Pink protest challenges council

Written by on October 8, 2016 in Campaigns, Council, gentrification, News, Planning - 23 Comments

pink_view_750_dsc_2777Protesters against Lambeth council policies rallied in Brixton’s Windrush Square today before heading to Clapham Common for a picnic.

About 200 people gathered in the square, where, despite the organisers’ pleas for a “pink, peaceful and pleasant” event, a Labour Party stall was vandalised and a member of the extreme left-wing Revolutionary Communist Group (RCG) set off a social media storm by saying that leaders of the council’s Labour Party administration should be “thrown into the Thames with rocks tied round their ankles”.

Later, some protesters staged a sit-down in the road on the way to Clapham Common.

Protest stalls outside Brixton libraryThe vast majority of protesters, both calmer and in pink, objected politely but firmly to council policies on, among other things, libraries; plans to demolish the Cressingham Gardens and Central Hill estates; the proposed private Garden Bridge; the closure of shops in Network Rail’s arches; and the planning threat to Club 414.

Daniel centre, argues with other protesters after they had convinced him to stop tearing Labour Party signs from a stall

Daniel, centre, argues with other protesters after they had convinced him to stop tearing Labour Party signs from a stall

Things got off to a bad start when Central Hill campaigner Daniel, who declined to give his second name, began violently dismantling a Labour Party stall that stood among others outside Brixton Library.

South London Revolutionary Communist Group member Andrew George

South London Revolutionary Communist Group member Andrew George

Members of the RCG set up an “open mic” on the fringe of the gathering and South London RCG member Andrew George kicked things off with a rant in which he asserted that, unlike Lambeth, there is no homelessness in Cuba and asked “How many people have Lambeth council killed?” – apparently referring to rough sleepers. He followed this up with his suggestion that council leader Lib Peck and colleagues be thrown into the Thames.

Earlier, he had discussed how opponents of the Labour party could “seize power” in Lambeth and why councillors should be intimidated.

He was followed by rapper Potent Whisper (AKA Georgie Stephanou) whose actions in leaping onto a table at a planning committee meeting and throwing red glitter dust were followed by the council reviewing its policies for public attendance at its meetings.

Young speaker comparing Lambeth council to Donald Trump

Young speaker comparing Lambeth council to Donald Trump

Other speakers included a child who said the council was the same as US presidential candidate Donald Trump as they were both “corrupt and racist”.

Andrew George’s plans for Labour councillors, once published on social media, led to attacks on the Labour Party pressure group Momentum – which had no discernible presence at the protest – from other Labour Party members.

Momentum had been included on a list of backers of the protest. One other organisation listed had already asked the Blog to remove its name from the list we published as it had not given permission for it to be used.

The protest was organised by Karen Bennett, secretary of Central Hill Residents’ Association, and Nicola Curtis, its chair.

Child protester dressed as tiger

Carlotta the Tiger campaigns for libraries

Vauxhall Labour MP Kate Hoey sent the protesters a message of support in which she said: “All of you have come here today with one clear message for the council – Lambeth, you are not listening to us.

“We all know the Council is facing huge challenges from the cuts imposed by the government, but in so many of the decisions that have angered local communities it has been clear that, despite public utterances about listening, the voices of many of you have been ignored.

“The Garden Bridge is a classic example. The local Bishop’s Ward Labour councillors and thousands of local residents have made it clear their opposition not just to this waste of public money, but also to the bridge being located where no one wants it. Lambeth could have stopped it but have chosen not to do so. They have not listened.

“Thank you to all of you who have been working hard in our communities to protect our local services, libraries, parks and housing estates.

“There have been so many genuine alternatives put forward to council plans on libraries,housing and regeneration. But you have not been listened to.

“I will continue to campaign with you to preserve and enhance our communities. I do not want to see housing estates being destroyed with virtually no genuinely affordable council housing replacing it. The Tenants on the Westbury Estate have been ignored and sidelined just like what happened to those on Cressingham Gardens.

“I call on our Labour Council to welcome debate and positive criticism. With a 59 to 4 majority, the councillors need to listen even more to voices outside the council chamber.

“Councillors should be encouraged to speak out and not victimised like Cllr Rachel Heywood was for her brave stand on speaking out against the closure of libraries.

“I hope the council will see today’s protest as a wake-up call and that it will be positive, impactive and, most of all, peaceful.

Like me, I know you will stand up against injustice, inequality and ineptitude wherever it comes from.”










About the Author

Alan Slingsby moved to Brixton just as the 1981 uprising began. His nearest pub was the Effra and nearest off licence the Frontline — long gone in an earlier wave of closures of treasured community establishments. He works out of an office in St Matthews and before that the Bon Marché. Has edited newspapers for the National Union of Students and National Union of Teachers. Now makes a living designing magazines and books and anything else people will pay him for.

23 Comments on "Pink protest challenges council"

  1. Andrew October 11, 2016 at 6:31 pm · Reply

    Alan Slingsby are you paid by Lambeth to write this garbage?
    or does brixton blog get back handers from them?

  2. Rachel Francis October 10, 2016 at 6:44 pm · Reply

    Stand up to Lambeth march 8th October – RCG statement

    Following the inevitable misrepresentation of a successful march against Lambeth’s Labour Council, the Revolutionary Communist Group (RCG) wishes to state its full support for the demands and actions of the ‘Stand up to Lambeth’ march on Saturday 8th October.

    Despite some attempts to prevent the march from loudly demanding that council leader Lib Peck and her cabinet resign, and instead pointing the finger only at the Tory government and excusing the council’s actions, the overall message was clear and focused: the Labour council has demolished, and continues to demolish housing estates, close services and cleanse people from the borough.

    We support the demands of the march – agreed in public, democratic organising meetings – for the cabinet to resign. The effigy representing the council, ceremoniously covered with pink glitter outside the old Town Hall, featured prominently in coverage of the march and was made by an RCG artist to focus on the role Labour councillors are playing in implementing austerity cuts against working class people.

    When Labour councillor Rachel Heywood rightly stood up to cuts to local library services earlier this year she was suspended by the council. People in Lambeth clearly cannot rely on or wait for this council to oppose austerity, but are instead representing themselves by taking to the streets.

    Some marchers were also criticised for sitting down in the road, and another individual condemned by a vicious article on Brixton Blog for “violently dismantling” a Labour stall. Whilst the RCG fully respects the right of all organisations, including the Labour Party, to hold stalls and distribute literature, it is hardly surprising if some individuals, faced with the destruction of their homes by a Labour council, are unable to to control their anger and anguish. We condemn the article’s misrepresentation of the individual’s actions.

    The RCG is committed to standing with all those fighting austerity measures, cuts and closures and the destruction of people’s homes. Where councils, whether Conservative, Labour or Liberal, truly take action and resist we will ensure we stand with them. Where they don’t, we will take action with those that will. It is urgent we build a movement against the devastation caused by these attacks.

    A full report can be found here:

  3. Camille October 10, 2016 at 1:03 pm · Reply

    So the pink march is all that stands between us and ‘social cleansing… workhouses, debtors prisons, the Bethlehem madhouse and societal segregation’

    What do we want? A sense of proportion. When do we want it? Now.

  4. I live up Brixton Hill October 10, 2016 at 10:55 am · Reply

    This is hilarious. Many many congratulations to Lambeth for remaining a magnet for these complete and utter loopers.

  5. John Smith October 10, 2016 at 6:46 am · Reply

    Assuming the protestors numbered c.300, that represents c. 0.003% of the total population of Brixton given in the 2011 census. If Lambeth Council is so terrible, why such a low turnout?

  6. Karen Bennett October 9, 2016 at 7:26 pm · Reply

    Thank you Andrew St John for putting the veritable Brixton Blog right in their shoddy journalism. I have not much to add except that, while Nicola & I would ADORE being credited with organising this on our own…..the truth is that would be likening a couple of toddlers trying to control a chariot in the Circus Maximus!!! This is a huge group of people, many of whom were for some reason or another unable to actively participate in the march, but nevertheless are members of a section of the community who are deeply dissatisfied with the services being provided by our Lambeth “Labour” Council. Many of us, as the Brixton Blog are well aware, as they have just reported on a large donation being made to the Save Cressingham campaign, are being threatened with the loss of our homes, whether tenant or leaseholder as a result of the regeneration plans….a tory policy, zealously embraced by Lambeth Council. Not only do the policies threaten our homes and communities, they threaten to thrust many of our most vulnerable citizens into a care system, which also as a result of Lambeth Council policies is being slashed to the bone, thus removing a support system when it will be most needed. This protest is not a churlish yell at the council to stop misbehaving, but a cry to the country to see what is going on here, how society is being manipulated by so-called Labour Councils in a move widely recognised by those who can see clearly, as gentrification on a massive scale. Social cleansing is at the heart of these policies, and if it is allowed to continue, we can all be prepared to take a huge step back into the history of our country where workhouses, debtors prisons, the Bethlehem madhouse and societal segregation were the norm. Total control is coming unless we fight back, and the country supports us. Karen Bennett

  7. Andrew St. John October 9, 2016 at 2:17 pm · Reply

    Alan, how about a bit of fact-checking?
    1) The number was closer to 300 – around 290 left the square, not including over a dozen police. You can buy these handy things called “tally counters”, that makes counting the numbers of people passing a fixed point wearing pink, an absolute doddle!
    2) RCG are about as “extreme left” as the Socialist Party, i.e. not very.
    3) The chap with the idea about rock ankle-weights was expressing a view – something we’re still allowed to do in this withering democracy.
    4) “Daniel” didn’t act violently, he removed a Labour banner, and told the Labour Party member that the Labour Party weren’t welcome. They weren’t, and hadn’t been invited. They came along opportunistically, probably hoping that a gullible journalist would…well, we fell for the provocation, and you fell for their set-up.
    5) There was no “apparently” involved in Andrew George mentioning rough sleepers. The reference was explicit, as was the pointed question about how many have died within Lambeth Council’s purview.
    6) Given that our councillors are apparently intimidated by glitter (not “red glitter dust”, nor “red powder symbolising blood”, Alan) and googly eyes being cast in their direction – see the recent changes to public access arrangements for council meetings, something PW’s actions did not initiate, but rather gave the council a thin excuse to carry out – perhaps you’re over-reacting by inferring that Mr George was talking about anything more than more glitter and googly eyes?
    7) I’m not sure you quite understand Momentum’s membership structure, and where the membership is drawn from, or you wouldn’t imply that no Momentum members were present. Put simply, Momentum members are drawn from other legally-constituted membership associations, and it just so happens that in Lambeth and Southwark, the majority of them are members of trades unions and local and national pressure groups too, so were operating under those banners, rather than as Momentum – which could distract journalists from reporting accurately (hah!) in favour of writing a load of Momentum-centric tosh.
    8) The group that asked the Blog to remove it’s name from the list was ASH – Architects for Social Housing. The removal was because the founder had a strop about not having a say in “Stand Up” policy. His ego couldn’t take not being in control (could it, Simon?). I write this so that people won’t infer from what you’ve written, that a group was so disturbed by “Stand Up” that they disassociated themselves from it. Several ASH members did, however, still attend the march, just not under the ASH banner.
    9) The protest was organised by an organising committee of about 2 dozen people, not just by the estimable Karen and Nicola.

    There we go, Alan. Nine points that are either necessary explications, or corrections to your article. Do us all a favour and either try harder, or don’t bother at all!

    • Richard October 9, 2016 at 2:59 pm · Reply

      Yes, Andrew St John, people do have a right to express a view. However when that view incites hatred, intimidation and threats to kill then that is when it becomes unacceptable. Freedom of speech is one thing but not not a freedom to spout out hatred and bigotry.

      • Andrew St. John October 9, 2016 at 9:39 pm · Reply

        Richard, there were no “threats to kill”. Nobody said “I’m going to kill Lambeth councillors”, or “I want to kill Lambeth councillors”. If they had, don’t you think one of the 18 police officers on duty at Windrush Square would have leapt to arresting the young communist chap with alacrity?

    • Daniel October 10, 2016 at 4:24 pm · Reply

      Superb points & beautifully written, thank you Andrew.

    • BIGMAN October 13, 2016 at 12:34 pm · Reply

      well said, Andrew

      I was on the demo and it was hardly what this journalist explains. There were many local people present who were the victims of Lambeths social cleansing. They were very democratic and civil in their actions – the open mic was one of the most beautiful parts. When do local people EVER get their voice heard?

      Middle class twats who write on this blog dont know real life, they have never lived it and never cared to listen to ordinary people. Careerist journos need to get knocked down a peg

  8. Richard October 9, 2016 at 1:41 pm · Reply

    So Kate Hoey the MP for Vauxhall decided to send a statement to be read out at this protest meeting. In that statement she is quoted in this article as saying “All of you have come here today….”
    From reading this article it appears that it was said, albeit from the extremist element, that elected Councillors should be intimated. That threats to kill such as “thrown into the Thames with rocks tied around their ankles” were stated. Unfortunately these views are always going to hit the headlines over the peacefulness of the protest, that is how the media work. These statements may well have been said or intended as pure jest, however that does not appear to be the case and It I is unacceptable. If Kate Hoey, whilst not responsible for what individuals say, delivered her speech in person she could have challenged those viewpoints or altered her speech to denounce such statements. As it was, she was not present and is now that she needs to condemn such views, this would be both wise and prudent. Most people would take her denunciation of extremist views as a given since she is a long standing MP. However, there are some elements in society who would have heard her speech and then heard these extremist view points and think it gives their activities an air of credence. Always best to deliver a statement in person or not at all if you can’t be there especially when there are such opposing viewpoints. In person you can reflect the mood of the crowd and certainly have the opportunity to challenge the extremist element. That opportunity was missed yesterday.

    • Daniel October 10, 2016 at 4:20 pm · Reply

      Hi Richard, I was at the event & can’t recall any threats to throw anyone into the Thames, do you have any evidence of this, or is this just hearsay?

      • Richard October 10, 2016 at 6:19 pm · Reply

        Hi Daniel, just what is reported in the article above.

        • Daniel October 15, 2016 at 6:16 pm · Reply

          Hi again Richard, considering the bulls written about me, I would dismiss this accusation.

          Considering the amount of film cameras & smart phones plus London Live TV you would think something would be caught on film, would you not?

          Nothing has turned up so far!

          & yes Brixton Blog is partly funded by Lambeth Council.

          • Alan Slingsby October 15, 2016 at 10:37 pm ·

            Hi Daniel. I have been a member of the National Union of Journalists for more than 40 years and have always followed its code of conduct. I reported exactly what was said, as I always do. Neither the Blog nor the Bugle has ever received a penny from Lambeth council. A simple apology for these lies will suffice.

          • Daniel October 16, 2016 at 11:41 pm ·

            An “apology” Alan!!!

            Well…I’ll tell you what I’ll do, I will have a good think about it, then I’ll get my people to talk to your people, is that ok?


  9. Richard October 9, 2016 at 1:15 pm · Reply

    A child addressing the crowd and comparing Trump and Lambeth Council with racism and corruption. I don’t know where to even start with that one.

    • Andrew St. John October 9, 2016 at 2:25 pm · Reply

      You start by doing the sensible thing, which is recalling that children are often given to hyperbole, and to using words the complexities of which they may not fully grasp.

      After that, you could, if you wish, interrogate whether Lambeth Council’s policies – notwithstanding equalities legislation – take effect in such a way as to be a) corrupt and/or b), racist. For some light reading, may I refer you to the recent Runnymede Trust report?

      • Richard October 9, 2016 at 3:07 pm · Reply

        Clearly somebody wasn’t doing the sensible thing in handing the microphone to a child in the first place. Unless they enjoy listening to ‘hyperbole’?

        • BIGMAN October 13, 2016 at 12:31 pm · Reply

          Children know more about the world that people like you who think they are stupid.

  10. Daniel October 9, 2016 at 11:30 am · Reply

    I wont thank you Allan for your sloppy journalism, “violently dismantling a Labour Party stall”, what utter nonsense, a small Labour party banner attached with drawing pins was pulled off from the front stall BUT only after I was told by the older gentleman behind the stall that they were not supporting the Stand Up To Lambeth Council campaign that they had crashed nor was the gentleman in question willing to display any of our flyers!

    It is always wise to get ‘Both’ sides of any story & you ‘Chose’ not to, making no attempt at all to speak to me apart from barking out for my name, how very rude of you.

    Alan it saddens & frustrates me that you have totally failed to empathize how stressful it is for Lambeth council tenants like myself who live in a borough where our council (Labour) have a wrecking ball hanging over our homes! Maybe you are lucky enough to own your own home. It cannot be anything other than personnel.

    Finally I have been a loyal Labour party voter all my life, I count myself on the Liberal Left politically & not the far left, actually I voted for Helen Hayes last year, something I now regret since discovering that she is a major property developer & for the demolition of Lambeth council estates. Since then I cannot justify my support & like many I feel very betrayed especially by our local Lambeth Labour Council who are causing such misery.

    I think it is fair to assume by the tone of this article that your loyalties are with Lib Peck & the progress wing of the Labour party. How very depressing.

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