Tim Summers Former Campaign Officer Green Party England/Wales

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UK suffers from wave of xenophobic intolerance – Tim Summers

14 August, 2013 19:54 Download audio file

Великобритания северная Ирландия протест белфаст лоялисты

Things are getting worse in the United Kingdom as the economic situation worsens, social programs are being gutted and the job market is going down the tubes. All of these social ills have led to the classic move to the right and authoritarianism as those who wish to exploit the masses use xenophobic fears and blame immigrants for the country’s ills. The UK has been subjected to an American social model as well. Tim Summers gave an update to Voice of Russia on the worsening situation in the UK.

Hello! This is john Robles, I’m speaking with Mr. Tim Summers. He is a political activist in the UK and a former National Campaigns Officer of the Green Party of England and Wales in the UK.

Robles: Hello Tim! Nice to be speaking with you. Can you tell our listeners what is going on there in the UK? I mean it looks like things are moving dangerously towards some sort of fascism, if we could characterize it like that.

Summers: Well, it seems we are moving to the right, that’s for sure. And it is very disturbing. I wouldn’t say it is a move to fascism. I would just say it is a move towards greater conservative partyism, greater conservatism. I mean there is a wave of xenophobic intolerance since the Woolwich murder of a soldier.

There’ve been attacks on mosques all over the country. The priests have been powerless to deal with it. Mosques have been burned down and graffitied with racial hatred and Islamophobic remarks and so on.

And recently, there’s been a Home Office “go home” campaign that involved police raids on employees on the basis of their skin color, inquiring about their immigration status.

This was not an intelligence-led operation and it has been widely criticized. The police have come in for a lot of criticism because so much of their bad misdeeds have been coming to light recently.

Today Liberty has an antiracist van touring around Westminster, as a repost to the Government police racism.

Robles: These raids you are talking about, is this organized by something like the immigration department or is this the police? Who is doing this, who is behind this?

Summers: It is a Home Office “go home” campaign that instructs police to make raids on employees. And the complaint has been that the police simply use skin color, not intelligence-led operations in this pursuit for illegal immigrants. That is just being really antagonistic to ethnic minorities.

There is always some kind of countercurrent, an opposition in Britain but it is marginalized by this swing to the right.

Robles: You’ve mentioned this sort of drift to the right.

Summers: The police are more authoritarian in lots of ways now.

It’s come out about their secret political surveillance of ecologists.

Their attempt to smear the family of a famously murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence. The police secretly tried to smear his family with being violent political activists. And also his friend and witness to the murder of Stephen Lawrence, somebody called Duwayne Brooks was also attempted to be smeared to deflect attention from the bungle murder inquiry of Stephen done by the police.

Secret surveillance has come out, as I said, with these ecologists.

And quite recently, only a couple of days ago the policeman, who murdered somebody called Ian Tomlinson at the G20 protest in the east end of the city of London, was acquitted of man slaughter, simply sacked from the police force.

The police here really do get away with murder and it’s blatant, right in front of the people.

And the Government is very pleased with this because they want to win back electoral support from the UK Independence Party, which has leaped over the Greens for fourth place and is about to leap over the Liberal Democrats for third place. Perhaps, it already has done.

But this kind of xenophobia strikes a chord with this mad right-wing mood in Britain, since the capitalist crisis.

Robles: They are like stopping people in the street, racial profiling people and demanding documents or what is going on?

Summers: That’s right, yes! There is a general crackdown. Britain has become a very repressive place. And I’ve mentioned that these racist crackdowns, not intelligence-led operations on employees.

Similarly, there is a campaigns against “benefit scroungers”, as they call it now. Not the poor anymore, they are known as benefit scroungers. They are pushed out of city centers and increasingly have their welfare cut.

The gap between the superrich and the very poor widens and this becomes very clear and obvious in the UK now.

The Chancellor George Osborne, he has cited the notoriously horrible man Mick Philpott who ended up burning his 5 children. The Chancellor cited Mick Philpott as an example of benefit culture. This was really the worst kind of rhetoric to create a wave of hostility towards the poor being able to obtain welfare.

The cuts in the health services, now it is health market, paid for by the taxpayers through Government, but nevertheless, the building and the facilities are now in private ownership.

This was pioneered by Labour but it is now completely worked through under the Tories. And it is leading to a huge breakdown in the health treatment that people are obtaining.

Enormous neglect occasioning the death of people at Mid Staffordshire Hospital and elsewhere has led to another concern about that and a huge local campaign to save the Accident and Emergency in maternity services at Lewisham Hospital recently.

So, these things can be changed, but generally the right-wing are in the saddle. Particularly now, as small economic growth figure has been ensued, the

Conservatives are now safe from any challenge from the UK Independence Party. So, the superrich are clearly in the saddle. But on the margins there are lots of small vigorous effective campaigns challenging all kinds of things – corporate tax evasion, the renewal of nuclear weapons, £ 20 billion to renew Trident submarines, challenging nuclear energy, fracking, for solidarity with Palestine, for Bradley Manning, for Edward Snowden, for welfare against warfare etc. And this will go on.

Robles: You are talking about the breakdown of the social system in the UK, of the medical system, of the social net that the citizens have. Do you see some influence? Because I mean this sounds like what is wrong with America.

Summers: Yes, influence from the US. Absolutely! The privatization of the health services, it is a clear Americanization and the destruction of the British welfare, to a health market system, which is the American system.

A brutal, politically right-wing police force is an American norm that we’ve almost got used to. And the British police seem to be taking their lessons from them.

A Government of the superrich with a distressing unanswered need from the poor also seems to be a feature of the American society.

Yes, all these things are part of how Britain is becoming nothing more than another state of the US.

All the British governments are simply puppet governments to American foreign policy. That could be seen ever since the World War II.

You were listening to an interview with Tim Summers – a political activist in the UK and a former National Campaigns Officer of the Green Party of England and Wales in the UK.

Britain joining aggressive capitalist American model – Tim Summers

15 August, 2013  Download audio file

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The economic situation in the United Kingdom continues to worsen and the prospects for the future are looking bleaker and bleaker. The Voice of Russia recently interviewed Tim Summers on the worsening social situation in the U.K.. Amid heightened surveillance, rampant xenophobia, the resurgence of nationalist parties, increased police brutality, rising unemployment, cuts in welfare and benefits, and what appears to be a complete breakdown of the social system, the right wing forces are retaking power and what was once a fair and free society is closely beginning to resemble that of the “decrepit” United States model, according to Mr. Summers.

Summers: It’s now got up to the point where Britain is almost joining the aggressive American capitalist kind of model against its 1945 welfarist traditions.

Robles: Very sad. It should have been the other way around. I mean, I used to admire the English Bobbies and their manners and their civility and now it seems like they’re modeling themselves after the brutal US police.

Summers: It was hoped that Europe, the European Union might provide some sort of counter-position to the strength of America. But this doesn’t seem to be the case. And that the decrepit American world order, although it’s falling apart everywhere, is of absolute decisive importance, I think everywhere. And in Britain it will see that Britain doesn’t leave European Union. We’ll see that Britain supports American foreign policy in the United Nations and everywhere else that matters.

So I think this is a very bad sad reflection, because in British elections the politicians never talk about foreign policy. They only talk about snouts in the trough and that the neglect of foreign policy has led to, in Britain’s case, a complete collapse of it, it is now American foreign policy. And I think everybody now knows that.

Robles: Do you think the UK has completely lost any sort of independence it had?

Summers: Yes. I’m absolutely sure of it. I think that if you examine the record it will show that in every instance – Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, I mean, the puppet-like robotic nature of British Governments whatever they let call themselves is utter toadying and despicable. But the critics are so marginalized now that there’s no effective hope of any big change.

British society’s been so changed now, the goalposts have been so moved. Trade unions used to play a big factor in British politics. But the Trade Union Act that Thatcher introduced, forcing them to ballot their members before they could take any effective action, gives the entire initiative to the employers. And trade unions have now been marginalized. They tried a few protest actions a few years back, but they led to nothing. And now the New Labor want to make a ceremonial, kind of distance from trade unions.

The Labor Party was created to put trade unions into Parliament, but now after the Tories had had a go at Labor’s links with trade unions, the New Labor is anxious to distance itself from trade unions to be equal and opposite to the Tories. This is a measure of how serious things have become in Britain. And without the power of trade unions, small campaigning groups can’t look forward to the future with much optimism.

Robles: There was a report the other night of the increased usage of temporary workers with no contract or anything. Is this becoming widespread in the UK?

Summers: Oh yes, absolutely, the undermining of all standards of employment. The use of part-time and casual workers has got to a point now where huge amounts of employees don’t have a set for amount of hours. They are essentially called in when they are needed and sent home when they are not needed. This is like casual labor that was abolished in the Docklands in the early 1960s.

Casual labor is a third world kind of phenomena, but it’s reappeared in Britain. And it’s a mark of how the power has changed, the power relationships, how the goalposts have moved. How the employees have absolutely no influence or power on negotiation with employers.

Robles: It sounds really bad. Do you see things getting worse and worse or do you see any political changes coming up in the near future? What’s the landscape …

Summers: I’m afraid I see the right wing as being very, and the super-rich being very firmly in the saddle, and that if the Tories can continue to supply even minute figures of economic growth, then their position is secure. But if it isn’t it would probably lead to a switch to New Labor, which now is absolutely no better and exactly the same as the Conservative Party. So in that sense whatever little changes there are of management I think this drift to the right is epochal, I think is the right word. I don’t mean it will never change, but it’s going to be quite a long time in coming I think.

Robles: I see. Back to the Police and their profiling, if I could ask you a couple of questions, because I was just curious myself. Are the UK Police, or the London Police, now all armed and do citizens now have to carry proof of citizenship everywhere they go?

Summers: Well, effectively they do, because there are police racist raids upon employees and probably there is a shift now to them carrying proof of their immigration or of their citizenship status. I should imagine that is a shift going on.

Robles: So is it normal, I mean, like in the United States people used to just carrying your driving license or something or if you had memorized your social security number or something. That was enough.

Summers: Not yet. Not precisely. There was a whole move towards everybody having a dog tag, an ID card, put forward by the New Labor Government, but actually the Tories were opposed to ID cards, and scuppered the move. But it was mooted, and it was in line. But it was abandoned and isn’t currently the practice. But as I say with Police harassment of black people many employees might now be inclined to feel a need to carry some proof of their legitimacy.

Robles: I see. Regarding all these revelations from Snowden, now Europe was upset, but then they jumped right in line after the US and just kept along with their subservient attitude. Has there been any outcry in the UK about the massive NSA surveillance? Is that affecting politics in any way or relations?

Summers: Only among the vigorous, small marginalized campaigns. They are still alive and pulsing through all the cities of Britain. Life goes on in that sense. But it’s very much in the margins. The newspapers are overwhelmingly pro-Conservative, pro-Government. And the television insidiously so, it’s a much more subtle thing to prove, but there is enormous enthusiasm and respect for people like Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden who have put forward the interests of the world, acted as world citizens over the so-called natural interest. By all those people that understand that patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel. But that’s certainly the minority of the population.

It was very welcome to hear that Bradley Manning was no longer charged with aiding the enemy which could have led to a death sentence and that now he has been jailed for 156 years, something called the Bradley Manning Foundation will campaign for his better treatment and release, so not all is lost. But these things are an underground. The progressive campaigning activities are an underground in Britain now. The mainstream is absolutely decisively and overwhelmingly oppressive right wing rich-poor agenda. The whole country’s development has been set back by this right wing wave. This is continually socially engineering the whole situation to steer this American-style future that we were talking about.

Robles: OK, Tim. Thanks a lot. I really appreciate it. Do you have anything you wanted to finish up with?

Summers: No, I think I’ve had a good burst, and I thank you for listening.

Robles: OK, I really appreciate it. Thanks a lot.

Summers: My pleasure. Any time, John.

Robles: OK, thanks a lot, OK good night, Tim. Thanks.

As economic conditions worsen, racist groups make gains in UK - Summers

10 May, 201303:26  

Tim Summers

Tim Summers

Photo: Courtesy of Tim Summers

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The UK has been moving to the right politically with the worsening economic situation in the country. The people are feeling the pinch of UK economic austerity measures and cuts in social spending and are looking for a scapegoat. Right wing parties have done what they do best, they have demonized foreigners and minorities and blamed the country’s woes on these vulnerable segments of society, and by providing the people a platform to bash the current government they are thus attractive and quietly able to advance their agenda of racist hate.

Hello! This is John Robles, I'm speaking with Mr. Tim Summers. He is a political activist in the United Kingdom and the former National Campaigns Officer of the Green Party in England and Wales.

Robles: Hello Sir!

Summers: Good evening!

Robles: Good evening, nice to be speaking with you. After the good showing by the United Kingdom Independence Party in the recent elections in the UK, what are the chances of the UK actually pulling out of the EU?

Summers: I think that they are certainly doing well. They are making a very good showing. They are putting enormous demands and strains on the former big three parties. But I don’t think their demand for withdrawal from the European Union will ultimately be successful.

In the current turbulence of the economic situation people are looking for scapegoats. Lots of people are feeling the pinch in some way or another. Working class people obviously are suffering cuts in welfare spending and a lot of the middle class are feeling the pinch, a course that their called the squeezed middle as the private rents go up 8 times higher than their wages, and so on.

It’s the time that a lot of people are unhappy and they’re turbulently lashing around. And the UKIP gives them a chance to bash Government and to register a very strong protest. Quite what the protest means, remains to be seen.

For example, a lot of the protest is just, you know, British xenophobia going back to its empire that is recycled by the media, inflated by the corporate media with incessant tales of European bureaucracy, regulations endless tales of the criminal, benefits scrounging, asylum seeking, foreigners all trying to come here and takeover. You know the kind of narrative. Well that is certainly having its result.

And there’s rallies to sort of forge a strange alliance between jobless workers in South Shields, a very prominent by-election two weeks ago, with rural West Country fox-hunters. And that strange British barometer of British political change, that is known in our media as Essex Man. People in Essex seem to predict the trends in our politics.

UKIP has achieved this with a careful code of opposing multiculturalism, to start repatriation, yet denying it is a racist party, but in the UK politics, and I think in most politics, people talking in such terms make it very clear the xenophobic or racist kind of appeal that they are making.

But the UKIP hasn’t really convinced anybody, particularly the British bourgeoisie, of the economic sufficiency of such an independent United Kingdom outside of the European Union. Nobody is really buying into that. It’s not really a very serious thing, and also America pulls the strings. I’ll give you an example: just over a week ago the American Government wrote a memo to the British UK Government, the Conservative Government led by David Cameron, arrogantly instructing Britain to stay in Europe because that’s what America wants. It wants Britain to act as its surrogate voice in Europe, and simply instructed the British Government, as it does, to get on with it. That would actually decide everything.

So, after a lot of hot air and bellicose turbulence Britain will in the long run stay in Europe.

Robles: How many people in UK actually would support the UK pulling out of the EU?

Summers: Ultimately, when it is spelt out to them, the vagaries of what an independent United Kingdom would be, they will pull away from it I think. Over the course of years now, since the 1970s, the parties who are normally pro-European Union, like the Labor Party and the Liberal Democrats, simply haven’t got the backbone to argue for a stay-in-Europe policy, stay quiet while the right-wing corporate press does the running, and particularly UKIP does the running in these sensational election results that they are achieving.

They haven’t finished their ride yet UKIP, but ultimately, if you look at their political policies and so on, they are a bit lightweight really, to say the least. Not the Golden Dawn of Greece, they are another fascist party, they are sort of an ultra-right conservative party, breakaway really.

Robles: They have ties with some far-right, even neo-Nazi groups in the UK, don’t they?

Summers: Well, yes. They dissowned the British National Party, but clearly they’ve got links with the English Defense League, that’s a rabble of thugs who organized provocative marches against ethnic minorities. And within the European Union they are associated directly, affiliated to a sort of broad European footing, a grouping, and they are linked up with: Lega Nord, the Northern League of Italy, who are similarly racist- fascists. Sorry similarly racist the Northern League are actually fascists; a group called the True Finns, who you may have heard of, but they are that same kind of red neck nationalistic narrow-minded sort of people; and the Danish People’s Party. So they do have some very bad friends.

Robles: How are right-wing groups taking advantage of the difficult economic situation in the UK? And does that have anything to do with rise of the UKIP and other such parties?

Summers: Oh, yes, certainly! The British National Party was eventually disgraced, media-ambushed and driven, from its rising place in British politics. And support for the erstwhile directly fascist British National Party moves through to the English Defense League and now in a softly spoken voice within the United Kingdom Independence Party, and that the United Kingdom Independence Party provides a much smoother shoehorning into processes of government and influence.

So, the racist vote in Britain, the far-right vote now has a strategy of supporting the UKIP, something that UKIP will have to deal with along with all kinds of things the UKIP will have to deal with, but that’s their position.

There has been a whole movement to the right in this country that has been achieved by political engineering. Student loans make students much more hardworking, less inclined to provide the radical media that universities have in the past, in the post-war period, provided. I’ve mentioned the new Labour moving to the right and abandoning all its earlier concepts, Liberal Democrats as well. But trade unions have been tamed.

Our British Trade Union Congress held big marches, big demonstrations against austerity cuts in 2011 and again in 2012. But that was really not the beginning of something, but the end of something. And the trade union resistance to this movement to the right, this growing inequality between rich and poor has been tested and now been seen off. Nobody is worried about any resistance by trade unions.

You were listening to part 1 of an interview with Tim Summers – a political activist and a former National Campaigns Officer of the Green Party of England and Wales. You can find part 2 on our website at english.ruvr.r

Part 2 Thatchuration caused a backlash in the UK – Tim Summers

AU 14 May 2013

15.01.2013 Англия Лондон Великобритания

Photo: EPA

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As the economic situation worsens in the UK the media and the government are trying to establish a move to the right which is a causing a backlash, but with the marginalization of the left and progressive voices and issues and with the working class without a voice there is little that people can do. In part two of a recent interview with the Voice of Russia, Tim Summers, the former National Campaigns Officer of the Green Party of England and Wales, spoke about these issues and more and expressed deep concern for the safety of Julian Assange.

You are listening to an interview in progress with Tim Summers, a political activist in the UK and the former National Campaigns Officer of the Green Party of England and Wales in the UK.

Tim Summers

Summers: Trade union resistance to this movement to the right, this growing inequality between rich and poor, has been tested and this now has been seen off. Nobody is worried about any resistance by trade unions. The left wing groups have been utterly marginalized by huge state-managed events, not just Thatcher’s funeral recently, but the Olympics, the Queen’s Jubilee, all these things were part of a sort of massive political engineering to manufacture a right wing consensus in the United Kingdom.

Robles: And the working class and the poor people they are buying into this? They are supporting it?

Summers: Well, they have no leadership to oppose it.I mentioned that the trade unions have lost their backbone, lost their will, lost their strength. The TUC only has, I think, six million affiliated members now. The working class have no outlet for their anger and grievance, and so, they are being crushed and absolutely driven down into an appalling situation now in the United Kingdom. But, nevertheless, as I say, this turbulence will blow in another course at some other time, and who knows.

Robles: Would you say the right wing’s agenda in the UK is for the elites and more for the big business?

Summers: Yes, absolutely. You have it in a nutshell. That’s exactly the position and the reason that people are making a running at the moment. But underneath that there is a sea of discontent waiting for some form of expression and organization, and that will be found within the turbulent winds that are blowing.

Robles: Now, how did the recent death of Margaret Thatcher further dividd people in the United Kingdom and what has become of the ‘Occupy’ movement in the UK?

Summers: Well, that, like the left wing groups has simply been marginalized. The’ve literally disappeared since the I last gave an interview to the Voice of Russia. This is part of the moving right show. It is taking a terrible toll. Thatcher always was divisive, but her funeral was more divisive than ever. They overloaded the whole thing. The right wing conservative government, and the establishment generally, overloaded it with the cost of ten million pounds of tax-payers’ money that caused extreme indignation when everyone else is having to make sacrifices for this global austeruty.

Even the Big Ben clock at the Houses of Parliament had to be stopped for this great state occasion. Even the Prime Minister’s question time in Parliament was cancelled because of Thatcher’s funeral, and all the MPs had to come back to Parliament at an enormous expense as part of this great, enormous occasion.

Four thousand police, many of them were armed, were lining the roads from Westminster down to the funeral at Westminster Abbey. Seven hundred armed services were there too. Protesters were really intimidated by police that they may be arrested for alarming and distressing mourners and pre-emptive mass arrests were threatened. I don’t think they were made. But that was the kind of scale of it where this new right wing consensus was being state-managed.

But, in fact, it all turned into its opposite because the ‘song Ding Dong the Witch is Dead,’ from that ancient musical ‘The Wizard of Oz.’ Took position number one, as top of the pops. This right wing thing dissolved into street parties of celebration of Thatcher’s death breaking out all over Britain. That’s the measure of the division in Britain between rich and poor, ever-widening division.

Robles: I just wanted to protest your characterization of ‘Ding-Dong the Witch is Dead’ as being ancient. I mean, that was from my childhood and I don’t think I’m ancient yet.

Summers: Ah, I beg your pardon, yes.

Robles: Laughs. Would you say there were more celebrations upon Margaret Thatcher’s death than there were events of mourning?

Summers: Oh, yes, very much so. You see, the media tried to manufacture this massive right wing consent that Thatcher was some kind of spiritual leader of the British nation, whereas she was just a divisive and utterly wrecking figure, a threat to world peace, a war criminal, I could go on, but I don’t think I need to.

I think she is remembered by the world in those terms, but in Britain they were trying to get some sort of patriotic approval for this authoritarian, divisive, rich-versus-poor style. But, it was very much a sort of media thing.

If I may make a pun, the “MoUrning Papers” that is the papers in mourning reached ‘Thatchuration’ point, I would call it. Sorry, but I have to say ‘Thatchuration’ point.

People were simply overloaded with this projection of ‘Thatcher, the great national leader’ that deserved all this sacrifice of expense and media attention, just a rebellion broke out. That’s a sign of the turbulence. It’s a strange thing, this turbulence, you can never quite tell how it’s going to go. Just like climate change involves warming generally, in Britain it caused an extra-cold winter to flow into April.

Just as this economic crisis, made many people think that it’ll produce a massive Greek-style opposition in the United Kingdom to austerity, in fact it proved the other way. It created this great right wing climate, the UKIP. But that’s, with turbulence, it changes very-very fast, and I am expecting droughts in the United Kingdom this summer. So, although it’s quite drastic and spurious the rise of UKIP I am against taking it too seriously and getting ‘doomy’ about it.

Robles: How is the Green Party doing, I mean, your party? How are they faring?

Summers: It has generally been doing well for all the over thirty years of its existence, but never in a sensational way, more, in a steady kind of way. We’ve built up an enormous understanding of the ecological crisis. All the wind farms across the Western side of our country are products of the Green Party and nowhere else.

We have an MP now, that really helps. We are popular among the divisions of Britain. We want to take energy, water, and rail to public ownership, invest in green jobs, scrap Trident for example, save ten million pounds of tax payers’ money, stop tax evasion, we want affordable home-buying. But the rise of the UKIP has displaced us. We thought we were the fourth party until recently, now, I think, we are the fifth party down the list. So, we are hit by this turbulence, but we’ll be back.

Robles: Can you comment on how this move to the right might affect relations with Russia? Is there like growing ‘Rusophobia’ in the UK?

Summers: I think there’s been a narrative of the Cold War, as I’ve said in previous Voice of Russia interviews. That continues where the Prime Minister has to be regarded as some kind of Russian Stalin, and misrepresented horribly. His real achievements for Russia go unstated in the British media. He is regarded with suspicion. Falsely I think, accused of the assassination of various individuals. At least there is no evidence whatsoever to sustain such suspicions.

This kind of ‘Rusophobia’ continues. I can’t say it’s particularly got worse because the enemies ever loom large to the British patriotic imperialist kind of imagination. There is resentment at the way that Russia cannot be pushed into the American agenda and the United Nations Security Council. That’s sort of a regular feature. But I can’t think it got markedly worse of recency.

Robles: Another quick question that just came to mind. You are involved in politics in the UK, you got your finger on the pulse there, there is no news about Julian Assange in the UK, is there?

Summers: No, not for a long time. Another example of this marginalization which I’ve been mentioning. All progressive issues are being marginalized as a conscious political policy in this trying to steal the right wing consensus. Julian Assange is a victim of that. I care for his safety enormously.

Robles: So, there’s like absolutely no coverage of the fact that he has been trapped in that embassy for almost a year now?

Summers: They are very quiet now. There is simply no story there now. There is a kind of impasse situation.

Robles: Oh my goodness. Hey, Tim, thank you very much!

Summers: My pleasure!

Robles: I really appreciate speaking with you.

Summers:Thank you, good night!

You were listening to an interview in progress with Tim Summers, a political activist in the UK and the former National Campaigns Officer of the Green Party of England and Wales in the UK. You can find part 1 on our website at english.ruvr.ru.

Political Repression Growing in the UK

Download audio file  24 January 2012, 15:12

Interview with Tim Summers, a political activist and the former national campaigns officer of the Green Party of England and Wales, in the U.K. He is also a former political cartoonist.

For over 10 years we’ve witnessed the repression and the erosion of human rights in the west and in the U.K. People, it seems, are beginning to wake up. What’s happening there in the U.K right now?

I would say as a central Londoner that there's nervous feelings about the imminent Olympic Games as the austerity cuts of this government, agreed last year, are now starting to be felt. The police chiefs are fearing more riots this summer. There will be many protest actions and there will be riot police to prevent them. There has been a clear-up of London recently, yesterday the Occupy Saint Paul’s camp was evicted by the City of London Corporation with one week to appeal. That’s a blow. And the anti-war camp outside Parliament for the last 10 years was evicted by police, saving only 3 tents, saved by a protest injunction. So, it is, as you say, a problem about political repression in Britain.

Can you tell us a little bit about the Saint Paul’s occupation and the Afghanistan protest camp?

Yes, it’s been there for 10 years. There was a famous campaigner called Brian Haw, who died last year, who was internationally recognized for camping out for a huge amount of that decade, permanently at Parliament Square, and every attempt has been made to get rid of that peace camp, that was renamed “Democracy Village” the year before last, and all attempts hitherto have failed. A whole piece of, a whole raft of legislation was devised to get rid of it, but failed to get rid of it, and it caused great hilarity. But now the dirty deed has been done - but five tents remain - and the struggle will go on.

You said that political repression is growing in the U.K.

Yes, certainly it has. I’d like to say that there is new and old legislation that the police are using. The Police Reform and Responsibility Act was the new legislation that was used to evict the anti-war camp from Parliament Square last night, and the old Section Five of the Public Order Act is used to suppress free speech, because it acts against anything that might cause threat, alarm or distress - 'might cause'. Complaints don’t have to be received, any provocative placard or speech can be oppressed.

How does all this tie in with the upcoming Olympic Games?

There’ll be riot police, I've mentioned, there'll be a battery of American paramilitary police patrolling, roads will be closed for VIPs.

How does this tie in with human rights though, I mean, in a repression of human rights?

Well, we see, as I think as you started in our discussion, there has been a long decline of standards. I will just mention a few of them, of recency: one U.K. national, called Babar Ahmad, has been left to die in Guantanamo Bay concentration camp; recently the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment was exonerated for its torture at his Basra base that led to the murder of Baha Mousa, by 93 injuries - only the whistle blower was prosecuted. The systematic use of the Basra base by the British Army was exonerated. More recently MI6 officers this week have been exonerated for their involvement in torture abductions to Gaddafi’s Libya. The Saville Inquiry has exonerated the murder of 13 people 40 years ago; it's cost 200 million pounds and 40 years to admit the war crime of 1972. And no better is expected from the current Chilcot Inquiry regarding the invasion of Iraq. So this abandonment of justice, this refusing to bring any kind of accountability of war crimes is a descent to barbarism; it is felt acutely by London’s huge ethnic diversities. The Geneva Conventions of war have now finished, it’s very alarming. The United Nations commitment to the right of self-determination of nations is now in tatters. That’s the world that we now live in and London is, Britain, the United Kingdom, is leading the way in this permanent war. The same thing goes on in America.

You say that the U.K is leading the way, I think it’s the U.S. leading the way, isn’t it?

 Yes, I would agree with you. I mean, for example, the shooting of Osama bin Laden without any attempt at trial, was filmed as a snuff movie for the White House; last week there was film on the television of soldiers, filmed urinating on their dead victims - all the soldiers were exonerated; Wall Street protestors pepper sprayed and brutalized; the Stop Online Piracy Act is a huge threat to freedom of the Internet. President Barack Obama will reduce American troops but increase fire power; will retain the Guantanamo concentration camp. Starting in America, and then to its puppet client state Britain, there is this decline of standards of civil liberties.

What can people do? Is there anything we can do?

Well, I think we have to listen to the three core values coming through this huge diverse movement of protest. This is a sort of diverse expanding universe, but the three core ideas, I think are detectible, particularly democracy - not the phony democracy that we have now, with voting every 4 years, unfair campaign funds, unfair media access - but secular participatory democracy, that the new technology now provides and demands. People want economic democracy for the 99%, not just for the 1% of bankers. This would require public ownership and accountability of some essentials like banks, water, railways, some major industries. Democracy is a key theme. Saving the planet from capitalist ecocide, that’s another common theme uniting this world movement. Stop the wars; stop the resource wars; stop the drug wars - that’s set Latin America alight. All this could be encapsulated in the words “revolutionary, democratic, eco-socialism”. That’s how I'd describe a massive, growing, independent world movement, without any organizing center - and that fills me with joy.

Would you agree that the Internet is a key ingredient in that movement?

Yes, absolutely. It has been shown in the Egyptian revolution  - the power of the Internet and the mobile phones and all the rest, and that the establishment, the system, the governance of the world hasn’t caught up with this yet. So, at the moment, the freedom road is open and people are taking it. At the moment it's been a great advantage to us, obviously, and continues to be.

 

Last Update: 03/31/2020 03:24 +0300

 

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