Tim Summers Former Campaign Officer Green Party England/Wales


10 May, 03:26  

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

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.ru

http://cdn.ruvr.ru/2011/12/19/1244631153/Robles_5.JPG.30x30x1.jpgJohn Robles
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14 May, 00:32  

Thatchuration caused a backlash in the UK – Tim Summers

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.

http://cdn.ruvr.ru/2011/12/19/1244631153/Robles_5.JPG.30x30x1.jpgJohn Robles
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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.


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