UK: Socialists releashed, but allegations remain

Read the statement for the arrests here

Dark storm clouds are gathering: we are rapidly moving into a new period of open class war. The dying Tory government has curbed still further our right to strike, our right to protest, even our right to vote. Sunak’s menacing speech last week threatening a crackdown on “mob rule” was put into effect the very next day in the borough of Newham.

Carel and Dave Buxton are founder members of Newham Socialist Labour – the group founded three years ago when West Ham and East Ham CLPs were shut down without warning for being too left: a coup which gave the politically corrupt Labour Mayor and councillors of Newham a free hand.

Only nine months ago, members of Newham Socialist Labour had no councillors. Today, after two stunning by-election victories and one transfer of allegiance, we have three councilllors… and we already constitute the official opposition! We have steadfastly opposed Newham Council’s new budget, which imposes still more savage cuts in services, the maximum permissible rises in council tax and rents, and the shutdown of local markets. This battle came to a head on Friday 29th February when the council met to approve the budget.

What happened next is a chilling warning to all of us. Three leading members of NSL were whisked off at midnight to the local police station and charged with racially aggravated harassment. Here is the story, told by Carel Buxton…

On the 1st of March at five minutes to midnight there were four police officers at our front door. In our pyjamas, my husband and I were arrested for racial harassment under the Public Order Act Section 4a , on the allegation that we had hissed at a councillor in a council budget meeting on 29th February. A third member of our group was arrested at 8 am on Saturday morning.

There were around 25+ members of the public in the gallery, many concerned about the loss of their livelihoods with the closure of an indoor market. Others were concerned about rises in rents and council tax alongside millions in cuts. The councillor concerned has been happy to be named in the national press: he is Joshua Garfield. We are accused of hissing at him, an act which we understand is considered antisemitic. We are innocent of the charges, and feel that, while the police officers on an individual level behaved professionally, we have been made an example of for political ends. Those daring to organise and speak out will feel the full force of the state. We were released after 24 hours and are out on bail.

Our arrests follows on from Sunak’s speech. The Tories and the Labour Party are in trouble. The Labour Party as we knew it is dead. We now need a new alliance of groups to represent us. Thank you for all the messages of solidarity.

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