(Eng) East Midlands - UK

neil birrell (neil@lds.co.uk)
Tue, 6 Feb 1996 21:09:48 +0100




A mass trespass organised by campaigners from Ashfield Against
Road Development (AARD) halted work on the Sherwood Business
Park at Annesley during the weekend of 20th January. The action
was made in protest against the controversial A608 road widening
scheme. Around 40 activists clambered onto the diggers and
stopped work until the local Police Force arrived on the scene. This
protest was only one of many that has taken place over the last few
weeks. The 40 people involved may appear small in numbers
compared with Newbury but their enthusiasm is as great.=20

Indeed some of the Annesley people have been down to Newbury to gain
experience and learn which tactics are best for a given area. At the
various sites in Berkshire different methods are in progress to
combat tree felling, notably the use of treehouses and ropewalks,
which are very effective. Tripods have also been used with limited
success. which depends on the nature of access to the woodland. If
the site has only one entrance then a person seated on top of three
poles can stop an army of chainsaw workers and their vehicles.
However, these are merely delaying tactics designed to slow down
the work with the inevitable extra costs involved. It has been
estimated that the Security measures are costing an extra =A340,000
per week on top of the original cost. Morale is low among the
people employed among the security firms, low pay, long hours and
shitty lodgings. According to the Guardian reporter John Vidal there
has also been fighting and riots between black and white security

The Annesley and Newbury protesters have much in common, both
share nonhierarchical methods of organisation and direct action
based means of protest, although this may be under threat at
Annesley if the SWP become involved. The SWP have a meeting
planned at The Breakers Club, Kirby in Ashfield on the evening of
February 8th devoted to the environment. Watch this space for
further developments. Perhaps on a cautionary note I should quote
Arthur Scargill...'Today radical opposition in Britain is symbolised
not by the Labour and Trade Union movements but by the groupings
such as those which defeated the Poll Tax, the anti motorway and
animal rights bodies. Greenpeace and other anti-nuclear campaigns
and those fighting against open-cast mining. These are now the
voices of protest and direct action, reminding us that only through
direct (including industrial) action and defiance of unjust laws can
we achieve real advance, while a moribund Labour Party and Trade
Union hierarchy pleads with its citizens to accept and submit to
those laws. The environmental and community activists are doing a
good job, but, inevitably their aims are single purpose with no clear
political perspective. It is a tragedy that the Labour Party is not at
the centre of co-ordinating and organising such campaigns. A
Socialist Labour party would be able to galvanise mass opposition
to injustice, ine(quality and environmental destruction and build the
right for a socialist Britain'.=20

This was Scargill's answer to criticism from some
environmental groups. It is evident that he still has a long way to go.
Scargill may support Direct Action and Environmental focused
protests at present, but mainly as a recruiting ground and source of
support for his Socialist Labour Party. Would he extend such
support and tolerance to such protesters and their methods if in
power himself? Such a party as he outlines is still a party seeking
power. He may seek to rule for good purposes, but he still seeks to
rule. Decentralist, Libertarian and Social-ecological ends will not
be achieved via party political and governmental means. People at
Newbury are working together without central authority. Note the
spontaneous generosity and sharing which occurs when one group
finds it has more food and tools than another. Observe the
Solidarity when confronted by masses of Security Personal and
Police ( these latter all good working class militants! ). There is no
theft or violence between the protesters. Look at the communal
cooking facilities, even the dubious practice of sharing unwashed
plates and cutlery. This is self government and community in
practice if only on a limited scale. This is something that the Trots
and Marxists are not interested in, unless they can use it for their
own ends. Beware, it should be pointed out that not all road
protesters call themselves Anarchists, but their actions most
certainly demonstrate Anarchy in action, long may this continue.=20
'Our man in the Tree'