:30 pm

Whose Debt? They Owe Us – Action Planning Meeting

Tuesday 19th March 2013

12:00 am

Radical Anthropology Talks

6:30 pm – 9:00 pm

Forgiveness: A Moral Minefield

Wednesday 20th March 2013

1:00 pm – 6:45 pm

Bugger The Budget Protest!

6:00 pm – 7:00 pm

Networks of Outrage and Hope

7:00 pm – 8:30 pm

Talk/Book Event – “Everything you ever wanted to know about anarchism, but were afraid to ask” with Iain McKay

Thursday 21st March 2013

6:30 pm – 8:30 pm

A World that Works for Everyone 

Saturday 23rd March 2013

All Day

The Barnet Spring

Wednesday 27th March 2013

All Day

7:00 pm – 8:30 pm 

Debate/Book Event – “Is green growth possible and do we really need it?” Pete Dickenson and Derek Wall



Saturday 16th March 2013
Dublin, Ireland
4 pm
Ireland says NO to bank bailouts and austerity
#irelandsaysno #16m
Madrid, Spain
6 pm (GMT +1)

= Campaigns & Petitions =

Keep Our NHS Public
Broken NHS Promises
Save Our NHS
The City of London is Stealing Our Wealth
Campaign Against Climate Change
Hope Not Hate
European Network on Debt and Development
Canada Without Poverty

= Food for Thought =

Debt as Power

Strike Debt, Imagine Life

Book: The Co-operative Revolution – A Graphic Novel by Polyp

A primer on co-operation, for grown-ups and kids over about 10. Cartoons, comic strips, photographs, handwritten notes, quotes and posters break up the text. Readers are taken on an unlikely journey from the industrial revolution via the Luddites, Peterloo Massacre and Rochdale Pioneers, to the inside of a human cell and a critique of the pronouncements of Darwin and Dawkins… from birds and bees to snake-catchers, football teams and the collapse of the Argentinian economy… culminating in a fictitious trip to Mars in 2044. Educational, not overtly political but subtly revolutionary, this inspiring book is a reminder that ordinary people have been fighting powerful elites for a very long time, that some battles have been won, and that if we work together we have to strength to win more, for “altruistic groups beat selfish groups” or, as Polyp puts it, “good guys finish first”.

The Co-operative Revolution can be read online for free or bought from New Internationalist (itself a non-profit co-operative) for £5.99.

[Thanks to Em for the submission]

“The task of an activist is not to navigate systems of oppressive power with as much personal integrity as possible; it is to dismantle those systems.” – Lierre Keith


2 Responses to “The Emperor’s New Clothes”

  1. I would like to express my concern over these vast generalizations made in your newsletter and also the concurrent lack of information about other points of interest. Also, the references are cherry picked and actually weaken your points when you criticize a certain party line and then use it later when that group has a vacillation or divergence (ie. you critique the Tory policies when it suits you and then cite them when they critique the bedroom tax).

    There needs to be more clarity about the issues mentioned in this newsletter. For instance, there is no information about the mass evictions in North London and those people there who are lamenting receiving ‘only £500 per week in benefits’. I am quoting from an email I received from one of the groups there which is demanding protests of these landlords while also asking for people to protest the benefits cuts. There is no information as to who why these landlords are evicting people (ie. might they have justifiable reasons in some cases, might they wish to raise the rent since their costs have increased, etc). It is also hard to sympathise with those people who receive double in benefits than most of us earn in a week.

    As for critiquing only the ‘wealthy’ who have ex-council flats, it is more common that ex-council tenants–the formerly poor–bought their flats and are now also among the ranks of landlords, greedy or not remains to be seen. Where is the social critique of this fact that in the UK the right to buy scheme brought public housing down to 12%?? Our lack of self-critique here is shocking and we need to begin to discuss openly the problems of the right to buy scheme and the preference of council housing for women with children, and the concomitant issues of young women having children merely to get benefits, and all the social ills that we know well do exist.

    As much as I would like to deny it, I cannot but admit that there is an enormous amount of abuse of council housing and of benefits in this country. As a fervent social activist I am a bit disheartened to read such postings as this above and see zero self-reflection of our own. We really do need to be honest and understand that the bedroom tax, as ridiculous as a title this is, is really asking that people who live in too large a space give it up for someone else who needs a larger space. I personally know of individual people living in two bedroom, two floor council flats who refuse to give it up for a smaller flat so that a small family could move into theirs. I also know of a lot of council flat and benefits abuse.

    I would like to see more critical honesty in the newsletters and this group’s approach to social activism. I have little patience with this form of party politics which attempt consistently to lambast the Tory party simply for attempting to make cuts where needed. I cannot really argue against some of what they are doing although I do agree with certain measures.

    If we are to get anywhere as a forum which seeks to make changes in our society, we need to look at ourselves and current social policies which although part of our social fabric for many generations is now leading to a society of dependency and entitlement. As we demand changes from the wealthiest members of our society, so too must we make changes from our end.

    • This is a newsletter, so we are limited in terms of available space and have to make choices about what to include and what to leave out. While this may introduce a measure of bias, we do fack-check and provide back-ups for all included information.

      The history of the North London evictions is included both here and on our website. Here are the links again:

      Yes, issues are more complex than can appear in a short, 2-week news update. We try to make up for this in subsequent sections of the newsletter. For example, the changes made to the NHS competition regulations are cosmetic – several links in the “Campaigns & Petitions” section help the reader to learn more.

      Divisions within the Tory party have been extensively reported now by mainstream media for some time so hardly qualify as “cherry-picking”.

      On the issue of the bedroom tax, the latest changes:

      provide an indicator of the concerns regarding effects it is expected to have on the most vulnerable members of our society. The consequences on disabled people, for example, are projected to be devastating. You can read more details about it in the legal challenge described here:

      We are always open to change and dissent, self-criticism included. This is why the newsletter always includes educational material, preferably covering both emotions (see e.g. forgiveness forum) and the intellect.

      If you feel that there are specific issues/changes that we are still not addressing, please feel free to make them known either here, through e-mail ( or by blogging on our site.


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