Why I am upset they have fixed the lifts at Hampstead tube station

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I moved to Hampstead from a place they used to call the murder mile in Camden in the year 2000. I thought all my chickens had come home to roost. No more listening to the fights, the domestics, the sirens and the general mayhem of day to day working class life. Where to hang out your dirty laundry off the balcony for all and sundry was common place. Where the kids would have their pockets emptied regularly and playing out really wasn’t possible. A place you survived rather than lived. So  circumstance changed and I got rehoused to Hampstead. When I moved I was as chuffed to bits and I remember actually laying in bed at night listening to the silence and thinking how special it was. The Heath at the end of my road and a cute little school at the other. But it wasn’t long before I realised the community was missing. The local school turned out to be like a pre prep school. You needed to arrange play dates because so many extra curricula lessons were being taken by the kids to ensure their success and none of them actually lived in the area. Most of the houses were walled and the residents went to work and returned with out any need of interaction with anybody else. Acado vans delivered the shopping, maids walked the dogs and au pairs took the kids to school.

Over the years and with a war that saw all the old liberals meeting at the tube station to go on the anti war demos, I realised in the background there was a community I just hadn’t discovered it yet. There it was hiding behind the nouveau riche facades and had been around since time when Hampstead had been full of artisans, actors, artists, writers and good old school lefties. So the community was never going to be as tight and in your face as was in Camden but it was there. We nodded, we acknowledged each other but it lacks the gritty, hard but very real and honest working class community that I was used to.

But then they decided to refurbish the lifts at Hampstead Station. There used to be four and they closed 2 of them taking over a year to do the work  And so it changed, every morning when we all went on our separate journeys to work we were all now thrown into a squashed lift together. Morning and night we rammed ourselves into that tight box and there was no avoiding each other. So all of a sudden we were in each others faces, first the polite talk of the weather, the stoppages on the Northern line and yes another Estate agent on our High Street, to discussing the fact that one of our local pubs was under threat and developers had sought planning permission to turn it into flats. Not that it made any difference to me. You needed to take out a loan to buy a round. Another attempt at exclusivity that failed. But it was still a local and we all had the romantic idea that we could get our old pub back. Any way I digress, my point about the lifts was that suddenly there was no avoidance of each other and local issues impossible to ignore. Updates and emails were shared and the talk went from polite chit chat about plans for Christmas  to community matters and it was good, Not everybody chatted on this level but at least there was a feeling we all knew each others faces and the more than occasional name. Over the year our passings were routine and frequent and we had a gained a comfort.

But then the other day it happened the lift refurbishment had finished and all four lifts were open. Wicked, no more being squashed and embarrassing spaces I thought. A couple of weeks passed, when I realised I hadn’t seen anyone for days. No talk, not even small talk, no idle chatter about the storms or the high street nothing ……it had all gone quiet the community created by this forced contact had dispersed back to it’s old ways and this is why I am sad they fixed the lifts.

When our institutions are in bed with arms dealers what do we do? …….We gatecrash the party

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So last night we had a little fun at The London Transport Museum valentines night. It was Valentines and the Museum had decided to open late to show the love and serve up lots of delights of interactive workshops, drawing, balloon shaping and Chocolate cocktails for £10 a head. Our objections? That one of our institutions should be in bed with arms dealers.For those that are unaware The London Transport Museum is sponsored by Thales, the eleventh largest arms company in the world. Thales has used the Museum’s rooms for meetings about arms sales.

We met in a pub and discussed our action, we whispered as we scanned photo’s and maps of the layout. Deciding where would be the prime location for a banner drop and who was doing what. Banners stuffed down trousers and placards leaving ahead of us for the external protest we headed off.  We mingled for a while and perused the art lined walls listening to a crap music montage. The time had been set and the location was perfect off the mezzanine for all the guests to see.  We managed to execute a banner drop “LTM Sponsored by Death dealers” and throw lots of Love hearts over the lovely people attending with facts about the arms trade and asking LTM to break it’s ties. Postcards had been hidden in the shop amongst the postcards for sale telling of these involvements. We seemed to be standing there for ages before security even noticed with one security guard walking straight past us. The people on the ground started to stir as the love hearts floated to the ground. It was a beautiful sight. The security arrived and a representative from the LTM told us that our invites had been reneged. A little bit of pulling and a little bit of shouting we got chucked out by the security and police, who were more upset at the throwing paper love hearts than anything else. Funny as Fuck. After being ejected from the building we met our comrades that had been demonstrating out side. And a successful valentines evening was had. The message to the Arms Companies/Dealers you are not welcome here or anywhere.

If you object to this partnership please drop a note to:

Sam Mullins

Director

London Transport Museum

Covent Garden Plazza

London

WC2E 7BB

And tell him that we think it is wrong. Thales UK sponsors London Transport museum. 50% of Thales business is arms manufacturing. Thales makes missiles, drones, and aircraft carriers  That it’s customers include some of the worlds worst Human Rights violators. And Thales has used the museums rooms for events promoting weapons sales. This is not acceptable. It is morally wrong. And we are demanding that they break all ties with the arms industry !!!!!!!!

http://www.caat.org.uk/

Is it possible to be an anarchist without opposing hierarchy?

No. We have seen that anarchists abhor authoritarianism. But if one is an anti-authoritarian, one must oppose all hierarchical institutions, since they embody the principle of authority. For, as Emma Goldman argued, “it is not only government in the sense of the state which is destructive of every individual value and quality. It is the whole complex authority and institutional domination which strangles life. It is the superstition, myth, pretence, evasions, and subservience which support authority and institutional domination.” [Red Emma Speaks, p. 435] This means that “there is and will always be a need to discover and overcome structures of hierarchy, authority and domination and constraints on freedom: slavery, wage-slavery [i.e. capitalism], racism, sexism, authoritarian schools, etc.” [Noam Chomsky, Language and Politics, p. 364]

Thus the consistent anarchist must oppose hierarchical relationships as well as the state. Whether economic, social or political, to be an anarchist means to oppose hierarchy. The argument for this (if anybody needs one) is as follows:

“All authoritarian institutions are organised as pyramids: the state, the private or public corporation, the army, the police, the church, the university, the hospital: they are all pyramidal structures with a small group of decision-makers at the top and a broad base of people whose decisions are made for them at the bottom. Anarchism does not demand the changing of labels on the layers, it doesn’t want different people on top, it wants us to clamber out from underneath.” [Colin Ward, Anarchy in Action, p. 22]

Hierarchies “share a common feature: they are organised systems of command and obedience” and so anarchists seek “to eliminate hierarchy per se, not simply replace one form of hierarchy with another.” [Bookchin, The Ecology of Freedom, p. 27] A hierarchy is a pyramidally-structured organisation composed of a series of grades, ranks, or offices of increasing power, prestige, and (usually) remuneration. Scholars who have investigated the hierarchical form have found that the two primary principles it embodies are domination and exploitation. For example, in his classic article “What Do Bosses Do?” (Review of Radical Political Economy, Vol. 6, No. 2), a study of the modern factory, Steven Marglin found that the main function of the corporate hierarchy is not greater productive efficiency (as capitalists claim), but greater control over workers, the purpose of such control being more effective exploitation.

Control in a hierarchy is maintained by coercion, that is, by the threat of negative sanctions of one kind or another: physical, economic, psychological, social, etc. Such control, including the repression of dissent and rebellion, therefore necessitates centralisation: a set of power relations in which the greatest control is exercised by the few at the top (particularly the head of the organisation), while those in the middle ranks have much less control and the many at the bottom have virtually none.

Since domination, coercion, and centralisation are essential features of authoritarianism, and as those features are embodied in hierarchies, all hierarchical institutions are authoritarian. Moreover, for anarchists, any organisation marked by hierarchy, centralism and authoritarianism is state-like, or “statist.” And as anarchists oppose both the state and authoritarian relations, anyone who does not seek to dismantle all forms of hierarchy cannot be called an anarchist. This applies to capitalist firms. As Noam Chomsky points out, the structure of the capitalist firm is extremely hierarchical, indeed fascist, in nature:

“a fascist system. . . [is] absolutist – power goes from top down . . . the ideal state is top down control with the public essentially following orders.

 

“Let’s take a look at a corporation. . . [I]f you look at what they are, power goes strictly top down, from the board of directors to managers to lower managers to ultimately the people on the shop floor, typing messages, and so on. There’s no flow of power or planning from the bottom up. People can disrupt and make suggestions, but the same is true of a slave society. The structure of power is linear, from the top down.” [Keeping the Rabble in Line, p. 237]

David Deleon indicates these similarities between the company and the state well when he writes:

“Most factories are like military dictatorships. Those at the bottom are privates, the supervisors are sergeants, and on up through the hierarchy. The organisation can dictate everything from our clothing and hair style to how we spend a large portion of our lives, during work. It can compel overtime; it can require us to see a company doctor if we have a medical complaint; it can forbid us free time to engage in political activity; it can suppress freedom of speech, press and assembly — it can use ID cards and armed security police, along with closed-circuit TVs to watch us; it can punish dissenters with ‘disciplinary layoffs’ (as GM calls them), or it can fire us. We are forced, by circumstances, to accept much of this, or join the millions of unemployed. . . In almost every job, we have only the ‘right’ to quit. Major decisions are made at the top and we are expected to obey, whether we work in an ivory tower or a mine shaft.” [“For Democracy Where We Work: A rationale for social self-management”, Reinventing Anarchy, Again, Howard J. Ehrlich (ed.), pp. 193-4]

Thus the consistent anarchist must oppose hierarchy in all its forms, including the capitalist firm. Not to do so is to support archy — which an anarchist, by definition, cannot do. In other words, for anarchists, “[p]romises to obey, contracts of (wage) slavery, agreements requiring the acceptance of a subordinate status, are all illegitimate because they do restrict and restrain individual autonomy.” [Robert Graham, “The Anarchist Contract, Reinventing Anarchy, Again, Howard J. Ehrlich (ed.), p. 77] Hierarchy, therefore, is against the basic principles which drive anarchism. It denies what makes us human and “divest[s] the personality of its most integral traits; it denies the very notion that the individual is competent to deal not only with the management of his or her personal life but with its most important context: the social context.” [Murray Bookchin, Op. Cit., p. 202]

Some argue that as long as an association is voluntary, whether it has a hierarchical structure is irrelevant. Anarchists disagree. This is for two reasons. Firstly, under capitalism workers are driven by economic necessity to sell their labour (and so liberty) to those who own the means of life. This process re-enforces the economic conditions workers face by creating “massive disparities in wealth . . . [as] workers. . . sell their labour to the capitalist at a price which does not reflect its real value.” Therefore:

“To portray the parties to an employment contract, for example, as free and equal to each other is to ignore the serious inequality of bargaining power which exists between the worker and the employer. To then go on to portray the relationship of subordination and exploitation which naturally results as the epitome of freedom is to make a mockery of both individual liberty and social justice.” [Robert Graham, Op. Cit., p. 70]

It is for this reason that anarchists support collective action and organisation: it increases the bargaining power of working people and allows them to assert their autonomy (see section J).

Secondly, if we take the key element as being whether an association is voluntary or not we would have to argue that the current state system must be considered as “anarchy.” In a modern democracy no one forces an individual to live in a specific state. We are free to leave and go somewhere else. By ignoring the hierarchical nature of an association, you can end up supporting organisations based upon the denial of freedom (including capitalist companies, the armed forces, states even) all because they are “voluntary.” As Bob Black argues, “[t]o demonise state authoritarianism while ignoring identical albeit contract-consecrated subservient arrangements in the large-scale corporations which control the world economy is fetishism at its worst.” [The Libertarian as Conservative,  The Abolition of Work and other essays, p. 142] Anarchy is more than being free to pick a master.

Therefore opposition to hierarchy is a key anarchist position, otherwise you just become a “voluntary archist” – which is hardly anarchistic. For more on this see section A.2.14 ( Why is voluntarism not enough?).

Anarchists argue that organisations do not need to be hierarchical, they can be based upon co-operation between equals who manage their own affairs directly. In this way we can do without hierarchical structures (i.e. the delegation of power in the hands of a few). Only when an association is self-managed by its members can it be considered truly anarchistic.

We are sorry to belabour this point, but some capitalist apologists, apparently wanting to appropriate the “anarchist” name because of its association with freedom, have recently claimed that one can be both a capitalist and an anarchist at the same time (as in so-called “anarcho” capitalism). It should now be clear that since capitalism is based on hierarchy (not to mention statism and exploitation), “anarcho”-capitalism is a contradiction in terms. (For more on this, see Section F)

Source: Is it possible to be an anarchist without opposing hierarchy?

Class War. What is Class War and is it still a valid today?

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“I thought I was working Class till I went to Glasgow. Then I realised I was middle class”

Fletcher. Porridge.

So as Ian Bone calls for Class War to go to the Polling booths. I ask do we need to redefine what class is? and is there still a class war? Where are the battle lines and are they as clear cut as this battle cry implies? or is it a state of mind? I understand that there has been class systems since the invention of the family and the birth of capitalism, but it’s about the class system that I know effected and defined the place I find myself in right now. And the question, “If we are fighting a Class war, are we not the ones perpetuating the class system with this war? and who benefits from the divisions? and is the Class War still valid and in what context?”

I grew up in the country in a farming community. The village I lived in had a Lord of the Manor. He lived in a massive house at the end of a very long drive, where yearly hunts took place and pheasant shoots were often. I never met him it didn’t interest me much, But I can always remember my mum screaming at the hunt to get off her garden and abusing them with such gusto that I remember I felt very proud.  We also had workers houses where the farm hands that worked on his land lived. In the same village we had a working mans club and where everyone spent time with each other, a little bar with a pool table in the back and pictures of dogs in suits lounging around smoking cigars and the odd folk night with songs of  everyday battles in days gone by. My parents brought me up to respect, honest and hard working people where manners were more important than money and the message was drilled into me that this was irrelevant of their “position”  in the class system.  But that also had an opposite that if you were a nasty bastard you were a nasty bastard irreverent of your “social standing” not because of it.

So was my house an upper working class house where we were educated into the free market and old school christian values? My father whom I considered a feminist, brother to 2 girls and father to 3 had a mantra that I soon came to realise that the rest of the word wasn’t ready for ” If you work hard enough you can do anything you want in the world”  My mum whom I considered a snob at the time spoke of the realities of the class system and always talk of bettering “yourself”. So with my dad telling me the world was my Oyster and my mum reminding me of my class. I left school with as little as my Coventry accent and a couple of GCSe’s and found myself in a middle of a recession, Miners strikes, Car Plant closure’s, NF,  battles on the streets and The winter of discontent, The reality of the class system was in my face.

This was my youth and to me the class system was very defined but things have changed or have they? The government has now split the class system into more groups. In the 20th century there were 6 social grade classifications and in the 21st century it has already reached 8 with the 8th being long term unemployed the creation of an under class. With the rise of a female work force and more varied jobs and the demise of manufacturing things were changing. Were the lines merging. “Working Class” creating successful businesses with nothing to lose and rising through the so called social grade classification system and “Middle classes” loosing land and properties and companies and not having a pot to piss in, relying on benefits. So the cry of Class War to Smash the Rich is directed at who exactly? One battle cry of Class War is to go to Eaton and bash up some posh boys. Really? Half the students at Eaton are overseas students and I really don’t see a bunch of school kids as the real threat to our life styles, our life choices or being able to choose at all, even though they may be part of that system we are fighting against but so are we.

So a Class War meeting was called and we all found ourselves in an upstairs room in a workingmens club.There were old faces I knew and younger faces that gave me hope. There were about 40 of us and we were all asked to introduce ourselves and a little bit of background. So the introductions from potential Class war candidates and supporters and I myself explaining that I needed to be convinced that what they doing was the way forward, to enter into a system, the very system we are trying to bring down. A hierarchal structure serving a capitalist state. What were they going to be campaigning for? And was it not going to make Class war a laughing stock? The meeting convened and Ian Bone said my thoughts were irrelevant because the decision had been made and they were going ahead with fielding candidates and it wasn’t up for discussion. The procedures and legalities of being a political party, costs of registering a candidate were explained, funding and how and if candidates were to fund themselves and it was the feeling of a few if you couldn’t raise the £500 for yourself then you can’t really stand, in other words if you can’t fund your self tough and other items like setting up a party HQ  Politics and election campaigns and how they wouldn’t be winning but Class war would have a platform. During the afternoon I listened to everybodies thoughts and ideas, Important things like heckling other party candidates and cheaper football tickets in the proposals and the launch of The Class War Political party. During the afternoon there was a mixture of seriousness and the taking the piss attitude attributed to the Class War Style of campaigning with a few laughs and chuckles. Some good suggestions surfaced such as a maximum Wage and getting rid of beer tax. However it saddened me to hear racism as a candidate said he was pissed off with “Russians” building and buying massive houses and coming over for three weeks a year, Me personally I see this as capitalist fuckers nothing to do with where they’re from and when a young woman who talked about why she wanted to stand as a Class War candidate and cited local problems that were effecting her family and community. Her passionate desire to change real time things was talked over.
I could excuse it by saying it was a generation thing but actually there is no excuse. Surely you can drag yourselves into the 21st Century and realise that the language used is as bad as the language used by our oppressors therefore taking away your power. To alienate women by being sexist and using sexist language in your campaign, well words fail me actually. I am not going to go on a rant about how important women are regarding your ideology, I would have thought that was obvious. You can try and justify your use of sexist language but in todays world it does not have a place. So I left the meeting infact with a heavy heart I had hoped for so much more, I wanted to hear talk of grass roots groups and takeovers. I wanted to hear talk of revolution. Not how £500 is worth the vitriol. Just to say it is simply we are The Poor versus the Rich.

But hadn’t we missed something hadn’t the Class War been revised and brought into the 21st century, reborn under a new name, the name of Occupy movement and the battle cry “We are the 99%”. They had defined the new enemy as the 1%.  Another recession in full swing and talk of Austerity, Bank collapses, suicides, cuts to pensions, bankruptcy, lost jobs, privatisation of nearly everything we had salvaged from the Thatcher years. The boom years had blurred the lines between the classes index even more but the banking crisis laid bare the bones of the financial system and those that were the real criminals. The Banks, The corporations, The fucking capitalists. To me Occupy seems to me to be the grown up version of Class war. They were highlighting the real villains the Corporations not paying Tax the dirty thieving bastards that were using every loophole possible and using their global status to bounce business around various nations and avoiding their responsibilities. Occupy aren’t screaming for “Double the Dole” They were screaming for a “Living wage” where the is no need for a dole system. They may seem to  be a little more mainstream in their methods and some people may like to see things burn, but their continuous direct actions and acts of defiance and their very visible camps . But there initial statement is still one of the best statements ever produced by 5 hundred odd people  on the step of St Pauls 26th October 2011( http://occupylondon.org.uk/about-2/ )

Not long after the Class war meeting Ian Bone released a blog and gave us a list of all things had been agreed during the meeting. Hold on a minute I must have missed something. I can’t remember any consensus of any kind on anything. A few cheers in the odd place. So you want me to support a hierarchal class war group to get rid of a hierarchal class war system. Now let me think about that for a minute ok I have thought about it “Fuck Right Off” One thing that Occupy had managed it was a non hierarchal system of working groups were decisions were made by consensus and that it was mature in its language and it’s message.

So I still do not know what Class really is or even how to define it and I think that to consider it a class war of the Ian Bone version is naive and childish. But I do believe more now than ever the fight between the rich and the poor is a battle that should be fought on every level, The capitalist system, the oppression that it brings with it to maintain is growth a system that still only really benefits a few is still a Class war but the Class is different now it is the oppressive corporation class. So if Class war can drag itself into the here and now and not the romantic vision of days gone by it could be a powerful movement but if it doesn’t become a progressive forward thinking group and continues accepting and using language of the oppressor you can count me out.

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An Open Letter to the Police

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Dear Sir/Madam,

In the recent times of Austerity and with the tragic death of Lee Rigby we have witnessed the rise of the right wing in this country. Right wing Fascists are using these times  for propaganda against immigration, Islamophobia and  other dangerous extremist views. But this rise is not just in the UK it is all over Europe extending as far as the Right wing uprising in Ukraine. I am not here to give you a lecture on how to do your job, because personally I think you are part of the right wing culture at the moment and far from independent.  But we are entering into dangerous times. With being part of Europe I feel you need to start looking at the right wing in a different way and see the bigger picture. See the meetings of various right wing group leaders in a hotel in the Caribbean as being relevant and of interest to our communities, see visiting right wing groups such as Golden Dawn and Jobbik  for what they are extremist and dangerous.  Groups  guilty of murder, intimidation and discrimination and various hate crimes are forging new alliances with groups here.
Because of your inability to do anything about this it is down to us to stop them. For a group of people to go to a town that they do not come from and stir up hate and mistrust in the community is only a threat to our society. We are a country of immigrants and have been for hundreds of years and this is what makes this place so great. I could bang on and on how my grandfather killed fascists and now I see the freedoms he fought for being used to protect them. I respect the right to protest but if they want to protest about immigration say they should go to the immigration centre, but is this protest or just hate campaigning? Is it a protest in the true sense of the word?  We should know free speech comes with responsibilities and the right wing rhetoric is not being responsible in anyway for the well being of our society. I have been an antifascist since I can remember. Growing up in Coventry at the height of the National Front same sort of social background as now The Conservatives where in power and a recession was in full swing and we were at war with Argentina over the Falkland’s. The fights were taking place in the streets and blood was being spilt. Just like today.
Another thing I feel your force should be briefed on is the right wing tactics of intimidation.  After Lee Rigby’s murder the EDL and BNP rode on the wave of shock and horror and their numbers took to the streets. We watched them doing Nazi salutes from the Cenotaph and attacks on Mosques and people where on the rise. We went to a counter demonstration and we failed to match their numbers. On that day we got pelted with bottles and the drunken EDL fought amongst them selves. As I was leaving the Inspector made a passing comment “you should take that mask off and be proud of yourself and the stand you took today”  My response was are you for real? Do you think I am wearing this mask because I am ashamed of what I am doing? I am wearing this face covering to protect me from reprisals from the EDL. I don’t give a toss if the police have a million pictures of me on their data bases, they don’t upload your pictures on to websites such as RedWatch and invite fascist thugs  to give you call by adding you personal details if they have managed to get them.
The next big call out was in June and several right wing groups joined together to march from Croydon called by the EVF ( English Volunteer Force known to be trained by the UVF Ulster Volunteer Force not very nice people with murderers on their books). You don’t need to know the ins and outs but on this day after being assaulted by a right wing  “March for England” fascist in a pub off Parliament square I was arrested and handcuffed on the street. At this point your police left me handcuffed and removed my face covering whilst searching my belongings. Whilst this was going members of the right wing group were allowed time to take my picture  I told the arresting officer that he was making me vulnerable and that my picture was being taken by the fascists but he showed no concern and the next day my picture appeared on the front page of the EVF website.  My charges of affray were later dropped perhaps you looked at the footage and realised that I was the one assaulted by a fascist and then by a police officer.
On September the 7th the EDL had called for their yearly march through Tower Hamlets and once again it was down to us to stop their pilgrimage of hate to the mosque.  We all gathered in Altab Ali Park in Tower Hamlets and there was a huge turn out.  Families and residents from all over London came to show unity  and stand in solidarity with the community whilst we went to stop the march from taking place at all.  We tried to block the route but you decided to use the tactic of mass arrest one to gain intelligence on us and two to prevent us from stopping what you seem to think is the Right Wings right to protest.  Upon arrest my face covering was removed and I was handcuffed. I was put on a pre booked bus and taken to the police station, the first station being full we remained on the bus and taken to another central station. On our arrival at the station a group of right wing fascist were waiting and were taking our pictures. Again after my arrest for doing nothing you have put me in a vulnerable position and at risk. Whilst out on the streets defending what I see is a fundamental right of being a human “No human is illegal” You by your ignorance of these tactics have infact made me a potential  victim.
Yesterday I travelled to Slough to what is seemingly becoming a regular weekend duty to oppose the Nazi scum. I really can’t be bothered to go into details other than a conversation that took place between myself and a copper whilst I was being filmed whilst penned in by the EDL media team (REDWATCH).  After having shouted at the Nazi scum to stop filming us and told him “Fuck you and your  REDWATCH” the police officer asked me what REDWATCH is.  So once again I set out to educate the copper and explain the tactics of REDWATCH. I find it very worrying at the level  ignorance of your officers.

This is why I feel your need to brief your police on these tactics and not aid and abet the fascists by your ignorance.  You are not on the side of democracy you are on the side of fascism by not seeing the bigger picture.

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Yours  sincerely

A Hampstead mum