Some notes from last weekend’s street party
What with all the crap from this government bent on destroying all the good things in our society and the upcoming Jubilee and Olympics farces – UK Uncut’s call for a street party against the cuts was perfectly timed. We would take our party to the doors of the ‘architects of austerity’ in an act of collective resistance.
At Waterloo station we met our liaison officers for the day. The woman introduced herself and told me she would be with me for the entire day. I seriously doubted this, hoping that I would be able to shake her off, but she was true to her word, re-emerging at several points during the street party. The liaison officers provided their own form of entertainment – mingling amongst us and striking up conversation, playing some bongos, doling out potato salad – their cheeriness and over-friendliness was incredibly creepy but also quite funny. I don’t know where these folk came from but they were really getting into the party spirit…(they seemed to take a particular fondness to @tylershark who has some great Tweets detailing their interactions)
Hundreds of protestors piled onto the train at Waterloo which saw us heading out south to our secret target. The welfare block got off at a different stop from the others and were lead to a quiet road where we met lines and lines of police and saw the street party at the other end. We managed to break through the lines and join the party outside Nick Clegg’s £1million house.
Bunting was hanging across the street, the samba band were playing and people were sitting and standing around talking and eating together in the sun – the weather is definitely on our side and taking a stand against austerity. We sat down in some shade and iced ‘fuck Clegg’ onto a Victoria sponge cake which we shared out. UK Uncut had even produced a zine which they handed out which I think is an ace addition to an action – we should see more of them at actions. Slam poetry was provided by Pete the Temp and two women gave some powerful speeches about the NHS. One of these was the woman who told Andrew Langsley ‘No, you listen to me’. She told us how her doctor had tried to refer her for treatment with a private company – she refused but the company called her up day after day, but she still refused and encouraged us to all do the same in order to resist the privatization. She later on came and discussed campaigning tips with us. Another woman pointed out to us that we were in Putney home of the Putney Debates. This provided a nice contextualisation to our party protest, looking back at the previous struggles in the area over democracy.
A man from Occupy encouraged us to get into groups to come up with a short message for Nick Clegg – seeing as we were standing outside his house. I have got to a point where I have nothing to say to them at all, but it was a nice idea to get people talking together about politics – creating real street politics outside Clegg’s house. A general assembly later on continued this attempt to reclaim politics as something that we do together rather than allow politicians to do and mess up without our participation.
Nick Clegg’s house is surrounded by the homes of other millionaires out in leafy Putney. When a friend called my phone to ask where we were, I replied that we were ‘somewhere in the countryside’ as this place did not resemble any London that I knew. Our party on his doorstep was an attempt to remind him that although he cannot see it out here, his austerity policies are causing great harm in other parts of London and the rest of the country. It was also a chance to come together, make new friends, enact our own politics and have fun.