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(en) Britain, THE UNDERDOG - Walthamstow's rabble rousing rebel rag Issue 10 - Sept 2004

From <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>,"http://www.enrager.net/hosted/wag/underdog10.pdf"@ainfos.ca
Date Fri, 17 Sep 2004 08:58:18 +0200 (CEST)


________________________________________________
A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E
News about and of interest to anarchists
http://ainfos.ca/ http://ainfos.ca/index24.html
________________________________________________

PFI scam - Greedy parasitical spongers grab public services

Waltham Forest Councillors are falling over
themselves to persuade us that the Pri-
vate Finance Initiative (PFI) ­which is be-
ing used to fund developments at Whipps
C r o s s Hospital and at
s c h o o l s across the Bor-
o u g h - won't lead to a
"drop in standards". Re-
ferring to their flagship
p r o j e c t at Lammas
S c h o o l , Seymour Road,
Leyton, the Council said
t h a t PFI contractors
"must meet a set of com- PFI POWNDS
prehensive performance FOR SALE
standards for all the serv- O N L Y &1.50
ices". Who are they try- EACH
ing to kid?

What is PFI?
PFI is a growing scam by
p o l i t i c i a n s designed to
handout literally billions of pounds (£35
billion so far) of taxpayers' money to big
business. It allows private companies to
build and own our hospitals and schools,
which taxpayers then have to "rent" back
at exorbitant interest rates for up to 30
years.

Who gains?
Why politicians like PFI is easy to see. It's
a way of getting public buildings built or
refurbished without having the Govern-
ment spending much money right now.
They get to look popular they're seen to
be spending taxpayers money on services
while at the same time they can get away
with signing away virtually limitless hand-
o u t s to big business. Then in years to
come, when these same companies are
acting like loan sharks, bleeding our pub-
lic services dry, these same politicians will
be long gone.

And they can even make these deals in
secret so that we don't know exactly how
much of our money they're giving away: A
recent report (Public Risk or private gain,
published by UNISON, July 2004) found
that out of these 563 PFI deals that had
been signed by April 2003, there has only
been one inquiry into the massive profits
earned by private finan-
ciers. The report found
t h a t PFI deals are
s h r o u d e d in secrecy
"which shields both the
Government and PFI com-
panies from proper scru-
tiny." The London Under-
ground PFI deal, has so far
added £450m to the in-
v e s t m e n t bill faced by
Londoners.

What can we do?
The fact is that the odds
are stacked against the
o r d i n a r y people in PFI
"partnerships". Compa-
nies can pull out when they want, leaving
service users with nothing, while govern-
ment-backed compensation arrangements
ensure that business' profits can be earned
at little or no risk to investors.
The complicity of the State in all of these
shenanigans provides yet more evidence
that this issue is less about the Government
versus business and more about the Gov-
ernment and business versus the people.
Once we realise this, we realise that any
kind of defence and improvement of these
services with a chance of succeeding can
only come from the people, and not politi-
cians claiming to speak on our behalf.

Jarvis Cock-up
Jarvis, the Company now infamous for their
responsibility for the Potters Bar rail crash,
are also one of the country's leading PFI
c o n t r a c t o r s , and are currently on the
brink of collapse with debts of £230m.
Jarvis controls about 10% of the £35.5bn
PFI debt :Schools, universities, hospitals
and GP surgeries that have arranged PFI
deals are now facing stalled building pro-
g r a m m e s and suspended services. And
though this will affect ordinary people like
us, private backers, like the Royal Bank of
Scotland whose coffers have been swelled
by PFI profits, will be unscathed. If Jarvis
goes under, big business can simply wash
their hands of the public services they are
being paid by taxpayers to finance.

------------------------------
Mast campaigns on the up

A July 15th public meeting organised by
l o c a l s , including members of the
Walthamstow Anarchist Group, to highlight
t h e issue of mobile phone
masts popping up all over the
b o r o u g h was well attended
and by all accounts a success.
It was held at the Coppermill
Lane Primary School and attended by a
number of people involved in campaigns
against masts in the area, and some others
wanting to get involved. We can report that
one such campaign, against a mast to be
put in a church spire in Woodford, has
scored a total victory. The effectiveness of
the campaign by residents has seen the
church back down due to public pressure.
This shows the effect that people power
can have when directly applied.
A follow up meeting is arranged for the
14th September again to be
held at Coppermill Lane Pri-
mary School. Contact us at
The Underdog for more de-
t a i l s or e-mail Kim at
notomoremasts@yahoo.co.uk
We've also noted an increase in direct
action against the installation of masts
around the country. People have come out
and physically stopped contractors mov-
ing masts and machinery in to neighbour-
hoods in Camden, Sheffield and Scotland,
with Vodafone threatening to fly their mast
in over sit down protestors by helecopter!

Taser Shooting

At Selbourne walk on the afternoon of Sat-
urday 19th June a "disturbed" man was shot
by police with an electric TASER stun gun
in front of shoppers. Allegedly, the man was
causing a "commotion" by his "threatening
behaviour". Now, we at The Underdog are
j u s t as concerned as anyone else that
Walthamstow is a safe and non-threatening
place to live, and anti-social behaviour is a
serious issue that has to be dealt with (see
back page). But shooting someone with a
TASER gun, because they're causing a "com-
motion"? Isn't that a bit anti-social?
Unfortunately unlike Star Trek's Captain
Kirk, our local constabulary haven't the
benefit of knowing that their victim will
simply get up shortly after their zap with a
TASER, and carry on as normal. In fact,
the increasing use of TASERS by police,
which delivers a massive electric shock to
the victim, has had quite a few disturbing
results.
T h e Taser sends a 50,000 volt charge
through the victim's body and can bring
an adult toppling to the ground in a quiv-
ering heap. It's been used for many years
in the United States and Canada and now
five police forces in England and Wales have
been issued with them as part of a year
long "trial". The human rights group Am-
nesty International has raised concerns,
claiming that three deaths in the United
S t a t e s have been linked to the use of
Tasers. Amnesty has called for the Met to
suspend plans to use the weapon until "there
hasbeen a proper, independent, medical
investigation".
Po l i c e have h a i l e d the
Tasers as a step forward in "non-lethal"
weaponry. But their track record of the
use of any sort of weapon, especially in
London, is fraught with misues and abuse,
often leading to serious injury or death of
victims. There has been no thorough, in-
dependent and impartial evaluation of the
medical effects of electro-shock weapons.
medical experts have expressed concern
a b o u t the health risks associated with
electro-shock weapons, as well as their
potential for abuse. The question is, does
the police's use of Tasers really make us
feel safer in our communites?

---------------------------------------
If you want to receive each issue of
The Underdog on your doormat send 6
stamps to the following address and we'll
send it to you - free!
Walthamstow Anarchist Group,
PO Box 35832, London E11
-----------------------------------
Reality Czech

The run up to the expansion of the EU to
incorporate many Eastern European coun-
tries in May saw the newspapers full of
sensational reports of what disastrous ef-
fects this would have for people living in
Britain. Apparently, one million Gypsies
were massed at the Romanian border waiting
to invade Britain, sponge off the welfare
state, and steal even the shirts
off our backs. Three months down the line,
some of us are not particularly surprised
to see what a load of nonsense this has all
proven to be. As we are interested in ac-
tual facts at the Underdog, we are pub-
lishing the following article that has been
written by two Czech's who have moved to
Walthamstow recently.

Real Life
Massive political campaigns were held in
10 Eastern European countries in order to
persuade their citizens to vote for joining
the EU in referenda. These campaigns were
financed by national governments and high-
ighted the advantages of the enlargement
whilst the disadvantages were deliberately
concealed. Such things as opportunities
to travel, work and live in other Member
States were stressed.

Promises promises
Many people believed the promises of poli-
ticians and left for the United Kingdom in
an effort to improve their situation. This
opened a sphere of action to many agen-
cies providing study and work in Great
B r i t a i n . One of them is based in
Walthamstow where they provide accom-
modation for about 500 people from Czech
Republic and Slovakia. Financial profit is
the only focus of these agencies with the
p e o p l e left behind. The worst are the
`agencies' or individuals who concentrate
on less informed people and promise them
to find a job in a few days even without a
basic knowledge of English language. These
people pay incredible amounts of money
to realize soon that the reality is differ-
ent. The agencies sometimes have difficul-
ties even with providing the promised ac-
c o m m o d a t i o n or necessary documents;
don't mention the fact that they are not
able to find a job for their clients. Many
people don't have another option than to
go back home after a few days or weeks in
an even worse situation than before they
eft. Some official agencies operate in this
sphere of business as well. Their websites
are full of nice pictures of accommoda-
tion they offer and stories of happy peo-
ple who made success in UK with an ex-
tensive support from their agency. The
reality is that people who come with these
agencies have to share one bathroom and
toilet with 10 other people (and a cute
couple of mice) and when they want to
have their lunch they have to wait for a
free chair or sit on the floor. Help with
finding a job consists of providing a list of
agencies half of which no longer exist.
Dream of a better future can disappear very
soon. People from New European Countries
usually earn not much more than
the minimal wage and if they don't want to
eat potatoes every day, they can hardly save
any relevant amount of money. We don't
have concern for those who come to earn
a fortune. Nevertheless everyone should
have the right to choose the country where
they want to work and live. However a
proper consideration is essential in advance.
Don't rely on the information from main-
stream media and promises of politicians and
other cheaters, try to get information from
alternative resources or local communities
and always create your own opinion.
Czech? Slovakian? Polish? You can write to
us in your home language and receive a
response at the following e-mail address:
w a g @ a t l a s . c z or alternatively, leave a
voicemail at 07810 288 889.

London Abstains

Despite all the "London Elects" hype pre-
ceding the Mayoral election of last May,
two thirds of Londoners declined the of-
fer to cast their vote.
Not voting in elections has been increas-
ing for decades now and was first dismissed
as "apathy" that would soon be overcome
by gimmicks like e-voting and ballot boxes
in supermarkets. However, voting levels
have continued to decline, causing a more
detailed analysis to start as to why people
don't vote.
A study published by the Electoral Commis-
sion in the run-up to the London Mayoral
election (Public Opinion and the 2004 Elec-
tions) questioned non-voters in various elec-
tions of the last 4 years or so and found
that they were split pretty evenly between
"circumstantial" non-voters ­ people who
claimed to want to vote but couldn't due
to work, social or other commitments ­ and
"deliberate" non-voters ­ people who have
adopted a definite anti-election stance,
more often than not based on the opinion
that voting doesn't actually change any-
thing. So one third of Londoners appear to
have adopted an anarchist position on elec-
tions. Much as we'd love to put this down
to the infuence of The Underdog (!) we
think its more likely a result of the failure
of social democracy as a realistic route to
a society free of capitalist exploitation. The
politicians are now reaping the distrust and
failure that they themselves have sown.

158 = 15Late

Any one else sick of waiting for the 158
and 58 buses? Now, the 158 is run - in to
the ground in the case of many of the
a n t i q u e buses on the route - by First,
who saw a handsome £111 Million profit
on UK buses in 2003. The 58 is run by
another dodgy outfit -Stagecoach, who
m a d e £67 Million profit in 2003. Both
routes are a disgrace - rammed like cat-
t l e trucks in rush hour, and frequently
l a t e (or missing out one or sometimes
e v e n two each hour) outside of work
h o u r s . Integrated public transport? - a
front for making company profits more
like, and all the while there's passengers
getting stressed and people having a go
a t the drivers, who then get grumpy.
W h e n it gets this bad, pensioners and
single women and the like just don't go
out in the evening or shell out for local
c a b s as an alternative. London Buses,
who give out the contracts for the buses
to these jokers, have a complaints line.
It might be worth having a few words in
their ear on 0845 300 700

First Strike - Bus Drivers Win!
Meanwhile, at First Bus (the same com-
pany that runs the 158) in South York-
shire, 1500 drivers showed us all the way
how to fight back by going out on strike
at the end of July, and stuck out to win
a l l their demands. While the company
makes large profits, drivers were strik-
ing for a 40 hour week, a reduction of
the maximum hours a day to eight-and-a-
half hours and a quicker increase in pay
for `starter rate' drivers, who previously
h a d to wait three and a half years to
earn more than £5.85 an hour! Some new
drivers earned so little that they quali-
f i e d for `family credit' to supplement
their wages (think of that as a subsidy to
c o m p a n y profits). The strike was com-
pletely solid from the start and solidar-
i t y campaigns from drivers around the
country saw off Managers' threats to run
b u s e s themselves. Passengers weren't
fooled by First bosses media war either,
surveys showing three-to-one support for
t h e strike. Drivers were not just
c o n c e r e d about defending their condi-
tions, which they did spectacuarly, but
believe that, for the sake all in the UK
bus industry, its vital that the abuses of
multinational companies are
---------------------------
Discuss with us...
We have an online discussion forum
at: www.enrager.net/
forums Click on London,
then Walthamstow
Anarchist Group, then
contribute freely :o)
----------------------------
Correction: Oooops - the web address
for Mad Pride was wrong in the last
issue. It is in fact www.madpride.org.uk
-----------------------------------------

THE UNDERDOG'S Survival Guide - Safer sex

We continue our regular column offering
advice on surviving in this capitalist world.
Like all other aspects of our lives, our
sex lives are affected by the society that
we live in. Openness about sex, diverse
sexual expression and sexuality, rates of
p r e g n a n c y, unwanted or wanted, and
levels of sexually transmitted infections
(STIs) differ massively between different
parts of the world and for different so-
cial classes. The reasons are too com-
plex to deal with comprehensively here,
but there are some clear
t h i n g s about govern-
ment policies and gen-
e r a l attitudes to sex
that make a difference.
Openness works best
G e n e r a l l y speaking,
where sex education is
h i g h and available in
schools, where people
talk to each other about
sex and parents talk to
t h e i r kids, where all
types of sexual activity
are not stigmatized, and access to con-
traception and abortion are good, there
i s a tendency towards low unwanted
teenage pregnancy rates, low rates of
STIs, and people feel more confident and
happy with their sexuality. Holland and
Sweden are good examples of this. Open-
ness and being informed about sex means
that people know what they are getting
into and have a chance to do it on their
own terms. Studies show that well-in-
formed youngsters tend to delay their
`sexual debut' a little and are better able
to negotiate safe sex and contraception
with a partner.
Where a more conservative, moralistic at-
titude towards sex dominates, and where
abstinence is preached, with less of the
p r o v i s i o n s mentioned above, this has
negative consequences. The US and UK
are prime examples of this, with very high
rates of undesired teenage pregnancy
and STIs. Research has shown that the
recent trend in the US to focus on ab-
stinence and virginity until marriage and
deny any real sex education only makes
youngsters more vulnerable to coercion,
unwanted pregnancy and STIs when they
inevitably do have sex.

Double standards
This isn't to say it's all just a matter of
being open. People's `choices' depend
on their access to education, abortion
and contraception and their social situ-
ation. A young working class woman may
be more likely to be pressured into hav-
i n g sex, into having a child that she
doesn't want, or equally to have an abor-
tion that she doesn't want due to finan-
cial pressures. And while abortion is sup-
posed to be readily available on the NHS,
m o r a l i s t i c attitudes of some doctors,
waiting lists and poor facilities mean it is
not as accessible as it should be.

At the Underdog we are more interested
in the quality of people's lives than in
p r e a c h i n g at people about how they
ought to live. For this reason we can look
at things unhindered by religious and po-
l i t i c a l dogma. We see that the more
` o p e n - m i n d e d ' approach makes more
s e n s e , backed up with education and
services that are accessible, so people
can as far as possible make informed de-
cisions about their sex lives. There is a lot of
decent advice and support you can get if you
k n o w where to look.
Here are some places you might want to start:
Hurst Road Health Centre: Free confidential
advice, contraception and emergency contra-
c e p t i o n available. No a p p o i n t m e n t needed.
Hurst Rd, Walthamstow, London E17 3BL Tel: 020 8928 2388 Open
Monday 4.30-5pm, Tuesday 3.45-4.30pm,
Thursday 11.45-12.45pm

ELOP (East London Out Project): is a les-
bian and gay managed and run commu-
nity based organisation in Waltham For-
est. It provides a range of advice, infor-
mation, support and counselling services.
388/392 High Road, Leyton E10 6QE. E-
mail elop@btclick.com Tel: 020 8509 3898.
Sexwise: Confidential telephone line and
website providing advice about sex or
c o n t r a c e p t i o n to 12-18 year olds.
www.ruthinking.co.uk Tel: 0800 28 29 30
Brook Advisory Clinics (outside WF):
I s l i n g t o n : The Northern Centre, 580
Holloway Road, London, London, N7 6LA
020 7272 5599 (during Centre hours) Walk
in sessions Tuesday: 2.00pm - 4.15pm
Thursday: 4.45pm - 7.00pm
Abortion Rights: www.abortionrights.org.uk
Information on services and support, as well
as campaigning on women's right to choose.
Intercourse: Devoted to encouraging peo-
ple to develop comfortable and open ways
of talking and thinking about sex
www.intercourse.org.uk
You can get emergency contraception
from: Contraceptive services (family plan-
ning clinics), Sexual health clinics (GUMs),
Young people's clinics, Brook, GPs, or,
when these are closed from the gynae-
cology wards in Whipps Cross Hospital and
King George Hospital.
--------------------------------------
Also, we reccommend
this guide to what to
d o if arrested. Con- NO COMENT
tact us for a free copy
o r get one from No
C o m m e n t , c/o BM
A u t o m a t i c , London
WC1N 3XX. Download
it at www.ldmg.org.uk
-------------------------------

Wot anarchists fink: Anti-social crime

M u c h of what is illegal most people
wouldn't consider a `crime'. Remember,
only a minority of people are in prison for
violent, anti-social acts. A third of women
in prison are in for shoplifting, and a quar-
ter of people are in for non-payment of
fines or debts. On the other hand, many
things that are legal really are `criminal' -
making large profits out of people working
on poverty level wages, war and violence
to protect markets and oil, destruction of
the environment for short-term gain, cut-
backs on transport safety to increase prof-
its. These `crimes' are committed by the
powerful ­ corporations and governments
­ so they are legal and in fact encouraged
in the name of good business.
For anarchists, it's what is anti-social that
is the problem, whether legal or not. Acts
like mugging, random assault, burglary, car-
theft, and violent crimes like rape and
domestic violence, are an indictment of
current society. Many of these crimes af-
fect working class communities most, and
see people with little exploiting each other.
Meanwhile, the `crimes' of
b i g business and govern-
ment go unchallenged and
are protected by the law.
Worse still, they promote
a system that encourages
people to prey on each other, setting the
scene for crimes of anti-social behaviour.
Yet it is the neighbourhood crimes that
fill the news - usually in graphic detail just
to make us fearful - along with calls for
h a r s h e r punishments, longer sentences
and `new powers' to deal with the prob-
lem. This kind of anti-social crime is a real
problem for huge amounts of people. It's
not so much that politicians and media are
exaggerating the problem here, but that
they use it for their own ends. Our politi-
cal leaders don't really care about anti-
s o c i a l crime, otherwise they would do
something about the poverty and social
dislocation that breed it. Both scientific
research and our everyday, common-sense
experience tell us that the main cause of
anti-social crime is the combination of the
breakdown of a sense of community com-
bined with poverty. Poverty can bring low
self-esteem, a particularly strong factor in
violent anti-social crime.
But politicians use the crime issue to jus-
tify more police on the streets, increased
surveillance and the erosion of our civil
liberties with legislation like the Anti So-
cial Behaviour Order Act (2003) and cur-
fews. This has nothing to do with dealing
with the problem in hand, and everything
to do with the State increasing its un-
checked power.
Anarchists want to see an end to all anti-
social crime ­ neighbourhood crimes and
the everyday `crimes' of corporations and
governments. We want to see the present
system of exploitation swept away in a
movement of wide-ranging social change,
initiated and controlled by ordinary peo-
ple, creating a society based on the prin-
ciples of freedom and equality. The prin-
ciple of solidarity, of sticking together and
not screwing each other over, will have to
be at the centre of this movement. Anti-
social crime is the very opposite of soli-
darity, and so we are totally opposed to
it.
Now, the breakdown of community and
increase in poverty are not the fault of
working class people. The dire housing situ-
ation, with few new homes built and al-
most 1 million left empty, means that fami-
lies end up scattered by the winds. Job
insecurity causes people to move house
more ­ not to mention the de-industriali-
sation of entire regions of the country.
Likewise, the relentless cuts in public serv-
ices and drop in the real purchasing power
of wages have caused increased poverty
levels.
Despite anti-social crime not being a prob-
lem of our creation, it is up to us to find a
solution. It is mainly working class people
that are hit by neighbourhood crimes.
The police show little interest
in protecting us from it, being
more concerned with crimes
that affect corporate prof-
its, like fare evasion and
s h o p l i f t i n g . The "more
police, heavier prison sentences" tactic
is a false one and doesn't work. Look at
the USA with the highest rate of imprison-
ment in the world, at 1 in 37 people, and
yet their crime rates are also among the
highest!
The best way to fight anti-social crime is
to join together and fight collectively to
increase our material and social well-be-
ing. Local people combining to fight rent
increases will both improve their financial
situation and create the sort of sense of
social solidarity and community we are
talking about. Activities like local sports
clubs, youth clubs, OAP outings, young
parents groups, music projects, all work
to decrease the level of social isolation
that anti-social crime thrives upon.
Communities could tackle problems spe-
cific to their area. Anti-mugging posters
have been used to shame muggers in some
areas, and serial burglars could be named
and similarly stopped. Night-patrols have
been set up in some `no go' areas to make
people feel safer.
We can now see why it is in the inter-
ests of the powers that be that the real
causes of crime aren't tackled. Because
in doing so we can only improve our own
situation at the expense of their power
and privilege.

------------------------------------
Walthamstow Anarchist Group
PO Box 35832
London E11 3WT
Tel: 07810 288 889
www.walthamstowanarchy.org.uk
info@walthamstowanarchy.org.uk
-----------------------------------

Get involved with THE UNDERDOG

The Underdog is Walthamstow's only TRULY
independent paper. We have no rich back-
ers, and we tell it how it is. We distribute
o n the street, in community centres,
pubs, cafes, shops and by delivering door-
to door. If you like what you read, we
always welcome help: You may have local
news, gossip, or opinions, letters or
comments about anything we have writ-
ten. Or you may be able to help with dis-
tribution -perhaps in your street. If you
want us to post the next 6 issues to you
as soon as it comes out, just send us 6
first class stamps. We also pay for this
ourselves so if you want to bung us a few
quid towards the next issue, this would
be much appreciated.

W@G

T h e Underdog is produced by the
Walthamstow Anarchist Group. We are a
group of Waltham Forest residents who are
sick of the system of capitalism which al-
lows the rich and the bosses to exploit
and control the rest of us. We promote
working class resistance and self-organi-
sation and through this aim to create a
new society where people live together in
freedom and as equals. We believe in di-
rect action as a method by which we work-
ing class people can begin to take control
of our communities and workplaces now
and in doing so build a movement strong
enough to challenge the entire system.
If you want to get in touch you can e-mail
us, phone or text us or drop us a line at,
or visit our website. We also meet fort-
nightly at a local venue and you are wel-
come to meet up with us for a chat if you
are interested in getting involved.
-------------------------------------

Interested in anarchism?

Want to find out more?

Apart from contacting us to arrange meet-
ing up, a short train, bus or tube ride away
is Freedom Bookshop. Tucked away be-
hind KFC, up Angel Alley on Whitechapel
High St, you'll find it packed full of anar-
chist books, magazines and papers and will
probably find someone to talk with about
anarchism if you like. Open 12-6 Mon - Sat.
Freedom Bookshop, 84b Whitechapel High
St, London - nearest tube Aldgate East.
O t h e r w i s e you can visit the excellent
online resource www.enrager.net

Groups we support:
Anarchist Federation
84b Whitechapel High St
London
E1 7QX
www.afed.org.uk
Solidarity Federation
PO Box 469,
Preston
PR1 8FX
www.solfed.org.uk


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