Nicked from Liam’s Facebook wall:
“So I woke up today to a torrent of misery on Facebook and Twitter over the election results. I felt a bit of it myself, though fighting government has become a bit of a given for me, and something that I’ve seen the desperate need for in both Tory + Labour strongholds, so didn’t expect a great deal from the election. Still – the thought of that many Tory voters wasn’t easy to wake up to…
Then I went up to the occupied Sweets Way community house in Barnet, for Daniel, a boy who used to live on the estate’s 7th birthday party. Sweets Way is at the frontlines of the fight against social cleansing, privatisation and inequality; we are organising there against evictions, housing demolitions and families being forced into properties miles away from the places they live their lives. This can be grim stuff, to say the least, but to leave it at that would be a disservice.
What was notable about today’s visit to Sweets Way? Nothing… Except that no one seemed especially fussed about the election. And everyone was having a great time together. There was a magician and cake and karaoke, all of which were thoroughly enjoyed on site at this protest occupation (which also happened to turn two months old, as Daniel turned 7 today).
A few comments were made about Tory bastards, but it was hardly the abysmal front page news my Facebook feed had been telling me. It was a given that the bastards would keep serving the interests of the powerful, and that we would keep fighting that. Of course that fight is a monumentally hard one, but at Sweets Way it was not the crippling loss so many others perceived it to be.
One thing I think has been abundantly clear at Sweets Way is the power of collective action. Together, we have fought the twin giants of an ultra-Tory council + a private developer w/ strong links to national Tory brass… And have secured some wins that may seem piecemeal to some, but which have been absolutely critical in the lives of the various families involved. We’ve also stood by one another, using the occupation as a multifunction community space that hosts organising meetings, collective meals, and 7 year old’s birthday parties, offering the emotional and practical support needed to deal with the bullshit.
We have been creating our own power at Sweets Way and it is not a power that was phased, one way or the other by the election results. It is a power that has emerged in spite of politicians, and which will continue to grow without them.
As my mate Nishma Doshi said earlier today: “I want to restart real community/workers kitchens. I want to build the co-op housing movement. I want to know my neighbours and I want to engage with them on issues they care about. We don’t need politicians to make that happen. We need each other.”
…and while we are not yet there at Sweets Way, we are closer to it than with anything I’ve experienced in 13 years of activism + organising.
If the families of Sweets Way can avoid being too demoralized by a Tory win, so too can the rest of us. Despair doesn’t make anything better… Taking back our power together does, and would have been essential whichever pro-austerity party won last night.
Let’s get on with it then, yeah? We can do this.”