Tag Archives: Bristol

#BristolRiot – after police retract serious injury claims, will Ian Austin please give back his peerage? [WARNING: VIDEO OF EXTREME POLICE VIOLENCE]

Bristol riot: there seem to be a huge number of images showing the police attacking members of the public – and none at all of police being on the receiving end. Just why were they on the streets with their batons, their dogs and their horses?

Isn’t it curious that, days after making a big song and dance about police suffering broken bones and a punctured lung at the Bristol riot (that they may have caused), the claims were retracted days later?

Avon and Somerset Chief Constable Andy Marsh admitted in a press conference that no officer of his had suffered a punctured lung.

And the force’s publicity department admitted that neither of the officers taken to hospital actually turned out to have broken bones.

The damage had been done, though – the public outraged at this apparent thuggery by people who had congregated in Bristol to protest against police mistreatment of women.

How will the police take back this:

Or this:

Or this:

Or – especially – this?

And, having consideration of all the above, shouldn’t Lord Ian Austin reconsider his position in public life, hand back his peerage, and go home to spend more time with his prejudices?

Just look at the state of this:

Austin, formerly a Labour MP, was ennobled by Boris Johnson to sit as a non-affiliated peer after he quit the party as led by Jeremy Corbyn, claiming that it had a “culture of extremism, anti-Semitism and intolerance”.

Strange. He seems to be both extreme and intolerant. If Labour under Corbyn really had been like that, he should have fitted right in.

Current evidence shows the police inflicting extreme violence on people – many of whom were sitting down and/or offering no resistance, while suffering very few injuries themselves (and how many were self-inflicted or accidental?).

Austin has indicated that he supports this brand of extreme violent activity against people who are defenceless.

That is unacceptable in a public representative.

Ah, but we live in an unaccountable dictatorship, don’t we? He’ll ignore all his critics and continue with his offensive ways.

Source: Police retract claims that officers suffered broken bones at Bristol protest

The Bristol riot – and how the media gaslight people into believing that protesters are perpetrators

It’s hard to tell which was the worst disgrace – the way the Bristol protest against an unjust piece of legislation was perverted into a riot or the way the media manipulated the story to blame the protesters.

I touched on this in my article about those events, much of which was based on what I saw on the social media. But it seems I was at least mostly right.

This means it is possible to reverse-engineer the ‘toolkit’ used by the mass media to convince us that these events were the opposite of what we have seen.

I’m grateful that I don’t even have to do much work on it – somebody has already done it.

(By the way, the author of the article is an anarchist. This means he’s someone who believes we should all take control of our own political lives and not hand that control over to members of political parties who are likely to be corrupt – and not someone who wants to reduce the nation to lawlessness, as certain media elements would like you to think. See how this works?)

So how do the media gaslight you into believing the police are the victims of a riot they have instigated? Let’s see…

First the press [respond] to the attack … by reporting it in ‘passive voice’. Reports stated ‘clashes occurred…’ or ‘clashes between protesters and police’. Words carefully chosen to not indicate who had started the clashes (the police) and who had been on the receiving end of the majority of the violence (those attending…) Whilst not technically a lie, the intention here is to avoid blaming the police, or to imply that the protesters were at fault. Of course had the protesters actually instigated the violence, the early reports would say exactly that, ‘crowds attack police’.

The article notes that reports use emotive language to describe members of the crowd, no matter what the event may be. So attendees at the vigil for Sarah Everard on Clapham Common were “protesters”:

People attending a vigil don’t sound very threatening or unlawful. Vigil invokes images of flowers, grief stricken speeches, candles, sadness. An accurate description of what had taken place on Clapham Common, but not the most useful if you want to paint the police positively. So many news outlets chose to term everyone present as ‘protesters’. Politicians, such as home secretary Priti Patel were quick to chime in condemning the ‘violence’ caused by ‘protesters’ at an ‘unlawful gathering’, and the press dutifully repeated these claims, often uncritically.

You’ve seen it; you know it’s what they do.

Next are the comments:

First they will report on any police injuries ‘six police received medical attention due to the protest’ they might say.

In the case of the Bristol protest, it was 20. I even commented on it in a tweet:

And how did they get their injuries?

Were they knocked out by an enraged protester with a bat… or did they feel faint from dehydration, trip over and crack a rib on a shield, catch their hand in a car door or break a finger bashing someone over the head?

Two more elements to take from the tweet: we were told that there had been arrests, and this immediately implies crime – or at the very least, the suspicion of crime.

And then there’s the fact that we never get statistics showing injuries among the crowd:

It is very rare that figures are collected for how many protesters were injured, and the assumption may be that this means that number is zero, and the police were thus on the receiving end of more violence than they dished out.

Another element is the othering of the crowd:

They’ll agree most of the thousands of people present were peaceful, support the cause, and shouldn’t have been attacked by the police. Then they will, in hushed tones, point out that there were a minority of THOSE PEOPLE present.

THOSE PEOPLE are, of course, the bogeypeople of the day: Black Lives Matter, Extinction Rebellion, ‘hardcore feminists’.

Labelling these people means they are othered – they aren’t us, they’re them – and this means they can be demonised:

They weren’t people like you and me, people rightly concerned about violence against women, and about police over reach. They were…

… well, they were whoever the media (and their political masters) want us to believe is “the enemy” of the day.

You will also see attempts to blame the victims of police violence:

They will talk about how the protesters stared shouting when police marched in.

Clapham Common and Bristol.

How there were swear words on placards.

“ACAB” – meaning “All Cops Are Bastards”. So, not even swear words on placards – just an acronym of which a swear word is a part. Politicians attacked protesters who used these at Westminster (protesting against what happened on Clapham Common) and Bristol.

“#KillTheBill” could be seen as brutally provocative – suggesting that we should murder police officers, perhaps?

How the event was an ‘unlawful gathering’.

Clapham Common and Bristol, again.

They will under no circumstances admit that the police may have escalated a calm situation or otherwise acted to make things worse.

Clapham Common and Bristol.

In the past police and press have even gone as far as suggesting police were right to assault a man in a wheelchair for rolling towards them ‘aggressively‘.

After that, the article states, we get the opinion pieces that throw away the ambiguous language and push the narrative on us wholeheartedly. I’m waiting for the headline Feminazis hijacked protest to castrate cops.

(That is one of the claims about Bristol, by the way:)

Dogs were repeatedly [deployed] throughout the night [despite] how dangerous that is for the protesters, for the dogs, and even for the police, at least one of whom very nearly got castrated by his charge.

Of course, it’s all very well for me (or a member of the Anarchist Federation) to say this happens. Can we see actual evidence of it?

Yes. Yes, we can:

The headline is Demonstrators against policing bill class with officers in Bristol. Almost exactly “clashes between protesters and police”, wouldn’t you say?

The BBC report on which I based my previous article is riddled with examples of the techniques listed above. Passive voice:

Protesters clashed with officers

Arrests and police injuries:

Eight people have already been arrested after 21 officers were injured.

(Clearly the report has been updated with an extra arrest.)

Othering:

Home Secretary Priti Patel accused some protesters of “thuggery”

Avon and Somerset Police Chief Constable Andy Marsh said the protest had been “hijacked by extremists”

Victim-blaming:

demonstrators scaled the station, threw fireworks into the crowd and daubed graffiti on the walls.

At times there were as few as 50 police officers, facing 100 or more violent protesters.

Denial that the police escalated an otherwise calm situation:

Horses and dogs were used to great effect, but their numbers have been cut in the last decade.

Let’s just remind ourselves of what happened, from eyewitness accounts:

Police had a choice, line up defensively by their station perhaps, even pull back a little, or escalate and create a dangerous and increasingly violent situation. They chose the latter, and sent in the dogs, literally in the case of the canine units who would soon deploy, and metaphorically in the case of the human officers who baton charged the crowd, striking at the heads of those standing, kicking folks on the floor, and even hitting a young woman sat on the floor hands raised telling them this was a peaceful protest. [Afed article]

During the chaos someone let off a few fireworks in the crowd. Potentially dangerous, but less dangerous than those police dogs who did get taken away at this point, spooked by the loud noises (its unclear if this was deliberate). [Afed again]

They horse charged people who were sitting down peacefully and then there was a w***er with a baton randomly hitting people and things escalated from there. I was watching the live feed for most of the event. [Annabella, Vox Political commenter]

You see how it works?

Well, now you know how it works, and you’ll be able to identify it when they do it again.

Source: What actually Happened in Bristol – and How a Narrative is Built

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Did POLICE turn Bristol ‘Kill the Bill’ protest into a riot?

Attack: this image from the Bristol Post was captioned “Bridewell police station under siege” but the only violence I see is by a policeman attacking a woman with a truncheon and a stick. What do you see?

It takes only one comment like this to reverse the narrative completely – and here it is, in two tweets:

Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees may find himself on the receiving end of some very sharp reactions after he supported the police without waiting for the other side of the story!

He said: “Smashing buildings in our city centre, vandalising vehicles, attacking our police will do nothing to lessen the likelihood of the Bill going through. On the contrary, the lawlessness on show will be used as evidence and promote the need for the Bill.

“This is a shameful day in an incredible year for Bristol.

“We have had numerous protests. Our police, city representatives and I have been able to point out with pride that we have faced these moments of conflict without the physical conflict that others have experienced. Those who decided to turn today’s protest into a physical confrontation and smash our city have robbed us of this.”

What will he have to say if it turns out to be true that the police are “those who decided to turn [the] protest into a physical confrontation and smash [the] city”?

Considering the way the police in London treated a peaceful vigil on Clapham Common; or the way a drunken policeman assaulted a woman on her way home from work and walked free from court after admitting it; or the fact that a policeman is accused of kidnapping and murdering another woman who was on her way home from work…

Considering all the allegations of racist behaviour notched up against the police – not just last year during the Black Lives Matter protests but going back through the decades…

Considering this…

[The Battle of Orgreave, during the Miners’ Strike of 1984-5, was reported as happening because picketers attacked the police when in fact it was the police who attacked the picketers; reporters edited their footage to create a false story.]

Considering all of the above, it seems far more likely that the police were responsible for the violence in Bristol last night, rather than a few hundred people who were, at the time, sitting down.

If those people defended themselves, this is no reason to condemn them or their protest for descending into violence. Everybody has the right to defend themselves against unprovoked violent attack, no matter whether the attacker is in a uniform or not.

If Bristol’s police were ordered to turn this event into a riot so their political leaders could use it as justification for the draconian Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill that will permit them to inflict brutal oppression on innocent people, then the plan appears to have backfired.

The peaceful protest was mostly over by the time they came out from the Bridewell. From a high point of around 3,000 people, their own figures say only around 500 were left when the violence began.

The others, having made their point, had gone home. No matter who started the violence, they have been smeared by the police claims.

And observers elsewhere have demonstrated that they are unimpressed by the protestations of the police and politicians – pointing out the future of protest under the Police Bill:

At the end of the day, there is a big question to be answered – and it’s one that would not even be considered if the police had not made themselves the puppets of Conservative governments many times in the past:

It is impossible to condemn the people for the Bristol ‘Kill the Bill’ riot when we know it is entirely possible that it was engineered by Priti Patel and the police.

Source: Bristol Kill the Bill protest ‘shameful’, says Marvin Rees – BBC News

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Bristol council passes motion to make reparation for slavery. Tories oppose it

Over it goes: the toppling of the Colston statue, back in June.

Here’s yet another reason for This Writer to be proud of the city of my birth.

After making controversial history during the Black Lives Matter protests last year, when citizens of Bristol tore down a statue of the slaver Edward Colston and threw it in the docks, the city council has gone a step further.

It has passed a motion to make “reparations” – not just financial but also cultural – for the slave trade in which the city participated and its enduring impact.

As former Lord Mayor Cleo Lake stated, “The contribution of African civilisation, culture and people versus how we have been treated is one of the world’s great paradoxes.”

Bristol is also calling for the UK’s Tory government to set up an all-party parliamentary inquiry to examine how such reparations might be delivered.

This might be a challenging request as although the motion was passed with 47 votes in support, 12 Tory councillors voted against it.

Believe it or not, they said the motion to make amends for an abhorrent past “risks exacerbating some divisions by presenting a binary view of the world when the reality is much more complicated”.

That sounds like doubletalk to This Writer! That is, disapproving speech that is intended to confuse an issue.

I think these Tories simply don’t want to face the reality of Bristol’s – and the UK’s – slave-trading background, with all the harm it has done, or the racism that still pervades this nation as a result.

In opposing the motion, they also opposed community wealth creation strategies to produce more sustainable and equitable growth whilst alleviating systemic poverty, which acknowledges that a just economy is the only way to achieve racial justice.

Typical Tories, you might say.

Source: ‘History is made’ as Bristol passes slavery reparations motion

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Starmer’s authority crumbles further as shadow minister’s CLP demands Corbyn’s reinstatement

“We are many, they are few”: they being, it seems, the pro-Starmer faction of the wider Labour Party membership. And the longer Jeremy Corbyn remains suspended as a party member, the fewer they will become.

Days after Keir Starmer’s Labour leadership repeated a demand for rank-and-file Labour members not to discuss Jeremy Corbyn’s suspension or demand its reversal, CLPs are using his own hypocrisy to attack him.

This Site pointed out the double-standard in an article two days ago.

The day after it appeared, Bristol West CLP supported a motion that highlighted the hypocritical demand. It said, in part:

A number of public figures, including but not limited to the leader of the party, the deputy leader of the party, and the Socialist Campaign Group have issued public statements on the suspension, and that the SCG has called for re-instatement, yet the general secretary has nevertheless ordered that CLPs cannot do the same.

The CLP, political home of shadow housing secretary Thangam Debbonaire, added:

This CLP resolves:

To condemn Jeremy Corbyn’s suspension and demand his reinstatement to the party.

To oppose any and all politically motivated disciplinary actions against the left by the leadership.

According to Skwawbox, right-wingers in the Bristol West Labour Party tried to pack the meeting in order to defeat the motion – or at least amend it – in what can clearly be interpreted as an attack on democracy by supporters of Keir Starmer.

It failed.

But Starmer – and his people – need to answer for their actions.

Source: Exclusive: full wording of motion passed on Monday by Shadow Cabinet minister’s CLP, condemning ‘political’ Corbyn suspension – SKWAWKBOX

Toppled Colston statue in Bristol replaced by resin sculpture of Black Lives Matter activist

It makes This Writer proud to be Bristolian.

After the statue of slaver Edward Colston was toppled by protesters last month, artist Marc Quinn replaced it with a resin sculpture of a Black Lives Matter protester in a pre-dawn operation that caught authorities by surprise.

Now calls have been made for the city to keep the new statue standing on the formerly-vacant plinth.

The artist said he had based the statue on the moment activist Jen Reid stood on top of the empty plinth on June 7, raising her fist to the skies.

Authorities in Bristol are receiving calls for the statue to be kept, even though it was raised without permission. Mayor Marvin Rees has previously said any replacement would be decided democratically through consultation.

This is a big step forward against the attitude that said slavers should be celebrated, and against the right-wing loons who tried to protect statues like this after Colston’s was pulled down and dumped in the River Avon.

Source: Edward Colston statue in Bristol replaced by resin sculpture of Black Lives Matter protester | The Independent

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Bristol ‘Black Lives Matter’ protesters tear down statue of slaver Colston – and about time, too!

Over it goes: could there be any more clear ‘down with racism’ demand than the toppling of the statue to slaver Edward Colston in Bristol?

Having been born in Bristol, This Writer is aware of the unsavoury slaver history of Edward Colston, and the reverence in which he has been held has confused me for years.

But, being part of a Bristol family, it was hard to criticise him directly. Many of us have historical links with slavery and until earlier this week, I had believed that my family had such links.

Apparently I was mistaken. A BBC documentary about former Mayor John Kerle Haberfield (a great-(many times)-uncle revealed that he had not been involved with the slave trade and nor were any other of my family on that side. It’s possible that other ancestors were, although I have no evidence to suspect it.

I attended St Mary Redcliffe & Temple School, where around a fifth of the pupils were members of Colston House, named after the slaver. The school changed the house name last year (2019) in favour of African-American female mathematician Katherine Johnson. I was a member of Francombe House, which was less controversially named after a former head teacher of the school.

Campaigners have been working to end the veneration of the slave trader Colston, who ran the Royal Africa Company that enslaved around 12,000 children, for many decades. My understanding is that calls to tear down the statue of Colston were taking place 40 years ago, at least.

Read more about him here:

(Historians may also find this interesting:)

Well, yesterday it finally happened.

Public feeling against racism boiled over during a “Black Lives Matter” demonstration prompted by the death of George Floyd in the United States, and after years of campaigning to get rid of the Grade II listed (why was it Grade II listed?) statue, people decided to tear it down themselves and throw it into the River Avon – in a manner reminiscent of the way Colston himself would throw unruly slaves – weighed down with chains – into the sea during slaving voyages.

Satirically, Google Maps sprang into action, providing at least one element of humour:

Police have said they are treating the incident as an act of criminal damage, which they are investigating. This has given some people another opportunity for satire:

How will the people of Bristol replace the statue? It seems some have ideas already:

Personally, I don’t think a statue to a Sheffield group, in Bristol, would particularly please the people of either city.

I really don’t think this would be appropriate, either:

Maybe in Islington.

Perhaps most revealing has been the reaction of different public figures to what is a clear act of vandalism, even if the reasoning behind it is supportable.

Priti Patel’s response should be shocking, considering her own racial background:

As should Sajid Javid’s:

And, indeed, some members of the Labour Party have questions to answer:

Others take a different view:

If you’re confused about “structural” racism:

Of course, it’s not unknown for statues to be torn down if people and/or their deeds fall out of favour with the public.

You won’t see a statue glorifying Nazism or anybody who supported that movement in Germany!

And in Russia and Iraq, statues of Communist leaders and Saddam Hussein (respectively) were torn down after those regimes were toppled.

Even yesterday, the toppling-in-effigy of Colston wasn’t unique:

And back in the UK, people are eyeing possible future candidates for the Colston treatment:

https://twitter.com/niall_nowhin/status/1269725946778714112

https://twitter.com/JordanGSmith25/status/1269664099652308997

And of course the situation has provided more opportunities for right-wing idiots to make fools of themselves:

We are left with the overwhelming impression that the removal of the Colston statue was right, no matter how it was achieved.

But we live in a country where somebody may go to prison for making it happen. If you don’t think that’s right, you need to be thinking about what you are going to do about it.

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Legal challenge to stop nuclear waste dumping near Cardiff

Don’t drink the tap water if you live anywhere near Somerset, Bath, Bristol or southern Wales – especially Newport and Cardiff.

That was the advice of net-based activist Tracy Kelly, in response to the announcement that 300,000 tonnes of nuclear waste is to be dredged from the seabed near Hinkley Point and dumped a mile off the Cardiff shoreline.

But a legal battle has been launched to stop this environmental disaster from being inflicted on the people of south Wales and the West Country.

Here’s the situation, courtesy of Ms Kelly: “Millions of cubic metres of radioactive sludge is being dumped in the Bristol Channel, contaminating inland waters, fisheries, oysters, seals, and will stay radioactive for the next – wait for it – 12,000 years!

“The sludge will create a whole new toxic sandbank which will be so big it’ll be picked-up on marine Radar and will be viewable by space satellites… George Osborne, the former chancellor who couldn’t answer a kid what six times seven was, made the cheap decision to just dump the toxic mud one mile offshore from Cardiff.

“The toxic sludge comes from the Hinkley A nuclear reactor. This is one of several dangerous old reactors in the west of England and western Scotland which have created no less than 19 million tonnes of toxic waste.

“About four million tonnes of that waste is dumped into the Irish Sea from outflow pipes near Windscale where there are high numbers of children with blood diseases and cancer.

“The French company building Hinkley C in North Somerset are the same people building a mega-reactor in Normandy which had to be stopped because the concrete dome cracked.

“Theresa May gave the French EDF company a ‘marine licence’ to dump radioactive waste in Cardiff Bay. Nice. Protestors in their thousands have written letters, staged demonstrations and also submitted petitions – however, BBC current affairs has refused to broadcast a single second of a single protestor’s views on national prime-time news – even though there have been concerned resident meetings happening since the year 2000.”

A barge made its first trip to dump radioactive mud off the coast near Cardiff yesterday evening (September 10).

That is the situation.

Here‘s what’s being done about it:

Opponents to a controversial scheme to dump mud from a nuclear plant off the coast of Cardiff have launched a last-minute legal challenge.

The Campaign Against Hinkley Mud Dumping submitted an application to the High Court in Cardiff on Monday seeking an interim injunction.

Campaigners have argued Natural Resources Wales (NRW) failed to carry out an Environmental Impact Assessment and said core samples were insufficient under international rules and did not cover all significant radioactive substances from the Hinkley plant.

Here‘s some evidence in support of that statement:

Independent Assembly Member Neil McEvoy said… only 5 samples of mud had been taken from a level lower than 5 centimeters for analysis. The Welsh Assembly petitions committee had asked Natural Resources Wales (NRW) to require the French energy company  EDF (who are building the new nuclear power station) to carry out additional analysis, but this had been refused.

I imagine the petitions committee had made its request after receiving the petition publicised by This Site, here.

The Labour-run Welsh Government said NRW made its decision based on “expert advice”. It also concluded the material was within “safe limits” and posed no “radiological risk” to human health or the environment.

But it seems the tests on which this “expert advice” was given did not assess whether uranium, plutonium and other alpha-emitting elements were present in minute “particulate” form. As such, they can be more easily inhaled into the deep lung and the lymphatic system, and will emit more radiation.

The injunction is an interim measure – if the mud dump is to be stopped for good, protestors will have to fund a costly judicial review.

If you care about your environment, your health and that of your children enough to do something about it, you can add to the crowdfunding scheme that is financing the legal battle.

Please visit the website here to make your contribution.

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Rip-off parasites urge Bristol GPs to push patients towards paid operations – accelerating plunge to privatisation

Emerson’s Green Treatment Centre is run by UKSH, owned by Care UK.

It’s bad enough that NHS patients across the UK are being told they can jump the queue for GP appointments by paying to see a private doctor instead.

But now the company running an NHS treatment centre in Bristol has decided to use it for profit as well as service, and is asking GPs in the city to push the service onto their patients.

This betrayal is exactly what we knew was coming; in line with ‘nudge’ theory, the profit-grubbers are nudging us into paying for private health care.

This would not be possible if the Conservative government had not spent the last seven years de-funding the NHS in order to worsen the service and push desperate patients into the arms of the rip-off merchants.

Yes – rip-off merchants. We are already paying for our health care. If the government is pushing us into paying for a profit-making company to provide a service we have already funded, that is a rip-off.

The sooner Labour gets back into office and strips out the parasites, the better.

GPs in Bristol have been given a shopping list of self-paid operations to offer their patients so they can avoid NHS waiting lists.

The operations, while freely available on the NHS, are also being offered by company Care UK for up to £9,000 at their Emersons Green treatment centre.

Care UK, owned by private equity firm Bridgepoint, are one of the largest care companies in the country. They already provide these services for free to patients on the NHS at Emersons Green but they say their new self-pay scheme will let those who can afford it get around “the pressure of growing waiting lists” and gives GPs “greater options to discuss with patients”.

But campaign groups and Bristol GPs have expressed their anger at being asked to recommend the paid procedures – one doctor called it “part of the dismantling of healthcare”.

Source: GPs in Bristol urged to encourage patients to pay to beat NHS waiting lists for routine operations – Bristol Post


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Bristolians rise against austerity with ‘Fund our city!’ call

On the march: The Rally for Bristol.

As I write this, the people of Bristol are staging a rally against austerity-driven Tory cuts to funding and services for their city.

The event was called by city mayor Marvin Rees – and This Writer (a former Bristolian) agrees with his reasons.

Only today, I had to write about funding cuts to another local authority that have endangered Women’s Aid services there – putting lives at risk.

Tories don’t care. They think money is more important than human lives.

The event’s Facebook page states:

“Mayor Marvin Rees has called a march and rally on Saturday September 9th … to demand the Conservative government gives Bristol and other cities the funding we need for our public services and stops the cuts that are damaging the lives of so many.

“The general election and polls since have shown that austerity is now opposed by the great majority of the public. But despite its weak position this government is handing £70 billion to the wealthy in tax breaks over five years, even as it burdens Bristol City Council with cuts to bare-bones essential services totalling £104 million (10% cut each year).

“On September 9th, three days before the Mayor is set to lobby ministers at Westminster, let’s send a powerful message by marching in our thousands in Bristol and other cities: we won’t take any more cuts – not to our social care and NHS, our children’s services, our housing, our libraries, our arts, our community centres, our parks, our schools, our children’s crossing patrols…

“We’ve had enough of closures, privatisation and job losses, and we’re uniting – as workers, service users and citizens – to fight all the way for the investment we need in the public services and the living standards of our communities!”


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