October 5th: Join UK Uncut to Save Justice

Posted on Wed 28th Aug 2013, 7:59am

The government is about to launch its biggest attack yet on our rights, freedoms, and equality. They want to completely block access to justice for all but the rich, and they want to do it by the end of the year. Such an historic attack on people’s rights cannot, should not and will not go unchallenged. On 5th October, join UK Uncut as we take mass civil disobedience to show that we won’t take this assault on our equality before the law.

The government have forced through devastating cuts in every area from education to housing, welfare to healthcare, and now they want to stop us challenging their unfair and unnecessary decisions, and to stop us from resisting  injustice.

If these proposals go through they will stop people from disputing unfair evictions from their homes. They will stop babies from having their interests represented in family disputes. And they will stop the families of people killed in custody or detention from fighting for the truth.

This isn’t a cut that we’re talking about. The changes to legal aid won’t save even one penny, in fact they will cost money by causing havoc to the legal system. They are not motivated by a need to save money – these are ideological changes aimed at ruining justice for poor people and handing more contract cash to G4S and Serco.

So join the UK uncut collective in blocking roads outside of courts around the country.  In an act of direct action, we will stand against these dangerous changes that will destroy democracy and ordinary people’s lives.  We know that this will be disruptive. We know that it will stop the traffic. But we know that this kind of direct action works, and that we need to use it to save justice.

We already have the support of DPAC, Defend the Right to protest, Women Against Rape, Plane Stupid, Kent Refugee Help and BARAC UK.  But we need your help to make this huge. Get a group together, meet and come up with some ideas for your own act of creative civil disobedience. Start planning, find your nearest court, list your action on the
action section of our website and get in touch if we can help.

Blocking roads has an important and effective history in direct action in the UK, and given the government has ignored petitions and protests, civil disobedience is needed to defend our rights against this attack. By blocking roads outside of courts, we will be symbolically highlighting the devastating effect the changes will have on access to justice. If you’re angry that the government is blocking justice for the poorest and most vulnerable, join us on the 5th.  Tell all your friends, family and colleagues. Shout about it, tweet it, facebook it.

See you on the streets!

Legal aid: no justice, no peace.

Posted on Thu 22nd Aug 2013, 8:23pm

Things are about to get very loud. The government has already slashed legal aid for thousands of people earlier this year. But that is not enough for them. They want to finish the job they started and completely block access to justice for all but the rich by the end of this year.

People are angry about these proposals: there have been petitions and protests, but the government is ignoring us and it’s clear that civil disobedience is needed to stop their attack on our rights as individuals, communities, society. It’s up to us to make some noise to fight for justice now. 

The UK Uncut collective has got an idea…. We want to resist the government’s plans loudly, creatively, and forcefully. We’re adding some spice to our plans over the weekend – right now we’re thinking of blocking roads across the country  to show our resistance to the government’s plans to block access to justice. And we want your help over this weekend to come up with a name for the action and catchy slogans for banners and to spread the word to save the date: Saturday 5 October. We’ll be releasing all the info next week, so get ready to start plotting where you live too!

Here’s some info about what the government is planning to make your blood boil and resistance rumbling!

The proposals will remove the government from accountability to ordinary people who are fighting for our hospitals to be kept open, roofs over our heads and food in our bellies. The motivation for these changes isn’t about money at all as they will cost more than they ‘save’. The incentive for the changes is that the government will be able to implement its vicious cuts agenda with fewer legal headaches. For example, many people who are facing eviction because they haven’t been able to keep up with rent after the introduction of the bedroom tax or benefits cap will struggle to find free lawyers who will challenge local authority decisions to evict them and not provide emergency accommodation. People will end up on the streets.

Another highly damaging aspect of the reforms is that the legal aid contracts will go to the cheapest bidder. It is inevitable  that non-law firms such as Eddie Stobart (yes, the lorry company), and private security firms, like G4S, Serco and GEO - will get the government legal aid contracts rather than specialised, dedicated human rights or Welsh language firms. Quality solicitors who specialise in representing Black people, migrants and refugees won’t get a look in. There is a dystopian logic to this kind of ‘joined-up’ thinking. It goes like this: G4S is a private security company. It currently runs the prisons and police custody roles in which many criminal legal aid clients will be held before and after they are advised to plead guilty by their G4S lawyer. And because the government wants to pay the same for a guilty plea or a not guilty plea there will be a financial incentive for solicitors to get their client to plead guilty and to finish the case as quickly as possible. That’s what the government likes to call ‘efficiency’. This is what we call a miscarriage of justice.

The government also wants to deny access to legal representation to babies under the age of one in family dispute cases, refugees, women fleeing domestic violence, and families who have a second home in the south of Spain. People won’t be eligible for legal aid if they can’t prove that they are currently living in the UK lawfully and have done so for 12 months. The proposed changes will mean that people like the families of Jimmy Mubenga and Jean Charles de Menezes would not have been able to fight for justice in the UK.

We can stop these proposals. Join us Saturday 5 October. Spread the word. Get involved on social media this weekend to choose a name and plans for the action. See you on the streets. #Nojusticenopeace

Guest blog post: UK Unfracked

Posted on Thu 8th Aug 2013, 3:00pm
This is a guest post from Reclaim The Power! On 16-21 August, thousands of people from all over the UK will join with the residents of Balcome, West Sussex, to reclaim power for the local community, taking it back from the government and corporations that want to 'frack' in the area. Join people from the anti-austerity and environmental movements to share ideas, skills and tactics, and to take part in a big spectacular piece of direct action. All the info you need for taking part can be found here.

As millions reel from the shock doses of austerity administered by George Osborne and co, behind our backs, another theft of our collective commons is taking place. We need to turn around and face it.

Decisions are being made right now about how we will power the UK over the next 30 years. Once made, these decisions will be almost impossible to reverse. The government’s Dash for Gas could see up to 40 new Gas power stations and 64% of England covered with Fracking rigs – if public opposition doesn’t stop it. A restructuring of our energy system is under way to fill the ‘energy gap’ and unsurprisingly the plan is to fill it with fossil fuels as usual and tax breaks for crony companies.

Just last month, George Osborne unveiled the most generous tax breaks in the world for fracking. The Treasury has set a 30% tax rate for onshore shale gas production – a 50% cut off the current top rate of 62% on new North Sea oil. Caudrilla, the UK’s biggest Fracker, headed up by John Browne, has caused earthquakes in Blackpool and is currently drilling in Balcombe, despite 85% of the population wanting them out. The revolving door between energy companies and government is in full swing. John Browne, former head of BP and a current Director of Caudrilla, lobbied Ministry of Energy and Climate Change chiefs four times last year and actually works in the Cabinet Office where his role is to appoint executives to government boards – unsurprisingly Fracking Industry figureheads have been given jobs and are influencing government energy policy in their own interests.

The North of England, despite being unpopulated according to David Cameron’s father in Law Lord Howell – possibly because he doesn’t regard either scousers or geordies as people – could turn out to be the Texas of the UK for shale gas. A recent Royal Geological Society report states the UK has twice as much shale gas as previously thought with 1.3k trillion cubic feet running between Nottingham and Blackpool. Lord Howell is an enthusiastic Fracking lobbyist, recently promoting the industry in Poland where public opposition is massive and residents have sabotaged attempts to frack their lands. Poland is estimated to have the highest reserves of shale gas in Europe – 22.45 trillion cubic meters.

Both Lord Howell’s reference to the North of England as ‘desolate’ and the recent callous ‘humour’ of Energy Minister Michael Fallon joking that Sussex residents will ’see how thick their rectory walls are, and whether they like the flaring at the end of the drive!’ suggest that people are an inconvenient obstacle to profits for this government and greedy energy companies. Perhaps it would be better for Caudrilla if the residents of Balcombe – courageously putting their bodies in the way of exploratory drilling in their village – simply did not exist; a surplus humanity impeding business needs.

Osborne is talking about an energy revolution. He thinks it’s going to start in Balcombe. He’s not wrong. In response to Balcombe’s call for support to stop Caudrilla, we at No Dash for Gas and our friends from UK Uncut, Disabled People Against Cuts, Occupy and Fuel Poverty Action are moving our five-day action camp there to run from August 16-21. We had planned to re-target Big Six energy giant and fuel poverty profiteer EDF in West Burton which are a key part of the government’s Dash for Gas, but Balcombe was more urgent as a front-line of fossil fuel extraction.

Whether its the cowboy capitalism of extraction companies like Caudrilla or the monopoly stranglehold of Big Gas processors such as EDF, both are part of the same Dash for Gas. The 40 new gas power stations could have the fracked Gas of Lancashire, Sussex and Wales running through them in the next decade. The alternative is democratically controlled, sustainable clean energy.

Reclaim the Power has been likened to Climate Camp. What makes it different is the different political climate this camp is part of. It’s a climate of cuts, privatisation, dispossession and mounting economic and social injustice. It’s a climate of crisis with the biggest crisis being that of climate change and a crisis in democracy. The groups taking part have developed as a response to this climate. Our rights to determine our future, our right to decide not just how we power this country and what for, but who has power in this country are being undermined by not just by companies like Caudrilla and EDF but this government itself. Join us in Balcombe.

Let’s Reclaim the Power together.

Find out how to get involved in Reclaim the Power, what you need for the camp, and stay in touch with new developments on facebook.
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